Repositioning Rightward: The Political Consequences of Russel Norman’s Departure.

By   /   January 30, 2015  /   44 Comments

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A Shaw-Genter ticket would constitute a re-branding exercise with a vengeance. Tellegenic, articulate, non-threatening and business-friendly, Shaw and Genter would signal in a way no other pairing could hope to replicate that the Greens are ready to take their place at the Cabinet Table – regardless of who holds the lease.

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RUSSEL NORMAN’S DECISION to step down as the Greens co-leader reflects the party’s longstanding determination to reposition itself rightward. For eight years Norman’s personal energy and political discipline succeeded in turning aside the pleas of a clear majority of the Greens’ membership to break the party out of its left-wing ghetto. Only by exploiting to the full his party’s consensus-based decision-making processes was Norman able to keep the Greens anchored firmly on the left of New Zealand politics.

For eight years Norman strove to fashion a Green Party manifesto that was not only compatible with the Labour Party’s policy platform but would, to a remarkable degree, serve as its inspiration. His astonishing and largely successful mission to master the challenges of contemporary economics; an effort which allowed him to participate in policy debates with an authority sadly lacking in his predecessors, and to drag Labour along in his wake, is probably the most impressive achievement of his leadership.

It was this ability to render the Greens’ left-wing policies economically intelligible that allowed Norman to spike the guns of the Greens’ very sizeable “moderate” (for want of a better description) faction. The latter had demonstrated its power by installing Metiria Turei as co-leader – rather than the overtly left-wing Sue Bradford – following Jeanette Fitzsimons’ retirement in 2008. Had the rules made it possible, this same faction would have radically repositioned the Greens as an ideologically agnostic environmentalist party of the political centre; one capable of forming a coalition with either of the main political parties.

Norman was only able to appease these moderate Greens by holding out to them the promise of real power as members of a Labour-Green coalition government. Following the party’s record level of electoral support in 2011, and the narrowness of National’s victory, that had, at least initially, looked like a realistic prospect. What Norman could not have anticipated was the Labour Party’s self-indulgent descent into fratricidal factional conflict. Three Labour leaders in as many years destroyed any chance of a Labour-Green coalition. It also fatally compromised Norman’s political position.

The intrusion of Kim Dotcom and the Internet-Mana alliance only made things worse.

The coup de grace that finally extinguished the Green Left’s survival chances was the Labour Party’s very public spurning of the Greens’ (i.e. Norman’s) invitation to campaign together. Labour clearly regarded the Greens as mad, bad and dangerous to know, a judgement reinforced in the last few weeks of the election campaign when it became increasingly obvious to Green Party members that David Cunliffe was much more disposed to forming a coalition with NZ First’s Winston Peters than Norman and the Greens.

The final, ignominious defeat of the Left on 20 September 2014 undoubtedly caused cries of “We told you so!” to reverberate through the Green Party organisation. Combined with the slight, but unexpected, decline in the Greens’ Party Vote (the polls suggested, and the Green leadership were anticipating, an outcome of 14 percent-plus) the Labour Party’s abysmal performance, not to mention its unreconstructed hostility, when the chips were down, towards all things Green, rendered Norman’s position untenable. His fate was sealed.

It is highly unlikely that Labour fully grasps what a friend they have lost in Norman, nor how very uncomfortable their relationship with the Greens is about to become.

If Labour is lucky, the Greens’ transition from Left to Centre will be gradual. The supporters of Kevin Hague, widely tipped to be Norman’s successor, will be arguing that his accession offers the best chance of taking the party from its present position of political irrelevancy to that of permanent kingmaker in good order.

For those who favour a much more decisive break with the traditional Green “brand”, by electing co-leaders who can make a plausible case for representing a Green Party which has moved on from its radical left-wing past, James Shaw is the obvious choice. One has only to look at the official video of his maiden parliamentary speech to realise that this is a very different sort of Green to Russel Norman – and Kevin Hague.

Much depends on whether the moderates want to play softball or hardball. If they opt for the latter, then expect to see a full-scale challenge mounted for the Green Party leadership. That would not only entail the nomination of Shaw, but also of the fearsomely capable and articulate Julie-Anne Genter.

A Shaw-Genter ticket would constitute a re-branding exercise with a vengeance. Tellegenic, articulate, non-threatening and business-friendly, Shaw and Genter would signal in a way no other pairing could hope to replicate that the Greens are ready to take their place at the Cabinet Table – regardless of who holds the lease.

Under Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, the Greens belonged to the Left. Under its next set of co-leaders, especially if their names are Shaw and Genter, the Greens will belong to whoever offers them the best deal.

So long, Russel – you’ll be missed.

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44 Comments

  1. Norm says:

    So sometime soon our politics will be well to the Right of where it is now and, if the Left keeps failing, eventually anything outside of the narrow scope of neo-liberalism will be unthinkable. We will have an entrenched corporate state, sitting atop a deep surveillance state.

    If that sounds really pessimistic, tell me Chris, what’s the good news?

  2. Dan says:

    You are absolutely correct. The debate that will no doubt follow is whether a move to the right with a possible place in government, and real chance to have some influence, is the correct path.

  3. JC says:

    I agree, a Shaw – Genter ticket is the best bet but will the left wing of the Greens buy it or are we going to see another party of the Left factionalised .

  4. LilaR says:

    Don’t talk rubbish, Chris. The Greens have never been simply left, right, or centre. They’ve transcended such labels, forming policy based on what’s best for NZ and its people – and for the planet – now and in the future.

    • Sam says:

      You might think that – I would put money down that most voters and quite a number of Green members would disagree with you and place the Greens firmly on the left.

  5. Kate Kate says:

    What! So you think the Greens should just be a bit of political fluff that could float either way?
    Maybe Russel Norman is leaving because he knows our time is up on this fagile planet, our years are literally numbered, we are in the 6th massive extinction process, “climate change” will render us the last idiots standing on our only home planet.
    He will spend time with his family because he knows we all don’t have long. Why would anyone bother anymore with the usless system we keep harping on about, it all needs to go. My god it’s all a sick joke really.

    • Jomo says:

      Are you serious?
      Maybe you should have a sit and a cup of tea LOL

    • Sceptic says:

      Relax chicken little, the sky won’t fall quite as fast as all that!

      Being able to be in cabinet with either party would provide much greater influence, not less, and as an added bonus would help extinguish NZ First.

      • Kate Kate says:

        Thanks for the reassurance, I didn’t know that your scientific knowledge of the world’s weather systems far exceeded that of the worlds most distinguished climate scientists. Hey guys, ignore all the evidence. We can all relax now. @sceptic told us it is all right so it must be so. As long as you are carrying an umbrella the sky won’t fall on your head.

        Looking back at history we see that humans will always exceed far and beyond what is sane to most people in almost every scenario. e.g human slavery, the global financial crash. Why do we put our faith in these people when they show no accountability for their actions. Who was putting their hand up after the GFC to admit accountability. Do you really think the oil industry will act any differently to the climate damage they have wrought than the worlds bankers.

        i don’t see this as a different situation, it’s just that all life on earth will die out as we stare blankly at our phones. i am amazed everyone on the planet isn’t freaking out right now. it is easier to refute all the worlds top scientists than face the truth, problem is we don’t have time for this bullshit anymore, John Key and Simon Bridges and all other climate and environmental criminals should be taken out right now and replaced with Russel and the Greens. What is really scary is the amount of people who just don’t give a shit about wildlife…. only that they themselves are nice and comfy right now, well maybe the next Arctic summer will teach us all that we can’t get away with fucking up nature. where is the reaction from people about the oceans acidification? it is rather a shame that the one species that deserves to go extinct is so arrogantly ripping up this beautiful planet to pad out their lives for the bumpy ride ahead. Instead of bomb shelters in the future, cynical market forces will be trying to sell us luxurious climate change shelters for those endless summer nights. Go figure. Karma is a bitch!

  6. Dennis Dorney says:

    Chris, this is such a re-write of history that you wouldn’t be out of place in George Orwell’s “1984”. Claiming for instance that the Greens approach to Labour was a sign of willing to move to the centre, has no supporting evidence. It was simply a perfectly logical way of maximising the opposition vote. That Labour rejected the offer shows only that it still saw the Greens as too left wing, yet Russell Norman had already, economically at least, taken the Greens as far right as it would comfortably go.
    All of the debacle at the election was Labour’s fault. That Internet Mana and the Greens suffered, was due to the public perception that Labour would never ally itself with any party which threatened its hegemony, thereby ensuring that a vote for any of these parties was pointless. If anything made Norman give up in despair, that would have been it.
    What Russell Norman achieved by his grasp of economics, was to convert a wild-eyed bunch of tree-huggers into a credible party that had policies that could be supported without feeling faintly embarrassed by it. The Greens dont need to go further right than that, and there is nothing to suggest that Norman ever intended to. He will be badly missed. I dont see an obvious replacement.

  7. Dennis Frank says:

    Yes, a Shaw/Genter leadership would be an improvement – provided it is articulated in a principled manner.

    It was time to abandon the leftist alignment around 12 years ago, when Helen Clark was remaining staunch in freezing-out the greens. Even the slowest learners ought to have gotten it by then! The current leaders remain clueless as regards the big picture, even if they have handled themselves fairly well in most situations.

    The Green Party cannot be authentic representatives of green voters until it returns to the political position of the global green movement when it emerged from environmentalism in the early ’80s: neither left nor right, but in front.

    Parliamentary democracy incorporates a dualist frame: originating in the French Revolution, the left and right are designed to oppose each other. When Jeanette Fitzsimons asked us back in ’91 at the Tuakau Conference which of the two sides ought we to align ourselves with in parliament, I was adamant that it must be the left. I don’t resile from that: the Bolger government was foisting its own version of Rogernomics on the country, which thought it had voted free-market ideology out with Labour. The country needed a constructive alternative to both the left and right dinosaurs – but it never got one. All we ever get from the left is warmed-over antique socialist bullshit. Enough already!

    The point is that the Greens need to actually be in front, and lead by example. Wimping out by alignments of convenience with either dinosaur will not save the world. That task requires a innovative thinking, clever tactics and strategies, and leaders who grasp them. Time to spit the dummy and point out that our antique parliamentary democracy confines us like a straitjacket: it prevents constructive collaboration to further our common interests.

  8. Reddelusion says:

    God can the left stop prattling on about Neo liberalism like the are all post modernist philosophers, intellectual puffery find a new description right wing fascist or something pleasssssse

    • countryboy says:

      @ REDDELUSION .
      More than thirty years ago , when I was but a slip of a lad , I was labouring under a suspicion that something terribly wrong, and evil, had happened to us Kiwis . ( I’m no God botherer , don’t get me wrong . I use God/evil as metaphors . )
      roger douglas and his mates had dropped out the arse of Labour and unfolded their tentacles to become the destroyers of the Aotearoa / New Zealand we love and adore .
      Way back then I was given an epiphany by an erudite fellow studying for his Masters of Social Psychology as we were plucking away on guitars and talking about politics , girls , drugs , girls , cool cars , more girls, girls and drugs, girls on drugs in cool cars etc .
      When I was in full rant about politics , he said ” What you’re talking about is called ‘neo liberalism’ or neo conservatism as it’s known in the US of A .
      That was the first time I’d heard the term , neo liberalism . And certainly not the last .
      So, in effect , what you are asking @ REDDELUSION is that an intellectual definition not be used so as to placate the pique you feel at its mention . You would prefer that we embraced being Luddites like yourself ? That aint gonna happen . So toddle off to where you might feel more comfortable with the parlance . Re-runs of Barney the Dinosaur ? Looped The Warehouse commercials ?

      By the way . You’re at The Daily Blog . Some attention to spelling and grammar would be nice . While I’m not perfect by any means , I at least try . So, pleasssssssssssssseeeee … ?

      • Korakys says:

        You may not be aware of this but it is considered standard practice to not place a space before and after each punctuation mark. There should only be one space, typically it is after the punctuation mark. Do that and your words will become much easier for others to read.

        Try reading over this resource.

        You are doing pretty well with your spelling, no doubt with a little effort you will be able to figure out how to space punctuation marks correctly.

      • Sceptic says:

        The term neo liberalism is almost always used as a pejorative, not as an “intellectual description” as you describe it, so it inevitably indicates the users bias.

        • Do you offer an alternative?

          Funny how some people on the right seem to be getting a bit ‘touchy’ about the use of labels (neo liberalism) and terms (trickle down). Could it be that these labels are sticking and whether you think they are “an “intellectual description” ” or not, they are in common valid usage.

  9. Olwyn says:

    It looks to me like a bad time to move toward the right for electability’s sake, since it could well prove self-defeating. I do not say that neo-liberalism’s wheels are coming off, but I do think that the political sands are shifting, and we don’t yet know where they will stop. Much has happened recently, both here and abroad, that has pushed neo-liberal strategies to the foreground that they prefer to keep in the background. Abroad, there is the panic about Syriza’s being elected, and the fear that Spain will follow. This follows on the unambiguous sham of leaders-who-shaft-journalists marching for free speech in Paris. Here, we watch the two-track method in action as Key loftily dismisses Eleanor Catton’s remarks about New Zealand while his sycophants attack.

    Should developments of this kind continue the result will be much harder on neo-liberalism’s designated left than on the right themselves. The right, after all, are naturally enough defending their turf, whereas a left that remains compliant, when the mechanisms used by the right are emerging into open view, looks simply disgraceful.

    • Dennis Dorney says:

      It would be great to think that NZ might be inspired by Syriza’s example, but I doubt it. In Europe the people seem more willing to take to the streets than NZ. Perhaps living on the edge of the world affects our collective psyche.

  10. 5% says:

    an ideologically agnostic environmentalist party of the political centre; one capable of forming a coalition with either of the main political parties

    I like it. It rolls off the tongue with a certain confident swagger, if not even an exotic hint of flirtatious availability.

    Lets face it. If the far Left ever wants to have babies, it’s time to attract a mate.

  11. countryboy says:

    Good analysis @ Chris Trotter . Thanks for taking the time etc .

    As I see patterns forming between/ linking our various political parties , I see more a quagmire of side shows on acid on one side and a blinking , shocked , WTF ! look coming from a family who’ve just discovered , upon returning home from holidays, an unholy allegiance of The Mongrel Mob and The Road Knights living in their home and what’s worse ? The cops are in there pissing-up with them .
    The labels ‘ Left ‘ and ‘ Right ‘ intrigue me I have to say . Correct me if I’m wrong but only if you have the brains to understand what I’m writing first . ( Arrogant ? Yep . )
    ‘ Right Wing ‘ implies that those followers of the Right are can-doers . They can , therefore they do . And they would argue that since they can , in fact do , then why should they pay , via their taxes , for people who do not, do, based purely on their understanding of what can-doing actually is.
    I think I can understand why you might think that , you Right Wing lambs . Sadly , what you fail to understand , because most of you have as much imagination as a small box of nuts and screws, is that unless we humans all pull together ( What’s going through your mind right now ? ) we , all of us . The can-doers , the artists , dreamers and their pets and children are , to put it bluntly … fucked .
    Left Wing implies a cadre of hippies , smoking weed while tie dying their beards surrounded by a dancing harem of pregnant girls with hairy ankles . Left Wing implies a kind of wishy washy population of bludgers and lazy arty types who sneak off to the pub hoping someone will buy them a beer out of pity .
    It’s my belief that the terms ‘ Left ‘ and ‘ Right’ goes further than to describe ones political proclivities . To me , those terms have come to define a pathology . A psychology in us humans and divide us down the middle psychiatrically but is , by its very definition, hugely leveraged to the Right because the Right have that damned money to use as a weapon to control and dominate everything . Including the very planet upon which we live . And deeply interesting is that the Right will burn down the Earth to further the needs and desires of their pathology . While Russell Norman was being pushed and shoved for waving human rights violations in the face of The Mighty Jonky-Stien and his Chinese money makers the Right would have been thinking “ Get outa the fuckin’ way Norman , I smell a profit . “ while the Left would be thinking “ Good on you Russell , fuck jonky and the Chinese “
    Right wing is a logical fallacy to normalise the mental illness that is the addiction to power facilitated by hoarding money .
    Left wing is the definition of the huge attack of the OMG ! WTF’s we humans get when we see the consequences of that addiction at work while feeling helpless to intervene.
    It’s clear to me now that,that addiction is transmissible like herpes . Those few mentally unwell uber riche oligarchs have infected the greater NZ population so now those most vulnerable to the disease are in fact its greatest promoter .
    There’s a small wasp that lays its egg inside the Lady Bird insect . The egg , once hatched excretes an enzyme which targets specific neural nerve clusters in the Lady Bird brain that turns the Lady Bird into a static , zombie, defender of the grub now eating out the Lady Birds guts . Until the grub pupates , the Lady Bird flails about at any intruder who comes near . What’s just been discovered , is that it is in fact a virus inside the wasp , that compels the above scenario .
    http://boingboing.net/2014/10/17/mind-controlling-parasites-an.html
    Money , once given an improper importance is a virus within society . Those who promote the logical fallacy that is money’s importance are wasps with a disease .
    There are a few left who seem immune but not many . There are those who are altruistic and kind . There are those who could give not one small fuck for millions but as any Lotto outlet staffer will tell you , not that many .
    With Russell Norman leaving ? ( And for very good reasons and the best of luck Russell Norman ) I see that as an ominous omen of dark times ahead . The linear thinkers are not only in control , they’re taking over the spherical thinkers , one virus at a time .

    • 5% says:

      “Arrogant “

      Yup. The kind of arrogance that perfectly illustrates the George Orwell quote posted on TS the other day…
      “It is largely because the Left are so self-satisfied that they find themselves in the situation they are today.”

      Yup. A self satisfied belief in The Lefts superior intelligence, perception, and humanity, and a corresponding belief in the stupidity, blindness, and inhumanity of The Right.
      Too self satisfied to see that this is a criminally simplistic, bigoted, and above all, wildly inaccurate world view.

      The pressing issue with all this hubris is, as Orwell implies, it’s not just a harmless conceit.
      If smugness prevents you questioning yourself honestly and adequately in the face of the realities you observe – how can you possibly make an adequate response?
      As The Left have not over the past six years.

      Blind arrogance is just dumb, and if The Left don’t get realistic about the serious faults and flaws in the current dogma and strategy….the next election will be a savage reminder of the price to be paid for self satisfied stupidity.

    • Andrea says:

      “‘ Right Wing ‘ implies that those followers of the Right are can-doers”

      Make that ‘can-kickers’ and we can (oops!) agree.

      Those with a mindset in that direction are consolidators and holders of the gains made. Grabbers of gains made, too. United they stand.

      They can do Good Things socially. For the lower classes, to bring the poor things in from their feckless life styles and make them into solid, obediant workers, etc.

      Lots of ‘middle class revolutionaries’ also fall into this barrel of syrup.

      But, if you want progress and upheaval and outrageous advances you’ll have to look elsewhere.

      Climate change won’t be halted or reversed by a bunch of political hacks meeting in comfy places. You know it won’t. Too much insulation in those lives.

      Go to the people whose lives depend on reversal and mitigation of the evil being done. Put technologies and ideas and means whereby in their hands and see what starts to shake loose in the constipated bowels of international ‘politics’.

      I agree with Chris – Shaw. Possibly Genter. Possibly Sage. Definitely not Turei.

  12. Kenat says:

    LOL, Chris, Green Party members will be amazed to wake up this morning and discover it was Russel standing in the way of their rightward march all along! This piece should have appeared on The Civilian.

  13. cleangreen says:

    Sorry Chris,

    This doesn’t cut it, as again you appear to follow all the trend of a majority of todays pundits and again pick another Auckland poltition to add to the many Government and Opposition currently have seated there. Is Auckland in anther country?

    You should instead be advocating the balancing of the representation around many of the important but forgotten actual export provincial regions who have no representative in the top positions of parliament and those provinces are most affected by the environmental policies of this right wing anti environment mob.

    Take a tally of who’s who at parliament and you will se what is totally wrong with our lack of regional representation here.

    Anyone ever wonder why most often all we hear is the sickening woes of Auckland and very little else?

    • Andrea says:

      Auckland is indeed another country – the Terra Firma of Planet Key and all who dribble on. Home of the JAFAs who couldn’t organise – anything.

      Any place where the council is never out of the news for mostly negative reasons probably needs to follow Christchurch into statutory management…

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/transport/news/article.cfm?c_id=97&objectid=11373428

      The horror!

      Even my being born there couldn’t improve it! (blush)

      • cleangreen says:

        So was I born there Andrea but moved when Dad was forced out after the 1951 wharf strike.

        It was a small town then when I was five but now it is reaching unsustainable levels of Toronto, NY and many other places I have been living or visited, that just keep building and selling themselves as the best place to live, until the economy crashes and as in Toronto house prices loose half their value in three years 1992 1995 mine included.

        No Auckland has air pollution coastal water quality problems, traffic congestion and all the hallmarks of an unsustainable region without massive bailouts of public tax funding.

        Not thanks Auckland you can keep it, I will live my live in the other middle earth where life is simpler and less stressful.

    • mary_a says:

      @ cleangreen – hear hear. I’m a JAFA and couldn’t agree more.

  14. Aristophanes says:

    Nonsense Chris.

    You can’t pursue the Green agenda without radical redistribution and a large state. Green is not conservation and environment; it’s economy and society. Whether it is Shaw/Genter, Hague/Logie or Hay/Harre at the helm, the Green Party is only going in one direction which is up. Not left or right.

    The most important thing for Green leadership now is continuity and stability.

    And Chris, you need to flesh this following statement out more as it is startlingly far from my experiences of observing the Green Party from the inside over the last six years: “Only by exploiting to the full his party’s consensus-based decision-making processes was Norman able to keep the Greens anchored firmly on the left of New Zealand politics”.

  15. Gabrielle Panckhurst says:

    Chris….You seem to have a very rich fantasy life. I struggled to find a single accurate sentence in your article. The Greens don’t operate in the traditional manner of other parties, there are no factions, coups or manipulations.The leaders are the servants of the members and MP’s don’t have a lot of room outside the policy framework. That may sound fantasy to you but the Greens are about changing the world and embodying democratic principles in the way we work.

    Our policies haven’t changed while soothsayers talk about us moving to the centre. Russel brought some much needed economic analysis to the Greens and articulated that well. He did a great job as co-leader and will be sorely missed.

    We have extensive discussion before choosing a co-leader and there will always be losses and gains. We choose Metirea over Sue Bradford but most were gutted that Sue left. That choice was not a swing to the centre but simply we had to choose someone.
    I very very much doubt that we would replace Metirea at the same time as Russel we need the continuity and Metirea has done a good job representing our plank of challenging inequality.

    Our policy is not determined by fitting in with any other party but by our vision. Then we see who we can work with on each policy.
    A left/right lens is a limited way to view the Greens – yes we are left but we are green so all our policies put the natural world at the centre.

    I look forward to the qualities that the new male co-leader will bring.

  16. With the Parliamentary demise of Mana, god only knows we need a left or centre-left party. The Greens are it, and coupled with a mix of clever economic policies (NZ Power, Capital Gains Tax, etc), can draw Labour toward the Left as well.

    Well, that’s the theory.

    At present, the factionalism of the left is like presenting John the Baptist’s head on a plate to the political Right.

    Just how is it that the Right can engender the very successful perception of collegial co-operation – whilst the Left takes self-harm to new heights of creativity?

    Jeez, Cam Slater, Jason Ede, et al, needn’t have bothered with their dirty tricks campaigns. They simply have to sit back, grab the pop-corn and a cold one, and enjoy the show we put on for them…

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Labour MPs still have not really got it, that it was only partly the failures of them and their candidates, especially Cunliffe, to get the message out to voters last election, they have not got it, that it was massive MSM manipulation again, that got too many stay at home, and that allowed the Nat voters to get Key in for a third term.

      Instead they now suffer from Stockholm Syndrom, or something else, and seem to try all to “adjust” their style and policies (of which we hear little now), and especially “communications”, to “appeal” to the MSM. By doing so they are already signing their death warrant, as too many MSM journos are already baiting Little and others, to deal with him and his caucus in the same manner as they did with Cunliffe.

      I see Labour as a ship without a captain, where a substitute is running the ship at the helm, hoping only to keep away further damage, nothing else.

      And Little has already been tricked, the media now focusing on nothing much else but his comments on Key lying about the Northland MP Sabin and his stepping down, about Little considering Maori get some “autonomy” in New Zealand, and more to come. This is the beginning of the funeral of the political leader Andrew Little, coming from MSM editors and media hacks, watch the show, it will be horrible.

      So all this has little to do with where the Greens are heading, they seem to be rearranging their leadership, something totally normal, I think.

  17. Keith Stewart says:

    The thing that most amazes me about the plausible political meanderings of Chris Trotter is how much they remind me of sitting through a 1969 pol studies tutorial. Quite clever, erudite and tentatively sophisticated, until you realise they are just a well honed version of the political failures that have made us all so frustrated for so long.
    So frustrated that we have become just another Western disfunctional ‘democracy’ much like the US and UK. So the answer Chris offers the Green post Norman, of more appeal to the “middle”, more “credibility” for the party, suggests that the Greens need to compromise its way to power even more desperately than the Maori Party did.

    This is not thinking, but simply slotting the story of Norman’s resignation into a writers template with its defaults well set by years of toadying for various media megaliths. Norman has given some serious political weight to the Greens, not least in securing a greater bottom line share of the vote than his predecessors had. He also made economic sense of the disaster we are immersed in, both factors that could have done with sharper comment from a political writer of Trotter’s reputation.

    I long ago saw that Chris Trotter was no more a leftist thinker than
    a jobbing writer in search of a pay check. Could we have some serious thinking about our future on the Daily Blog, please, instead of this moribund digitalis hacking its way into our sensibilities?

  18. Mike the Lefty says:

    There is an argument, Chris, for this. Ultimately it is the way that industry and business work that has the greatest consequences for our environment. The way farmers dispose of their animal effluent, the way manufacturers package their products, the things put into food, the way goods are moved around and a whole heap more of things. Perhaps the Greens see that it is of little use wringing their hands on the sidelines about wasteful and dirty production methods and it is better to get business and industry positively keen about making changes themselves rather than ordering them to do it. If you want others to make changes, it is much better to encourage them and let them believe it is their own ideas (not yours).

    • cleangreen says:

      Agreed 1000% Make the leftie,

      Industry always has to believe they are right so we need to carefully guide them to the light gently before they pickup the rational and adopt it ass their own ideas firstly before we advance.
      Bit like children in the schoolyard eh!

  19. Blue-greens. The death of the NZ Greens Party.

  20. Peter Archer says:

    Well, if they do move more to the centre, they will have LOST the possibility of ever having my support again. I did vote for them for many elections, and many times almost joined the party, but it they do that, it will be “Goodbye” from me to the Greens.

  21. Kim Dandy says:

    The whole world needs to turn ‘Green’ before any good can happen, and this poor little planet can stand some fighting chance. Any other colour or direction ( left, right, centre ) seems to lead nowhere.

  22. Pat O'Dea says:

    The coup de grace that finally extinguished the Green Left’s survival chances was the Labour Party’s very public spurning of the Greens’ (i.e. Norman’s) invitation to campaign together. Labour clearly regarded the Greens as mad, bad and dangerous to know, a judgement reinforced in the last few weeks of the election campaign when it became increasingly obvious to Green Party members that David Cunliffe was much more disposed to forming a coalition with NZ First’s Winston Peters than Norman and the Greens.
    CHRIS TROTTER

    You are right Chris that the Greens were sunk by Labour’s hostility.

    But the question is what is behind this hostility?

    I would argue that the driver behind this hostility is Labour Party’s refusal to fully break with neo Liberalism.

    In the 1980’s Labour’s leading strategists, Lange, Douglas, Prebble, Goff, Clark, argued that by making the wealthy better off there would be more overall wealth to go around for everybody. This strategy was labled by its supporters but even more so by its opponents as “Trickle Down” However for trickle down to work the rate of exploitation of working people had be increased in the name of efficency.

    Unfortunately this efficency came at the price of lay offs restructuring and corporatisation amongst the big government employers like Telecom, the railways, the lines companies, the state coal miner, Air New Zealand, and the postal service, the total amount of redundancies in permanent jobs in these sectors reachiing into the tens of thousands, many to be relaced by casual employment contracts, or not at all.

    In the private jobs sector “Trickle Down” required government legislation tightening the laws around the right to strike, banning all strikes outside the narrow confines of a window at the end of contracts, as well as making illegal all solidarity and political strikes.

    The trade and finance sector also saw huge deregulation with the end of protection and the dropping of almost all limits on international investment and penetration and control.

    What is overlooked is that for strategy of neoliberalism to have any chance to suceed, that as well as requiring the maximum exploitation of the workforce neoliberalism also requires maximum exploitation of the natural environment.

    This is what moved David Parker to declare that our policy is the same as National’s when it comes to mining and oil drilling.

    And particularly in the case of deep sea oil drilling a TV 3 poll cited by Greenpeace was that 80% of the population of the country were opposed, yet despite there being no votes in it for them Labour remained and still remains deeply committed to deep sea oil drilling. (And fracking, and opening new coal mines and seabed mining the works) All these policies are in direct clash with the Greens policy, in fact it is written Green Policy to oppose all new coal mines and all deep sea oil drilling.

    This makes any coalition between the Greens and Labour problematic, that is unless the Greens agree to give up their opposition to these policies, something that Russel Norman seems to have accepted (to his cost), when asked during the Minor Parties Leaders Debate whether he would agree to deep sea oil drilling to get a coalition agreement with Labour he said he would. From that moment, for most Green Party members he was a dead man walking before he got off the stage.

    And this hostility to environmental issues and working colaboratively with the Greens which was so disastrous during the elections is to be carried through into the by election in Northland. (And presumably into the 2017 National elelctions as well.) Witness Labour’s activists declaring that they will fight the Northland by-election strictly from a “Labour perspective” and punish any one who puts up an alternate vision of the Greens and Labour combining to give National a bloody nose in Northland.

    Follow the debate HERE

  23. Thomas Kaminski says:

    As so often a huge bunch of opinionated BS. With the demise of Mana and the Internet Party, the Green party is the only functioning parliamentary force left in NZ that is not fully subscribed to neoliberalism. For the party to ‘move right’ would be just as stupid as Labour publicly campaigning as what they really are today: A toned-down National Party.

  24. Mike in Auckland says:

    Chris Trotter is a bit off the mark with this one, I fear. Russel Norman may have himself come from the left (originally) and appeared to be a smart, educated, liberal, left leaning environmentalist. But those who have followed him more closely, will have observed his own move towards what many call the “centre” or even “right of centre”.

    It may have been the Green base, or the mix of it, and the co-leader Metiria Turei that kept Norman moderate. I think, he would have dared to go with National, into some form of agreement, were there not Metiria and others within the Greens, who would not have supported any closer cooperation with Key and Nats.

    The Green membership is indeed a rather mixed lot, and they share the environmental policy direction, that keeps them together. While Mr Shaw may be business savvy and a bit appealing to the more centrist or right of centre voters, there are others who are staunchly towards the other side of politics.

    Well, it may also be a bit of a generational change coming up, and perhaps the Greens are aiming at reaching more support from those that would traditionally not be seen as “left”. But if Chris would be right, and if what he considers is to happen, then the whole program of the Greens would need to be revisited, as much is of a peculiar social, economic and environmental mix, that no other party represents, and that is also somewhat interventionist, and not really that laissez faire free market.

    If Chris would be right, there would likely be a serious split within the Greens movement, as otherwise such a change of direction cannot realistically happen. That though would be self destruction for the Greens and I do not think they would be that silly.

    As for Julie Anne Genter, I met her once, and also observed her. She is smart, and articulate, and determined, but still she lacks some experience and influence, I sense. I cannot see her that much to the right, although she seems ready for compromises.

    But where would the Greens best go? Certainly not by becoming more “appealing” for the Nats, as the Nats are so anti environmentally responsible, it is not funny. You may then as well rename the Green Party the beige party or whatever else.

    And Mr Shaw is new, he is not ready to be a co-leader. I go for Kevin Hague as the more competent, safe pair of hands, besides of Metiria, or perhaps another male within the Greens.

    No, Chris was living in some imaginary dream when he wrote this, I fear. Sorry, Chris, this is off the likely state of things.

  25. Mike in Auckland says:

    Can anybody tell me, how often did Chris Trotter appear on the Paul Henry Show last year, where he was quite happy to chat about all kinds of trivial and frivolous things, just be get some further public profile? He seems good at writing, but there are various styles and messages within this, some seem to target the “left”, some the “wider public” and some the perhaps “right of centre” lot.

    I get the impression Chris feels at home everywhere and anywhere, and when he writes about breaking out of a ghetto, is he remembering any “ghetto” he ever lived in, has he lived in one, has he ever been really poor?

    A pay cheque may be one of the motivators to write for certain media and forums, at least on TDB I would have expected better of Chris.


 
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