The wisdom of Nandor and where the Greens politically turn to next


Nandor is one of the great political and cultural thinkers in our country and he is a voice that should be listened to and promoted far more often in the mainstream media.

He posted some thoughts on the political philosophy of where the Greens need to move towards in the future and I think his targeting of new generation small and medium ethical business is very smart.

The truth for the Greens is that their dreams of being a 15% Party are dependent on the strength or weakness at any given time of Labour. The Greens vote was actually far softer than anyone suspected and with Jacinda now in charge of Labour, it is unlikely to woo much of that back.

So where do the Greens grow? It can’t be at the exclusion of social welfare policy, but it could be an extension of Green values into business.

TDB Recommends

The Greens could gain support from NZ’s small and medium ethical business community by promoting ethical tax breaks for those businesses. The Greens are all about allowing the market to decide by using state regulation to send the market signals. What better signal could you send the market than by supporting and promoting ethical business?

If small and medium sized business complied with independently tested environmental, ethical and sustainability standards then they should be eligible for a tax break for making that investment.

Promoting Green values into business doesn’t weaken the stance they take on poverty, it simply broadens their voter appeal and that’s what the Greens need to desperately be doing between now and the next election because the vote they lost to Jacinda won’t just walk back to them.



    • Nice to be in a perfect position to be judgemental, Awanderer. I guess you’ve never been in a position to be desperately juggling meagre funds and have to choose between the rent and food? Have you? I’m guessing not and that you have a very well fed stomach. Your lack of empathy is noted.

      • Samwise: I HAVE been in the position of ‘desperately juggling meagre funds’ over a long stretch of years and I noted with utter disgust just how little Mrs Turei did for those of us who don’t have boyfriends, helpful mothers, flatmates, plus a significant lack of conscience or forethought.

        Think about the following – all she did was confirm the largely false impression that people on benefits rort the system. Made it hard for those who have no show whatsoever of stepping up to a near-free tertiary education or the kind of pay she was receiving.

        She made it hard for the rest of us.

        If you want her canonised – go ahead. But the moment she started with her ‘brave expose’ she lost a fair number of us as Green supporters for the harm she delivered.

        • That is unfair, Andrea.

          When Metiria Turei did not supply correct information to WINZ in the early ’90s, it was at a time of sheer desperation for thousands of beneficiaries after Ruth Richardson cut welfare payments in the “Mother of all Budgets”.

          It was at a time of unemployment reaching 11% – 200,000-plus out of work.

          As Jon Johansson wrote in 2007;

          In July 1991 National’s Finance Minister Ruth Richardson delivered what became known as the “Mother of All Budgets” in which major cuts to welfare benefits, changes to employment law, and new user-pays requirements in hospitals and schools were all announced.


          The drastic austerity cuts not only impacted on those on welfare, but businesses as well. (Including mine.) Many small-medium businesses collapsed, sending thousands more onto the unemployment scrapheap and into the tender arms of National’s Minister of Social Welfare, Jenny Shipley.

          New Zealand was thrust into a deep recession after those cuts to government spending.

          That was “ruthenasia”. Metiria Turei and tens of thousands of others lived through that grim period. I remember it well and it angers me that so many New Zealanders have a collective amnesia about that dark time in our recent history.

          Even today, many are forced not to reveal their full circumstances to WINZ because it will imnpact of what little welfare assistance they receive.

          As for relying on “boyfriends, helpful mothers, flatmates” – that is a blanket statement without any real insight as to her true circumstances at the time. We simply don’t know the full story.

          But even so, why should unemployed, solo-parents, sickness beneficiaries, etc, have to rely on “boyfriends, helpful mothers, flatmates”?!?! That is the Libertarian/Victorian England style of moving welfare from the State to religious charities and families. Is that what you’re suggesting? What happens if there aren’t any “boyfriends, helpful mothers, flatmates”?!

          I have no idea if you’ve ever been on welfare. Because I have. And I can tell you that it is bureaucratic, impersonal, and is insufficient to live on. Here’s an example of the bureaucratic madness of WINZ:

          Now if you’re going to condemn Metiria Turei for withholding information from WINZ, will you apply the same measure to WINZ?

          The Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has defended her department after a report showed people were missing out on $200 million in benefit entitlements a year.

          The figures were in a report obtained by Newsub’s The Nation under the Official Information Act.

          It showed 150,000 beneficiaries and low income families were not getting payments totalling $200m a year that they were entitled to.

          The report said that was because some people found it difficult to claim entitlements.

          In some cases, such as where people had children in OSCAR after school childcare, ten forms were required to be filled in a year.

          In other cases, some people had to leave WINZ offices in order to get back to work on time when appointments ran overtime.


          Perhaps if WINZ paid out the correct welfare payments, people wouldn’t have to “rort” the system.

          • I sincerely hope that once we pass on into heaven (or the place where Elvis went to) that a chunk of global poverty will have disappeared.

          • +1

            I recall the welfare cuts in the 1990s as well. It was a grim time. Sad to see so many have forgotten what Ruth Richardson wrought as she took a machete to government spending.

            It may come as a surprise to some, but having to lie to survive became the norm at the time. Otherwise you starved to death.

    • You’re a Nasty voter right, Awanderer? You’re the reason a National-Green coalition would be toxic.

  1. Nandor has written a good piece and worthy of consideration. But they will have to tread carefully with national. The demise of the Maori Party and United future points to how national devours its partners.

  2. The reason those Green voters returned to Labour was their perception that their original reason for abandoning Labour & going Green no longer applied: Jacinda renewed their faith, they no longer felt alienated. For such people it’s all about faith in their tribe. They were never genuinely Green.

    Such fair-weather friends have no authenticity so nobody will ever respect them, right?! Greenwash is bad enough. When it washes off when the first shower comes along, even more pathetic.

    Nandor’s writing is always good, but it would’ve been better if he’d recycled the way I framed it to him in conversation several years ago: the Green Party must ditch the leftist alignment because it must become authentic in representing the entire green movement, which has always been neither left nor right.

    When I advocated that we adopt the leftist parliamentary alignment at our conference (early nineties) it was prior to the switch to MMP when the Bolger govt had already captured half our leading environmentalists. The prospect of the Nats capturing the entire green movement in Aotearoa had to be totally eliminated. So I eliminated it. Nobody argued against my reasoning, so our consensus was formalised. Once Helen Clark proved that our leftist parliamentary alignment was not able to get the Greens into a leftist government, anyone with half a brain knew it was time to ditch it! Since 2002 those in the leadership group of the Greens have been consistent in demonstrating that they lack the requisite half a brain.

    • The Greens have a “leftist alignment” only to the degree that prioritizing human wellbeing as part of environmental wellbeing is “leftist”. The MoA with Labour was a tactical response to the political reality that the NatACT government was totally captured by corporate interests who care about neither people nor the environment. If the Greens dangled the possibility of governing with them, as Winston does, it would only make them look like desperate opportunists, not the party of principle they aspire to be. If they went into coalition with the NatACTs their fate would be the same as the Māori Party.

      I think we all get too wrapped up in the Game of Fancy Chairs melodrama of who has a majority in parliament at any given time. What really matters in politics is getting your policy into action, and shaping the long term direction of the country, and the world. 8 principled Green MPs, engaging in effective public policy debate, could potentially do more good than a Green government made up mostly of careerist seat-warmers. I suspect those who focus more on the number of Green Party MPs there are at any given time, rather than on their overall political effectiveness as part of the green movement, are careerists who are quite interested in doing some seat-warming themselves.

      • Hi there Danyl. Hey, could be you’re unaware of the history that produced the GP leftist alignment. It was a decision made at a GP annual conference prior to entering the Alliance.

        The question we had to address was: when/if we got into parliament, would we align with the political left or right? I advocated we align with the left because news stories of our leading environmentalists deciding to work with the Bolger government had been creating the impression in the public mind that the Nats were capturing the Green movement in Aotearoa. I was emphatic that this spectre must be eliminated and nobody spoke against so we adopted the leftist alignment by consensus.

        GP conference decisions can only be overturned by subsequent GP conference decsions (unless standing orders have been changed since I was Convenor of the GP Standing Orders Committee). So the decision is effectively structural rather than a matter of perception as you (understandably) suggest. It wouldn’t surprise me if most of our members think the alignment is merely habitual either!

        Younger generations are reluctant to take rules seriously (and I was a staunch rebel against the establishment when the Green movement here got up & running so I sympathise) but some rules cannot be ignored. If our parliamentarians did try to make the decision to reposition the GP themselves it would likely precipitate a constitutional crisis.

        The issue is non-trivial due to the green movement having always been neither right nor left, and the GP having been formed to provide it with political representation. Those who have been elected to power within the GP have positioned it to the left in accord with the original conference decision. Such conduct makes GP representation of the entire green movement a sham. They are only representing a third of the whole (leftist greenies). As one of the centrists I regret this inadvertent consequence of my advocacy. It was appropriate pre-MMP, when our bicameral parliament could only produce left/right governments. It is no longer appropriate now that we can design centrist governments via coalition.

        We require appropriate decision-making: it is one of our Charter principles. The time to cut the crap and actually make the appropriate decision arrived in 2002! Since then, the leadership group in the GP have been avoiding the necessity to become non-aligned. They still lack authenticity.

        • You can restate the same points about “leftist alignment” in as many different words as you like, but they’re hard to decode or respond to meaningfully until you define what you mean by “leftist”. Clearly you’re not using the definition I offered. What’s yours?

          • I don’t have a personal definition of leftist: I use the term similarly to how the media & blog commentators use it. However I differentiate between two different psychological functions that underlie and drive leftist political motivations: values, & identification with a group. Since the seventies the latter has been increasingly evident as primary motivator, which is probably why nowadays you often hear politics being described as tribal. Tribal being in such instances used in a contemporary sense rather than referring to historical cultures.

            The political compass website located me in the precise center of the left/libertarian quadrant. When I mentioned this to an erudite younger respondent on Public Address he told me it meant I am a leftist (insert eye-rolling emoticon). Since I’d already informed him I’d been identifying myself as a political centrist since realising that Labour was almost as much an enemy of progress as National in 1971, I decided he was another with insufficient cerebral process to comprehend how identity politics works so bailed out of the conversation.

            The left & right have both been obviously part of the problem (establishment) in all western countries for a very long time. Anti-establishment folk self-identify as part of the solution and try to collaborate to make progress happen on a mutual-benefit basis. That’s what created the green movement. Helen Clark didn’t position herself as the enemy by accident. Until the penny belatedly dropped after she saw An Inconvenient Truth, she was doing the traditional leftist political strategy. Lapdog of the capitalists.

  3. Nandor seems to think that National whose economy is based upon capitalist growth, externalisation of costs onto the environment, etc etc can be made to do Green bidding. Good luck there.

  4. I was under the impression that the Greens are already promoting ethical business practices. So what is the big difference to the status quo, that Nandor proposes?

    Or is it all about finding the right tune to dance with National, at times?

  5. Anyway, getting back to what you wrote Martyn, retention of a leftist orientation could be blinding you to the nature of political reality. Ain’t saying it’s so, just suggesting you ponder the implications a little more.

    “The truth for the Greens is that their dreams of being a 15% Party are dependent on the strength or weakness at any given time of Labour.” Too simplistic. You’re right that the leftist alignment was misinterpreted by the Green leadership as a good reason to try stealing votes from Labour instead of extending consensus into the heartland. History has now revealed their error. But the key to the situation is the 18% of the electorate that James Shaw told us about after the 2014 election: exit polling informed the Green leadership group that this huge body of public opinion testified to having considered voting Green but had not done so.

    I suggested further research to discover how this portion of the electorate see their political alignment. Are they mostly bluegreens, disenfranchised by the status quo? Are they mostly non-aligned, centrists, who believe the GP leftist alignment is preventing the party from representing the green movement on an authentic basis?

    Either the Greens failed to do the research that is clearly necessary, or they did it and didn’t like what they discovered so quietly buried it. Better to make political decisions on the basis of political reality, I reckon. Relying on shaping perceptions to manufacture consent is a fool’s game. Aotearoa needs more authenticity. Propaganda is the traditional approach, usually works well, but the production of illusions makes people delusional. Create enough bad mental health in the electorate, you get sociopathic behaviour. Hitler & Stalin performed exemplary demonstrations of how this ends.

    • It’s a great idea, and likely where most rational people who look at issues and weigh them out would stand. The left has some good ideas, and the right has some good ideas.

      I mean, HOLY SHIT, who would have thunk that like compromise and making deals would actually be a GOOD thing?!

      The problem being that the people picking Green Party co-leaders are usually the irrational ideologues that only want to vote in the hardest non violent candidate that they can.

      Not only does it assume that “centrist” policies are about finding a middle ground, but it assumes that everyone agrees one side is nuts.

      Here’s the thing. Having a Centrist policy means you don’t agree with either side. It’s not, fundamentally, about “compromise.” It is, in fact, about not being willing to compromise with people you don’t agree with. The fundamental tenet of the moderates and centerists is not “Both sides are rational” but “Holy fucking shit, both sides are lunatics.”

      Moderates (and isn’t it a joke that we’ve so redefined our spectrum that “moderate” and “centerist” are the same) are people who reject the every growing extremism of both parties in favor of a balanced approach. Not because “hey it’s halfway between them” but because it’s not batshit crazy governing defined by dogma instead of reality. And lots of them have actual complex and nuanced views on topics of political importance, instead of either a blanket acceptance of one side or a blanket rejection of the other.

      There is nothing intrinsically wrong with extremism.

      But that doesn’t mean that the left and right wing extremist positions we have dominating discussions on policy are not ill-conceived, short sighted, dogmatic, unpractical, and fundamentally just terrible.

      The Center isn’t good because it’s “in the middle.” It’s good because the people on the edges are all nutbars.

      • Yeah Sam, having come to that view myself back in ’71 I always appreciate others who arrive at it, while continuing to be bemused at those who remain partisan their entire lives.

        Re your implied paradox (extremism) I too discovered that from experience back then. I was at the radical leading edge that year when I realised that the left was as almost as conservative of the right – enough to be the active enemies of progress.

        So when they kept calling themselves progressive I realised it was because everyone else was failing to respond “Bullshit!” Mainstreamers seemed to swallow it, allowing the left to continue their deceit strategy. I’ll allow that many leftists did end up supporting the switch to MMP, so their aversion to actually making progress is more habitual than total.

        In the ’80s when Rogernomics was happening folks would ask what’s the difference between the left & right. I always responded “Yeah they’re both braindead, but the right are morally corrupt as well.” However leftists can be seen to be trying to get away with moral corruption sometimes – usually covert enough so most observers don’t spot it.

        With regard to centrism as political praxis, Winston, as our current leading practitioner, has the opportunity to demonstrate how it can be used to catalyse progress. Will he do so? Depends if Labour have co-created a viable basis.

        • There is nothing new under the sun. The only thing unprecedented about 2016/2017 is the extent to which mass communication has weaponized ignorance and fear. We are fighting the same age old battles with new weapons.

          I generally sit slightly to the left on most test I’ve taken, which I think is me being dragged from the far left to near mid by some very right leaning ideals.

          In general I assume it doesn’t phaquing matter because whatever political opinions someone has I’ve found I’ll always find something that the other person believes that pisses me off.

          I am pretty center economically, but I’m really left socially because I think everyone should live how they like and I support immigration.

          Or, I mean, depending on the day I might be far left economically, too Lelz. As far as every day things go, I sit in the center but if I really had my way, we’d scale back massively on welfare type programs and instead provide a universal basic income. But that’s a fairy tail still that isn’t going to be happening any time soon.

          “Arise, the workers of all nations!
          Arise, oppressed of the earth!
          For justice thunders condemnation;
          A better world’s in birth!
          It is time to win our liberation.
          Stand up, you slaves — no more in thrall.
          The Earth shall rise on new foundations;
          We, who were nothing, shall be all!” ☭Ⓐ

          Yeah, that my viewpoint

  6. Perhaps note the challenges the German Greens have faced, and will now face, with realos wanting a different direction from what the more fundamentalist members may want:

    With all that, we get the NZ MSM go on about Germany and the Greens there, as if they are so ‘pragmatic’, they can coalescence with any major party. That is far from the truth, and the Greens there have been close to tear the party apart, the situation could be the same here.

    Hence their support did drop over the years, and they only did reasonably well last election, because many left the larger parties, to vote for smaller ones.

    Going too pro business can pose major problems for the future, as that may mean, moving towards pro establishment politics.

    • The BIG DIFFERENCE in Germany is that the Greens have joined Merkel to keep the neo-nazis from the reigns of power. We face no such crisis here in NZ. Thank god.

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