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Green options

Written By: - Date published: 7:17 am, October 12th, 2017 - 11 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, labour, MMP, nz first, Politics - Tags: ,

A few thoughts from social ecologist and green politician Nandor Tanczos on the options for the Greens in the coalition deal process,

On the other hand, if he goes with Labour and elbows the Greens into the position of a support party outside of government, the Greens might end up with more leverage than they have now. The government would still rely on them to pass all its legislation, unless it can get support from National, but the Greens would not be bound by rules of cabinet responsibility. Labour could guarantee to support NZF legislative initiatives but not to pass them. Or it’s own for that matter, unless it ties the Greens into a closer arrangement than confidence and supply.

If the Greens were in a C&S arrangement with the government reliant on them for votes, they would have to use such power carefully and wisely. To be seen to be hamstringing the government would likely provoke a backlash. But what they could do is use the opportunity to strategically carve out a broader support base, by being seen to speak and exercise power on behalf of some new constituencies – ones that disrupt the left / right model of politics that they are currently trapped in.

Finally, it is a shame to see that the small parties are unable to talk together during coalition negotiations (and by all accounts it is Winston that refuses to entertain the possibility). NZF and Greens have plenty in common and no doubt by working strategically together they could achieve far bigger gains for both of them. Divide and rule is an old tactic but I don’t understand why anyone would play that trick on themselves.

Full article, including Tanczos’ view on what Peters is doing, is worth reading here.

The value in this is not in trying to guess what will happen this week/next week, but to understand that the Greens have options here. If the Greens prioritise change over power, then the whole ‘they have no leverage’ rhetoric becomes less important than the fact that the Greens are necessary to form government but still have choices in how they participate in that.

I have no doubt that they will make the best of that they can but it might not necessarily be what people assume. The Greens are at heart co-operative but not pushovers. There is power in having choice and those with the courage to wield that power for change rather than for power’s sake aren’t well understood in our macho politics culture. So the narrative might be that Peters pushes them out, but that doesn’t make them victims with no agency. If there’s one thing we’ve seen this election it’s that the Greens have balls and ovaries both.

Tanczos also wrote recently about the longer term options for the Greens to move beyond their current reliance on Labour,

To illustrate: in order to build a more robust support base and grow the vote for a progressive government, the Greens need to stop trying to poach Labour voters and identify new constituencies. There are around 450,000 small businesses in Aotearoa employing 5 people or less. Self employment speaks to core Green ideals of supporting local economies, building self-reliance and personal autonomy, helping people lift themselves out of poverty and fostering stronger linkages between businesses and the social ecological communities in which they are located. I know a great many small business owners who support the ideals of the Greens but who don’t connect with us a party because we are not speaking to them.

There are actually lots of Greens who are small business owners – probably a disproportionate number compared to either National or Labour. Both National and Labour tend to focus on large corporate bureaucracies and play little attention to how their policies impact on small businesses – who as we know are New Zealand’s biggest employer. For years the Greens put loads of effort into trying to woo the unions. It would be worth putting the same effort into understanding how to support a sustainable, resilient and regenerative business ecology. Certainly no one else is doing much in that space.

Escaping our ‘left of Labour’ trap is not about ‘moving to the centre’. The very notion of a centre sitting half-way between Labour and National is irrelevant when we locate ourself on a triangle. Neither is it about ‘abandoning our principles’. Rather it is about embodying them in their entirety. What they cannot mean, though, is relegating ourselves to the periphery of power just because we are committed to giving Labour a free run.

So where he says in the first article “by being seen to speak and exercise power on behalf of some new constituencies” I assume that’s part of it. I would also see the potential for the Greens to speak and exercise power on behalf of welfare recipients and other people living in poverty.

11 comments on “Green options”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    Green MPs and staffers will have been talking to their NZF counterparts for months in preparation for this circumstance; likewise Green and Labour “players”.
    Surely.
    If not, I’d be very surprised.

  2. cleangreen 2

    As a former Green Party member (1999-2002) I suggest that this new Green Party ride on the Labour Party coalition with NZF to get some inclussion now with the real changing of the government that will then require a serious input from most Green Party policies that align with labour/NZF policies as a first option.

    Then cement the coalition during the first three year term to show the electorate that it is a durable stable coalition Government to again be elected in 2020 for the continuatiion of the pocilies that are needed to go on to produce a kind, caring, inclussive administration that will lift all new Zealanders up to the liveable standard again as we used to have during the 1950-1970’s.

    A very wise man once told me once ” slowly slowly catchie monkey” was the best approach.

    I hope the current Green party realise it is better to be a opart of a government rather to be sitting outside the tent; ‘so to speak’ for our own collective best common interests.

    Personally I find James Shaw and Julie Anne Genter both very good custodians of what i call the ‘new Green Party’ and hope they support the coalition no matter what terms they need to agree to at this our hour of need to change the government before it reaches destruction under National.

    Time for us all to be ‘heros’ for our country.

    ‘Lets do this’

  3. I’d like the Greens to use this parlimentary term to rebuild voter support and increase the potential party vote for next election. I want the Greens up to 20% so change CAN be driven by them. imo trying to do too much will weaken the greens.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      I don’t think that Greens should stay in Opposition, as long as the Labour and NZFirst combo are moving to bring in more progressive policies the Greens can’t go wrong. It’s time they were seen to be in Government, as some puerile commenters equate losing in the political game as being useless.

      The fact that they haven’t been into Government before is because so much of the public’s thinking and understanding of politics and what direction and process we need to succeed in all sectors, is useless. It is demonstrated every day as to what poor quality thinking, if any, goes on in some people’s brains – they just follow what others say who have more money than they have, and an excess of hubris. (And they won’t know what that means!)

      Google has a good definition:
      hubris
      ˈhjuːbrɪs/
      noun
      excessive pride or self-confidence.
      “the self-assured hubris among economists was shaken in the late 1980s”
      synonyms: arrogance, conceit, conceitedness, haughtiness, pride, vanity, self-importance, self-conceit, pomposity, superciliousness, feeling of superiority; More
      hauteur;
      informaluppitiness, big-headedness
      “the self-assuring hubris among economists was shaken in the late 1960s”
      antonyms: modesty
      (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride towards or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

    • Karen 4.2

      Always good to hear what Sue has to say. Huge respect for her.

      I’d like to see the Greens to be able to demonstrate what they can achieve in government – I think it could help push their vote share at the next election, rather than another term in opposition. James Shaw should be Climate Change Minister and Julie-Anne Genter Minister of Transport. Marama Davidson should be made Assoc. Social Development Minister, Eugenie Sage and Jan Logie need significant roles as well. Shame Kevin Hague is still not around as he would have been excellent as Health Minister.

    • CoroDale 4.3

      Sue was great. Though from the financial side, it should be added: “Expect Gnats could offer quantitative-easing to NZF. Finance for Labour’s policy, plus NZF’s policy, is fall-on-its-face, without selling truckloads of Govt Bonds internationally. Gnats can swallow pride and play good cop just-this-once, with Helicopter Drops. NZF is worried Labour could drop the ball in-front for the Rating Agencies “accidentally”. Will the Green’s re-election champagne start tomorrow?

  4. roy cartland 5

    Great post. One thing the Greens have never been that interested in is the ‘game’ of politics. Whenever they have a go, they are mauled eg Metiria. As a consequence they are not adept at the deceit and arrogance necessary in the current media environment. And they are also diametrically opposed to the way the media operates – for profit, hence for scandal and sensation.

    All this means is that they affect change more slowly. But it sticks (plastic bag ban, solar investment, water issue). And others will take the credit (as if NAT would have done anything about home insulation or rivers on their own).

    And one day they will occupy more of the seats. Throwing off the shackles of selfishness rife in current societal thinking and behaviour is going to be hard, but not impossible.

  5. CHCOff 6

    Give the Greens some leading high profile and action of their own, during a coalition govt. term, of strictly environmental territory as relates to the primary industries and small business New Zealand benefits from participating in being environmentally aware with their operations, and have it in association with leading NZ1st high profile and action of it’s own in other matters.

    That’s one general example, of what would fairly be done within proportion to their current standings relative to each other, of the three partys Lab, NZ1st and Gs accomodating each other in gaining additional niches within the current National support block if they choose to. To that current Nat voting block, it would be an accumulative effect that makes it’s carving up in all directions.

    To the extent that one or another party may gain dis-proportionately to another from ‘measured’ co-operation in this regard, is the nature of democracy (particularly the proportional type) both as regards to voting blocks of electorate and how effectively a party operates with it’s allocation of chances in such approaches.

  6. barry 7

    “the Greens need to stop trying to poach Labour voters and identify new constituencies”

    I don’t know what he means. The Greens speak for the rivers, the climate and the unemployed, because Labour won’t. If they abandon those constituencies then they will lose my vote, and I suspect, a lot of others.

  7. Philj 8

    The Greens are a ginger group for fundamental change. The message of action is important, not the party per se. Government lead action is paramount on these critical issues. Not the current laissez-faire / lazy unfair we currently have.

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