The Bright Sunlit Uplands of Radicalism: Metiria Turei and the Greens set the 2017 Election on fire

By   /   July 17, 2017  /   34 Comments

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METIRIA TUREI has rescued the 2017 General Election from the timidity and moral squalor into which it was fast descending. In a speech that brought tears to her listeners’ eyes and cheers to their throats, the Greens’ co-leader carried her party out of the shadows of moderation and into the bright sunlit uplands of radicalism that have always been its natural habitat.

METIRIA TUREI has rescued the 2017 General Election from the timidity and moral squalor into which it was fast descending. In a speech that brought tears to her listeners’ eyes and cheers to their throats, the Greens’ co-leader carried her party out of the shadows of moderation and into the bright sunlit uplands of radicalism that have always been its natural habitat. The Green Party’s AGM of 15-16 July 2017 will go down in history as the moment when it repudiated the “Insider’s” devilish bargains – and reclaimed its soul.

Turei’s revolutionary plans for New Zealand’s social welfare system will be examined below, but first a word or two about her prescience in regard to Winston Peters and NZ First.

Clearly, there is now no disputing her warnings about the racist implications of NZ First policy. What looked like gratuitous and counter-productive name-calling a week ago has been vindicated emphatically by Winston Peters’ utterances of the weekend just past.

It’s one thing to allow race and immigration to become confused (NZ First is by no means unique in this regard!) but it is quite another to call for a binding referendum on the retention of the Maori Seats. The last senior politician to draw a bead on the Maori Seats was Don Brash – and New Zealand only dodged that bullet by the skin of its teeth!

So, let’s be clear: there is nothing democratic about demanding a binding referendum on this issue. On the contrary, it is a shameless appeal to the very worst majoritarian instincts of the New Zealand electorate. Allowing 85 percent of the population to determine the fate of a representative institution dedicated to protecting the rights of the country’s indigenous 15 percent is not only reactionary, it is a direct threat to the “public welfare, peace and tranquillity of New Zealand”.  In such circumstances, no progressive New Zealander could possibly consider voting for NZ First.

By the same token, The Greens’ revolutionary welfare policies make it difficult for any progressive New Zealander to vote for anybody else.

As anyone who has read the heartfelt postings of people living at the razor’s edge of our welfare system (the latest one is here) knows, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) presides over an empire of cruelty with few precedents in New Zealand history. The National Government boasts about the numbers who have been removed from the welfare rolls since they assumed office. That this is due to the sheer awfulness of being caught up in the Work and Income mincing machine is an “achievement” they are much less keen to acknowledge.

Though most Kiwis remain oblivious to what is happening behind the security-guarded doors of their welfare system, there are tens-of-thousands of families with direct personal experience of what it’s like to be a beneficiary – or the loved one/s of a beneficiary. To these folk, Metiria’s pledge that: “We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people”, is nothing less than a call to arms. Requiring the MSD to stop treating its “clients” as second-class citizens: making a bonfire of work tests, drug tests, bedmate tests, and all the other oppressive means of “sanctioning” beneficiaries; will have the same electrifying effect as the cry which swept through Paris on 14 July 1789 – “To the Bastille!”

The question is: do the Greens possess the electoral infrastructure to spread the good news to the tens-of-thousands of disillusioned voters who stand to gain from their policies. These marginalised citizens (minimum wage workers as well as beneficiaries) now have a very good reason to enrol and vote. The Greens boast that, this election, they have more campaigning resources than ever before. Here is their chance to prove it.

One reason to be hopeful that beneficiaries will hear about the Greens’ revolutionary welfare policies is Metiria’s extraordinarily courageous decision to admit that when, as a solo mum, she was faced with the choice of lying to the welfare authorities, or letting her child go hungry, she lied. Except that the story does not end there. Like Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables, Metiria made sure that the many opportunities which flowed from her transgression were turned towards making her society a better place.

Hugo wrote of his sprawling literary masterpiece that:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”

Any more than Metiria’s confession, or, the Greens transformative welfare policies, can be useless. They are the stuff out of which social justice is made. Meaning that, if Labour wishes to catch up with the only progressive coalition partner now available to them, then they had better start running hard – now.

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34 Comments

  1. WILD KATIPO says:

    After watching the speech , I must say it was both dynamic and heart warming . Here was what so many of the NZ have been wanting to hear for decades.

    It was done with sincerity , a real knowledge of having been there at the coalface , – and despite the grim story’s of so many many New Zealanders who have suffered for years under WINZ and its govt masters , – a resolute alacrity to tear all of that down and replace it with something humane.

    It was real get off your seat , stand and applaud heartily stuff.

  2. mary_a says:

    Yes. Meteria Turei is owning politics at this election so far. She most certainly has set a spark to the political scene in a very short space of time.

    No time to be bored with politics while Meteria has scorching fire in her belly. She’s firing off on all cylinders now, giving the other political parties a bit of a jolt.

    What a cracker she has proven to be.

  3. Nick Morris says:

    We got the message about drugs.
    “Let’s treat drug use and drug addiction as a health issue, not a criminal one”
    Couldn’t agree more.

    Now let’s do the same for other social ills. Let’s treat beneficiary status as a health issue. Give them the “medicine” they need and let’s work with them to find a cure.

    Now let’s do the same for inmates of our prisons.

    Garth McVicar goes on about not “normalising” our prisons.

    What’s abnormal is the life of people who are destined to find themselves in prison. Prisons should be normalising institutions, to help people find and join the mainstream of society. Educate them. Get them drivers’ licences. Show them how to vote. And, yes, conjugal visits may well be another part of the “normalising” process.

    The process of treating those our society gives the short straw as humans who have the right to participate in and steer the path to their own redemption, is likely to lead us to interesting and enlightening places.

  4. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Well over a decade of the Greens promoting completely the wrong policies -tourism, money-printing to stimulate the economy, all the nonsense about biofuels etc,- and their dismal failure to address any of the crucial issues of the times -collapse of the food supply that follows on from peak oil, ovedrpopulation, overconsumption, corporate control of society and abrupt climate change etc. – cannot be redeemed by their leadership making a speech or two about social issues at this very late stage in the game.

    The Greens are very much part of the problem, and indicate they will remain part of the problem until the system collapses.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Auuuch , man ! Go away and take your positive pills or dry up !!!

      One of the greatest and most positive reversions back to our original welfare systems to date , – and you canny find a good thing to say. Not everything needs to be profoundly complex – such as makin sure some kids warm and well fed and sleeping in a bed !!!

      🙂

  5. Garth McVicar the man who fought tooth and nails to protect his good mate who stole a dead baby’s passport to keep him out of jail simply proves what a hypocrite he is…one law for his mate and another for his enemies… This supporter of thumping children needs a lesson in humanity I’ve no doubt he is a paid up member of ‘Family First’. It is really rather evil to sink that low on the humanity scale and still the MSM let you on air.
    But this is the level that society that our MSM now panders too. Sad really don’t you think.

  6. The Greens may have convinced Chris to turn left then he will be able to convince others in what he writes…it will be hard to change his middle of the road position but just maybe sometime before the election he will be able to slip aside from his neoliberalism mentality and find a place in a new world. His latest effort shows hope up until the last paragraph when he slips back into the blame game. Labour may surprise us all. We shall see in the days ahead. The battle is just starting and I get the feeling we may all get a big shock.

    • In Vino says:

      What is wrong with you, Wheeler? I told you previously that Chris Trotter tells unpalatable truths for the Left, but that he has great historical knowledge and is a true man of the Left. But you decried him. Now he shows enthusiasm for the first decent move made by the Left in NZ for years, and you think he is ‘turning left’??
      I have agreed with every other post i have seen you make, apart from ones about Chris Trotter. Sorry – I don’t think you have ever understood him.

      • Francesca says:

        totally agree with you
        Trotter isn’t always comforting, but he’s always thoughtful and provocative, and I get a sense his heart is absolutely in the right place.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Peter ! – go and take your positive pills , matey !

      Come on , all you Leftys – chin up because this is what you’ve all been waiting for all these years !!! – This is massive !!! There’s nothing wrong with Chris , – hes always done what hes always done – cast an analytical / critical eye using historical and modern examples and precedents to measure current political trends , – and informed us of things we would otherwise have never been aware off.

      I’m voting Labour simply to shore up the base coalition party and I saw the potential of their policy’s for the Living Wage and minimum wage as being relief for the working poor. It has huge potential to build on.

      But I’m sure as heck blown away by the boldness , pragmatism and humanity shown by the Greens welfare policy package . Labour and the Greens are going to be dynamic when they form the incoming government in September !!!

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      We will then all await to see what the next poll says eh?

      If t shows a slump (god forbid) in the Lab/Green/NZ First camps we will be scratching our heads that the electorate don’t seem keen on seeing a opposition in some disarray and drives for the “stable” right camp… (Cough)

      • mary_a says:

        @ CLEANGREEN … if the next poll shows a slump for Labour and the Greens, then to me it says NZers are a rotten uncaring bunch of selfish individuals!

        However though, on the other side of the coin, there is the chance the polls could be doctored up to favour the corrupt Natz and its motley band of miscreants, while going against and downing Labour/Greens, keeping in mind the Natz/Barclay business is still very much festering, possibly coming to a head in the not too distant future.

    • Jonathan Roe says:

      I hope so – for a shock, that is – Peter.

  7. Anonymous says:

    [Comment declined for publication. Unsubstantiated and unnecessarily provocative. – Scarletmod]

  8. CLEANGREEN says:

    A day is a long time in politics Chris right?

    To achieve her goal many hurdles remain ahead-so when the smoke clears let’s we if the greens can keep that momentum going as she has targeted NZ First and labour clearly so far and Labour now has been sidelined so far.

    Will she now go on the warpath and rail against national is the same contemptuous manner????

    I certainly hope she does as she needs to gather steam if she wants it to be a lasting enduring game-changer.

    Maori party are also carving up opposition parties so far such as NZ First & Labour to.

    Is there a systematic plan behind all this between the Maori Party & the greens???? Could they be planning a joint attack and partnership here??

    This will turn Nactional into panic mode we will wait and see if it does.

    I feel sorry for labour now as being used as the whipping boy so to speak.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      … ” Will she now go on the warpath and rail against national in the same contemptuous manner???? ” …

      This whole thing has been an oblique attack on National , CLEANGREEN.

      By coming out with such powerful and workable and humane welfare policy’s she :

      A ) Provides a backdrop against which National is automatically measured by its vicious callousness and incompetence and , –

      B ) Complements Labours minimum wage – and even betters it by raising it by a dollar – and reinforces the case Labour makes about eventually raising that to the Living wage.

      … ” Maori party are also carving up opposition parties so far such as NZ First & Labour to.

      Is there a systematic plan behind all this between the Maori Party & the greens???? Could they be planning a joint attack and partnership here?? ” …

      You may well have struck upon the very source of the Greens bold attack on NZ First – and helped to explain why Peters came out with a referendum about voting out the Maori seats and curtailing parliament numbers. It would be interesting to know if there have been talks between the Greens and the Maori party.

      Peters has always opposed alleged race based party’s , has never seen eye to eye with the Maori party and realizes that they, – along with Dunne and Act , – keep National in power.

      And if it is true there have been talks between the Greens and the Maori party , then they will form a very strong bloc in of themselves – further winning concessions from Labour, softening a possible Labour /NZ First arrangement and any NZ First bargaining chips and pushing Labour over the line all the same to form the next government.

      May be a long shot if its the case , – but if that is what has happened, – then that’s some pretty smart and deft political footwork !

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        Fair comment Wild katipo.

        God i hope you are right.

        I shall reserve my right to choose after the next poll comes out hopefully showing just the NATZ that are dropping in the polls o\k.

        • WILD KATIPO says:

          I just reckon we should all be pulling in the same direction this election.

          There is no more room left for pet issues and sacred cows.

          Getting rid of National is the paramount objective. It goes beyond infighting and debating all the nuances and minor differences.

          And the only way I can see a change of government and relief for literally tens of thousands of New Zealanders today is a change of government comprised of Labour , Greens and NZ First.

          All three of those party’s are going to be needed. And that includes NZ First whether some like it or not.

          Its that simple.

  9. Tiger Mountain says:

    the Greens are the first mainstream parliamentary party EVER, to have reinstating the Richardson MOAB ’91 benefit cuts as policy, that budget was the official beginning of govt. stigmatising beneficiaries and declaring war on the working poor and unemployed

    NZ Labour can bury their shameful reluctance to do the same, and even their “Jobs Jolt” from the Clark era, if they sign up to the Green policy and head into this election to win–do some disrupting of the narrative like Mr Corbyn did

    “playing it safe” is not an option with NZ First on the loose

  10. Jlo73 says:

    I’m not sure I share your optimism. Over on the usually sympathetic Stuff website there are hundreds and hundreds of varying degrees of negative comments on the admission. I think NZers are really happy to support people through tough times, but get very self righteous when the rules are broken.

    • Steve King says:

      Not sure if comments on Stuff are ‘usually sympathetic’, but i do agree that there is a curious way many people look at this, which turns into frothy-mouthed madness when combined with a near visceral hatred of all things Green in some quarters. Its a really disturbing, ugly side of our national psyche, revealing a huge deficit in empathy and compassion which now seems to be widespread.

      • WILD KATIPO says:

        I think its a misplaced order of priority’s on the part of many of the public’s values.

        But even if it is,.. what Metiria has done in one fell swoop is highlight the mean spirited punitive policy’s of the National party where people are forced to live like this.

        You wouldn’t deprive a dog of shelter , food , water , medical attention without running the risk of prosecution so why in blazes does a government think it can deny adequate funding and do that to human beings ? – and even worse – children ???

        I think it forces the question … ” Please Explain ” if anything.

  11. Zack Brando says:

    As one Facebooker put it ‘Meteria Turei’s mana has greatly increased.’ I’m still backing TOP but unless they run a candidate – the Green’s will get my Christchurch Central Electoral vote (until I swing again).

    Remember, policy-wise the Greens are offering voters immediate financial relief but long-term this relief could be detrimental. Tacking supplements onto and adjusting the measurements of our flawed social services is not a meaningful act. A ‘new deal’ is required now, not kicking the can down the road.

    Opposition parties should be earning our respect throughout there terms in parliament, NOT honing in on votes 3-6 months out from elections. To me the Greens are trying to have a shotgun-wedding with voters on low incomes. But come on Greens, everybody likes to be wooed!

  12. M H says:

    I have to say, I very much agree with this article Chris Trotter. We need a government that cares, not fears. And this gives us hope now.

  13. savenz says:

    I have no idea who this will pan out for the Green Party. All going well it could be a game changer, galvinate the poor to enrol and vote. Or it could back fire. It is certainly courageous. I wouldn’t say Green in the traditional sense though, so it could go either way.

    It is certainly clear, if you are struggling on a benefit this election, you must vote, Green.

    This also opens opportunities for Labour, to take votes of the well heeled Green voter by having much stronger emphasis on Labour’s environmental policies.

    Many middle class are disgusted by The National Parties destruction of the environment – it’s a good way to show the point of difference of Labour to both the Greens and National party and NZ First – Labour should claim the voters for workers and self employed voters neither extremely rich or extremely poor – the middle – who want a decent society but are not against wealth or doing better and own homes (64%) – that is 100% pure, green, common sense, fair, moderate

    Labour need to seed a VISION of NZ becoming better, eliminating poverty and pollution while celebrating those who are more successful as well as those who have succeeded on the world stage against the odds. (Think using technology and smart thinking to bring America’s cup home or Lorde one of the world’s most successful teenagers).

    Kiwis love those stories and National only celebrate short term wealth, not intelligence, kindness, the arts, long term wealth and knowledge.

    Labour could be the more educated choice, the teachers, lawyers, doctors, local business, local start ups, police, justice system, women, families, home owners, people who want more from NZ than a low wage economy subsidised by the tax payer and paid for by cheap asset sales under National but are outside of the Green Party narrative focusing on the bottom 20% and find NZ First too provincial and conservative.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Fair comment Wild katipo.

      God i hope you are right.

      I shall reserve my right to choose after the next poll comes out hopefully showing just the NATZ that are dropping in the polls o\k.

  14. CLEANGREEN says:

    100% SAVENZ, well said.

    USE HELEN CLARK’S WINNING PHASE,

    FOR;
    “A KINDER, GENTLER, AND CARING, TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT” THEN ADD – WHO IS RESPONSIVE TO YOUR CONCERNS”.

  15. Today has turned out to be an exceptional day for Ultra Green Nationalism in NZ.

    “How so” you may well ask.

    Well I’ve just read the article above in which Chris Trotter, the self styled Pope of political commentary in Godzone, has nothing but this worldly praise for recent announcements by the Green party.

    Also this morning, while browsing the pages of a foreign owned local newspaper, I stumbled across more sermonising from our armchair stirrer form the old Machiavellian left.

    But in this piece he was singing the praises of Winston Peter’s anti neo-liberal stance as if Peter’s himself had come up with the idea.

    The Pope may have been asleep when well heeled rebels from the middling class first made headlines with their anti-globalisation hand signals, so this stance is by no means new.

    Anyway for my fledgling, beyond the fringe New National NZ movement this is damn good news as we’re totally committed to growing a uniquely NZ brand of Green Nationalism, & it seems our pontificating Papst maybe as well.

    And by the way the Maori seats of Parliament came about when only those who, according to the laws of the land at the time owned property, could vote. This Paternalistic anachronism of our colonial past has no place in today’s diverse NZ, which is ruled by liberals from both the left & right, who believe in a tyrannical form of P.C. democracy.

    I must say I was very surprised when a comment I made last week was actually published on this goody goody P.C. kiwi site, but I do not expect this to continue. Maybe free speech isn’t dead after all?
    Malcolm, New National NZ.

    [Malcolm, if you persist with remarks like your last paragraph, you will be proven correct and ” not expect this to continue”. Do not confuse free speech will being ill-mannered. – Scarletmod]

  16. CLEANGREEN says:

    Just remember when you see an unemployed soul struggling on the park bench or in an unregistered car in a parking lot OR LONELY BEACH what Nactional promised in the last election, “A BRIGHTER FUTURE”

    THEN VOTE ACCORDINGLY.

  17. CLEANGREEN says:

    LASTLY REMEMBER; – SO FAR – NZ FIRST – IS THE ONLY PARTY TODAY THAT HAS SIGNALLED NATIONALISING (OR TAKING OVER) ANY FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC COMPANIES WHO ARE THREATENING TO MOVE OVERSEAS IF THEY DO NOT GET ANY GOVERNMENT TAXPAYER HANDOUTS (LIKE SEVERAL HAVE) (RIO-TINTO) FOR INSTANCE.

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a

    I AM CONCERNED THAT SO FAR, NO OTHER POLITICAL PARTY HAS FOLLOWED NZ FIRST BOLD MOVE HERE.

  18. CLEANGREEN says:

    Corin Dann has gone hard right as yet another “gatekeeper” for the corporates.

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a

  19. Marc says:

    Of course this excites some or many of us here, leaning to the left of centre, or towards alternative politics.

    But let us not forget, the silent majority out there, have been brainwashed for many a years now, they will not consider Metiria’s announcements anything that realistic and worth voting for.

    The Greens are able to gain many votes from beneficiaries and those sympathetic towards the, but they may lose some votes among the urban professional liberals, who will ultimately vote for their own favor, more for a ‘green image’ and fad stuff, than anything of substance. They may be liberal, but that is when it comes to personal lifestyle and so, not when it comes to paying higher taxes for others that need hand outs.

    I see no real major gain coming from Metiria’s admission and policy announcements, it will end up neither here nor there.

    That does not mean that I do not support it, I embrace such a new welfare or social policy.

  20. Marc says:

    After the announcements on benefit policies made by the Greens on the weekend, increasing benefits by 20 percent and abolishing sanctions and the likes, the MoU between Labour and Greens appears to be out the window now.

    Andrew Little and his Labour colleagues have announced their taxation and budget policies for the coming years, and great spending increases. Other parties announce their spending programs, so Little seems to say, and thus Labour announces its policy:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201851658/labour-ditches-tax-cuts-in-favour-of-higher-social-spending

    Remember this?
    http://www.labour.org.nz/labour_and_greens_commit_to_rules_for_responsible_financial_management

    So that seems to be loosened now, and other policies are not consulted on as previously planned, it is now every party and candidate fighting for their agenda, and the dices will turn and show what the result will be late September.

    This is the wildest, most unpredictable election campaign New Zealand has faced for decades, I reckon. Winston has gone wild, Greens have broken free, and Labour now follows its own ideas.

  21. Marc says:

    Only TRUE revolution will change things, not nice talk and philosophical or political mental wanderings, the leisure of the better off:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuNHsoJVjTE