- Date published:
9:59 am, May 23rd, 2022 - 95 comments
Categories: democratic participation, election 2023, greens, labour, maori party - Tags: doughnut economics, how things change, kate raworth
I wrote a post Budget Day: there are real alternatives, which outlined what Doughnut Economics is, and where New Zealand sits in the scheme of things. The Budget later that day was a mix of good and bad, and lefties inevitably arguing about whether Labour had done enough.
One of the things that struck me about the podcast was how positively and cutting edge Raworth saw the Labour government from an international perspective. She talks about the revolutionary nature of shifting economic goals from growth to wellbeing. Many are looking to New Zealand to lead on this. It was eyeopening to get that outside perspective of just how far we have come, and I had a similar sense with the Climate plan release last week.
Actually, our success lies in our wellbeing. And it’s the wellbeing of the people of this place, and it’s the wellbeing of the living world here and the whole living world in which we are embedded
Aotearoa New Zealand has adopted wellbeing economics, one of the few governments in the world saying let’s put a new value at the heart of our politics. That is so powerful! If you think of systems thinking, Donella Meadows, one of the mother thinkers of systems thinking. She says, you want to change a system, you need to go to one of the high level leverage points. And quite near the top of the leverage points is to change the goal of the system. Once you have done that, a lot of other things follow. So that’s the first step.
Yet here we are largely complaining about Labour. With good reason, but there’s a strange jarring in the two positions that I suspect serves us badly because we risk missing that things are changing and how we can build on that.
More and more I think about Labour being stuck between a rock and a hard place and that instead of lefties throwing shit at them, we could be breaking up the rock.
There are obviously good people in the caucus and party at large, and equally obvious is the intention to make New Zealand a better place via left wing and progressive values and policy. Yet they won’t take the bold steps needed on climate, poverty, housing, environment, and are still firmly wedded to the exact neoliberal model that prevents action.
The left’s default position is defence or condemnation, so I’m going all greenie here and saying there’s a third way to understand and to respond to this.
It’s encapsulated in these three tweets.
And why us Greens fans support Labour as the only possible partner…
— The Pratform NZ 🗨 (@ThePratform_NZ) May 22, 2022
It really is that simple. A chunk of current Labour voters voting Green in 2023 and we would get Labour policy plus Green, shift the Overton window, and move faster and better on the stuff that many left of centre New Zealanders say matters.
After years of doing reconciliatory politics, the Greens are being blunt, and many (myself included) will be pleased to see them speaking the truth out loud: this is what the two policy sets look like, this is what we could have.
This is exactly the framing we need. It’s not Labour bashing, but it’s not a political wallflower position either. It shows us how a party can speak up strongly to differentiate itself from its potential coalition partners. This is the politics of MMP from the left rather than the Peters-esque, holding everyone to ransom position of the centre that we’ve come to see as the only way to wield power.
But that’s not all that is going on. A Labour supporter is saying this is why he votes Green. He’s not a Green supporter. And a Green supporter is saying ‘we need Labour too’.
This gets even more exciting when we consider Te Pāti Māori. What if instead of a new left wing party arising that saves us from neoliberal hell, we worked with the three very good parties we already have. This is MMP coming to fruition.
Another theory of change,
Did it work? Did they get the numbers to enact these policies?
— Graeme Edgeler (@GraemeEdgeler) May 22, 2022
What gets talked about in politics matters. The Greens want change not power. They get policies enacted without even being in government. Think climate and poverty, where the narratives have been sufficiently moved to allow Labour to do the work. This is one of the key ways that change happens from the edge.
But it’s true that Labour have also shifted the narrative and changed how the centre think about wellbeing, poverty, climate. This is gold, because it’s the centre that determines elections in New Zealand.
The TL;DR of all this is that we need both Labour and the Greens, but we need more Green MPs than we need more of Labour.
This message needs to be repeated again and again: if we want a progressive government capable of solving poverty, climate, housing, environment, then the Greens enable Labour to do that. The more MPs they have, the more that can happen.
(Green Party policy is here if you want to check out what the Green list above is about)