- Date published:
8:42 am, August 8th, 2017 - 276 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, james shaw, Metiria Turei, welfare - Tags: #IamMetiria, #IstandwithMetiria, break left, green politics
I’ve been saying for a while that to understand James Shaw you need to listen to what he says on his own terms, as opposed to what gets reported about him or the short form interviews you see on tv. For a background to his green politics I recommend his maiden speech in parliament, but his press conferences are also a good place to listen properly to what the man is saying and means. Last night he gave a 25 minute stand up press conference in the wake of two Green Party MP’s taking themselves off the party list. Video below.
If you have any doubts about where the Greens stand at the moment, watch this. The party fully backs Turei as co-leader.
If you still think Shaw is a neoliberal plant in the Green Party, watch this. The man in the suit is indisputably telling his professional class peers that poor people matter and now have representation. There’s a new framing here I haven’t heard before, that the Greens chose this path because they felt that another year was too long to let poverty go without being seriously addressed.
Shaw’s description is also a useful demonstration of how the Greens operate – how to hold people to account for their actions without trashing them. Shaw gives mana to both Clendon and Graham for their work, their politics and their principles, and then he clearly says that how they have acted in the past day is unacceptable to the Greens in terms of party norms, culture, and process, and that the party will now act to protect itself. This is respect and taking no shit.
Finally, it’s a must watch to see Shaw clearly state that the problem here is the double standard applied to people of power and privilege, vs people who are marginalised, in respect of what levels of accountability there should be, and that he’s had enough.
At the end there’s a nice little intro piece about what green politics actually is. I hope the Greens talk about this more in depth from now on, because this is probably a crucial part of the NZ version of how to break left.
Beyond that, there’s something here about the Greens’ strength and resilience. Each series of knocks is making them stronger. This makes intuitive sense to me, because that’s how speaking truth to power works, but it’s also reminds me of the process we just watched Jeremy Corbyn and the UK Labour Party go through earlier in the year.
Things are moving fast. Faster than most of us are going to be comfortable with. I had my moments of stress when the news broke yesterday before remembering that this is the Greens and integrity will prevail. They’re being severely put to the test, and they’re proving their mettle each time.
In the volatility of this election unexpected things are happening. Labour just broke the conventional wisdom on leadership and elections and landed not only on their feet, but running fast. We’ve then seen the Greens successfully resist a concerted MSM and right wing effort to take down one of the co-leaders and undermine the principles of the party, by doing the opposite and retaining their leader. Before that the Greens opened the most important debate about poverty in a generation. The right are having to resort to low level trolling and memes that backfire on them. This is no ordinary election.
Shaw said that there are still a lot of weeks to go before voting day, which is anti-intuitive but absolutely true. Suddenly I’m feeling like not only is there time but great potential for change. We need to stay on our toes, box clever, and also dare to step up and take the risk that this is our moment.