Marama Davidson as new co-leader of Greens: NZ finally has its own flaxroots Corbyn & Sanders

By   /   April 9, 2018  /   36 Comments

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Conventional wisdom is that the Greens need to pick up votes from National. The constant hunting for the mythical blue-green voter has haunted Green strategists because the compromises required to get National Party soccer mums to vote Green beyond the aesthetic of identifying as a Green supporter is simply too large to work.

The enormous win Marama Davidson has managed to pull off is a mandate.

Julie Anne Genter is possibly one of the smartest Cabinet Ministers in Parliament right now and is a supernova of talent, yet the tsunami vote for  Davidson is the voice of the Party firmly planting their flag on the progressive Left over and above that ferocious ability of Genter.

That makes Davidson’s win an enormous mandate even by mandate standards.

Marama is one of the most important voices for social justice in the NZ political spectrum.

Her advocacy at the Human Rights commission has blossomed post her role there as a significant voice in the progressive flaxroots social justice movement. For her to have won over so many is due in part to her humble charisma, intelligence and deep sense of  humour.

Jacinda is our Trudeau, and Marama finally gives NZ its Corbyn and Bernie.

Where do the Greens gain votes because ultimately that will be what she gets judged on.

Labour and the Greens have locked themselves into the neoliberal small Government agenda with their agreement to our corporate overlords to not increase debt beyond the National Party target, and their continued inability to demand immediate culture change within the neoliberal welfare agencies leaves huge room for Marama to step into.

Conventional wisdom is that the Greens need to pick up votes from National. The constant hunting for the mythical blue-green voter has haunted Green strategists because the compromises required to get National Party soccer mums to vote Green beyond the aesthetic of identifying as a Green supporter is simply too large to work.

It is the unregistered voters, the prisoners, the beneficiaries, the mentally hurt, the renters, those who are going to be most impacted by climate change and the students where Marama must go to.

2014 Green voters voted Labour in 2017 because of Jacinda. Instead of trying to woo them back, the Greens need to target those NZers who have been failed most by neoliberal economics to grow the electoral pie rather than splitting it further with Labour.

Marama should not bend to the vagaries of political brand management, she should give voice to those the system has hurt and be prepared for a crash course in economics, the way  Helen Clark did when she became leader of the Labour Party.

True rebellion will be to challenge the neoliberal economic system and to do so with well researched confidence.

Marama should force a strong alliance with AAAP and champion culture change inside WINZ by highlighting their terrible treatment of beneficiaries.

She should do the same with PAPA and JustSpeak for Prisons.

And the same with renter rights groups.

Marama must find new voters rather than steal back existing ones and she can do that by voicing real change from the current economic myths in language that is accessible.

Marama has the mana, it is up to her how she should use it.

All power to her arm.



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  1. garibaldi says:

    Congratulations Marama on your resounding victory. I now have some faith restored in the Green Party. It is reaffirming to have the “grassroots” of the party to support you so strongly.

  2. countryboy says:

    “National Party soccer mums” don’t earn NZ/Aotearoa’s essential foreign exchange. So, who cares about them politically?
    The Green Party MUST go after agriculture. Not only to clean up the filthy mess National and their zealous lobbying bankster mates have made of our water ways and land ( and lets ponder also the catastrophic social damage they’ve done to our agrarian hinterland’s towns and farmers in that exploitive process ) but to get agrarian money away from the afore mentioned dirty little Natzo’s.

  3. countryboy says:

    “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”
    George Orwell.

    So, George Orwell knew something of NZ/Aotearoa’s fiscal/agricultural history then?

  4. mary_a says:

    Marama is an excellent choice as co leader. An activist, who is not afraid to speak out, she will get the Greens back on track to the left, after it seemed to stray towards the centre after Metiria’s departure, something which caused me some concern. I was beginning to see a blue/green party emerging!

    Another strong point of Marama’s is the fact she is strong on social justice. She will be the champion of NZ’s far too many impoverished, which will hopefully bring about some positive change for the poor, leading to improving the overall Green support and vote.

    With Marama up front now, a progressive future is on the horizon.

  5. Gosman says:

    Why did The Greens bleed votes to Labour after the Turei revelations? Stending up for Beneficiaries did not help them then why do you think it would do so now?

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Time will tell Gosman,

      I think the greens must go after the climate change emissions voters as well because the next “weather bomb that hits will have the greens in the box seat so they need to return to their pledge to the climate change and environment and transport as transport has large emissions too.

      So Greens should advocate for rail/road for shipment of freight, and not trucks trucks and more more trucks.

    • Mjolnir says:

      Not because of the Turei “revelations”, gosman. But because of the Jcinda “affect”.but you knew that, really, didn’t you?

  6. Theodore says:

    The Party rank and file chose the right person. She should take up the issues of poverty and equality that Metiria Turei was so passionate about. That should be one of the reason d’tres of the Green Party. Even Simon Bridges has woken up to this reality this morning judging by his comments on RNZ today.

  7. savenz says:

    Congratulations to the Green Party and Marama.

    I disagree with your Green strategy to adopt. Focusing on the
    “unregistered voters, the prisoners, the beneficiaries, the mentally hurt, the renters, those who are going to be most impacted by climate change and the students where Marama must go to.”

    (P.S. if you add in climate change isn’t that everyone?)

    That is because a narrow focus of voters aka the traditional poor, to target has been tried and tried and tried again for a decade and nearly took out the Greens last election. It was also tried by Mana.

    The Greens should stop badly profiling voters in the first place and concentrate on good policy and results, in particular around TPPA deals (ban them and NOT prop up the Labour government on this), and the devastation of our environment by polluters who are egged on and supported by agreements like TPPA as well as our social and welfare policy under threat by bad policy under the Natz and policy that is becoming meaningless like RMA to protect the environment.

    Avoiding clashing with Labour is stupid on policy because Greens have a separate identity. I personally thought Labour and NZ First would honour their promise they would not sign TPPA – those voters should be wooed by the Greens (rather than not voting or go to Natz) because it’s better for a Labour/NZ First voter to go Green and support the partnership rather than not vote and get the Natz back in for next time. (Which the Natz are hoping for).

    Unfortunately it was Metiria who really seemed to be the Green expert on TPPA. If she had made the election about TPPA and not beneficiaries then I’m pretty sure we would be seeing the Green Party on 14% and with a lot more MP’s. It was a bad call, that whoever advised her on close to the Greens badly screwed up on.

    The people who mostly swing and decide the elections are the middle class. 65% own property so if you void out those people immediately by targeting renters, you are left with only 35% of the population who often don’t vote regularly and compete with all other parties.

    In short if that’s the target and you get it wrong (aka TOP takes out 2%, Mana takes out 2%, ACT 1%, Maori party 2%, Labour 15% National 10 % … how much is left for the Greens… of that 35% of people in NZ that don’t own a home…) then it could be curtains for the Green Party.

    Targeting low wage jobs or houses at risk by disasters, would be more relevant to many people because that effects both renters, beneficiaries as well as home owners .

    Greens need to really think about targeting 100% of people with their policies not just a percentage of the 35%.

    The whole focus of property and taxes on them has been a right wing dream for the entire decade of Natz rule aided by the MSM. Whenever anything like health, education, congestion, immigration etc, etc came up, guess what another story on property and capital gains taxes would pop up and take away all the other narratives going on in this country. If you haven’t worked it out yet, a capital tax on property like in the UK and USA has not worked for them to solve all social ills as the left seem to think it will.

    Just like the war on zoning in Auckland, the right and left agreed and so did all the experts that zoning relaxation would provide houses and lower prices. Nope, it did the opposite, increased the price of land and where are the houses? In created more existing problems and more congestion around them… that is because the main driver for property prices and shortages was massive immigration drives under National, not taxation.

    I’m not against more taxes but certainly the narrowness of the debate and the lack of focus on what is happening to the existing money… or what happens with a change aka more people need more houses who need more public transport who needs more waste water plants who needs more hospitals and schools. For every policy there needs to be in depth analysts to the on steam effects.. this seems lacking in the Natz appointed policy ‘experts’.. But Labour and Greens still seem to be using them.

  8. savenz says:

    The left need to concentrate on what is happening to existing taxes and central government already get and why it’s not working to get the same standards as we used to have a decade ago. Where is the money going? It used to be enough for councils to run and hospitals to work, but now somehow it doesn’t????

    Swing voters traditionally decided NZ and it tends to run on dissatisfaction rather than anything else. People give a party a go but after a bit, they get dissatisfied and then go back or increasingly hate politics and not vote at all which is bad for the left.

    Raising taxes, funny enough tends to make people dissatisfied so if they don’t see a result from that almost immediately then you will be in trouble and I’m not sure all the houses, hospitals, prisons, public transport and so forth that are needed in this country will be ready before the next election.

    Instead people will face a lot of pain, with more taxes and actually more disruption without seeing any improvement aka petrol taxes. Saying that petrol taxes are at least fairer than congestion charges!

    You have to start somewhere, but more taxes, no improvement (in the case of traffic, there is less improvement as the process of building makes more congestion) is not going to make loads of voters vote for you. Add property taxes on and I don’t think it will be a popular move which I think has been the Greens nemesis for the 65%.

    Greens need to be more open, try to get voters from everywhere, and be visible as a good change agent at protest marches, grass roots environmental challenges, as MP and so forth and supporting local communities and people.

    That is why Russell Norman and the original Greens were so popular and were one of the few fledgling parties that actually grew and is still around. I still remember his getting into trouble with his Tibet flag protest, my how things have changed in this country and the Green Party since then. Everything is about a trade deal these days.

    Those original Green MP’s were not concerned with identity politics and paperwork or even offending people or business. They came across as authentic people who were an activists for good and didn’t care what the media thought of them as a PR brand, scruffy hair and so forth. They were authentic people who had loyal and authentic voters who were never swayed by the media and PR.

  9. Johnnybg says:

    The only place most MP’s belong is up against the wall. Disband all political parties now & banish the lesser bludger’s, scoundrels & criminals to Stewart Island.

  10. Red Buzzard says:

    Good Post!…seems like the best choice…handled Guyon Espiner very well

    • Tiger Mountain says:

      Yep, and she sat Duncan Garner on his arse too, she knows interviews are for getting her points across to her audience, not getting boxed into interviewers little traps

      Marama has been on a Gaza trip and actually talks to people outside WINZ offices, the right will not like her one little bit!

  11. The Masked Moa says:

    The Green party (MPs) have been making some pretty bad decisions recently so it is good to see that the party membership has got its priorities right and made the right decision. Personally I think the current emphasis should not be on targeting segments of voters but getting the policies right. To quote Rod Donald Greens are neither left nor right but out in front.

    Right now the number 1 priority for Marama (and the Green MPs) must be to do what the party can to avoid WW3 and a global nuclear war by not buying into the anti-Russian hysteria and the latest false flag gas attack carried out by the jihadis in Syria. Real policy guts and relevance would be to front foot this issue and expose the lies of the attack on the Skripals and this latest atrocity by the jihadis.

    America, Israel and NATO have been caught red handed with their personnel being taken prisoner when the Syrian Arab Army took over a large part of Ghouta where they found a western chemical weapons base. Not only prisoners tasked with carrying out the gas attacks, but also all the gear and munitions to do so. This proves that the ISIS jihadi front has been fake all along and the attempted overthrow of the Syrian government was entirely a American/NATO/Israeli/Saudi enterprise (Turkey has changed sides so many times now, but they should be included as well).

    If Davidson and Shaw cant front foot this issue of pursuing peace by not buying into the mainstream media lies there will be no need to target voter segments as there wont be many people left alive to care come the next election.

    • David Stone says:

      Thanks for the reference Moa.
      It’s probably not easy for politicians to get the time to look outside the MSM and what communication they have from partner governments. It’s likely someone with time to peruse the alternative news sources is better informed than our politicians.
      D J S

    • Lone comet says:

      Do you support the Sryian Government?

  12. Marc says:

    “Marama must find new voters rather than steal back existing ones and she can do that by voicing real change from the current economic myths in language that is accessible.”

    Congratulations to Marama and the Greens on this result.

    I would not count my chickens too early, though, as the votes she is meant to win are not easy to get, due to wide spread apathy, endless division, dumbing down by media and due to the Greens not having won that many votes in areas like South Auckland.

    At least we are back to where we were before, more of a balance between the pragmatists and the idealists, within the Greens, those less fortunate have a bit more hope again, and a reason again, to consider the Greens for their party vote.

    That said, James Shaw, the donor of ‘patsy questions’ to National, is still there. I listened to Sue Bradford on Morning Report today, and she was right in her strong criticism of the Greens giving away some questions for Question Time in Parliament, same on other matters that gave us concern.

  13. Bill Short says:

    The notion that we want anyone remotely like Trudeau or Corbyn running our country shows you just how far in la-la land the author of this article is!

    • bert says:


    • Johnnybg says:

      Totally agree, only exemplary locals & homegrown solutions will do. Be warned comrades a ‘Revolution NZ’ movement is now in the pipeline. This vehicle for radical green nationalists from both the left & right, will be a long overdue addition to our political landscape.

  14. Zack Brando says:

    Could be good, could be bad. Marama Davidson strikes me as someone who will do drum-head legislation and decision making. Hope I’m proven wrong.

  15. Lucy van Hout says:

    That’s probably the most condescending, insulting piece I have read – she’s not old, she’s not white and she’s not male in what way is she like Corbyn and Saunders? Neither of those two represent anything close to left of Centre and while Corbyn is English old Labour it is more Anthony Wedgewood Benn style (righter than NZ Labour) and the Democrats are right of John Key!

  16. Kim dandy says:

    100% Saenz – great comments.
    There is a lot to do to save NZ!

  17. Cemetery Jones says:

    To be fair, it probably does make more sense for someone to the left of Labour to go after those voters, Labour tried and failed, it just drove off the centre-left and centre-centre. I wasn’t for a long time certain that they had the cred to do it, always seemed more of Mana’s bag. But maybe Davidson can? Will be interesting to see.

    • Sam Sam says:

      I mean lifting an object the size and breadth of New Zealand’s underclass and unemployed is a feat worthy of the name Savage. but if she can lift it clean then every one will salute her properly.

  18. Michael says:

    Put simply, the Green Party is done. The decision to pick a Maori environmentalist extremist and former beneficiary as co-leader over the more sensible and pragmatic Genter means that the Greens have now isolated themselves. Although I agree Marama will have huge appeal, it will be mainly for people who typically do not vote or work – people in prison, poor people, Maoris and the like. She is a complete turn off to hard working New Zealanders who believe in self-responsibility.

    Genter’s intellect and more moderate political views have more appeal to people who do vote – especially the educated middle class. Genter had the potential to attract National voters and bump up the party’s support. Marama will give a voice to those who do not vote but the Green Party will ultimately suffer because these same people are unlikely to be motivated to actively support the party at the next election.

    • Marc says:

      May be Julie Ann Genter was not ‘PC’ enough, also do some Americans feel they have not got it that easy in NZ Inc.?! I wonder why, but just read under some other posts, Russia under Putin is warmly embraced, anything US American is ‘evil’.

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