There are two critical things to understand about the Greens in this matter. One is that they use the term ‘work with’ to mean work on policy. They don’t mean it to support formation of government (either via coalition or Confidence and Supply).
The other is that they are willing to ‘work with’ any party on policy. This means that they’re not partisan when it comes to the flag or climate change or any policy. That however doesn’t mean that they will compromise their core values or even their policy, it just means that being right wing isn’t enough to rule out someone as a partner in co-operation if there is common ground.
With the Green Party’s bill this week on the flag referendum there has been a surge of comments along the lines of the Greens have sold out and this means they can or will do a deal with National come the next election. These comments are to be expected from the right wingers with an agenda to undermine the Greens. It’s more of a worry to hear it from lefties, so it’s timely to revisit the Green Party’s actual position on coalition forming, including the internal processes within the party that govern how such decisions are made.
I’m a non-active Green Party member with no connections into the national GP structure, so this post is constructed from information in the public domain. Any corrections from people who know what they are talking about are welcome.
Both James Shaw and the rest of the Green Party itself have repeatedly stated that they will not form a government with National. The membership developed the current position of the party in 2011 (there is a more recent one that is worded slightly differently).
1. Overall political positioning
Agrees that, until such time as we are in a position to lead a government, the Green Party will campaign on the basis of the following political position:
(i) The Green Party is an independent and distinct party, which in order to urgently advance Green Party policy goals, will attempt to work constructively with, and challenge, whichever party leads the government after an election;
(ii) To enable any party or parties to form a government, we would need significant progress on Green Party environmental, economic and social policies and initiatives that would give effect to the Green Party Charter.
2. 2011 election positioning
Agrees that for the 2011 general election, the Green Party, as an independent party, will campaign on the following political position:
(i) Based on current Labour and National Party policy positions, the Green Party has a preference to consider supporting a Labour-led government in the right circumstances, ahead of a National-led government;
(ii) The Green Party could work with a National-led government to progress particular Green Party policies as we have over the last three years; but based on current National Party policy positions and track record it is highly unlikely that we could support a National-led government on confidence and supply.
That is how the position stands, and it was developed over time and voted on by the delegates representing branch members at the 2011 AGM. It can’t be changed by either leader nor does either leader have the power to make coalition agreements or veto them. Coalition agreements are developed by member representatives, MPs and the National Executive, and sanctioned by the membership
Finally, for those that think this is James Shaw selling out the GP for power, here he is on record (starts at 11mins) with his own personal feelings,
What I said is that, if it was up to me, I would rule out a coalition with National at the next election, and I think that we should go into the next election presenting an credible alternative government to National.
(if it was up to me means that he doesn’t get to decide, the members do).
And here is Shaw on the Green Party view on what would need to change in order for the GP to support a National-led government
“Look, I cannot see, certainly in 2017, how that could possibly function. It will be coming to the end of a third term National Government, we are miles apart (especially on the environment). The underlying economic system that produces the kind of environmental and social costs and consequences that we go on about is core to National’s way of governing. If we wanted to be in a coalition with them we would have to have a conversation with them about the nature of the economy and I can’t see them giving up on the model they’ve had for the last 30 years.“
[Update/edit/ post script etc. To save Weka repeating ad nauseam – this is not a post for discussion about the flag issue.] – Bill