Wow, what is up with this election, right?
David Clendon and Kennedy Graham last night attempted to force Metiria Turei’s resignation as female co-leader of the Green Party by saying they would quit if she didn’t, and their bluff has been called. James Shaw has since addressed the issue, and confirmed that he will be seeking to have them both removed from the Green Caucus, (for actions bringing the party into disrepute- as I have said elsewhere, Green MPs aren’t supposed to engineer leadership spills, and the party actually takes good behaviour rather seriously) although he will most likely not seek to remove them as MPs and replace them given how little time is left in this sitting of Parliament.
What this means in practice is that they will be removed from the Green Party List for the coming election, likely confirming Hayley Holt and Teal Crossen1 as MPs if the party holds ground on its average performance in polls, and possibly even Teanu Tuiono and Leilani Tamu as well, if it achieves its maximum bound to date. These are all excellent candidates who deserved to be further up the list, so in terms of political impact, it would be like Clare Curran doing the same thing in the Labour Party2. Teall can easily fill Kennedy Graham’s shoes in the Green caucus, so all they need to do is get sixteen seats (2 more) to make sure they’ve got someone with comparable mana to speak on climate issues and negotiations. I see this as the most likely interna cause of movement in upcoming polling of Green Party support, (continued coverage of Metiria may cause movement, but if anything it’s likely to increase support to the Greens, and a resurgence of Labour support may tempt some soft Greens support away in the polls) but I don’t know if we’ll actually see any dips because of this.
To clarify what’s going on here a little now that things are clearer, their objection was apparently related to Turei’s having been signed up in the wrong electorate and her refusal to resign after a weeks-long media beat up that has refused to dent Party support, not simply to her admission about her actions while on a benefit, as they were part of the decision to tell that story publicly, and that decision was made with consensus within the Green caucus. (ie. everyone agreed to support the decision) How one reconciles that initial decision with creating a perception of instability for the Greens with this late resignation is something I personally find baffling, but apparently they think there is some world in which that makes sense, and they are taking a principled stand by saying it’s wrong to withold information from the government, even though Metiria has very publicly admitted the very same thing to the media several times.
This strikes me as a rather good example of making a mountain out of a molehill. These were actions that, while technically a crime and rather stupid, came before she became an MP, and that two successive Prime Ministers haven’t been punished for performing because it’s the long-standing policy of the Electoral commission that you live where you bloody well say you do, so long as you can answer mail there. Nobody was actually taking seriously the possibility of dissension within Caucus until these two went to the media, and it doesn’t seem like they had actually made the leadership team adequately aware of their concerns, as nobody seems to have been aware that they weren’t fully onside.
These are people who served our country well as MPs to date, both performing well above average, but if they can’t stand by someone whose personal story has finally given us a real and honest conversation about poverty and the welfare system in New Zealand, then they needed to go, especially if they can’t respect the way that things are done within the Green Party, and can’t have an open and honest conversation about their problems. Metiria won’t resign unless she believes that she’s done her dash, Greens don’t do leadership coups or engineering resignations, and it’s appropriate for both men to not only stand down from the campaign, but be ejected from Caucus and even to potentially be kicked out of the party altogether given their breach of normal process.
1 The new Green Party list will likely be as follows, sticking to the top 20, as no poll thus far has suggested the Greens will break that particular milestone just yet. Note that at least 15 MPs are likely if the Greens hold ground, and as many as 18 are possible if the party achieves its highest results from current polling.
- Metiria Turei (Te Tai Tonga)
- James Shaw (Wellington Central)
- Marama Davidson (Tamaki Makaurau)
- Julie Anne Genter (Mt Albert)
- Eugenie Sage (Port Hills)
- Gareth Hughes (East Coast)
- Jan Logie (Mana)
- Chlöe Swarbrick (Maungakiekie)
- Golriz Ghahraman (Te Atatu)
- Mojo Mathers (Rangitata)
- Barry Coates (Epsom)
- Jack McDonald (Te Tai Hauauru)
- John Hart (Wairarapa)
- Denise Roche (Auckland Central)
- Hayley Holt (Helensville)
- Teall Crossen (Rongotai)
- Teanau Tuiono (Manurewa)
- Leilani Tamu (New Lynn)
- Matt Lawrey (Nelson)
- Chris Perley (Tukituki)
David vacates 16th position and the Northland electorate campaign while Kennedy vacates 8th and the North Shore campaign. I’ve also provided links to candidate pages for those people who have been bumped up two ranks by these resignations. If you’d like more info about the new top 14, or about people beyond rank 20, you can see the official page on the 2017 Green Party List.
2 Well, at least in the case of David Clendon, who has no significant public profile. Actually it’s a little unfair of a comparison even then, because Clendon is obviously more competent than Curran. Kennedy Graham was, essentially, the solid backbencher that gets down and does a lot of good work and has valuable expertise in a party that is currently over-stuffed full of front-bench level talent. He would have been a valuable MP if he could have acted with more honour, but given he pulled this stunt, he’s not worth having in the caucus.