Written By: - Date published: 12:40 pm, September 1st, 2017 - 123 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation, election 2017, greens, Politics - Tags: #ChangeTheGovt, #Green2017, #greenthegovt, memorandum of understanding, Ursula Le Guin
“We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”
That’s a quote from Ursula K Leguin, talking about politics of a different kind but I think of it every time I see people acting as if Winston Peters has some divine right to be kingmaker. I started writing this post some months ago when the Greens first seriously challenged this power in a Sunday morning interview where Metiria Turei happened to call Peters racist. This is where I got to,
This is a post about following on from the GP standing up to Peters. What lefties can do. Change the narrative. Get people out to vote. Push the reality that a vote for Peters is not a vote for changing the govt.
Surprisingly enough, I don’t mind if Peters is part of a leftwing government. I’ve been critical of him over the years, and still credit him with making MMP a clusterfuck of powermongering instead of initial steps towards representative democracy. I do still also believe that people are entitled to representation, so I’m not averse to NZF per se. There’s some decent policy there.
But I’m over the bullshit. Turei broke the spell when she called him racist and then Shaw got up and delivered a speech which said it’s not enough to change the government. If you want a truly progressive government then you have to vote Green to lessen the influence that Peters will have post-election. They will work with Peters if they have to, but would prefer an actual left wing govt.
It was a bold move at the time and I’m not sure how many people realised just what the Greens were doing in shifting the political landscape but I really want to give credit to them for having taken that stand and stuck to their position on this. So many things have happened since then, and the ability to really push the message about NZF vs a progressive government got somewhat lost, but here we are anyway with a chance.
I’ve changed my mind about not minding Peters in government. It’s true in principle but he’s looking politically tired and while I’m all for inclusiveness he’s had decades of opportunity to play well with others and I think it’s time for him to sit this one out. It’s still a volatile election, the Left isn’t out of the woods yet, and Peters might still be a key player in what happens. But Peters as kingmaker is simply a human power that can be resisted and changed. What we do next is important.
James Shaw was on RNZ this morning reiterating what needs to happen for a progressive government. When asked about supporting a Labour/NZF government he said,
Well that’s not a progressive government. The only way to get a progressive government is to have a Labour/Green government, and we’ve said that we’re open to working with New Zealand First as part of that coalition, there are areas of policy overlap, I guess we’ll just have to see what the numbers are on election night.
Challenging the divine right of kingmakers. Shaw is saying that of course NZF can be part of a Labour/Green government if needed, but let’s not pretend that Peters is the one with all the power. Even if NZF end up with more MPs than the Greens this doesn’t trump the relationship that’s been developed between the Greens and Labour, nor the Memorandum of Understanding, nor the agreement that if they can Labour and the Greens will form a coalition and change the government. The MoU says,
lt is our intent to build on this agreement so as to offer New Zealanders the basis of a stable, credible and progressive alternative government at the 2017 General Election.
This was intentional strategy from both parties and has been clearly communicated to the voting public for well over a a year.
Ardern has said a number of times recently that Labour are still committed to a Labour/Green coalition. But for that to happen they both need the votes, and to get a progressive government we still need maximum Green MPs. So some of the votes are going to have to comes from elsewhere including from NZF.
While I appreciate that Labour are doing what they have to to gain power, it would be nice to see them adopt some NZF policy as well as what they’ve accrued from the Greens, and let NZF voters know that their vote is safe with Labour.
Beyond that, perhaps it’s time to get past the whole kingmaker roll entirely. MMP has so much more potential than this. Imagine what last night’s leader debate would have been like with Shaw included. The FPP duopoly broken, and NZ politics taken out of the combative stance that comes from only two parties in opposition. Instead of politics as a shouty match we could have an engagement of human beings and how they can work together.
Shaw demonstrated this when Paddy Gower cut David Seymour off and asked Shaw a question instead, and Shaw said to Gower that he needed to give Seymour the time he was entitled to. Gower did and later apologised. It was a small thing but it said heaps and people took note. These actions of changing how to do things are happening all the time with the Greens and this is core to the Green Party kaupapa. They are clearing a path to a different kind of politics.
Shaw said at the end of the debate that he’s there to not only change the government but to change how politics is done. Yet another good reason to have strong Green representation after the election.
Twenty-three days to go. The MSM are saying a progressive Labour/Green coalition is possible so it must be a thing now, right?
Labour trends towards Green-Māori coalition https://t.co/ZMbOD60UVR
— RNZ News (@rnz_news) August 31, 2017