- Date published:
4:08 pm, October 31st, 2020 - 139 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, democratic participation, election 2020, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, referendum - Tags: cannabis
Stuff’s chief political reporter, Henry Cooke, made this comment on twitter just now,
the members’ call for the green party’s deal with labour comes at a time of much higher animosity between the green party base and labour than usual
The timing of the past 24 hours has certainly been interesting. Plenty of disappointed cannabis referendum voters who are additionally disappointed in Minister of Justice Andrew Little’s responses to the vote in the past day (as well as the timing of Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of having voted yes).
I rate Little highly as a politician and think Labour and New Zealand are fortunate to have him. I also generally like politicians to engage on twitter. But his tweets in the past day post-referendum have me wanting him to sit down and shut up. Here’s his official statement about the referendum, and you can see his reply tweets here. You can also look through responses to him to get a flavour of how many on the left are feeling about his and Labour’s position since the vote.
The Green Party will present the deal to about 150 regional delegates for a vote later today, and 75 percent of them must support it for the deal to be accepted.
I’ll update the post as soon as an announcement is made. There’s been a lot written in the past few weeks about whether the Greens should do a deal with Labour or stay on the cross benches, and what kind of deal they might get given Labour’s majority. I don’t have any real sense of what might happen with the vote, but it’s important to remember this is delegates making the decision, it’s not a general party wide vote.
I wrote about the Green Party’s coalition negotiation process in 2017 here,
As I understand it the two teams work on a coalition deal as per above, and this deal needs to be something likely to be acceptable to the membership. Once a deal (or deals) are proposed, they are taken to the members at the Province level, who then use consensus (or, if necessary, 75%) to reach a decision. Delegates from each electorate go to a Special General Meeting of the Green Party and any deal needs either consensus or 75% of the delegate vote.
Henry Cooke is sitting on his twitter account twiddling his thumbs, it’s probably as good a place as any to hear the first news of the announcement.
My first impressions. The Green vote increased on 2017, but they would have considerably less Ministerial positions and input into government. This is a weak point in MMP, which is supposed to increase representation not be used to reinforce majority rules. It also has me rolling my eyes a bit at Ardern’s rhetoric about wanting to do right by MMP.
Labour and Ardern are clearly doing hard man, power-consolidating politics here. It looks a sweet deal for Labour, much less so for the Greens. While power-consolidation is standard NZ politics, and is particularly a feature of the old left, it’s not what is valued in green politics, where power sharing and relationship is much more of a factor. Disappointing. The GP delegates not getting the details of the deal ahead of Ardern’s announcement seems just rude.
The things that might be good for the Greens here are Shaw remaining Minister for Climate, and the more internal aspects of parliament. Access to other Ministers, positions on Select Committees, two way consultation on agreed policies and those outside the agreement, a continuing positive relationship with Labour, the ‘no suprises’ agreement.
My gut response is saying that unless there is something serious in the Climate portfolio that would allow Shaw to lead the country on what we actually need to do, the Greens should walk away. Of note is that Shaw being the Minister would mean that the Greens couldn’t criticise Labour’s lack of action on climate over the next three years, Shaw will be bound to speak as a representative of government not GP policy.
Very difficult position for the Greens to be in, that decision. For those of us that believe we are out of time on climate, I’m thinking it’s better for the party to cut its losses and be freed up to go hard on climate. Everything else pales into comparison, and we are well past the point of incrementalism being useful. There’s not a lot of point having power to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Better to stand on the deck and raise the alarm.
On all other issues, I can see pros and cons for the deal, but on this I can’t. Unfortunately for us all, most of New Zealand doesn’t yet take climate seriously enough to vote in parties that will take meaningful action.
My rational brain is saying the Greens can make good use of the smaller amount of power Labour is willing to share. I’m just not convinced that most rational is what is needed in the face of the climate and biodiversity crisis tidal wave bearing down upon us. I can also see the value in the Greens continuing to play the long game, and what we really need now is a strong extra-parliamentary movement that will hold Labour to account on climate and shift the vote for 2023.
UPDATE 2: the Green delegates have accepted the deal, with an 85% support vote.