Are Greens guilty of a serious political crime?

The Green Party has been actively promoting policy promises that seem to be of a different planet. A decent job with a living wage, a choice not to work with a living wage anyway, and a decent home for life. Seems like selling a Lotto dream. Or socialist idealism.

John Armstrong said recently “I think they are guilty of a serious political crime — falsely raising people’s hopes and expectations…”

There’s some justification for for that claim. Do the Greens believe they can deliver on their nirvanic promises? If so they are self deluded. Or are they trying to buy votes with policies that simply don’t stack up? That would be dishonest.

Over the last few years the Green Party has successfully raised it’s pollong, raised it’s election vote and raised the number of MPs they have. Since the last election they have held their gains in the polls.

Last year ther Greens, mostly through the profile of Russel Norman, were widely praised for their efforts in opposition and Norman was rated as a far more effective opposition leader than Labour’s David Shearer.

There’s no doubt that the Greens have a solid core of support. There seems to be significant wider sympathy for their causes, it’s common to hear people say that a Green voice in parliament is a good thing. But…

Beyond their very dedicated followers many still have serious question marks over Green policies – many wonder how idealistic and unrealistic they may be. In an editorial yesterday Dominion Post said:

Labour doesn’t have the luxury, as NZ First and arguably the Greens still do, of being niche parties that can make reckless promises. Labour has the burden of being taken seriously. Its policies matter because one day they might be implemented.

Greens don’t see themselves as a niche party any more, they are pitching to be a serious political player. Reckless promises will no longer pass unnoticed.

The political landscape has changed. Now the alternative to National is frequently presented as Labour+Greens. The Greens have shown strong ambitions to be an influental part of the next government. Norman has made clear his ambitions for a major role in a finance portfolio.

Curiously there has been a perceptable change in the public face of the Greens. Since late last year the second Green leader Metiria Turei seems to have switched to a more prominent role than Norman. She has fronted the media more, and has had more significant speaking roles in parliament, both closing for them in parliament last year and opening this year.

Turei is seen as more grass roots Greens but also even more grandiose in her policy promises. In a column in D Scene yesterday she said:

Our coalition of supporters, dedicated to building a modern and progressive Aotearoa New Zealand, will be unstoppable because we will be on the right side of history and represent the best of our country.

We will offer policies full of opportunities to build a better Aotearoa New Zealand, to give everyone a decent start in life, a good job with a living wage, and an abundant environment to be proud of.

Together we are powerful and passionate.

Together we will build a caring country that honours our past, makes good green change in the present, and has our gaze set firmly on the opportunities of the future.

So this is a rally cry for new year, crisp with a fresh promise.

The Green’s environmental credentials are well known and accepted. On that they are seen as an important voice, albeit often over the top in trying to stop any progress – no fracking, no drilling, no mining, no roading.

Their housing policy promises poorer people a secure quality housing option, Homes for Life, whether through ownership or perpetually renewable rental.

John Armstrong has said on this:

The Greens’ overall policy objective is clear. But this “motherhood and apple pie” of a policy is so warped all round, that it would have to be canned before long. I think they are guilty of a serious political crime — falsely raising people’s hopes and expectations on housing, knowing they are not going to be able to deliver.

They are not just trying to raise people’s hopes on housing. Ditto jobs. They are also promising that people can choose not to work and be financially secure.

Greens are currently promoting and promising:

  • A decent start in life
  • A good job with a living wage
  • A choice to not be in paid employment but still get a living wage
  • A decent home for life no matter what your financial circumstances

Do they believe these ideals are possible? They are not detailing how this would all be paid for. They are offering everyone the equivalent of a Lotto dream lifestyle.

Do they really think they can deliver? Do they believe their own hype? Some would call that deluded.

Or is their slick promotional machine deliberately trying to dupe the gullible poor? That would be dishonest.

A serious political crime? At the very least their promises deserve greater scrutiny, and answers to how they think they can deliver on what looks like unaffordable and unattainable.

The Green social media team will read this post. I welcome your defence – a right of reply post?

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