Trend good for Labour but there's a way to go

Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
David Shearer
Labour leader David Shearer

Relevant offers


Prime Minister John Key defends 'green' credentials ahead of major summit Andrew Little to unveil Labour's shadow Cabinet New Zealand and Australia condemn Japan for resuming Southern Ocean whaling Education Minister Hekia Parata announces Marlborough colleges decision Jenny Shipley: Why we need a silver fern flag Faces of Innocents: Too many children are dying, are we about to break another promise? Children's flag referendum views are being heard by voters in their families 'Our job is not to censor. We're not serving the political elite, business or corporations' Stacey Kirk: Strewth! Join Australia? They're a bunch of flaming galahs! 'I don't want to be prime minister' – Jacinda Ardern

In politics, they say, the trend is your friend. That would make the next election Labour's to lose on today's Fairfax Media-Ipsos political poll.

OPINION: It confirms a trend of Labour slowly positioning itself to lead the next government.

But that tells only half the story.

Because National's vote, if you use the 2008 election as your yardstick, appears largely undented. At 44.9 per cent, its leader, John Key, is still more popular than any other politician. And more people would still prefer to have him, rather than Labour leader David Shearer, in power.

MMP has not yet delivered a result that installed a party with fewer votes than its opponents in government. But today's poll comes close to doing just that.

Under some scenarios it would deliver a tie - and in others, it would deliver Mr Shearer the prime ministerial suite on the 9th floor of the Beehive.

That explains Mr Key's aggressive start to the year. He launched it with a ministerial shake-up, which included axing poorly performing ministers, and put an iron fist, in the form of Mr Fixit Steven Joyce, in charge of the Novopay mess. He also stole into Labour territory, making a politically savvy announcement on apprenticeships.

His only misstep may have been standing by Education Minister Hekia Parata, who has gone the way of some of her predecessors in the education portfolio and become the minister the public most love to hate.

But if his intention was to catch Labour napping, it worked.

Mr Shearer's first speech of the year failed to spark, and a plan to stamp his authority on the caucus with a front-bench reshuffle hinges on an audit office report clearing Shane Jones.

If there is a story behind the poll numbers it is that many of the undecided vote appear to be soft National voters who have started peeling away, perhaps disillusioned that after four years they are feeling no better off.

But when pushed, many still lean toward National. So Labour still has a long way to go.

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Where do you stand on political coat-tail riding?

If it gets marginalised voices into Parliament, I'm for it.

I'm against it - if you don't get the votes, you shouldn't be there.

It's just part of the political game.

Vote Result

Related story: Voters reject riding on the coat-tails

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content