Northcote by-election: Greens select Rebekah Jaung as candidate – is it worth it?

By   /   May 11, 2018  /   16 Comments

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The Greens are sick of being seen as a puppet for Labour and are desperate to show some independence, but was this by-election the best way to do that?

The Greens have selected Rebekah Jaung as their candidate for the Northcote by-election.

Is it worth it?

The last by-election in Mt Albert in 2017  had Julie Anne Genter run against Jacinda. I argued at the time that it was a stupid move because it risked splitting the vote and allowing National through the middle. I suggested that if that happened, Labour would blame the Greens for damaging one of their rising stars. In the end a worse result for the Greens eventuated, not only did Jacinda romp home, but it surprisingly highlighted that the Greens were actually far weaker than many had believed.

Being strong and hurting Labour was one thing, but stepping up and being found politically impotent was a far worse outcome.

This weakness became reality when the Greens plummeted to an embarrassing 6% on election night, their 3rd consecutive drop in support in 3 elections.

The Greens have argued that running in this by-election is good because it will allow the Greens to generate profile and maintain a strong identity. That’s a pretty far fetched hope rather than strategic mater stroke. No one is going to remember the Greens ran anyone in Northcote come the 2020 election, and unless Rebekah Jaung intends to take a markedly different agenda to the people of Northcote, this candidacy will only serve to ensure Labour can’t win.

When you consider how cash strapped the Greens are, this is an expensive punt.

Northcote matters because it will be seen as a bell weather verdict on Simon Bridges leadership and Jacinda’s.

The Greens are sick of being seen as a puppet for Labour and are desperate to show some independence, but was this by-election the best way to do that?

Good luck to Rebekah, but it’s difficult to see what winning looks like in this scenario.

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  1. Mark says:

    I remember the last Mt Albert bi election, all these candidates who said they would buy property in that area if they got elected, its like its become a situation where there is no representation of the regions

  2. mary_a says:

    As far as I know, the Northcote electorate has an active Asian community in the area. Yet knowing they don’t stand a chance of winning the seat, the Greens go ahead and select a representative, putting up a challenge to the government they are part of, preparing to let the Natz candidate win, which will happen, at the expense of Labour!

    Unbelievably mind boggling to say the least!

    Despite voting Green in the past for many years, I’m beginning to wonder now with their recent questionable tactics, if the Greens are ignorant, stupid or both! Or maybe they do want to snuggle up to Natz and become part of the very murky game!

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    Well that was stupid of the Green Party to split the vote and help National.

    I am glad now that we chose to leave the green party 15 yrs ago and now we have been vindicated as the greens are now looking like Blue/Greens now.

    Goodbye Greens.

  4. Sam Sam says:

    Have the Greens learnt from by-elections?

    While Rebekah Jaung clearly seeks to absolve The Greens from culpability, saying “The Greens have argued that running in this by-election is good because it will allow the Greens to generate profile and maintain a strong identity,” she does admit that the underlying logic behind The Greens by-election was obviously absurd. This candidacy even goes a step further and asks provocative questions regarding whether indeed Poverty and Climate would have come about had National and Labour not been involved in by-elections. The answer to these questions is extremely complex, but it can be said with certainty that neither the Greens, nor Jacinda created Poverty or Climate catastrophe. Its emergence is much more complex and it grew out of internal factors within the economic world itself. Thus, while suggesting that the Greens leadership relied on erroneous logic, does actually reference briefly all by-elections arrive at the conclusion that the Greens in Northcote may seem more understandable (or even inevitable) as it recedes in the poles.

    The logic is somewhat interesting as an example of contemporary Green politics on the subject of past electioneering mistakes. Some may view it as yet another attempt to greenwash the leadership troubles. But if this is the so-called “Green Politics” at work, it hardly seems to conform to the imaginations of various virulent critics of the Green coms and politics. Indeed, Rebecca’s rendering seems to be reasonably objective with an added and quite understandable sensitivity to the many veterans of politics, who are after all quite likely to read up obviously. Nor is it strange that The Greens would try to find some kind of continuity between this most obvious strategic failure and more recent PR nightmares while in government, whether Rebecca or The Greens. There is little doubt, moreover, that this rather candid portrayal of the disastrous Green Party Poling will trigger some votes, even if that is not the intention, to question a new Green commitment to fight in Northcote—a commitment that does already produce certain aspects of a swamp with a variety of possibilities for strategic “blow-back.”

    More fundamentally for the interest of Green voters, this could be yet another wake up call regarding the futility of “soldiering on.” It’s, of course, true that the MPs the Greens have lost over the years are significantly lower, so far at least in 2018. But one more vote/member lost in this by election is still too many. Labour has adapted, demonstrated “grit,” bravery and competence in difficult circumstances. Yet, it’s easy to forget that the Greens effort actually had numerous advantages over The Labour Party. Sharing a coalition agreement with Labour, Labour is able to move heavy policy and funds into the country in a much easier and more economical way. Similarly, The Greens have wide access to labours “cousins” of various voting groups from within its own constituents and these people could help smooth over cultural and economic differences. Most fundamentally, The Greens could, with at least some plausibility, argue that climate mattered to the economic security of Northcote. If it was not a “core principle” for the Greens, then it could be labeled in Wellington as a “significant interest” anyhow. The same can hardly be said of Nationals expensive, misbegotten quest. It’s well past time to let Northcote decide Northcotes future MP without “assistance.”

  5. Marc says:

    If the Greens would stand strong on principles, and not sign up to tolerating TPP11 and waka jumping and the likes, they would get my vote.

    If they are only about endless PC and nice gestures to the professional middle class with a faible for ‘green feel’, and nothing more, they can get screwed for the future.

  6. XRAY says:

    Unless the Green Party can get their shit together politically, this being yet another horrible example of how far off that necessary practical requirement they are, then they may as well give up the facade of being a viable political party.

  7. Aaron says:

    It’s completely understandable that the Green’s want to distance themselves from the Labour Party, they’re far too close to the 5% threshold and need to make their identity as strong as possible.

    I can’t predict if it’s a good idea in terms of giving the National Party a look-in and in fact no one can.

    I’m surprised everyone is so sure of themselves about this issue because there are so many variables. We don’t know what the result will be, we don’t know if a Green candidate will attract votes that otherwise wouldn’t be there, we don’t know if left voters will vote strategically and if they do whether their strategy will be to inflict a bloody nose on National or to show the Green’s some support. If the worst does happen we don’t know how it will be interpreted and most of all we have no idea if any of this will be remembered by the time the next general election rolls around.

    About the only certainty is that the media will do their best to make the left look bad.

  8. Johnnybg says:

    Time for a Realos & Fundies split in the greens as happened in Germany ages ago. Keep an eye on Italy; if the 5 Star Movement and the far-right League form a governing coalition it will be the first ANTI-ESTABLISHEMNT government in Italy, as well as in western Europe. This experimental coalition, which would see anti-establishment radicals from both the left right trying to work together, may single the beginning of the end for the globalisation mainstream? Macron’s will be shaking in his little Napoleonic boots.

    • Strypey says:

      “Time for a Realos & Fundies split in the greens as happened in Germany ages ago”

      As I get tired of explaining on TDB, Aotearoa already had this Green split many years ago. The “light greens” were the Alliance under Jim Anderton’s leadership, and their fate is a cautionary tale for anyone in the Greens that advocates cuddling up to Labour. This is why they are running in Northcote, it has nothing to do with wanting National to win. The most likely outcome of a Greens candidate running is that a lot of people who wouldn’t have even know there was a bi-election happening will get out and vote, while Rebekah may attract some votes from people who otherwise wouldn’t have voted, anyone who wants the Nats to lose will look at the poll numbers and vote for the Labour candidate.

      Besides, despite the mostly cosmetic differences of the out-of-cabinet ministers, the Greens are in essentially the same position in Adern’s government as they were in Clark’s. Meanwhile, NZ First will either follow Labour into neo-liberal-lite timidness and lose their base, as the Alliance did in coalition with Clark (and the Māori Party with Key), or pull Labour back to their own working class roots. Sadly, going on their record so far (TPPA etc), the most likely future for NZ First is the former.

      If that happens, and that political zombie Winston finally returns to the grave for good to be replaced by Shane Jones, NZ First will most likely become the economically far-right, socially authoritarian, Trump-lite party people like Ben Mack already think it is. If that happens, it’s left-leaning supporters might be grateful for the Greens offering them as alternative to Labour’s neo-liberal-centre or Jones’ neo-liberal-right.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Even veteran Green MP’s use party lines way to much in bye-elections. Imagine if I showed up at your door handing out save the whale pamphlets. Northcote shopping centre gets hammered with donation drives so it’s a little overwhelming sometimes.

      • Kat says:

        You had my attention until your silly comments on Winston Peters returning to the grave. Winston is a nationalist not a far right no-liberal or authoritarian Nact type nincompoop. This country is very lucky to him at the helm alongside Jacinda Ardern. I haven’t seen anything as exciting or genuine running the country since Norm Kirk, and that speaks volumes.

      • Johnnybg says:

        I get your point but the greens have morphed into a normal vision-less political party that is 100% behind the centrist neo-liberal establishment; as most of us know ‘power corrupts’; the greens have been seduced by the baubles of office in the same way NZ first has. The liberal party political system is long past it’s use by date; in crucial times such as these real change will only be brought about by visionaries & authentic radicals who have nothing to loose. ‘Light green’ is a cop out, ‘radical green’ makes much more sense right now. If you want a half decent future for our world, humanity, your kids & grand kids, then the neo-liberal globalisation establishment must be overthrown. As I mentioned above, keep you eyes on Italy, these developments may be a political game changer. I’m not trying to be being esoteric here, but if humanity does find a way to survive the hellish present & achieve some kind of convergence, then I’m sure it will be a spiritual affair.

  9. Mjolnir says:

    I like the Greens. Have even voted for them. But running a candidate in a by-election?? What for? To split the left vote? To ensure a National victory? To waste money better saved for 2020? For a party that is conservation oriented, this seems a futile waste of resources.

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