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Gordon Campbell on the MoU

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 pm, April 28th, 2009 - 29 comments
Categories: articles, greens - Tags: , ,

Gordon Campbell’s latest Scoop column takes a very critical view of the Greens’ Memorandum of Understanding with National. While the Greens’ strategy is based on the need to cooperate with what they see as a likely two-term National Government, Campbell argues their cooperation may help turn that likelihood into a certainty.

Despite the genuine merits of the home insulation plan, if its enactment lends wider credibility to a government that is elsewhere gutting the RMA and slashing public services, then the Greens cannot help but catch some of the subsequent fallout. And deservedly so.

At the very least, the Greens can hardly criticize the Maori Party in future for collaborating with a centre-right government, if it is now showing its readiness to do likewise. Yes, one can win gains for the niche support base, while still doing lasting damage to one’s image with the wider public. Ironically, the Greens deal with National will succeed only insofar as the government continues to remain popular.

Perhaps though, that is now the extent of the Greens vision that it will seek a few gains on the side from a National-led government that it sees as ruling in virtual perpetuity, rather than try to devise a more unified strategy with Labour to topple it. If true, that would herald a disappointing position of diminished expectations for the party of virtue, and long term vision.

Coming from Gordon Campbell, a supporter and former press sec for the Greens, that’s pretty scathing. And it echoes what I’m hearing all over the place from Green voters who consider themselves part of a wider progressive movement. Russel Norman should be careful that in courting the fickle Blue Green vote he doesn’t abandon his base.

29 comments on “Gordon Campbell on the MoU ”

  1. mike 1

    or perhaps the Greens are a bit more perceptive than I gave them credit for, and they owe labour absolutely nothing.

    The lap dog that tuned on its owner – brilliant.

    • Tane 1.1

      Speaking for myself as a Green voter and an active supporter, I couldn’t care less about whether they “owe” Labour anything. Parties are just vehicles. I’m more interested in the success of the broader progressive movement and the principles it fights for.

      I think Gordon’s analysis is right – that’s unlikely to happen so long as a part of that movement is supporting a right-wing government.

      • Ari 1.1.1

        We’re clearly not supporting them, just like we said at the beginning of the election. The co-leaders signed a document that said “here are two things we can work together on.”

        Your position seems to be predicated on the idea that two parties can’t work together on something without being best of buddies- which would surely mean that National “supported” Labour and the Greens last term on free trade and the repeal of section 59, respectively. And anyone would tell you that’s nonsense.

        What it boils down to is that you’re handing their PR victory to National by accepting their framing of this agreement as our “support”, when actually the Green Party gets two policy wins and access to the government on two specific issues in return for nothing- we’re still voting against the government on confidence and supply.

  2. Jungle Feaver 2

    I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist I admit but do you think there might have been a few “conditions” involved in the signing of the MoU?

    • Tane 2.1

      Na, you’ve never met a more honest bunch of folk than the Greens. I’d seriously doubt any secret dealings on their part.

  3. Johnty Rhodes 3

    What base is that TANE – communism?

    • Tane 3.1

      Yes JOHNTY, the Green Party are COMMUNISTS. Now run along and let the grown ups have their discussion.

    • RedLogix 3.2

      JR…Damn you got us sussed.

      [Note to General Sec: Bumb this dude up the list.]

      Tane:

      Like you I support the wider progressive movement ahead of any party specifically. In general I prefer constructive moves … and this MOU doesn’t pass that sniff test. Too clever for it’s own good.

  4. toad 4

    Yep, Tane, it is a bullet the Greens had to bite. But I think we bit it right.

    It is tactical, not strategic. And the time to do it is early in the electoral cycle, so people will see how strongly the Greens oppose the Nats’ anti-worker and anti-environmental policies.

    I think it is a good call – showing that the Greens can achieve something even under he most adverse Governement to their policies, an without compromising their programme and principles.

    But come the promised undermining of collective bargaining or privatisation of ACC (if the Nats have the gumption to go ahead with those), all hell will break loose – led by the Greens.

  5. Kinoy009 5

    It is just a joke that the Green party have signed up to the MOU.
    This will for sure take away some of their core supporters. I work in an area with alot of unionised workers who voted for them in the last election and now dont trust them at all.
    Russel norman should head back to australia and stop driving the green party in a way that it is not part of its values. Where was the vote from its members to support this awful MOU?

    Russel is a joke.

  6. outofbed 6

    It is not Russell Normans policy FFS
    It would have been signed of by caucus
    And if Sue,B Keith, and Catherine signed it of that tells you something doesn’t it, if it doesn’t it fucking well should
    And I get feedback from lots of Green supporters and it is not as negative as the feed back you have been getting Tane
    must be a South island thing 🙂
    As frog says its tactical
    Look getting between 5 and 7% every election is not where we want to be I think there was a lot of disappointment in the Greens after our great campaign and not breaking past 7%

    we are an INDEPENDENT party ffs

    “Where was the vote from its members to support this awful MOU?”,
    It is entirely consistent with the policy committees recommendations
    highlighted and flagged last year that we will work in areas of interest with all parties. I could find you the links and references if i could be arsed

    BTW Every Green party member can have input into all policies and policy making process

    We are comitted to our 4 core principles as we have ever been
    The Enviroment SOCIAL JUSTICE Local decision making and Non violence.

    cap magical 8 3/4 ” i wish”

  7. outofbed 7

    tane et el Lets look at this another way
    Just suppose that this Mou helps get an more efficient and well planned home insulation plaln happening. Maybe with the input and ideas of the greens (and not leaving it to clowns like smith and brownlee) a better scheme will eventuate and lets say by doing that a lot more people are going to have warm and drier homes and less sick family members
    If the Greens by contributing their considerable expertise in matters of energy conservation helps this to happen would that be better then doing nothing????
    Would that not actually be practicing what we preach namely positive benefits for poorer families
    Better then waxing lyrical about the wider progressive movement
    you know actually trying to do something

    • Tane 7.1

      oob – it’s a valid point of debate. Feel free to write a guest post if you like outlining why the MoU is a good idea. We’re all about the broad church here.

  8. gingercrush 8

    I really dislike how certain elements of the left think the Greens deal with National is a disaster. I’m rather disappointed by Campbell’s blog post but then I don’t find many of his blog posts to be that credible. I think he talks a lot of nonsense frankly.

    This is how MMP is suppose to work. No party gets a majority. Parliament therefore requires consensus. They never needed that pre-MMP because the way the electoral system was set up meant it was far easier for a single party to govern alone. MMP doesn’t allow this. National nearly made it successful last year. Labour were close in 2002. Yet despite those huge results that would have normally see an unbelievable landslide to either party. The system now makes that impossible. This is one reason, so many people thought changing the electoral system would see a parliament that is based around concensus. Of course parliament is set up to be adversial and even with MMP parliament continues to be adversial. But to pass legislation requires the support of other parties.

    Labour were rather good at setting up such relationships. But they remained fearful of their natural partner in politics and instead forged better relationships with parties that are more centrist. While, they had a relationship with the Greens it never was a relationship that matured. They also showed their spite in 2005 when they chose New Zealand First and United Future over the Maori and the Greens. They had a small relationship with the Greens. But it wasn’t anything substantial. While the Maori party were literally told to shove it. I certainly think the way Labour set themselves up post-election 2005 led to their downfall.

    National meanwhile has further cemented consensus building in politics. Not only have they chosen their natural partner Act. They further chose United Future. Itself a party that was always closer in political terms to National than it ever was Labour. But National also crossed over in forging a confidence and supply relationship with the Maori party. Something that may well have difficulties but nevertheless shows a change in how parties approach politics. The Greens further cements the consensus building.

    MMP is at its best when parties form proper alliances and relationships with other parties. Not only from those parties who one would naturally expect. But also parties with whom there are huge and significant ideological differences. Of course its a win for National. National has finally shown the maturity required to hold political power under MMP. More than that, they’ve done a far better job than Labour who once held the nous for MMP relationships. The greens though too win. They get influence on policy going through the house. Rather than merely being an opposition. They are both an opposition but also have actual abilities to do things in the next three years. Of course this isn’t anything new for the Greens since they had such a relationship with Labour over the years. The difference is a Green-National relationship isn’t natural.

    Despite how artificial this relationship is. It nevertheless is the type of relationship and consensus building so many people originally expected in MMP-style politics. It also allows them to increase their values, their policies, their philosophy in a time when the people of New Zealand voted for a centre-right government. Instead of merely sitting in opposition, watching many things they believe in fall they can make small but eventful steps to advance things the Greens believe in. Hence why it saddens me, that the active lefts see this as a betrayal. Campbell is wrong when he says: If true, that would herald a disappointing position of diminished expectations for the party of virtue, and long term vision.

    The advancement of Green issues surely is long-term vision and any way the Greens are able to advance their philosophy is surely in the best interests for New Zealand and its environment. By choosing to forge a relationship with the National party. The Greens are advancing their philosophy. Something I actually thought was more important to Green voters than increasing party vote share and baubles of office. Though it would appear that the Greens can only advance their philosophy by being Labour’s lapdog and only being necessary, if Labour can’t forge relationships with other parties. That to me is certainly more disappointing.

    • Chris 8.1

      Good analysis here – I certainly agree that MMP is forging new kinds of relationships and new styles of relationships – such as a Nat/Green MoU. This is to be expected under MMP.

      My real worry is that Nactional will cover themselves in glory with the fruits of this policy – ‘you’ve got a nice warm home now? All thanks to us! Vote Nactional – we keep you warm’. (The irony would be lost on them)

      The Greens are going to have to work hard to make the link – ‘warm homes = Green homes’ or something similar.

    • lprent 8.2

      I can only be bothered with a couple of misconceptions…

      They also showed their spite in 2005 when they chose New Zealand First and United Future over the Maori and the Greens

      Wrong. The greens didn’t get the seats required because they ran a very so-so campaign. There is no consensus required . What is required is seats in parliament to be able to pass legislation.

      Helen was faced with two possible main coalition partners in 2005 to achieve that. Greens or NZF. The latter made it clear that they would not work in a coalition arrangement with the greens and would not support the government in other ways. The Greens didn’t have enough seats for labour to make an agreement with them alone.

      The Maori party were a brand new party with almost entirely new MP’s. In parliamentary terms they are volatile because the internal workings of the parliamentary team haven’t been forged, and the MP’s have bugger all idea about their environment. They reminded me of NZF of 1996, which had the same issue and such a sterling record for stability. Helen rightly didn’t consider the MP to be something that one could build a stable government from. They needed to get seasoned.

      Helen opted for stable government where she could rely on the votes in the house without having to scrabble too much. After all that is a major reason why she dissolved parliament in 2002 early when the Alliance disintegrated.

      I’m afraid your analysis of why Labour didn’t go with the Greens in 2005 needs a lot of the razor – think of the simplest explanation first. That is that the Greens didn’t get the seats required to be a stable parliamentary partner.

    • jarbury 8.3

      Good analysis ginger. However, Labour didn’t really have the choice of going with the Greens in 2005 because there weren’t enough seats in just Labour & Greens to govern. I reckon Helen Clark would have been pretty gutted about that.

      There are logical gains out of this deal, and there are also issues with it in terms of how it’s perceived.

      As I’ve said before, my head knows it’s a good step for the Greens but my heart really hurts seeing them perceived as supporting National.

  9. Yes Gordon, finally a some support for my initial revulsion at this anti-progressive. move.
    Remember if you’re not for us you’re agin us? G.Bush

    The Greens are essentially a Conservative movement which is why I’ve never got on board with them, but this bed-in with the Tories just signed off on my particular Misunderestimation Of Understanding.

    First the maoris – another deeply conservative party of Landed Privilege whilst espousing urban sophisticated values – what a sham.

    Now the Greens – a deeply conservative party espousing urban sophisticated values.

    An awful lot of False Advertising in our politics.

    Labour are just so right to treat these conservative fringes in sheeps clothing with kid gloves.

  10. Nick 10

    I voted Green for the last three elections on the basis of the need to protect the environment. I am in agreement with “fencedinwithesheep” that the Greens are basically deeply conservative urban sophisticates…..and consequently more at ease with the status quo so long as they can influence to make the hard edges fuzzy and warm. It al adds up to alignment with the right even if not consciously. I wont be voting their way again.

  11. outofbed 11

    the Greens are basically deeply conservative urban sophisticates

    What complete and utter bollocks

  12. outofbed 12

    That is that the Greens didn’t get the seats required to be a stable parliamentary partner.
    Unlike Jap and UF eh ?

  13. Clarke 13

    That’s a good piece of analysis, lprent … to which I would add that the Greens may have the highest principles in Parliament, but they are tactically naive and show little evidence of developing better political skills.

    For example, Peter Dunne got back in Ohariu in 2008 solely because the Left vote was split between Labour and the Greens – we’re talking around 1,000 votes being the critical number. And if we look at the candidate the Greens put up, he was a twenty-something ex-student who was not exactly going to set the blue-bloods of Khandallah alight. To add insult to injury, the person concerned already had a good position on the Green list, and only narrowly missed getting into Parliament through the list.

    So what was the point of standing him in Ohariu? If there was some adult supervision in the Greens, they would have either (a) put up a candidate that would genuinely appeal to the demographic of the electorate and tried to increase the overall Left vote, or (b) not stood a candidate at all and helped Charles Chauvel across the line – which would have put the vehemently anti-Green Peter Dunne out of Parliament.

    No doubt some Green supporter will blather on about the “will of the electorate committee”, but the reality is that it looks naive, like a bunch of adolescents who (despite their high principles) can’t see past the immediate future.

    And sorry to say, Russell Norman standing in Mt Albert looks to be cut from the same cloth.

  14. Bill 14

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with parties from across the political divide working on areas of common interest.

    That does not require a MoU though, and certainly not an MoU that hands an effective veto to Nat on what the Greens can and cannot say on those matters of common interest. (No comment at all while discussions are ongoing and only joint media releases afterwards.) Being limited to joint media releases is what is going to bite the Greens again and again and again.

    Maybe an opportunity now exists for the Alliance to get themselves back on the scene on the back of the Greens potentially imminent auto destruction?

    That would be no bad thing in my mind.

  15. If the Labour Party thinks bad policy needs Green Party support that is their mistake and lack of advancement from the Foreshore and Seabed mistake and things like support of the Cypress Mine on conservation land on the West Coast.

    Labour has not supported unions when jobcuts have occured, supports the Afghanistan war like National and has a lack of environmental integrity.

    When Labour develops better social and environmental policy they may be able to make a more mutual partnership with the Green Party. If Labour says sorry to the Maori Party and changes its ways it could perhaps work with them too.

    What will Labour to do blunt National…? The time is now, how Labour reacts to the Nats/Act supercity will determine a lot. How Labour works with on environment policy and with movements and organisations will also be telling.

    Labour needs to know how to work in real alliances and partnerships, or risk isolation.

  16. Also Helen Clark was conservative and not an activist. Hard to say Phil Goff is leftwing, never seen him on a picket or march against the Iraq war, a hikoi, or march against GE.

    Labour is no radical party, or socialist, anti capitalist or even social democrat or democratic socialist party.

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