Electoral dysfunction

Metiria Turei, the Green Party co-leader, is never going to leave voters uncertain of her position on any issue and her latest description of New Zealand First policies is a case in point.

Mrs Turei, a list MP based in Dunedin, called NZ First policies ''racist''. She was then criticised on social media by a NZ First MP before the party leader Winston Peters warned of consequences for the Greens because of Mrs Turei's comments.

Mr Peters did not elaborate on the consequences he may inflict on the Greens, although it is widely understood he does not want the Greens to be part of any coalition deal his party signs.

Even more than two months out from the September 23 election, there are signs of tension emerging between the Opposition parties. Even Act New Zealand, which relies on the largesse of National to have one MP in Parliament, has its leader David Seymour ripping into the Government for being too soft on almost everything.

The latest poll will have been a bit of a shock for many and there is no hiding the numbers which are bad for the Left.

At just 5%, Labour leader Andrew Little is polling below his deputy Jacinda Ardern in the poll for the most preferred prime minister. Mr Peters is at 11% and is inching towards being called the Leader of the Opposition, despite Labour having more MPs than NZ First.

Speculation will start, if it has not already, on whether Mr Peters should rightfully debate Prime Minister Bill English in the election leaders' debates - rather than Mr Little.

Mr Little is moving closer to the area trod rarely by political leaders of not being wanted to support candidates in electorates the party wants to win.

Even putting a brave face on the latest polling, Mr Little seems likely to turn voters away from Labour rather than have them flocking to the party. Any hope Ms Ardern would help bring a lighter image to the party are disappearing quickly. It is difficult to remember when a leader last polled lower than his or her deputy in a popularity contest.

Mr Little has also become the buffer between Mrs Turei and Mr Peters as they continue to grate on the nerves of each other. Mrs Turei has seemingly ruled out going into a coalition, or any agreement with National, well before the votes have been cast and counted. That is a mistake.

Mr Peters is the master of the dark arts of politics and refuses to be drawn on which party he favours for a future coalition agreement.

Each time he is asked, and there will be many times between now and September 23, Mr Peters will respond he will only decide after the votes have been counted.

By ruling out any agreement between National and the Greens, Mrs Turei has lost the chance to influence the Blue-Green side of the National Party. And let us not forget, the Greens did once get a home insulation policy in place, with the help of a previous National-led government.

The Greens also seem to have forgotten the memorandum of understanding with Labour to change the government this year expires on election night. If Mrs Turei believes Mr Little will not take any chance at all to form a government without the Greens, she is sadly mistaken.

While Mr English and his Cabinet are rolling out billions of dollars of campaign spending, Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Act are hurting their own chances of electoral survival by not at least acting like they can deal with their prospective electoral partners.

Taking firmly entrenched positions before voters have made their decisions is foolhardy.


Winston should replace Little in the Leaders' Debate? A bizarre concept, the sort of thing beloved of those who think NZ First is more constituently representative than Labour. It isn't, going by MP numbers. Yet, here we go again with our faux Presidential run up.

Oh, that was a bit remonstrative.

This is the point. Leave our brave formerly of Caversham girl alone.

AB, Doug, Dinsdale.