Labour won't fight Greens, says Cunliffe

Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014

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Labour leader David Cunliffe says he will not campaign against the Greens to drive their vote down in the upcoming election, as under MMP  ‘‘coalitions decide governments’’.

His comments came after earlier reports that he was focused on being the biggest party in Parliament after 2014.

On current polling Labour is trailing National by more than 10 percentage points, but the combined Labour-Green vote was slightly ahead of National in the latest TV3 poll.

Prime Minister John Key has argued the biggest party has the moral mandate to take a first stab at forming a government, although he accepts there is no constitutional basis for that view.

Speaking after a two-day campaign strategy meeting of MPs in Papakura, Cunliffe said he was not conceding National would be the biggest party and he wanted to maximise the Labour vote.

‘‘But we will not campaign against the Greens to drive their vote down.’’

He said the caucus meeting had discussed a game plan to win the election.

It had become ‘‘a lot more sophisticated’’ since the November annual conference where much of the talk was about motivating the 800,000 ‘‘non-vote’’ from the 2011 election.

The campaign strategy team had set much more precise targets about who they wanted to reach and how they would reach them.

The full story would be revealed ‘‘in living glowing colour after the election’’ but he would not reveal it now.

The meeting did not discuss policy.

‘‘We have already got a couple of phonebooks of those, so we are good for that.’’

He and deputy leader David Parker would have one-on-one meetings with all the party’s MPs to discuss ‘‘longer and medium term goal setting’’ that could include their plans after politics.

But he denied he had pressured any MPs ‘‘implicitly or explicitly’’ to quit at the next election.

‘‘I haven’t leaned on anybody.’’

As parties move to rejuvenate their line-ups at least 10 National MPs will quit at the next election, but so far only one Labour MP – Manukau East MP Ross Robertson – has announced he will retire.

Cunliffe said he was not in a position to name any others who might move on.

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- Fairfax Media

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