Ever hear the one about how if all the people in China jumped at the same time, the Earth would change course? Well, 2008 is a leap year. There's a perfect storm on the way.
2008 is going to be the longest ever year in politics, in part due to it being a leap year, but mainly because one can already see the thread holding the Sword of Damocles above the Labour Government has broken. It ends this year. HOW it ends will be the interesting thing.
The Ozzies not only threw John Howard out of government, but also out of his electorate. The recent US nominations shows that all the money in the world cannot buy an election, wherever it comes from. A hope for something different can. Obama's nailed it: Change.
Only a fool walks away from power, and Helen Clark is no fool. Think of the tradition of a reluctant, struggling Speaker being led to the chair. There's a lot less acting required in showing a leader being dragged reluctant and struggling from the throne. They tend to lash out a bit too.
My main concern is the very real prospect of the Greens getting wiped out completely. While the Greens should never be given anything more fuck-upable than Women's Affairs, they play an important role in the parliamentary chamber. Like Act, they have provided the ideas that Labour and the Nats have eventually adapted to. Even the stopped clock of Peter Dunne has been accurate on occasions.
Therefore, I'm utterly blown away at the rumour of a magnanimous Nandor stepping down for his co-leader. It's the right thing to do. We can only hope that Sue Kedgeley will stand aside so Russel can run in Wellington Central. The obvious ticket from there is to do a Rodney. Appeal to the electorate's tactical voting ability and make a real change. Big ask, but do-able. You can donate to the Greens' targeted fundraising for their Campaign Managers here. Go on, it won't hurt.
While the Greens, Act and even Dunne have provided the brains trust in parliament, the same cannot be said for NZ First. Thinking back to all the time Winston Peters has been in positions of power, how has this country benefitted? Supergold card? No, Winston is in power for Winston. His one skill lies in opposition, but he's not content with that any more. Winston is nobody's fool but his own.
Winston Peters is a political werewolf, and only the silver bullet of Grey Power can bring him down. They are unbelievably pissed at the EFA. No pennies for Winston this time. Peters will not regain Tauranga. New Zealand First will finally luck out, not making five percent. We will finally be rid of this beast. If we can be rid of the stoat-like Ron Mark as well, that's a bonus.
Barring inane or bizarre press statements, the Maori Party should grab all the Maori seats. Good on them too. Rodney keeps Epsom but is left dancing with himself. Peter Dunne keeps his seat, if for no other reason than Labour and National splitting the electorate vote. He ends up sitting next to Rodney in the House.
An early election would not help Labour reduce its loses, and none of the minor parties dare bring the current government down before full term. It almost killed Winston in 1999. This time around would be politically fatal to any who tried. Besides, the incumbents need time to martial their forces, time for the Free Trade Agreement with China to sink in, the Electoral Finance and Interim Meaning Acts to start paying dividends.
Labour has long ago ceased to be a team effort, and maintains its continued existence entirely due to Helen Clark's willpower. Helen Clark is not only the Labour government's best chance at remining in power, she is the ONLY chance. Changing leaders is not a goer, even if Helen Clark could gain some cold comfort in getting Phil Goff purged as quickly as possible.
The perils of jumping the gun is why the Nats are sitting comfortably on a double-digit lead in the polls at present. They're not even trying, just ticking it over. Labour is it's own worst enemy anyway, requiring little provocation to lose their rag.
If 2005 was called a two horse race between Don Brash's National and Clark's Labour, this year will be John Key's Opitmus Prime versus Clark's Decepticon fighting on the freeway. NZ First stomped. Greens wrapped around one of Labour's low-emission streetlamps. Rodney's and Dunne's lives are spared due to airbags.
It's National by a landslide. If Labour are lucky, it'll only hurt like 1990. Oh, and Obama will be President of the United States.