Pow! We have a contest.
…which follows the reveal over the weekend of the worst kept secret in NZ politics…
…this contest is incredible and the hardest call I’ve ever had to consider.
Firstly, how lucky are the Greens to have two spectacular candidates compete in what will be a respectful and challenging contest?
I think both candidates are extraordinary and I think the Green Party membership have an enormous responsibility upon them to select a co-Leader who can lead at a time when so much of our Political debate is simply not presenting real alternative ideas and strategies to conquer the biggest challenges our species have ever faced.
So let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates and what possible consequences could occur and what possible considerations need to be made for specific outcomes.
Marama Davidson:Here’s what I wrote and stand by regarding Marama…
I think the Greens need Marama Davidson as their new co-leader.
The disastrous election result where they lost half their support in the space of 2 months wasn’t a reflection on the policy platform the Greens ran with, it was horrifically incompetent tacticians which didn’t foresee what would happen to Metiria when she courageously announced her welfare fraud.
What SHOULD have happened is Metiria would have already paid the amount owed before admitting it. By leaving it an open issue, the mainstream media tore Metiria to pieces.
While that tactical mistake was damaging, the real impact was Jacinda and her popularity which had ore to do with the Greens losing support.
Nandor 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.
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.
Taking a far more proactive approach to woo ethical business is smart but if core activists feel that’s eroding its social justice obligations the Greens could just be replacing leaving supporters with new ethical and small business voters.
That’s why they need Marama as the new co-leader.
Her activist credentials are better than anyone else, she is amazing on policy and connecting emotionally with voters when she does media and the inroads into beneficiary votes that she begun needs time to work.
Seeing as the ministerial positions the Greens gained were all very white, they need Marama front and centre to be true to their diversity values.
Marama has the intelligence, leadership skills and vision to retain the social justice and environmental values while Shaw can woo small and ethical business.
Julie Anne Genter: Here’s what I think about Julie Anne.
I want to hands up acknowledge that I have at times been very critical of Julie Anne Genter, and while I stand by those criticisms, I want readers to appreciate that I have an enormous amount of respect for her and that previous criticisms are wiped clean for this.
I had the pleasure of touring NZ with Julie Anne trying the Save TVNZ7 public broadcasting tour. She is insanely intelligent and possibly one of the smartest people I know. Her understanding of complex civil issues is probably only eclipsed on the left by David Parker.
The extraordinary leadership she has already stamped upon the Ministry of Transport is remarkable, her championing of human rights in the Ministry for Women is exemplary and the speed with which she has managed to tame those Ministries is actually one of the most important skills a genuine leader can bring to the table.
Julie Anne Genter has the intellect to get a legislative agenda set up and implemented, there really aren’t that many progressive politicians who could do that.
While to the ‘right’ of the Party, that has to be understood within the context of the Green Party because being a ‘right winger’ in the Greens still makes you one of the most left wing Labour MPs ever. I have had an opinion about that in the past, (as noted above), but given the contexts we now live in, only the fiercest Trotskyite would begrudge her an ideological stance inches closer to the centre than their own.
She is possibly one of the most talented MPs the Left has in Parliament right now.
Let’s also remember that other candidates could throw their hat in the ring.
WILDCARD: Remembering that any member could nominate themselves to be co-Leader, a wildcard could be a member with real star power coming forward. I don’t know if Lucy Lawless is a Green Party member, but someone should sign her up!
Imagine if Lucy Lawless put her hand up for co-Leader? If she ran on a platform of raising visibility to consistently demand better outcomes for the environment and children in poverty, she could easily convince Green members that the star pulling power of an environmental activist and actor to the Green cause would be far better than the right or left of the Party fighting. Lucy Lawless could be the unifying candidate for the Greens while being an enormous boon for James Shaw.
It would generate global news, building the Green brand and make environmentalism a populist movement rather than just a political vote.
In Part 2 – I’ll look at the ramifications and issues to consider behind each of the candidates in the current political landscape.