Whoever The Greens Have Sold Their Soul To – It Isn’t Winston.


TO HEAR THE National Party and other assorted right-wing beasts tell the story, the Greens have just sold their soul to the Devil. By whom they mean, presumably, that double-breasted Lucifer, Winston Peters, and his attendant pandemonium – NZ First. The Devil’s price, allegedly, is Green Party support for Winston’s “Waka-Jumping Bill”.

The constitutional devilry of a piece of legislation intended to preserve the proportionality of our MMP Parliament is, if our top constitutional lawyers are to be believed, huge. The will of the people, as expressed at the ballot-box, we are told, is a second-order issue. What really matters, say the academics, is the right of individual Members of Parliament to spit in the faces of their party comrades and traduce the solemn undertakings given by themselves on the day they joined themselves to a political collectivity.

Now this tells us a great deal about New Zealand’s constitutional lawyers. The most important piece of information vouchsafed being just how much they hate the whole idea of collectivism. The idea of entering, voluntarily, into a compact with like-minded people to contest (and hopefully win) seats in Parliament in order to implement a mutually agreed programme of reform – i.e. of becoming a member of a political party – clearly strikes them as an insufferable limitation of their freedom. The claim that they are morally obligated to abide by the decisions and policies of their party is reckoned to be totalitarian in inspiration and politically oppressive in effect.

The rights of the poor old voters are, of course, almost entirely disregarded by these upright constitutional guardians. The electorate’s assumption that the undertakings given to it by political parties immediately prior to the general election will remain viable for the full three years of the parliamentary term is dismissed as quaintly naïve. Much more important is the right of an individual MP to decide, unilaterally, that their party and their caucus colleagues have in some way departed from the straight and narrow path of political rectitude, and that he or she is, therefore, morally obligated to abrogate all former undertakings and, should their conscience require it, violate the proportionality of Parliament.

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That the citizens of New Zealand are represented in Parliament in proportion to the size of their party’s Party Vote, and that this constitutes the underlying principle of the entire electoral system, is not deemed worthy of the explicit legal protection which Winston Peters’ bill provides. Democracy is expected to take second place to the tenderness of MPs’ individual consciences.

Would that this country had constitutional “experts” willing to uphold the notion that, if an individual party MP no longer feels comfortable with his or her party’s political direction, then he or she should, first of all, attempt to change that direction by utilising the organisation’s internal democratic machinery. Or, if this proves impossible, making one of only two morally acceptable choices. Either, submitting to the will of the majority; or, if that is felt to be unconscionable, resigning from Parliament.

In the case of an Electorate MP, that could mean seeking a renewed mandate from local electors by standing in the subsequent by-election as either an independent or as the representative of a new political party. For a List MP, it could mean re-joining the party rank-and-file and organising for a change of direction. Or, in the absence of meaningful rank-and-file support, leaving the party altogether.

That this has not been the position of New Zealand’s constitutional experts bears testimony to the rampant individualism and narcissism of this country’s professionally “gifted” elites. The whole idea that an individual, having voluntarily conceded the right of a majority to determine a party’s direction, cannot subsequently repudiate that concession without resigning, clearly horrifies them. They simply will not concede that it is immoral for an MP to continue to occupy a party’s seat in Parliament in defiance of the wishes of its duly-elected leader and in complete disregard of the collective judgement of its caucus. Nor will they concede that the renegade MP’s immorality is compounded ten-fold if he or she goes on to vote in a way that consistently weakens the party’s voting strength in Parliament.

Sadly, the Greens themselves are no better than the so-called “experts” on these issues. Though they have agreed to vote for the Waka-Jumping Bill, they have made it very clear that they would rather not. In other words, they have exactly the same contempt for the electoral judgement of Green Party voters as the academics!

Those same voters should probably recall that contempt when next they step into a polling booth. Clearly, there is no guarantee that what they see promised to them on the Green Party’s website will bear any resemblance whatsoever to what they will get once its MPs are comfortably ensconced in their seats.

If the Greens really have forfeited their soul, it is to a considerably more daunting entity than Winston Peters.



  1. It’s hard to cope a break when you are a Green. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and damned if you do when you would rather not. I imagine they would have been damned if they didn’t and rather would, too.

  2. The Greens sold out over a decade ago when they stopped talking about the crucial issues of the times -peak oil, abrupt climate change, Ponzi finance etc.- and began promoting economic growth and destruction of the environment.

    These days it’s all noise and no substance.

    • 100% true AFEWKNOWTHETRUTH,

      I was a green Party member until Rod Donald died and the voice of reason really left the Party as he was the head voice for talking about the crucial issues of the times -peak oil, abrupt climate change, and transport with rail.

      Since then they have slowly been captured by the road lobbyists and have nothing to say about all our regional rail services now other than the three big cities (Auckland. Wellington, Chistchurch) and that pissed me off enough to leave then.

      Those Cities are not NZ and only part of the country.

      The Greens sold out to the ‘big city voters and national politics’ then.

  3. It must be that these “constitutional lawyers” have not woken up to the change from FPP to MMP. But what constitution are they studying? Is there guidance in anything in our constitution? Do we have one?
    For an electorate MP there could be some argument that the incumbent has some personal legitimacy , but a list MP surely has none and their position is entirely reliant on their party.
    The concept of the individual gaining a seat on the strength of a parties’ support creates the opportunity for the system to be deliberately exploited by a complete impostor planted by another party.
    What is James Shaw’s position on this issue?
    D J S

  4. These New Zealand constitutional lawyers sound like a pack of wankers, mate.

    But then again, we are talking lawyers. I mean look at it. They are professional story tellers defending some really bad bastards like murderers, child molesters and rapists even when they know damn well their client is guilty.

    Now to do that means they have to put their conscience aside for a living or they never had one in the first place. And yeah we need lawyers unfortunately because the law was designed around them and their cadre to protect first and foremost them and their rich clientele. Yet caught in their own web , they are then forced to concede us little people have the same rights under the law as them.

    Nice living in a democracy, isn’t it…

    It is also – like taking a good dump after a big feast the night before – necessary to have them because it gives substance to our ‘legal and democratic ‘ system, … albeit many times in a farcical kind of way.

    Someone questioned do we have a constitution, well yes but unlike Americas constitution whereby it is locked in one general piece of legislation , – ours is scattered across many pieces and guess what ?, – lawyers love it this way.

    The only time I can think of someone leaving a party to join another when they have been democratically elected is when that party seriously goes off course, but even then … to just do an about face and join another is tantamount to admitting who you actually were in the very beginning… a fifth columnist essentially.

    There are other courses of action such as the Governor General (although the last one was like tits on a bull and possibly was complicit with the PM in possible war crimes ) ….

    I look back to all those weak as piss arseholes who ditched NZ First and ran off to join the National party some time back. Tau Henare was one of them. What a dickhead. Real neo liberal apologist. Calls himself a nationalist when hes with NZ First then ditches them and joins the globalist National party where national sovereignty is discouraged in all but name and John Keys failed flag change . Bloody wanker.

    So what do we do with elected wankers who try to wreck our system by switching party’s mid term ?

    Perhaps THIS :


    [ ” In the case of an Electorate MP, that could mean seeking a renewed mandate from local electors by standing in the subsequent by-election as either an independent or as the representative of a new political party. For a List MP, it could mean re-joining the party rank-and-file and organising for a change of direction. Or, in the absence of meaningful rank-and-file support, leaving the party altogether ” ]


    Good on you, Chris.

  5. Hey, just think: The Greens would have had a Kermadec Sanctuary by now if they’d gone with the largest political party.

      • Indeed, Michal. But that is precisely what rightwingers like Andrew would be wanting. The only way to destroy the Greens would be a coalition with the Nats. God knows they’ve succeeded in annihilating Act, Petrr Dunne, and the Maori Party.

    • “the Greens would have had a Kermadec Sanctuary by now if they’d gone with the largest political party”

      And what would the Greens get out of it Andrew?? Besides electoral annihilation, I mean?? Can you elaborate please?? I mean, its not like you actually vote for the Greens is it??

      • Well for a start it’s an environmental policy that helps protect a large area of ocean. I thought that a party that calls itself the Green Party would be in favour of that?

        In fact it would not cause the annihilation because it would attract many new members, because (I don’t know) perhaps people who care about the environment may vote for them.

        I personally care deeply about the environment, but I would never vote Green in their current guise

  6. Lets assume, for the sake of a discussion, that the Green Party is bonifide. That it is, what it says it is and tries to do what it promises.

    The Green Party has awesome power and it doesn’t know it. Or, if it does know it, it doesn’t use it for a good reason. ( Which should truely worry everyone.
    Think Cinderella? She’s the most beautiful of all her sisters, yet her ugly sisters have her believe she’s the least attractive.
    The Green Party is the most vital and important party we have and it’s making the fatal mistake of labouring under the misconception that other parties have given it. That it’s a silly little thing made up of hippies and bongo drum bangers. ( No disrespect to actual hippies and bongo drum bangers. At least you have a go. So good on you. )
    What the Green Party could do, however, is woo the Farmer.
    Do I see hang wringing? Do I hear the sticky sounds of eyes rolling?
    I’ll try to be brief.
    The NZ farmer/agrarian makes that which we sell to earn our money.
    The NZ Farmer has been entirely swindled into thinking the national party are all for the farmer. They are not.
    The banking industry and the reserve bank manipulate the farmer by various means to convaluted and horrible to go into here.
    The result of those manipulations is grossly indebted farmers who must then dance to the tune of nationals flying monkeys, the dreaded banks and money lenders.
    The consequence of that is INTENSIVE farming. Everybody’s darling. How’s your chlorinated water working out for you Christchurch?
    The problem with that consequence is a disastrous effect on our ‘environment’. And for those who don’t know what an ‘environment’ is? It’s our planet. Our lands, oceans and air and the wee beasties, including us, we must share our environment with to remain upright and functioning without going grey/green, becoming smelly and poor company of an evening.
    labour, the natzo’s, and the sundry other career, public-finance spenders know very well that if they’re to continue to flourish as a greed-species and survive as wee beasties within our ever more banker poisoned toxic ‘environment’ they must keep the secret buried deeply and blame everything else, except themselves, for hobbling our primary industry to build their fiefdom’s and empires.
    The Green Party can change that overnight.
    All they have to do is stand up, look around, and say “ Look here, you beastly farmers? Want to come by for a cuppa? Because you’re getting fucked over by criminals and we can’t swim in our rivers thanks to the banks who enslave you and it’s something we need to talk about.”
    And in so doing Dear Green Party you can entirely ignore what those other political bastards are doing, ignore their puffs of indignation, ignore the absurd media made up of gas lighted, head injured chickens who peck at computer key boards hoping a sentence will emerge, ignore the banksters, ignore them all and make friends with NZ/AO farmers.
    And I promise you, it won’t be as hard as you might imagine, but the rewards…
    You will starve national to death. The labour party will disappear from the want of a job running confederate to the natzo’s and winston peters will be in jail inside six months.

    • You are really onto something here Countryboy. They should be like Trump and switch from threatening fire and brimstone like the world has never seen to seeking dialogue next day.
      But the perception that those who chose to live outside in the environment and work with it to grow food for the world don’t care about it is quite perverse.
      If the approach were made and prejudice put aside real progress could be made in both directions. But as you allude the banking system has to be modified to allow the real priorities to be addressed.
      My neighbour just came by to exercise his replacement knee an hip by
      Checking out the porcine wildlife among my trees. He interrupted the manufacture of noise and sawdust (and CO2) to tell a similar tale to yours of his longtime bank manager moving him from a loan @ 3.5% to one @ 22.5% on a block freeholded 6 months before . Courtesy of Mr Douglas. Some other approach to managing finance is needed.
      D J S

  7. Greens have lost their path for voters but are still very important as a party to stop the slide further right, so for that reason they will probably still get my party vote.

    I consider myself a centre voter so Labour has to come left on areas like TPPA reform and a change from corporate welfare at every turn, lowering wages for business and supporting the continued exploitation for educational and construction profit of immigration rules and trickle down Rogernomics for me to be more comfortable supporting them.

    Part of the problem is the Greens MP’s are small from the party list that had too many inexperienced people high up, who are only known for various controversies and have little hardship, political or gone through the ‘school of hard knocks” experience.

    For example Chloe might be a fabulous intelligent human being, but can 20 year old voters (or anybody else) relate to someone with a law degree, opening a cafe for 5 minutes, running for Mayor and first time candidate for the Green Party becoming an MP before the age of 22? What traditional Green social pull is there?

    They somehow somewhere on some planet Chloe became the social media guru and somehow was sending out Avocado recipes prior to the election. Why did someone somewhere not stop it? That might work for a very small subset of voters that don’t take politics seriously, but probably not for those short of food or money or the irony lost on the over 30yo’s voters really concerned about what is going on in NZ for the environment and what the Natz were up to.

    I don’t want to single her out as she is certainly a lot better than many in parliament in NZ, but it shows that the Green Party voters were somehow influenced by hype and personality and media status than actual Green experience when they voted the party list together.

    Likewise with Golriz Ghahraman who in spite of the hyped CV, does not seem to have made many voter friends and doesn’t even seem to have any news linked to her on Greens website for more than a month and then it was worrying about Trumps policies rather than NZ’s. So easy to worry about Trump, less easy to actually solve NZ crisis. Gareth and Jan Logie are missing in action too.

    Eugenie Sage made a serious mistake in approving the water permits. Why did she not get alternative legal advice or stall for her principals that the greens seem keen on in other areas?

    The identity politics list has not helped voters think Greens were a safe bet as adversaries against dirty politics and the Natz , in fact judging by what has happened so far, voters have been proved right. They are underperforming to voter expectations. All this can change of course.

    In the age of the Facebook analytics scandal, is this also because the Greens are somehow being influenced by the right to make the wrong calls on so many issues via psychological social media influencing that is becoming more prevalent? Who knows.

  8. Why?

    Is it a result of the Greens coming out of the middle class as a minority trying to do the right thing regardless of majority opinion?

    Thus a lack of respect for accepting the will of the majority, because it can be wrong. Not so much, because the party operates very democratically and minority opinion in the caucus can be quickly sidelined – as happened last year.

    It appears to be an acceptance of a liberal strand of political thought, regarding the role of the MP and their conscience – today reflected in some parliamentary votes. As yet not moderated to account for party list MP’s, who should be bound by party solidarity or leave the list and be replaced.

    Who will argue that the legislation should be limited to list MP’s only?

    • why..?.there always have been green mp’s there who are careerists – who see the green party as the vehicle for their personal political ambitions – and who in their lives could not be less green..

      and to me it is quite simple – if you are standing there preaching to others to live a green life/to save the planet..

      and only pausing to wipe the pig-fat from yr lips..

      then you are just full of shit…and one of those careerists..

      how can you not be..?

  9. Chris, great opinion piece. One overlooked aspect of the anti party switching legislation is that it stops the National Party gaming MMP by having an existing MP, (eg. Don Brash) switch from National to a minor party (eg. Act) to try & increase the minor party’s Party vote & get National over the line.
    It therefore neutralises Bomber’s nightmare scenario of Mark Mitchell, Rodney MP, switching to the New Conservatives in an attempt to increase their Party vote to assist National

  10. What is the benefit of ‘collectivism’, when parties rally for great causes during the election campaign, but then flip flop once in government? Would it therefore not be just and principled for any elected MP to stand by what he or she was voted in on, rather than compromise beyond recognition anything their party stood for before the election?

    That is why I would not like Winston’s Waka Jumping Bill.

    The Greens sold out, because they were under compromise loving James so desperate to get into government, they threw over board much of what they have traditionally stood for.

    The price for this may be the failure to get above the five percent threshold in the coming election, and that will be a disaster for many who want at least a humble minimum of environmental policy represented in Parliament.

    • That’s a good point. It can cut both ways. Perhaps defying the party but staying with the announced intentions before election could be treated differently.
      D J S

  11. Over the past decade or so I have often wondered what planet the Green Party was living on because it most definitely was not the same one I was living on.

    And now, after a decade of dithering and obfuscation and counter-productive policies being promoted by the Greens, we find that the very worse scenarios of abrupt climate change are manifesting right before our eyes, i.e. climate chaos that leads to disruption of the food supply in the short term (as well as massive infrastructure damage) and meltdown of the planet that rapidly leads to a largely uninhabitable planet.

    ‘The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition’


    Now wouldn’t you think that political party that supposedly exists to protect the environment and work towards social justice etc. would have something to say on such matters?

    I’m not holding my breath.

    Just who have the Greens ‘sold their soul to’?

  12. What really matters, say the academics, is the right of individual Members of Parliament to spit in the faces of their party comrades and traduce the solemn undertakings given by themselves on the day they joined themselves to a political collectivity.

    Like Winston and Anderton did. If all people were interested in was maintaining proportional power of party leaders from the day of election then we’d have no need other MPs at all, just employees of the party leader. Of course no-one’s wanted that ever. People have shown they want leaders and the wider executive to be accountable following the elected dictatorships before MMP.

  13. “What really matters, say the academics, is the right of individual Members of Parliament to spit in the faces of their party comrades and traduce the solemn undertakings given by themselves on the day they joined themselves to a political collectivity.”
    Chris Trotter

    Strong words Chris.

    I wonder Chris, if you reserve the same emotive venom for the actions of Mike Minogue and Marlyn Waring?

    To paraphrase your invective Chris; Mike Minogue and Marilyn Waring ‘felt morally obligated to abrogate all former undertakings and, because their conscience required it, violated the proportionality of Parliament.’

    Minogue and Waring are national heroes, in touch with popular feeling against nuclear weapons and nuclear war, they made a courageous stand on principle, in defiance of their party and government.

    Were they right, were they wrong?

    Do you condemn them for their stand Chris?

    Your current position informs me that you do.

    Do you also condemn Jim Anderton, Chris?

    Jim Anderton also stood in defiance of his party and government.

    It is a shame that these heroes are not more celebrated. It is also a shame that their brave stands on principle were not copied by more Labour Government MPs during the Rogernomics era.

    According to your argument here Chris, sectarian loyalty to party outweighs principle.

    ‘My party right or wrong’.

    Or as others call it ‘elected dictatorship’.

      • When political donations was not as pronounced in the 80’s you would be correct. Now that political donations obviously skews policy away from public consensus all votes are not quite equal. Proportionality, for me at least, is vital.

    • And just to make it clear Chris. What I mean by the term “Elected dictatorship” is where an elected party once in office feels free to do what ever they like, no matter what the electorate thinks, no matter whether they mentioned this during their election campaign or not. No matter if the government have a mandate from the people who voted them in or not.

      Even if the majority of parliament are against it.

      And since most decisions are made in cabinet, which is made up of a minority Government MPs, – even if most of your party caucus disagree with it.

      And you support giving political parties the power to bludgeon into line any MP who dares object?

      This is not increasing democracy but a lessening of it, where the only right the people have is to put a piece of paper in a ballot every 3 years or so, to chose which set of people have the power to do whatever they want, during their term with no checks and balances at all.

      • True and relevant Pat, but in that situation a truly principled politician (ever heard of one of those) still has the option of resigning as Jim Anderton did of course. The fact that no one else came with him attests to the fact that most of them at the time including Helen Clarke cared more about staying in parliament than about the principles they pretended to be there to implement.
        When the party deviated so diametrically from basic Labour party principles there should have been a mass defection. Unfortunately what was revealed was that only a very few people seek a political career for their beliefs, most only for the kudos and the secure income. Though some of course to manipulate investments for their own and for their fraternity’s financial gain.
        D J S

    • trotter is a leftwing authoritarian – and authoritarians support wake-jumping legislation as a given..and a control-tool in the ‘ekected dictatorship’..

      this legislation both sucks and blows…

      and i know the other end of the spectrum from waring/minogue is the spivs who peeled off from nz first to prop up the tories..

      but no system is perfect – and this legislation is totalitarian/authoritarian in nature –

      – and makes our system less perfect..

  14. Last week Chris Trotter was being flayed by the authoritarian left for supporting free speech.
    This week he is being assailed for being An authoritarian leftist.

  15. I wonder at times where Chris Trotter is getting his ideas from. This is a bit bizarre.

    As a so called ‘leftist’, and one with some interest in German history, where would his take be on the present situation and sentiment in that country?

    Huge divisions and tensions created by the immigration issue, that is what happens there, so how important is the Green’s position on this or that here, I wonder, when NZ Inc will sooner or later face an even greater identity crisis?

  16. why don’t the free-speech collective form a political party..?

    they could call it – i dunno – the new conservative party..?

    then all the racists could gather around them – like flies clinging to shit..

  17. Chris Trotter supports hate speech outside of parliament, under the guise of free speech, and Chris supports the suppression of free speech inside of parliament under the guise of oppressive sectarian unity.

    Parliament is the highest court in the land where debate is supposed to be free and open and without duress. (Even the normal laws of libel and defamation in society are suspended in parliament to allow maximum freedom of expression of sincerely held views.

    What NZ First are implementing and Chris is supporting is making parliament the prison of MPs. The duress being the threat of being evicted by the executive if you stray from the Party line. Whether they were voted onto the list by their party or into parliament by their electorate. The fact is that every MP who is parliament is there by some sort of democratic process. They should only be removed by democratic process. Not by some decision of the executive or even the caucus, especially over a matter of principle. The stifling of debate and the free expression of opinion in parliament, for the sake of Party unity, that will be the result of this legislation is a disservice to our democracy. The Greens are right to oppose it.

    If they don’t want to subsumed by the bigger parties the success of the Greens in parliament will be measured on their ability to win the support of parliamentarians from other parties to the issues they support from a minority position. Stopping deep sea oil drilling is one such issue where the Greens will need to woo (lobby) Labour Party MPs to vote against their party to end deep sea oil drilling.

    Just as once the opposition Labour Party wooed (lobbied), Mike Minogue and Marilyn Waring to vote to make New Zealand Nuclear Free.

    This amendment is an authoritarian effort to make sure that example is never repeated.

    Which is why a Left Authoritarian like Chris Trotter supports it and with as much venomous language as he can muster.

    This is why there is no conflict between Chris’s support for hate speech outside parliament and his support for suppressing free expression of MPs opinions in parliament.

    • The question Id like to ask Pat is do you know where this is going to lead. Do you know what it is going to mean if you keep braking down definitions and terms and words?

      Do you know for instance if you keep on saying Chris’s Trotter promotes hate speech. Do you know what relief that is going to give other people down the road about what they’re going to be able to get away with?

      This idea that we police discussions along incredibly narrow lines that happen to surround ones own comfort zone and call everything outside of this zone or discussion that I wouldn’t necessarily agree with is hate speech. I think that’s very dangerous going down that road because you can see exactly the trail that bit of gun powder goes too.

      I think the gun powder trials to appoint where any one becomes cynical about what any one would say. The likelihood is 99 times you’ve seen Chris Trotter or Hone Harawira, Jordan Peterson or who ever pulled up on hate speech then the hundredth time you call some one out on hate speech might be engage in hate speech, and all your defences will be down. So you’ll be very unlikely to be sceptical and really dig down because most of us don’t have time to find out every single word or thought some one has uttered or thought. So it seems very likely to me some where down the road very very bad people will be able to get through the gates of parliament because we kept on making erroneous claims frivolously for our own short term gains and short term comfort, and we’ll end up brining the gates down completely.

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