- Date published:
4:20 pm, May 14th, 2023 - 54 comments
Categories: Culture wars, election 2023, greens, Media, media abuse, Politics - Tags: academics, bryce edwards, critical thinking, pundit
Trust in academics is on a downslide, as is trust in general. This is exacerbated by academics hiding a personal-political agenda when they dabble in the public domain.
Dr Bryce Edwards recently wrote a piece (https://democracyproject.nz/2023/05/10/bryce-edwards-the-civil-war-in-the-greens/) that paints a negative and distorted picture of the Green Party and its policies. He claims that the Greens are divided into two factions, struggling in the polls, and distracted by cultural issues. He also questions whether the Greens have achieved much while in government, and criticises their ministers for not doing enough on Climate Change, housing, or homelessness.
However, the piece by Edwards is not politically neutral or objective, but rather biased against the Greens and their social justice agenda. The article contains speculative content, anti-Green Party bias, and lacks political neutrality and objectivity.
The article uses emotive and derogatory language, sometimes contained in selective quotes from other sources, to describe the Green Party and its members, such as “infighting”, “plot”, “rebel”, “dirty politics”, “whispering campaign”, “kangaroo court”, “shenanigans”, “culture wars”, “self-absorbed student activism”, and “pettiness”. And “woke”, of course.
Edwards also portrays the Green Party as divided into two factions: the environmental faction led by James Shaw and the social justice faction led by Elizabeth Kerekere and others. He implies that the environmental faction is more legitimate, reasonable, and popular than the social justice faction, which is depicted as radical, disruptive, and marginal.
Of course, the Green Party is not perfect, and they have faced some difficulties and disagreements within their caucus and membership. However, these are not signs of a Civil War, but rather of a vibrant and diverse democracy within the Party that allows for different opinions and perspectives and tries reaching decisions by consensus. The Green Party has always had a mix of ideological threads, including environmentalism and social justice, which are interrelated and complementary issues. Dr Edwards cannot be oblivious to this and feign ignorance, which makes it even more puzzling when he makes those categorical claims without providing evidence for them.
The article relies on unnamed sources, such as “a number of party staffers”, “some activists”, and “members he [Thomas Coughlan] spoke to”, to make claims about the internal conflict and dissatisfaction in the Green Party. It does not provide any evidence or verification for these claims, nor does it present any alternative or opposing perspectives from other sources within or outside the party. Thus, it is unfair and lacks balance.
In the article, Edwards speculates that the Green Party is struggling in the polls and may lose support or seats in the next election due to its internal conflict and focus on social justice issues. He does not provide any data or analysis to support this speculation, nor does he acknowledge any other factors that may affect the Green Party’s performance or popularity. His claims are easily debunked by looking at the opinion polls that have been conducted since the last election on 17 October 2020 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2023_New_Zealand_general_election) and they show that support for the Greens has been quite steady. It seems to be wishful thinking on Edwards’ behalf.
The article questions whether the Green Party has achieved much while in government, and criticises its Ministers for not doing enough on Climate Change, housing, or homelessness. This is not a new problem and highlights the problem of a minor government partner not always receiving the acknowledgment it deserves and not always credit where credit is due – the reasons for this are diverse, yet continued by this one-sided article by Edwards. The article does not acknowledge any of the achievements or challenges that the Green Party has faced while in government, nor does it recognise any of the constraints or compromises that the Green Party has had to make as a minor partner in a coalition government with Labour.
In fact, the Green Party has achieved quite a lot while in government, such as leading climate action with the Zero Carbon Act and the Climate Change Commission, ending or at least limiting new offshore oil and gas exploration to protect our planet, creating many new nature-based jobs with the Jobs for Nature programme, et cetera.
I think Edwards’ article could be considered manipulative or misleading, as it presents a distorted and negative picture of the Green Party and its policies, without providing any balance or context. The article could influence political opinion by discouraging potential voters or supporters from choosing the Green Party, or by creating a perception that the Green Party is weak, divided, and irrelevant. I believe it could also suggest a political agenda by the author, who may have a preference for another party or ideology, or who may have a personal or professional animosity towards the Green Party or its members. However, this is a pure speculation on my behalf, of course.
Bryce Edwards does feature a lot in NZ media and has a high profile. Therefore, his opinions, which are wrong and unfair, in my view, have a relatively wide reach that could sway a relatively large number of voters. This is relevant, in my opinion, because the upcoming General Election is an important opportunity for the people of New Zealand to choose their representatives and their future direction. I think it is vital that voters have access to accurate and balanced information and analysis, and that they are aware of any potential manipulation or misleading information in the media.
Dr Bryce Edwards is not only a political pundit and Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, but also the Director of The Democracy Project, a research company that claims to enhance New Zealand democracy and public life by promoting critical thinking, analysis, debate, and engagement on politics and society (https://democracyproject.nz/about/). The Democracy Project is hosted by the University, but independently run by Edwards, with help from independent researchers. They say they are resolutely non-partisan and ‘for the public good’.
However, this may create a false impression of academic objectivity, impartiality, and neutrality. On the one hand, Edwards may use his academic credentials and institutional affiliation to lend credibility and authority to his opinions. On the other hand, he may use his independent status and editorial freedom to express his personal preferences or agendas without being accountable to any academic standards or ethical principles other than the much weaker ones that apply to NZ media & broadcasting. This could be misleading or manipulative for the readers who may not be aware of Edwards’ political views or interests – I am not aware of them because he has never openly and explicitly disclosed them, as far as I know. He cannot have it both ways.
For example, in his piece, Edwards criticises the Green Party for being captured by the middle class and the social justice agenda, which he regards as superficial and self-interested. He also praises the environmental faction of the party, which he sees as more legitimate and popular. However, these views are not based on any rigorous or balanced research or analysis, but rather seem to be based on his own ideological bias and speculation. In fact, Edwards has written several other articles for The Democracy Project that reveal his disdain for what he calls the ‘woke’ politics of the Green Party and other progressive movements (e.g., his recent criticism of The Disinformation Project, which I would like to tackle in another Post, as this one is already getting way too long). He has also expressed his admiration for some conservative politicians and parties that oppose the Green Party’s policies and values, or at least portrayed them in a positive or favourable light, compared to his portrayal of the Greens.
Therefore, I think it is important to expose Edwards’ potential bias and agenda, and to challenge his claim to be non-partisan and ‘for the public good’. I think we, the voters, at least deserve this.
He has annoyed me for years. The sad thing is some people take him (and others like him) seriously. Perhaps if he got out more, he might find the time to talk with real people who would find his views bewildering, not to mention arrogant.
Gave up reading anything he does years ago, cut and past king that hasn't had an original idea ever.
100% Bryce makes a decision, then cherry picks supporting materials and views.
He has an apparent agenda, as all negative comment is one way traffic.
I too, stopped reading his self important cant.
Wait a sec.
In election 2017 the Greens got 6% after tracking around 10% for many months beforehand.
In January 2018 they were tracking at 10% average but in election 2020 they got 7.9% and the support of an electoral seat.
In January 2021 they were tracking higher than Act, but come election year they are heading into 6%.
And of course despite achieving a fair bit, in 2023 the members including the caucus decided to fire James Shaw after being breadcrumbed into it by Matthew Hooten, failed… and James promised to be all fire and brimestone on the governments' ass (remember that) …
.. now in the middle of the list conference, 5 months out from the election, their Number 3 candidate decides to self-immolate and leave the party with a big public Fuck You.
And somehow this scale of Green underperformance is due to Bryce Edwards.
Incognito pass me whatever you're smoking.
I would love to share it around but it won’t do you any good; you need new reading glasses.
BTW, I can’t remember James Shaw being ‘fired’ by the Green Party members and caucus. You might have to refresh my memory, as I’ve been smoking too much.
Even the most left-inclined survey the Newshub-Reid, has Greens down 1.4% or over 10% of their support.
Wake the fuck up Greens stop the internal damage and improve your actual voter popularity.
Thanks, I hadn’t seen that new poll.
Little bit tough Ad.
It is really difficult for a party to present a cohesive professional unified front that the media will talk positively about (think Act).
And to have a vibrant member controlled party that will have differences of opinion that can be presented as a negative thing.
Bryce is an expert at commenting on the politics and ignoring the need for a dignified open discussion about policy.
Political argument is what you have left when you burn most of your policies and just react. So list conferences become the only political narrative lift.
Unless Hipkins or indeed Shaw can generate a policy diet more substantial than dipping yet another sausage roll into yet another saucer of tomato sauce, this is what we are going to get for the next 5 months to election.
National were also tracking higher in the months before the 2017 election …
Labour in Jan 2021 were also much higher than they are now
And since then despite achieving a bit Labour has lost the number one on their list
And somehow the scale of the Labour under performance yada yada
Green under performance can be explained by the fact that they do not decide anything, and Edwards like the Teals in the DP (including some loud anti woke and anti-Maori ones – such as GA) can express lip service to the environment wing values, if not the woke.
Yet “hilariously” (totally unaware of the total paucity of supporting evidence or basic logic) they say the Greens are captured by the woke middle class – because Labour have only acted in that area. Of course this claim is based on Labour blocking Green policy on taxation and incomes, rental and state housing (as well as environment).
Ad …the Greens, despite being written off many times, have been in parliament for 27 years continuously and are polling around 8% now.
I look forward to a progressive Lab/Gr/Tmp government in October.
Or are you advocating a Luxon/Seymour horror show Ad?
I agree Ad.
The first sentence is correct. As for the rest of the comments, some academics have only themselves to blame for the loss of trust.
Take as an example the witch hunt a group at Auckland University mounted against the Listener 7 in 2021.
This article is utterly unconvincing. The central argument boils down to 'not it's not, all is good here'. Well, it's not. It's faction v faction in the Greens, leadership turmoil and people being shafted. If that's not civil war I don't know what is. And I don't need Edwards to tell me that!
Once you start boiling down a long Post on a complex and nuanced topic you’ll end up with indeterminate dark residue at the bottom that makes for poor comments. However, I don’t mind an opposing opinion, as long as it isn’t made under false pretence.
Sorry to be a green hater, but labour is a majority government.
The greens are not actually in government, adjunct sure, but in – no.
If I was being generous to the greens, I'd say Shaw did OK all things considered – even if he is not my cup of tea.
Oh and Jan Logie did a bloody good job. Up hill all the way.
The greens have always had factions..
When I was active in the greens I was in the vegan/animal rights faction..
It was a lonely campaign..
One way to evaluate how assiduously ms davidson discharged her ministerial responsibilities as minister for the homeless…is to note that in her third year in the role..her profile can be summed up as:
Ms davidson minister for the homeless..
Her silence has been resounding..
Yeah but she's really nice, (except the little racist thing )
She was on TV1 News re homelessness last month.
Very good post Incognito, thanks.
If nothing else, a bit of counter-balance.
Suggestion for ms. davidson on how to spend some of that money..
Work with councils to provide ablution blocks..
Give the homeless the basic dignity of a hot shower..
Too much to ask..?
Bad use of those funds earmarked to help the homeless..?
There is an outfit called Orange Sky that provides showers and laundry facilities for homeless folk. If they're doing it right, funding to expand would be appropriate.
Yes a party not at war with itself totally has mps laughing on air about gossip about another mp and then leaks screenshots to the media just after the preliminary party list ranking comes out and then has weeks and weeks of staffers and members with each side leaking statements to the press accusing the other side of racism bullying , leaking further screenshots and has a large amount of membership resignations.
Then we have a rogue mp resigning over a mean text after attacking the party leadership and after trying to delay rankings…. Oh and let's not forget it's a party where the membership tried to roll the leadership and it took far too long for certain mps to rule out challenging shaw.
If that's not a civil war , what is…
Bryce is one of the better commentators in NZ politics and one of the only mainstream political commentators who mentions class.
The fact that he's hated by the left and right depending on what he's said that week means he's doing something right, both the left and right each literally think the entire media is biased against them and both sides want to silence media voices who disagree with them.
The left has had a particularly ridiculous bee in it's bonnet about Bryce because he interviewed protesters at the parliamentary protest last year, which is heresy according to the left that ana academic and a political commentator might want to interview and research a radical political movement that occupied land directly across the road from his work.
The left is furious that he interviewed these people, as if his style of coverage was the same as agreeing with them.
The left is also grumpy that he questions the disinformation project an agency that makes bold claims but refuses to release it's data, because middle class lefty's need to believe that anyone who disagrees with them is a frothing fascist, transphobic white supremacist.
You can disagree with Bryce, I disagree with him all the time but we don't need to "expose" people or do as many would like, try to get him fired for the sin of disagreements.
The idea that we'll expose and destroy people for not agreeing with us is why high quality candidates refuse to stand for office and why the public hates politics
Instead of attacking a guy with an opinion, the Greens should focus on giving people reasons to vote for them and getting more seats cos right now they look like a party stuck in idle focusing on themselves rather than a party hellbent on being a part of govt
Agree 100%. I'm a lifelong green / Labour voter, but not this year. The hate and violence they showed women at the Stand Up for Women event in Albert park this year was the last straw for me.
Thanks Corey, your comment seems to be the most substantial counter argument to the OP. I disagree with you on several points and would like to challenge some of the claims you make in your comment.
First, you say that the Greens are in a Civil War. You refer to some historical incidents that were resolved quickly and peacefully, and I don’t think that those reflect the current state of the party. This is subjective, of course. The Greens have a democratic and consensus-based process for making decisions and resolving conflicts, which allows for diverse views and perspectives to be heard and respected, in constructive debate and dialogue. In this way, they are different from the other NZ political parties and quite possibly the least well understood.
Second, you assert that Bryce Edwards is one of the better commentators in NZ politics because he’s one of the only ones who mentions class. However, you don’t explain why you think his commentary is better or more accurate than others. You also do not acknowledge any of the biases or agendas that he may have, or any of the flaws or errors that he may make in his analysis. You seem to imply that because he’s hated by both the left and the right, he must be doing something right. However, this is a fallacy of false balance, which assumes that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of two extremes. In reality, Edwards may be wrong on both sides, or he may be right on some issues and wrong on others.
Third, you claim that ‘the left’ has a “particularly ridiculous bee in it's bonnet” [sic] about Edwards because he interviewed protesters at the parliamentary protest last year. However, you do not address any of the criticisms or genuine concerns that the left has raised about the contents, rather than style, of Edwards' coverage of the protest. You also don’t acknowledge any of the ethical or professional issues that may arise from Edwards' role as both an academic and a journalist. You seem to suggest that because he’s an academic and a political commentator, he has a right or a duty to interview and research any political movement that interests him. However, this doesn’t mean that he can ignore or violate any of the standards or principles that apply to his work, such as accuracy, balance, fairness, transparency, accountability, et cetera. If he were to limit himself to writing opinion pieces for TDB, it would be a different situation. He can’t have it both ways.
Fourth, you say that ‘the left’ is furious that Edwards questions The Disinformation Project. I hope to address this in a different Post soon. However, you seem to take Edwards’ accusation of TDP at face value. If so, this is a fallacy of false authority, which assumes that because someone is an expert or a critic in one field, they are automatically right or credible in another field. In reality, Edwards may not have enough knowledge or evidence to question or challenge TDP's work.
Fifth, you say that we don't need to "expose" people or try to get them fired for disagreeing with us. However, you don’t explain what you mean by "exposing" people or who’s trying to get Edwards fired – I certainly don’t. You also don’t acknowledge any of the legitimate reasons or methods that people may have for criticising or challenging Edwards' work such as writing a critical blog post on here on TS. You seem to suggest that because he has an opinion, he has a right to express it without any consequences or accountability. However, this is a fallacy of free speech absolutism, which assumes that because someone has a right to say something, they are immune from any criticism or responsibility for what they say. In reality, Edwards does have to face some feedback or consequences for his work.
Lastly, you argue that instead of attacking a guy with an opinion, the Greens should focus on giving people reasons to vote for them and getting more seats in Parliament. However, these two things are not mutually exclusive or incompatible – I’m not the Greens. You also fail to mention any of the reasons or achievements that the Greens have given people to vote for them and support them in government. You seem to suggest that because Edwards has an opinion, he has a right to influence public opinion without any counter-argument or alternative perspective. This is nonsense, of course. In reality, I or anybody else, for that matter, can challenge Edwards' opinion regardless of what the Greens may or may not have done and what they or may not offer. I think that for the sake of balance it is important to speak up even if it means disagreeing with Edwards or anyone else who tries to undermine or misrepresent the Greens. I’m not attacking a guy with an opinion, but defending a party and their policies from biased and flawed commentary.
Look forward to your post on the Disinformation Project.
While I support their aims wholeheartedly, I note that they have repeatedly made extraordinary claims referring to "genocidal" levels of a "tsunami" of vitriol, then refused to release source data for their claims by stating that the source data is "too confronting". I have looked. There is nothing.
Not releasing source data means that they cannot claim to be scientists. At this point they are commenters, who may or may not be fudging the data. Nobody can tell, because in contradiction of all normal scientific practices, there is no source data.
I'm not saying they are wrong. I'm just saying that the claims they make need to be backed up, and to do otherwise is a disservice to the people they claim to be serving.
Not all lefties conform to anyone's characterisations
That sounds like some middle class liberals
The right is engaged in class war against the have nots using the excuse that individuals acting in their self interest is the most efficient economic system, and resorting to race/cultural heritage and religious/social conservatism of the group to realise a voting majority.
Can you name anyone who wants him fired from academia or writing for media?
Really? Can you cite the cite any evidence about this?
Politics is essential for democracy.
The Greens have made no statement about Edwards. The media report about the Greens as much as their policies, and that says as much about the nature of media coverage of politics today as the Greens themselves. And that is why there is now government funding of media – and the DP – to reduce the impact of social media disinformation.
Just want to tautoko this important and timely post, thanks Incog.
(Sorry I can't enter to the text field when hitting reply from phone, this is reply to Corey Humm @ 10)
I got from the post that the way the Greens are reported on is at least a sizable part of the problem. If they 'quietly' go about their business and get anything done, they're invisible: doing nothing, or worse, someone else gets credit. If they show a bit of mongrel, they are 'stroppy' and get blasted for that. If they differ about how to go about things, they're 'at war '. They can't win in a media environment that trades on negativity.
I actually think there are plenty of reasons to vote for them, but that bait doesn't get clicks.
I think there are biases in Edward's piece but it was overall a reasonably accurate picture.
I also think there's altogether too much emphasis on "factions" and who's "team" is "winning" as if that's a deciding factor in Green votes.
I'm not voting Green because I hold a genuine belief that policies and laws passed by the Greens are permanently hurting vulnerable kids. It's not complicated and it's not about teams.
if you are talking about transition, afaik all parties in government support gender ideology. Not voting on the left gifts government to the right who will both support child transition and fuck over kids in lots of other ways.
I will be voting on the left somewhere. Where? Who knows. If TOP looks like getting in I will probably go with them.
Labour, GP, TPM all support gender ideology.
TOP may go into coalition with National. Have they said anything about gender identity politics?
Point one: it's this kind of sweeping certainty that I disagree with. Gender is not separate from biology in my experience; it couldn't be. Of course people can represent however they like; but to insist I agree with it, to insist that I believe it as well, is uncomfortable at best.
Rather than shoehorning words to fit into a broken society, shouldn't we be improving society eliminate any kind of 'roles' tied to gender or sex?
thanks arkie. So supports self-ID, is non committal on sports, and thinks Citizen's Assemblies might be the way to resolve conflicts of rights.
It's very vague on things like toilets. Doesn't say anything about child transition, but I'll guess because of the self-ID stance they are ok with children transitioning.
Most sport is not split into binary categories. In the case of fighting sports and Rugby and the like then its two categories but these are the exceptions and for clear safety reason they are obviously justified. Otherwise the two categories are mostly Open and Woman's. Females can participate in the open category though that's an exception and they are usually at the absolute top level to be doing so.
But the claim about actual trans exclusion in sport is completely incorrect. The alleged exclusion is not something Sport's administration has been guilty of. Transgender people can (and do) participate in the Open (or Men's) category as they always have been able to. As far as I have observed the attitude of Sports administration to additional participation is basically, yes please how can we help with that, at every level. The groups lobbying here should be expected to demonstrate the exclusion before their allegations are taken seriously.
Well, there is TOP off the list then. The usual recitation of Gender Ideological mantras.
laws passed by the Greens
Assuming this is the BDMRR amendment you are referring to, this is just factually incorrect. It was tabled by Jan Tinetti, Labour MP, passed into legislation in 2021 under the Labour government, with unanimous support of parliament:
There is no party in parliament that didn't support the amendment.
Thanks for the clarification. I guess I’ll be holding my nose, throwing a few LGB kids under the bus, and voting somewhere on the left.
You say you are concerned about the transitioning of children. Are you aware of recent changes in public health policy in this area?
I have to say that I think Bryce Edwards is accurate on some points.
First, his depiction that the Greens are/were a mixture of three idealogical threads – environmental, social justice and socialism is spot on. He is also correct when he says that the socialism element is now long gone.
I was an original supporter of the Greens Party when they were formed in the very late 1980s and first contested a general election in 1990.
I attended several meeting and was very heartened by the earnest and honest attitudes of the candidates and supporters. They were ordinary people, very ordinary. There was no pretension, no big grandiose plans, no railing on about who you were or what sex you identified with or any of that rubbish. A nicer bunch of people you could not get. Of course they got ridiculed in the media for their preference for low-tech lifestyles. Derisive comments about them wearing home-spun woollen jerseys and building compost bins were common.
This Greens Party has long disappeared and the real people in it who led by example like Jeanette Fitzsimons have been replaced by smart-ass professional PR consultants who are not so interested in debating the environment as they are debating gender politics.
Bryce Edwards' article is actually quite well written, you can't say he's a bad writer just because he writes things you don't want to read or don't agree with. I think he puts out quite valid arguments and some of them make a lot of sense.
There is a lot more I could say on this, but others will probably say it for me.
when you say socialism is gone, what do you mean?
@ Mike the lefty..
I know sainthood has been conferred upon j.fitzsimons…but really she was pretty conservative..and happily hopped into a minister outside cabinet in a clark gummint…where nothing much was achieved/progressed..
And I totally disagree with your broadstroke depiction of the current greens…and your good then/bad now caricature is both simplistic and inaccurate…
I have said before that shaw has been playing a long game..and is nearly there..to be in a position of advancing green/environmental policies..(and had not the last election turned into a referendum on pandemic handling..he would have been there then)
The projected mix of labour/greens/tpm has the potential to effect real/needed change..
So for former greens to be contemplating shifting their vote from those three speaks more of them/their political beliefs..and must be an exercise in bad timing..
And those on the left eying up top must know that a while ago there were whispers of national doing an act in epsom deal for top..so giving them the tick could see left-wingers/greens helping to vote in a right-wing gummint…
"The projected mix of labour/greens/tpm has the potential to effect real/needed change".
Potential is no good without the will to do something with it and that seems to be lacking at the moment. Labour has had the real means over the last six years to transform this country but hasn't done more than a bit of tinkering to the tired old model.
Dare I hope things will change?
I can bang on and on about what a bloody disappointment this labour ruling alone gummint has been..
But I do think labour needing green/tpm support will be a very different playbook…
I remain optimistic..
The Greens would be a very unusual political party if there were no factions, back-stabbing, devious plots etc. Those things are impossible to eradicate if you still want to have a political party at the end of it.
The stuff about "underperformance" bothers me. The fact that James Shaw hasn't been able to impose his will on a Labour govt and have it do his bidding is a "well, duh." Anything the Greens achieve as a minor party and recently a minor party outside govt is good performance.
I can accept that people commenting on social media might not understand how MMP, government and parliament works, but Edwards should know better. He's not the only one (looks hard closer to home)
Absolutely. He's supposed to be not just some arsehole with an opinion (someone like me, for example) but a professional political scientist. A lack of understanding is a lot less likely in that context than malicious intent.
you say trust in science and academia is on a downslide. what you dont do is ask why.
that is pretty poor reporting and no anaysis is just kneejerk b/s. all effects have a cause and if you the writer knew your stuff then you could dosomething about it. I suggest you try Marvin Harris' Theories Of Culture In Post Modern Times for a start and tghen come back with some sort of reasons for this decline and why.
That book was published in 1999 and unless it was prescient, it won’t answer your question. Nice try though.