Who should be the next co-leader of the Greens?




With Russel Norman’s shock resignation comes the question who should be the next co-leader of The Greens.

It’s a leadership decision by the members that will decide the fate of the Party in terms of it’s ideological direction. The right wing corporate media have been full of ideas that the Greens need to select a new co-leader who will genuinely consider a political relationship with National.

I think that’s madness.

I think with Labour under Little going to the centre, there is huge political space on the Left for the Greens to grow. The Greens need to hit 15% if they want to avoid getting played by Labour and NZ First who would cut a minority Government deal and leave the Greens out in the cold again.

Labour’s ‘Jobs. Jobs. Jobs’ mantra disguises that there are some serious steps to the centre on a  whole lot of social issues for Labour, the Greens could articulate a progressive voice on welfare and social services that Labour simply won’t over the next 3 years.

For the Greens to suddenly step to the right with the appointment of a candidate like James Shaw would open the Greens to accusations that they’ll cut a deal with National. National wants a deal with the Greens for the same reason they wanted a deal with the Maori Party, the deal provides Key with political camouflage so that when he gets accused of being neoliberal, he can pretend he isn’t.

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For the record B88HsQAIAAArxcr

When people try ands claim this Government isn’t Neoliberal, all they are voicing is their own privilege. Those on the bottom of the heap that National torture with draconian policy know how brutal National’s neoliberal policies are, the subdivided middle classes never see or feel it.

But back to the Greens – who could be the best option for co-leader?

There is chatter that they might parachute a new leader in, I think that would be a very steep task.

A far easier path would be selecting one of the existing MPs.

Here’s how I rate the most likely candidates.

Kevin Hague – If you were a betting person, money would be on Hague. He is the next senior MP, he has an incredible intellect and passion and he is one of the Party’s strongest performers in the House. His election however would suggest that the membership hasn’t decided which way to go to 2017 as he is a middle ground figure. He’s never voiced an ambition for leadership though, and I think he enjoys being one of the powers behind the throne rather than on it.

Kennedy Graham – I really like Kennedy. He’s smart, funny, fiercely intelligent, and the open contempt he shows National when debating climate change is a highlight in Parliament. I think he would be a respectable face for the public, but I don’t know if the membership are looking for that right now.

James Shaw – The new Thatcher quoting MP from central Wellington. He has already built a power base leveraging off the fact the Greens have morphed into a Wellington Party but him winning would be a clear signal that the Greens are open for business with National. That’s a hell of a symbolism to make 3 years out from the election. Expect a lot of membership anger if Shaw wins.

Gareth Hughes – I’ve know Gareth for over 7 years and have constantly been amazed at his abilities.  He is the only MP other than Norman who can get under the skin of National Party MPs in Parliament. His youth would be a strong boon for the Greens who have such a large percentage of their voter base under 35. He would be a true generational shift and could articulate quite well that young people will inherit the global warming abomination Baby boomers have left them with  and become a rallying figure. The Greens have invested a huge amount in Hughes, it’s time to let him repay that trust. A strong campaign by him could surprise punters and unify the membership with a clear progressive direction for the Party.



  1. My two choices are Kevin Hague or Gareth Hughes. I also know Kevin and a more caring, sincere, genuine guy would be hard to find. No BS about Kevin. What you see is definitely what you get with him.

    Besides the reasons given by Martyn in his blog, both Hague and Hughes are level headed politicians, very experienced in their respective portfolios, as well as being strong on Green policy and are able to hold their own in a political debate in Parliament.

    • The very reason why I, too, would love to see Kevin as a co-leader is probably the thing that would count against him. Pity.

  2. roger douglas .
    roger douglas should be the next Green Party Leader . He could destroy the Green Party like he destroyed the Labour Party and New Zealand / Aotearoa generally and in so doing, he ( it ) might galvanise the few human-people left into ACT-ing directly . Perhaps by boiling the tar and plucking the chickens . After all, the Green Party’s a splinter group away from the insanity that is neo liberalism and champions common sense, a deeply dangerous concept for Right Wingers and neo liberals generally .

  3. It’s not just a case of who we would like to see as Green Co-Leader. It’s also a case of which of the people listed is ready for such a demanding role. I think they are all great candidates including James Shaw. The Green Party is going to be holding “meet the candidate” meetings throughout New Zealand which will be open to the general public as well.

  4. The new Thatcher quoting MP from central Wellington.

    I guess if you repeat it often enough that’ll make it true.

    • Yeah I have no idea why Bradbury keeps banging that drum…. ??
      Seems uncalled for when the ‘quote’ was essentially him saying ‘even your neo-lib idol Thatcher was pro environment so you have no excuses’ to National… He can win their arguments on their own turf with reason not rhetoric. I’d be interested in him as leader for sure and I’m a young member – Gareth Hughes doesn’t do it for me.

  5. Is having a co leader a bit of an odd concept anyway? Does this make the Greens seem a little quirky and less appealing to mainstream voters?

    • Possibly, but that says a lot more about the voting public than the concept of having a bit of balance with a male and female leader, if we look at government as an extension of family then it is perfectly logical, if however, you look at it as a business then I guess not. I like the family concept.

  6. They will chose Hague. Gareth Hughes will one day be leader, probably, but not yet, I’m guessing.
    The wonderful space you see opening up on the left, predicated as it is on an imagined step to the right on Labour’s part, is entirely illusory.
    1. Labour is not actually wobbling to the Right. They might, after they review policy, or they might not – my guess.
    2. The Green Party is somewhat neophyte in this wider area of political thought and any move to occupy the imagined space will simply leak their support to Labour and sink them back to 6-8%. This is not to say they have to become an apolitical environmental lobby, rather the Left side of politics is a broad land. It lends itself to specialization.
    3.The radical space to the left of Labour will be occupied by a resurgent (but still not very numerous) Mana; to the right will continue to be a populist New Zealand First at least until Winston is gone.
    Repositioning of any of these parties will be unlikely to increase their vote. After all, the strategy of the Greens in the recent election was to take votes from Labour by occupying their territory and hope that whatever was left would be enough to still rule*. What actually happened was that the voters which appeared to be leaking from Labour to the Greens in the run-up to the election, following to Kim.com debacle, simply continued to leak to not voting at all.

    What is actually needed, is that all the parties sympathetic to a more egalitarian and interventionist government should co-ordinate their efforts.

    *Note: That “invitation” to campaign together was purely designed to make Labour look like a recalcitrant schoolboy. If they really wanted to work with Labour, the approach would obviously have been out of the spotlight. The “invitation”, in my view, had all the credibility of an ISIS prisoner swap offer. They sank the knife in again when they challenged Labour to audit the costing of Labour’s own election programme, and again when they hinted that the Greens might be prepared to work with National. Come the election, the Greens lost 30% of their ostensible pre-election support. Labour lost about 10% of theirs. In my estimation, the Left would be making a mistake to look to the Greens for some Deus ex Machina salvation, wouldn’t you agree?

  7. I’d prefer Kennedy Graham – he comes across well in Parliament. If they’re thinking of parachuting someone in like Barry Coates -they should just look at what happened to Dick Hubbard when he became Mayor of Auckland. Being a great CEO doesn’t make you great at dealing with the politics.

    • But who is Kennedy Graham? He is one of the lesser known Green MPs and he has been there for a while now I thought.. I think a natural leader you would know about by now. For instance someone like Gareth is very visible within Parliament, and you need someone who is visible to lead the masses and encourage new members.

  8. Since we are being pushed into a senseless and unwinable war by National and also the TPPA, maybe Kennedy Graham, due to his international expertise and work? It is a hard one. At least Graham can’t be accused of being the wacky left.

    I would reserve judgement until knowing more about him and his level of activism. Hope the Greens put some of the candidate speeches on their website. (and make them easy to find and view).

    For me the Greens would do well with the activism levels and actual success of Sue Bradford. There is so much rhetoric now, I actually feel the most trust for MP’s that actually get things done. If only she was back with the Greens.

    One thing the Greens need to look at, is why they have lost other members like Sue Bradford and Sue Kedley. A good leader needs to be able to win and also retain the ‘losers’ of any leadership battle for the party and get everyone working together.

    Labour has been a basket case due to all the hostilities within their party possibly manufactured and bought to extremes by MSM and dirty politics but Greens need to learn from that and retain effective Green members even if if is difficult.

    • Graham has been in Parliament for 6 years and I’ve been a Green supporter for that time, yet I don’t know anything about him, and I’m not even sure if I’ve seen him on tv in that time – that I remember. I think that would be a crazy move to put someone with that low a profile into a leadership role. People need someone they can follow.

  9. “Expect a lot of membership anger if Shaw wins.” – No membership anger if anyone wins the leadership or doesn’t, because, unlike other parties, the leadership is decided by the membership – not caucus, a committee, or an odd mix of caucus/members/unions. Democratic and consensus based decision-making = integrity in the process.

  10. I don’t think Kennedy Graham would want to stand as leader. The person I would like to see as co-leader is David Clendon, but he wouldn’t probably want to stand either.

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