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The year of the Greens?

Written By: - Date published: 7:26 am, September 23rd, 2011 - 55 comments
Categories: election 2011, greens - Tags:

Several commentators have suggested recently that the Greens have crossed some kind of “credibility threshold” and are poised for a strong performance in November. Here’s John Armstrong:

‘Green Wave’ shows party is serious

… Now comes – for want of a better term – the “Green Wave”. On a roll in the polls and having largely shed their image as a bunch of bicycle-clip-wearing eco-obsessives, the Greens have made their strongest pitch yet to be treated as serious participants in the debate on economic policy.

The party’s economic policy – released yesterday in the guise of a plan to create 100,000 “green” jobs – deserved better than the ritualistic slagging offered up by John Key and Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce, who fronted in Bill English’s absence.

Sure, the plan’s central element – the creation of up to 81,000 jobs through building a new $6 billion to $8 billion export industry in renewable energy technology – should be treated with the same healthy scepticism as other claims of pending nirvana. But can those scoffing at the Greens come up with anything better?

John Pagani:

The Greens get it together

I’ve been impressed with the Greens lately. In elections since 1999 the Greens repeatedly positioned themselves in a way that made joining a government almost impossible. This seemed to be a deliberate strategy to avoid taking responsibility for actually making hard decisions an compromises.

After this election all the original Green MPs will be gone and the party seems ready to get a bit dirty: more serious, less radical, more electable, more capable of compromise in pursuit of tangible gains. …

The Greens have made some hard choices about their priorities. Choosing the issues to campaign on, and what policy they most want to achieve, means being realistic about what you have to say no to, at the expense of maybe disillusioning a few noisy core supporters. … Grouped under the clever slogan “for a richer New Zealand”, they’ve made their top priorities:

  • 100,000 kids out of poverty
  • Cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers and lakes, and
  • Green jobs for New Zealand.

… We’re still waiting for National’s plan.

There are several similar opinion pieces (and one dissenting view), as usual NZ Politics Daily has a good summary.

For myself I have mixed feelings.   I was a big fan of the party of Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons, and I’d hate to see the Greens lose their political soul.  On the other hand I support any party of the left, and I’m happy so see one doing well (yes even at Labour’s expense, I’d be happy see Labour dragged to the Green / Left a bit!).

I’d be particularly interested to hear what Green supporters think of the party’s “new direction”.  The proof of the pudding is coming up in November of course.  The Greens always seem to poll better than they perform in the election.  Will they break the mould this time?

55 comments on “The year of the Greens?”

  1. Jim Nald 1

    I would like to hear the Greens and Labour campaigning to nurture a richer Green Economy with smart Green workers and employers working hand in hand.

  2. DJL 2

    Sorry, unless Rusty looks straight into the camera and says something stronger than ” highly unlikely”,
    I can’t give them my vote. Would not like the Nats gaining credibility on the back of green voters.

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      Quite. I am not giving my vote to the Greens for Rusty to do a Nick Clegg.

      • outofbed 2.1.1

        Doh
        pst don’t tell anyone, The Greens will NEVER support National
        The “Highly unlikely” is code for ‘over my cold dead body,
        probably may pull in a few wavering Blue/Greens eh?
        I mean why hitch your wagon to the twitching corpse of the labour party

        • AAMC 2.1.1.1

          Yeah, nah..

          I’ve voted Green at every election, the fact they would publicly state their willingness to join with National suggests a move to a pragmatic unprincipled playing the game and to the focus groups like the rest of them.

          And so this time I’m more likely to vote Labour, although I prefer Green policy, cause I can’t support a National Coalition Government.

          Although part of me thinks, fuck it, why vote, sell up, move to the country, their ALL gutless.

          • James 2.1.1.1.1

            So you would vote for a party that has voted in support of National Party policy while the Greens refused, all because the Greens said they would work with anyone to forward good policies?

            • Jim Nald 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Ok, below is the relevant bit of the Green’s AGM remit of 5 Jun 2011 from
              http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/independent-greens-could-support-labour-national-unlikely

              I will think about these and what was also quoted from Metiria there, and I will comment again later.

              “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.”

              • Ari

                All the current policy on a coalition with National means is that the Greens don’t care about what party name their potential coalition partners would use- they care about policies and the way they’re implemented.

                National would have some dramatic changes to make if they wanted the Greens’ support- and in the event that National actually runs left enough of Labour on issues of key importance to the Greens, then National would get their support.

        • Tangled up in blue 2.1.1.2

          The Greens will NEVER support National

          If people haven’t figured that one out yet then there’s no helping them.

          • AAMC 2.1.1.2.1

            “The Greens will NEVER support National”

            “If people haven’t figured that one out yet then there’s no helping them.”

            So don’t say you will.

            • Tangled up in blue 2.1.1.2.1.1

              I didn’t say I would.

              If you want to vote for a party closer to National because of some misinterpretation about the Greens supporting National, go ahead.

              • AAMC

                Didn’t mean to suggest you said it, I meant the Greens shouldn’t say it.

                My point is that I never previously questioned my desire to vote Green, because they seemed to at least stand by their principles and say what they believed despite the potential political consequences.

                Thins seems to have changed. It may be a winning strategy.

                How I vote is yet to be decided, if there was a strong message from the Greens pre election, especially with the death of noe-liberalism in stark reality before us providing them a platform for that narrative, I’d be there in a second. If they keep playing the focus group game, it’ll just confirm to me that the political system is in disrepair and I’ll vote against National but begrudgingly.

      • toad 2.1.2

        That’s simply not going to happen because it is not the Green Party leadership’s decision to make.  The Greens make these decisions democratically.

        Any confidence and supply deal with another Party has to be ratified by a Special General Meeting of the Green Party at which every electorate is represented.  The Party’s membership therefore makes the decision, rather than its Leaders or MPs.  And National is never going to give swallow sufficient dead rats to reach a position that would convince the Green Party membership to support them governing.

        • thejackal 2.1.2.1

          Never say never Toad. The reality of the situation is that the Greens are the only party to propose policy that looks at tackling one of the worlds most pressing problems, climate change. There will come a time when even the ignoramuses that make up the denialist clique that is the National party will come to their senses. Their aperitif will be dead rats followed by a large jug of I told you so, with sprinkles of a collapsing dollar on top. The main will be some chunks of broken highways with a dead export sector for desert. By that time I doubt the Greens will even need Nationals support at all.

          • toad 2.1.2.1.1

            Fair enough.  I meant in the foreseeable future.

            • thejackal 2.1.2.1.1.1

              The difference being that it will be an increase in National supporting Greens policies, not Greens supporting National’s policies. Depending on how the numbers fall, governmental support for Green policies could increase as soon as the 26th November.

    • felix 2.2

      DJL, Jim: Indeed.

      oob: Code? I’ll take my promises in plain English, thanks.

      James: Irrelevant, it’s a question of Confidence & Supply. Any party should vote for policy they agree with regardless of Confidence & Supply.

      Toad: Wasn’t it a membership vote that got us to this position anyway? If so, how is relying on the will of the membership supposed to reassure me in any way?

  3. just saying 3

    Hate the way the ‘usual suspect’ pundits are spinning this increase in support as being a credibility issue, and that moving right, increasingly kow-towing to focus-politics, opening the door to “institutional capture” wider, and becoming more like the two main parties, is making them more appealing to voters. And they are encouraging the Greens to keep up the good work, and implying that they are moving in the direction of ‘maturity’ rather than just plain selling out.

    Seems to me that actually, the reverse is true and that voters are turning away from Labour in disgust, because they epitomise the kind of corruption these experts suggest the Greens are such good boys and girls for buying into.

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    A vote for National is a vote for a wolf that looks like a wolf and has behaved like a wolf every time it is in office. One can vote with the full expectation of ‘being eaten’, even if candidates dress as sheep for a few weeks before the election.

    A vote for the Greens is a vote for a fox dressed as a sheep.

    This sums it up nicely:’ less radical, more electable, more capable of compromise in pursuit of tangible gains.’

    Nature doesn’t compromise and nature cannot be negotiated with.

    Either something is green or it’s not. And the Greens are not. They promote ‘lite’ industrialism at the end of the industrial age: it’s rather like supplying an alcoholic with low alcohol beer and expecting the alcoholism to be cured by it.

    • James 4.1

      It’s more like rehab which is known to work better and more-reliably than going cold-turkey.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 4.1.1

        Like Afewknowthetruth I welcome the end of the industrial age which Afewknowthetruth predicts with complete certainty will be over by 2013 tops. The only question is, what age should we choose next? Personally, I have always been a fan of the middle bronze age, personally but acknowledge that I am a bit of a romantic.

        • Afewknowthetruth 4.1.1.1

          TGF

          Please do not misquote me.

          Guy McPherson said ‘lights out for the American empire by 2013’.

          I said ‘a 70% chance of a major economic jolt by the end of 2011, a 100% chance of a major jolt by the end of 2012′ and collapse of most current economic arrangements by is more or less certain by 2015’.

          The end of the industrial age could be all be via a gradual process that takes place over the next decade or two, or could be way of a ‘black swan’ event. It’s impossible to pick ‘black swans’, which is why they are called ‘black swans’ 🙂

          However, it comes, it will be a lot faster than most people imagine, especially those who are expecting present arrangements to continue through the 2020s, 2030s and 2040s.

      • Afewknowthetruth 4.1.2

        Rehab? Not at all. The Greens promote continued addiction -just look at what they have on their website!

        ‘”We will create 100,000 new jobs through direct government investment in housing, by ensuring our state-owned energy companies capture the massive export opportunities in renewable energy, and, most importantly, by shifting the drivers for green jobs in the private sector.

        As well as stimulating jobs at a time of economic uncertainty, our initiative will make our economy more resilient and protect our natural environment, without going further into debt.”As well as stimulating jobs at a time of economic uncertainty, our initiative will make our economy more resilient and protect our natural environment, without going further into debt.

        “Our costed plans will mean we’re able to pay down debt more quickly than the current Government is planning to.”

        The Green Party’s economic priorities include plans for direct government investment, building sustainable infrastructure, supporting the greening of our small and medium-sized enterprises, driving clean technology innovation, introducing smarter regulation, getting the prices of resources and pollution right, protecting our ‘100% Pure’ brand, reforming capital markets, making our workplaces fairer, and measuring progress differently.

        Stimulating jobs and protecting the environment are mutualy exclusive concepts.

        ‘capture the massive export opportunities’ = pro-globalisation policy.

        There is no such thing as ‘sustainable infrastructure’.

        There is no such thing as ‘clean technology innovation’.

        There is no ‘right price for pollution’.

        ‘protecting our ‘100% Pure’ brand’ is a lie. NZ has one of the worst per-capita environments in the world.

        It’s drivel, followed by more drivel, followed by yet more drivel. But it will probably appeal to the scientifically illiterate.

        In practice, all we can do at the end of the industrial age is attempt to cushion the fall, whilst acknowledging that by doing so we are still wrecking the planet.

        • Ari 4.1.2.1

          Sustainable infrastructure isn’t just a buzzword, it actually has a specific meaning- it’s infrastructure whose fuels and construction materials renew within its normal operating lifespan.

          And I have to disagree with you on pollution, too: The right price for it exceeds the cost of cleaning it up perfectly, because often the time taken to clean it up has led to health risks for those exposed, and possibly those responsible for cleaning it. Sometimes cleanup isn’t even possible. If our best method of preventing pollution is to cost it, then polluters need to pay more than the overall cost of their pollution, so that it’s always in their interest to invest in technology that really is clean, and not just greenwashed, and if such technology doesn’t exist, there’s enough profit to be found in reducing pollution that it’s worth the research to develop it.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2.2

          Stimulating jobs and protecting the environment are mutualy exclusive concepts.

          QFT.

          Can’t be bothered writing it out again so here’s a link.

    • Bang on, capitalism doesnt do lite.

    • Muzza 4.3

      Well said. The Greens are nothing more than a false addition to fool the electorate further.
      Red , Blue , Green , Black. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE PEOPLE!

  5. James 5

    What new direction? The Green’s evidence-based policies have always been about long-term thinking. I didn’t really understand NRT’s problem. Will these policies create jobs? Yes. So what’s wrong with focusing on that point when selling your policy to people who only want to focus on new jobs?

  6. Joe Bloggs 6

    There might be a whiff of credibility about the Greens were it not for the sanctimoneous self-promoting publicity stunts they’ve been engineering during the past few weeks.

    Their efforts to appear as a serious, credible and trustworthy alternative to Labour are diluted by the likes of Matt Dillon and the way that he misled the Waikato Times when his part­ner Melissa Camp­bell appeared in a story on Mon­day about her likely vot­ing inten­tions ahead of the election.

    Their efforts are further undermined when the Greens convenor, Georgina Mor­ri­son, claimed Max and his part­ner did not delib­er­ately mis­lead the media. The Waikato Times editor put the lie to that statement when he said Ms Camp­bell had every oppor­tu­nity to dis­close her partner’s role in the Green Party. Dur­ing the inter­view she was asked what her part­ner did, why she was sup­port­ing the Greens and how she became involved in Green issues but she did not dis­close her affiliations.

    And further undermined by their astroturfing initiatives… nothing wrong in using social media – but shilling for the Greens without advising you’ve been sent there to shill by the Greens HQ? Strikes me as a deceptive practice that positions the Greens fairly and squarely alongside the astroturfers from other major parties.

    … and further undermined by their deceptive “Job Creation” policy – as NRT points out its not really about jobs at all; rather its about greening our economy, with jobs as a byproduct. Not necessarily a bad thing of itself – but when greening our economy is presented in a tissue of lies dressed up as a job creation programme then the Greens credibility suffers.

  7. freedom 7

    The sooner we get over the defacto-FPP vehicle of Confidence and Supply and democratically run our Parliamnent as a MMP body, the better for our Nation. It will be difficult and we will probably not get it right immediately, but we the people voted for MMP.

  8. alex 8

    Personally I like the direction the Greens are going in. When Clark was PM I was a huge fan of Labour, but then I exited my teen years and realised leadership is about more than just an iron fist. The Greens are the real leaders of forward thinking and long term policy in the country’s political scene. What I really like about them is that they are looking beyond 2014. Sure, the jobs policy is short term, but with the number of unemployed out there we really need it, their policies on kids and rivers will not bear political fruit for a generation, and yet they still want to push them, because those policies will benefit the country more than any others being promoted this year. Its just that we will only see the benefits in a decade.
    They seem to be the only party which has a vision for the country in 2021, and I like that vision, a clean environment, high tech renewable energy economy and better social outcomes for the next generation.

  9. gingercrush 9

    I think its far too early to argue whether we’re seeing, “The Year of the Greens” when we’ve consistently heard it since 2005. Yes the Greens are a 5%+ party and therefore look to be in parliament after every election. But considering what they were polling prior to 2008 and what they actually got in 2008. Its a bit early wouldn’t you say.

    Also one day they’re going to be in government and so far that has pretty much stuffed every party that has done so. I guess the one difference would be that besides Act prior to Hide as leader every other minor party that has entered parliament post MMP have been parties based around personality and not issues focused.

    • Ari 9.1

      Yeah, the Greens tend to actually be skeptical (but hopeful) about such predictions, too. We’d love it if it all worked out our way, but we tend to overpoll at least a few times every election cycle. (much like Labour and National do too, for that matter- political winds change, or people say they want to vote for you but don’t get out on election day)

      I imagine actually being inside Government would be difficult for the Green Party, but given the strong pragmatic and democratic roots of the party beyond just personality politics, I’d like to hope it would be easier for them than other smaller parties.

  10. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 10

    I have been hearing wonderful things about the Greens. Mainly from candidate’s partners:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5658184/Green-candidate-apologises-to-newspaper

    • James 10.1

      I can’t find the article in question but really, she should know by now that she’s just someone’s partner; like that Gillard woman.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      What has a candidates partner got to do with what ever party the candidate belongs to?

  11. Interesting that as Toad seems to be the only identifiable Green member posting here, everyone else is talking in a vacuum of information, using known biased media sources (kiwiblog? pfft!) as quotes.

    The policy process outlined by Toad is immutable, has been going that way for decades, and produces genuine flaxroots consensus decisions which flow up from membership to the elected representatives and internal elected party officers.

    The ‘not left, not right, but different’ position has been stated at every AGM since around 2006, to my memory. National’s spinners are picking up on it now because they’re desperate.
    The vote has always been that National will have to come a very long way before any of our policy points agree with their position – the wording is not about Green politics changing, but about charitable possibilities being expressed that the National Party may come to an understanding of the seriousness of climate change, the unsustainability of the current economic paradigms, and an acknowledgement that there is real anger amongst the unemployed young that need to be dealt with in a compassionate manner – all positions that they are resolutely digging their heads into the sand over.

    On the current state of National policy and observable behaviour (including a most cursory glance at Hansard for the past 12 months), I’d say the odds on hell freezing over & the Greens joining a pact with the devil are far more likely than forming a government with National in late 2011.

    I’d say go and compare Green policy announcements to National policy announcements on their website, but it appears that they still haven’t got any policy to campaign on. Too busy rushing through dictatorial legislation under urgency, I guess.

    • Ari 11.1

      I’m renewed again, I’m just slow on getting to the comments. 🙂

    • felix 11.2

      “Interesting that as Toad seems to be the only identifiable Green member posting here”

      In what sense are you using the word “interesting”?

    • McFlock 11.3

      The trouble is, as soon as you go outside the “left-right” dynamic, I worry that the rejection of clear differences in economic and social policy means that the Green definition of “highly unlikely” is also “different”.

    • Puddleglum 11.4

      Hi anarkaytie,

      I think the problem with the Green policy/position statement is less the question of whether or not the Greens would, in fact, enter a confidence and supply (including abstaining) or coalition agreement with National, and more that it adds rhetorical weight to the claim that a Key-led National government is ‘moderate’, ‘centrist’, ‘reasonable’, ‘balanced’, etc..

      The rhetoric in support of Key’s brand, remember, is constructed out of a thousand sound-bites that are consistent with that brand. This is one of those sound-bites.

      It does this – for the general public who are ‘highly unlikely’ ever to vote Green – because the way the position announcement was covered gave the impression that Key must be pretty moderate because even the Greens haven’t ruled out going into coalition with his government. I assume that the Green leadership had some control over how the position was covered.

      Beyond that rhetorical impression – that facilitates wavering voters to stick with Key –  I’ve also been very uncomfortable with this catchy “not right, not left, but different” slogan. I first remember hearing it from Tanczos when he was running for the leadership, but no doubt it predates that.

      I think that slogan is incredibly simplistic. Despite premature announcements of its death, the ‘left/right’ dichotomy will remain for the simple reason that it signifies one of the most fundamental features of societies that possess some form of hierarchy: The few at the top have an interest in preventing the many lower down from taking control.

      The only way to go beyond the ‘outdated’ left/right divide is to go beyond hierarchy (not just ideologically but in practice). I don’t see that happening any time soon. The claim that someone (or a party) can, in reality, be ‘neither left nor right’ in its practical effects is one – admittedly, extremely minor – step away from achieving such a non-hierarchical world.

      I say this simply because I believe the first step towards change involves the admission of reality.

      The extent to which the Greens still promote and defend social justice, participatory democracy, workplace democracy, alternative (collective) models of property ownership and the like is the extent to which they remain ‘left’. To the extent that they compromise on those issues in order to gain some environmental policies or ‘say’ at the top table is the extent to which they are ‘right’.

      BTW, that judgment depends not on my opinion but on the social, economic and political state of our world. It is a state out of which you cannot opt simply through an assertion of how you would like to be perceived (i.e., ‘different’, ‘beyond the old-fashioned dichotomies’, etc.).

      Tony Blair famously charted a ‘Third Way’ but it is not hard to place his government, and its practical effects, on the old ‘left/right’ spectrum.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    I’d be happy see Labour dragged to the Green / Left a bit!

    I’d be happy to see Labour become a left-wing party again.

  13. newbie 13

    I simply don’t believe Russel Norman when he pretends to be pure and wave a Tibet flag- that seemed to come with the well- the kind of piety that Rod Donald and Fitzsimmons embodied.

    but it is good to see the Greens pushing green growth- for years I despaired of the worthy, but boutiquey issues distracting from the fact that a green perspective could easily and rewardingly be a mainstream one in NZ.

  14. millsy 14

    I have e-mailed the Greens and asked if their public transport policy included returning bus services back to public ownership. It would be interesting to see their reply…

  15. Pete 15

    The Greens may twist their words, but many fear they will enable National. Norman needs to come out and re-assert Green principles. Make it crystal clear to all:

    “We will never go with National, in any way shape or form”

    That’s what a true party of the left would do, surely….

  16. John D 16

    Greens:

    Anti mining
    Anti fossil fuels
    Anti farming
    Anti hydropower

    Did I miss anything?

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  • Ground-breaking on NZ Post depot
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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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