Despite the Labour Party’s historic election win, they can’t afford to lose the support of the Greens and the Māori Party, according to political commentator Ben Thomas.
“Labour’s chief political driver will be trying to co-opt these parties, essentially, to reduce attacks on it from its left flank in the Greens’ case, or on Māori issues where it is looking vulnerable,” Thomas said.
He's a public relations consultant and former National Party press secretary for Chris Finlayson and spoke to TVNZ1’s Breakfast today.
“Labour’s got an incentive to do that. The other reason I think to bring the Greens into the fold is, actually, I don’t think Labour can afford to lose James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage, Jan Logie, who have all done great work this term.
“Also in the talent pool, someone like Chlöe Swarbrick.”
He said Labour was also facing a “talent deficit” among its MPs.
“Their senior competent ministers are under a huge workload right now … I think that they could really do with bringing in that talent from the Greens.”
Bringing the Greens on would also save Labour from having to put its MPs into particularly difficult portfolios, Thomas said.
“From Labour’s point of view, it makes sense to essentially farm out a portfolio like Oranga Tamariki which is, certainly, a graveyard for any Labour minister that takes it.”
He said someone like Greens co-leader Marama Davidson would have the skills to handle that portfolio, and the Greens would “count that as a win”.
Thomas was joined on the Breakfast panel this morning by AUT academic and political commentator Ella Henry.
“It would speak volumes to Māori if she were to find a place for [Māori Party MP] Rawiri [Waititi],” Henry said.
A move like that would help Labour’s relationship with Māori going into the future, she said.
She also urged Labour to build better “groups of aroha” behind its ministers, after a number of ministers slipped up in the previous Government.