The Greens’ Campaign Reset: Normal Ideological Transmission is Resumed

By   /   August 15, 2017  /   29 Comments

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WATCHING THE GREENS’ campaign reset unfold, I couldn’t help but regret the demise of the pre-Dotcom Mana Party. Because sure as eggs-is-eggs, the Greens have put poverty behind them. Not rhetorically, of course, as James Shaw, now the party’s sole leader, made clear to the assembled journalists: “[W]e will continue to talk about poverty. That conversation makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’m comfortable with that.” Except, of course, he isn’t. Not in the least. Not on your Nelly.

WATCHING THE GREENS’ campaign reset unfold, I couldn’t help but regret the demise of the pre-Dotcom Mana Party. Because sure as eggs-is-eggs, the Greens have put poverty behind them. Not rhetorically, of course, as James Shaw, now the party’s sole leader, made clear to the assembled journalists: “[W]e will continue to talk about poverty. That conversation makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’m comfortable with that.” Except, of course, he isn’t. Not in the least. Not on your Nelly.

The Greens have no intention of avenging Metiria Turei. In fact, Metiria is in the process of being air-brushed out of the Green Party’s political history in a way that would have made Joe Stalin proud.

As for the issue of poverty: well, the proof of the Greens’ commitment to keep this issue front and centre politically is, surely, to be found in the content of the party’s re-edited campaign advertisement. And it is – but only in the sense that poverty isn’t there. The very first promise we hear in the Greens’ re-edited 30-second spot is NOT that they will make poverty history, but that, under the Greens: “Aotearoa New Zealand can be a place where businesses are booming in a thriving green economy.” In the whole 30 seconds, the word “poverty” is never spoken.

Shaw did take the opportunity to announce Marama Davidson’s new role as the party’s spokesperson on Poverty, but I’d be very surprised if she harbours any illusions about the way she is – and is not – expected to advance Metiria’s adoption of “the preferential option for the poor.” *

The careful stage-management of the campaign re-set: from Shaw’s heroic entry, surrounded by his top 20 candidates; to the “up-cycling” of the Greens’ 2014 campaign slogan “Love New Zealand”; was intended to – and did – convey a single message. That the feverish political distempers of the past month, which threw the Green Party into such unaccustomed disorder, are now at an end.

Or, as Shaw put it: “Our slogan for this campaign was ‘Great Together’. But, to be frank, over the last couple of weeks we haven’t been all that together and it hasn’t been all that great.” For this lamentable lapse in political discipline, Shaw offered Green Party supporters an apology: “I didn’t come to Parliament to act like other political parties. But this week that’s where we ended up. We have not been our best selves, and for that I am sorry.”

Sorry for what, though? Toby Manhire may have voiced the question, but he was by no means the only journalist present who was wondering. Sorry for interrupting our relentless advance from the kooky margins to the sensible centre of parliamentary politics? Sorry for upsetting our core electoral base in the nation’s leafy suburbs? Sorry for not perceiving the acute political dangers associated with Metiria’s radical turn towards the poor?

Shaw didn’t say. But, then, he didn’t really have to. The empty space where Metiria used to stand was saying it for him.


* This central tenet of the Catholic Church’s social teachings became a focus of the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971, which reaffirmed that: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”

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  1. garibaldi says:

    You are being less than helpful Chris. Words fail me.

  2. esoteric pineapples says:

    The Greens – damned if they do and damned if they don’t

    • Francesca says:

      “damned if they do, damned if they don’t”
      On the one hand accused of sectarian warfare and ideological purism
      on the other abandoning their core values , appeasing the leafy suburbs
      Decried for promoting their social justice issues
      decried for not(or not strongly enough)
      Give us a break Mr Trotter, we’re dizzy with all your turnarounds

    • Louis says:

      Yep, exactly right EP.

    • I think that about sums it up, ‘Pineapples…

  3. Afewknowthetruth says:

    “Aotearoa New Zealand can be a place where businesses are booming in a thriving green economy.”

    The ‘Greens’ are not at all green and are a business-as-usual party: control of NZ society by banks and corporations are a given as far as the ‘Greens’ are concerned, as is trashing the environment to prop up unsustainable living arrangements in the short term via outrageous levels of energy consumption.

    We regard the ‘Greens’ as charlatans.

    (There is no such thing as a ‘green economy’).

    • The Weatherman says:

      There is no such thing as a productive wasteland or an efficient corpse.

    • Marc says:

      Is it not rather the mellow, pale Greens, we are talking about?

      They know who votes for them, and most of them are feelgood environmentalists, some of whom campaign against one way plastic bags, only drive their SUVs Monday to Friday, and cycle on the weekends, and the younger ones use the bus and train, creating a lower carbon foot print.

      Anything more radical is off the agenda, as it would upset the majority’s consumerist lifestyle, and would not appeal to enough voters.

      And for the business, New Zealand is years behind most ‘green’ technological innovation and implementation, it is hardly leading, and few have solar panels on their roofs or drive electric cars or bikes.

      Even doing that is not all that ‘green’, as most is still produced using much fossil fuel and other finite resources, not that efficiently.

      The real innovation will happen in other places on this globe, as it has mostly been so, over time, as long as modern day New Zealand has existed.

  4. roy cartland says:

    Nah, don’t agree with Chris. They’ve always, ALWAYS, retained their “three-legged-stool” analogy. Marama Davidson will be a worthy and active voice for the poor. Oh, you won’t see it covered in the news a lot because who cares about people doing good? We just want to see scandal and fuck-ups.

  5. Booker says:

    It seems you were watching a completely different Greens relaunch than the one I saw, maybe even with a completely different James Shaw giving the speech.

  6. mary_a says:

    From what I’m hearing is the Greens are committed to carrying on with Metiria’s legacy of fighting poverty in NZ. James Shaw has stated this fact many times over the past week, as has Marama Davidson, along with the aim of changing the government. I have no reason to believe otherwise.


  7. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Encore sur le Trottoir…

  8. Richard Christie says:

    Why add the goobledegook put in italics in the footnote?

  9. Francesca says:

    If the Metiria saga proves anything, it is that the media will not seriously cover anti- poverty policies.
    They will quickly attack the messenger turn the whole story in to an individual scandal, and if possible assassinate the harbinger of uncomfortable news.
    Authentic voices like that of Marama Davidson will continue to focus the attention on poverty, but I’m afraid our MSM will ignore the call.
    Don’t blame the Greens for the deficiencies of our media.
    Unless Mr Trotter has xray abilities that can see in to the heart of James Shaw, I’m inclined to give the Greens the benefit of the doubt.

  10. countryboy says:

    Brilliant writing @ Chris Trotter.
    I agree, or am at least in parallel with your thinking.
    Now there’s just a nice little creature in a suit spouting out about ‘business’.
    Metiria’s gone and taken The Green Party’s spine with her.
    Such wank.
    RIP The Greens, what ever you were in the beginning has metamorphosed into a snake oil sales stall at the Idiots Market. I was actually going to vote for them but now ? I’m fucked if I know who to vote for.
    ACT maybe ? Ba hahahahahahahahahahaha ahahahah ahahahahahahahahha ahahahaha a a a a a a a a …………. sorry seemore. Just fuckin’ with ya.
    I’m so heading to the Christchurch card board cathedral ( Oh ! The irony ! ) on 31 st September 7.00pm. I’ll be the one covered in select muds of the region in the company of sheep in a mini skirt. That’s 2 x pairs of fish net stockings and 2 x pair of high heels. Yeah/nah. Not cheap to keep, sheep.

    ( I love the comma. I.e. “What is this thing called love?” Or ” What is thing called, love?”
    Bahahahahahahahahahahaha ahahah ahaha a a a ! )

    • Francesca says:

      Country boy
      Jesus , you’re easily swayed.
      Wait for a few days when Trotter does another turnaround

    • esoteric pineapples says:

      “I was going to vote for them” – Really? I find that hard to believe given how quickly you have turned against them Countryboy and how much you are slagging them off. Am I supposed to believe this happened overnight?

      There seem to be lots of people who wave their vote around as if parties should grovel to get it. “I’m going to vote for the Greens. No, now I’m going to vote for TOP because I don’t like the Greens. No now I”m going to for Labour because Gareth Morgan has p***sed me off. Hey everybody which of you should I give my vote to? I’m super important because I haven’t decided who to vote for so now you must tell me why I should give my vote to you.”

      Newsflash – your’s and everyone elses’ vote is just one in millions. Don’t expect political parties to lick your boots for the honour of getting your vote. Just get on with voting.

  11. Robert M says:

    A weeks a long time in politics as Harold wilson used to say. He won 4 UK elections as Labour Leader by the skin of his teeth. purging the hard left ( Turei, Bradford ) and the right establishment ( Kennedy & Cleland ) is what Wilson needed to do, but failed to do. Shaw managed it and rather well. After the first in a series of progressive attempted coups in the Greens took appropriate ruthless action. The actions were justified. Wilsons great rival, Edward Heath won only the 1970 eelction and ruled for little more than 3.5 years were if he might have made a 5 year term if he held his nerve.
    After a substantial loss to Wilson in 1966 which was accompanied by the English teams world cup win, the odds were very much against Heath in 1970. However despite the doubt in the shires and among the former Colonels ( actual former miltiary ones about Heaths potential to win, his shadow chancellor Iain McLeod, told him again and again as well as the party, ‘events will change, something will happen to give the Tory party a chance. There tired and have done little to change things for the better. Therefore, McLeod recommended that Heath and the Conseravtives’ keep plugging away. Always look on the bright side and have a few glassses of wine at night, even if its against party and government policy. Like NZ National today UK Labour in 1970, lacked a top striker to hit the goals Britains top goal scorrer rock star, George Best was ineligible on the grounds of his Irish birth. Had he been able to turn out for England in the 1970, 1974 and 1978 world cup, it might have been Britains. In 1976 he had returned to England after two years off and on hard partying to sign a two year contract for second division Fullham, few expected it to be honoured either way but in his 60 final serious fEnglish division games he would score about 100 gaols and hit the bar 200 times. So at 33 possibly he still jsut might be the great combination of Soccers greatest left wing, Rugbys greatest flyhalf and the music halls greatest comic. Observed with poor eyesight Bests breaks might as well be a sliding and slipping, dribbling attack by a rugby fly half like Herwini or Barry John shaking and avoiding lethal tackle after takle most of which would have smashed a player twice < Best dimension. Now in 1976 Best had been recalled to wear the green of Northern Ireland a team of gifted young 18-20 players largely with little real experiece and only a glimmer of expectation that combined with george they had a chace againgst Holland arguably the best team on earth and the best player Johan Cluff who Best could Mark for mancher united, 4 or 5 years earllir, but how could he. However from the moment Best ran on to Wembley looking 23 rather than 33 going on 39, and first touched and chipped the ball, slide and angled perfectly past some great player, Green hearts witnessed a miracle. Best would match Cluff, tonight and contribute more than anything to the 2-2 draw and again in the repeat in the following year alouth in the second half , Holland would make it 4-2. That for the Greens should sum up one of the greatest issue, the absurd ineligibility of kiwis to reprresent Australia/ Australasia in anything, politicis, armed services or universities. RFM

  12. lloyd jordan says:

    the stench of shaw and co is all over the well planned execution of Turei

    • Archonblatter says:

      @Lloyd Jordan: ‘The stench of Shaw..’ etc. Shaw’s expression in the above photo speaks volumes. I fully agree with you. Very sleezy look now breaking through the mask.

  13. Nicke says:

    A week’s a long time in politics, as Robert M pointed out before being led astray by the genius of George Best.

    Chris is sometimes right, but he is sometimes a little quick on the trigger and sometimes a tad hysterical.

    I doubt that Marama Davidson will see her role as the silent handmaiden of business-friendly complacency. And there will be ample opportunity across the spectrum of the Left for the ghost of Metiria Turei to stalk the corridors of Chateau Parliament, if she is indeed dead.

    My expectation is that she will be invoked in spirit or in the flesh throughout the campaign, and that how that will play out is a story yet to be written.

    One way or another, poverty is going to be a large part of the election debate and it won’t be sidelined by an inelegant episode.

    On another topic, I wish Jacinda would spend a bit more time on murder-boarding the whole immigration debate.

    She sounded a little shrill in her RNZ interview, this morning. She had to know the topic was coming as Suzie Ferguson had been obsessing on it for months. The narrative is that Labour are dogwhistling racist, anti-immigrant sentiments. That subtext should have been confronted head-on.

    Let us say outright that some schools are scams and that’s that. Then say that essentially our immigration policy is a mess. We need a rational approach to immigration. What population do we want to target? What mix of skills? Where are they going to live? And how are we going to provide for them? Maybe, like with tax policy, we need a comprehensive fact-based investigation after the election.

  14. HC says:

    On this topic, the Green Party’s ‘reset’, I would not totally dismiss what Chris has written.

    What I saw about it on the news and on a video I downloaded from the web, it did not look like a very enthused and excited crowd standing behind James Shaw.

    One has to wonder why Metiria did come out with what she shared, when announcing new social policy, i.e. increasing main benefits and doing away with obligations and so forth. It all sounded too good to be true. It was never going to happen anyway, if we want to be honest, as they Greens would have to overtake Labour to really have such welfare policy implemented.

    But as we know now, Metiria was forced out in the end, as her admissions about not telling Social Welfare that she had more flatmates than previously declared, and the rest that later came to the fore, did not go down well with some media personalities and also not many of the voting public.

    James Shaw will want to ensure the Greens go back to stability, and that their largely urban and middle class voters with an environmental conscience will come back and vote for them.

    Risking losing some of them, for the vague chance of getting a few beneficiaries vote for Greens, that did not seem wise.

    And while this is going to be the case, I doubt that Chris Trotter’s dream girl – who now leads Labour – will offer much more for the poorest of the poor, as Labour has let them down for decades, apart from offering occasional lip service.

    The missing million will not feel any much more motivated to go voting, except perhaps the Jacinda fans of younger age and of the female gender.

    Today she got her first real challenge, I noted, and her honeymoon seems over, at least when it comes to the likes of a Paddy from TV3 or Newshub. He tried desperately to dramatise events, as if the future relations between Australia and New Zealand were at stake now, while Chris Hipkins tried to ‘undermine’ the government in Canberra. Wow, what a load of garbage. Wait for more like that to come.

  15. john stone says:

    Come on Haley Holt will fight for those in poverty.

  16. Marc says:

    Don’t see James and Greens on the barricades soon, will we: