This is going to be interesting. The following things occur to me:
- Key is probably going to try to hold to the Labour-lite campaign promises. This could result in significant internal friction as MPs like Maurice Williamson, Tony Ryall and Nick Smith want to head off to the right with their 5 friends from Act. They've been waiting a long time to get back on those Treasury benches; they have unfinished business from the 1990s and you can bet your bottom dollar that it's not keeping Working For Families going and encouraging public transport use.
- English is pretty pivotal in all this. Key is relatively inexperienced and will be looking to English and other senior MPs for a steer on how this whole Being The Government thing works. Opportunities for knives in the back of the new boy abound, but Key comes from the pretty savage environment of the trading floor, and may not be as vulnerable as he appears from the outside. Could be strangely satisfying to watch if the sharp implements do make it out of the drawer.
- There are a whole heap of new National MPs, and a lot of their intake from last time is still largely unknown, in terms of public knowledge of their political leanings. For example I was thinking about whether there are still any strongly anti-abortion MPs in their ranks and the simple answer is that I don't know. This could create some opportunities for good Private Members' Bills, although of course it may also throw up some significant threats to some of the social gains made in the last little while. Either way new MPs are bound to make a few entertaining cock-ups, particularly when they've just swept into power.
- Our new Prime Minister needs a new speech writer. He's going to have to step up another level with his public speaking - last night's victory speech was the biggest speech of his career to date and TV3 actually cut away from it before it ended. Given his propensity on the campaign trail for mis-speaking he could be a bit of a George W Bush Prime Minister for us, when it comes to verbal precision. Which will be frustrating I'm sure, but in a way that sometimes makes us laugh while we shake our heads in disbelief.
Really significant renewal in the ranks there. I'm particularly excited about Carmel Sepuloni and Jacinda Ardern becoming MPs, and also Rajen Prasad who will surely quickly establish himself as a great Shadow spokesperson, and I'm relieved that Steve Chadwick is still in on the list. Some of those who have gone kind of needed to, although it's an awful way to leave because I know it will be very hard for them, their families, and not least their staff.
Then there's the leadership. I was shocked that Clark resigned last night; I thought she would wait a while, maybe not contest the caucus election in the next week or so. But that's the way she rolls and it certainly gave her a gracious exit as Prime Minister. I think history will be kind to her.
While many Labour Left and Left of Labour people will not be happy about Goff ascending to lead Labour I'm looking past that right now (silver linings and all that) to the Deputy Leadership and hoping Maryan Street gets the nod. She'd be a Labour Left balance to Goff and she's a formidably competent person. There are several in that caucus, and many in the broader party, who will be keen to build around a Labour Left agenda for 2011.
The balance of social liberals has increased and the Older White Hetero Man Guard in those safe seats is now a pretty small group mostly fenced off from positions of power. This bodes well for the future of the party, and also may make it harder if National does try to repeal the amendment to s59, Civil Unions or the prostitution laws or put up new restrictions around abortion (although frankly I don't think they're going to go there unless a Private Members' Bill forces their hand.)
Two new MPs seems like a bit of a letdown after the highs of the polls recently, but it is still a signficant improvement and there seems no doubt now that they are an established party which will make the threshold safely for the foreseeable future. Being in opposition will give them some real opportunities to stake out their own ground, and will hopefully also mean that they get better at cooperating with Labour in terms of marginal electorate seats in the future.
Winston is gone. Although it's hard to imagine our political landscape without him so it feels really weird to be contemplating his disappearance. What did Muldoon do once he was no longer PM, perhaps that will be a pointer to what Winston might think about next?
The Christian parties got less than 2% of the vote, and Gordon Copeland and Phillip Field both got booted out. Anti-abortion, anti-woman agendas didn't get much traction, despite the liberalising flash-points of the last term supposedly mobilising them. I'm particularly hopeful that this means any dawning political party or movement for Pacific peoples will not be socially conservative, given the failure of Field's attempt. Tagata Pasifika had an excellent programme on at 8am this morning about the results for their people and what might happen next too.
The Maori Party will hopefully build a more harmonious relationship with Labour. Turia has indicated she will be stepping down at 2011, and much of the friction between the two parties has seemed to me to be a result of the meltdown between Clark and Turia over the foreshore and seabed. Sharples has several times reached out to Labour on the campaign trail, only to have Turia haul him back. While they're working together to oppose negative changes National and Act might pursue hopefully they can get a bit friendlier again.
Ok I think I'm out of good stuff for now. Hopefully this isn't as good as it gets.
* I don't blog about the area I work in, because I blog in my own time, as myself, not because of my work or as a employee. That's why you won't see me writing posts about early childhood education or primary schooling. It might get hard to bite my tongue as this Government progresses...