Greens reshuffle spokesperson roles

The Green party has announced a reshuffle of spokesperson roles following the election of James Shaw as new co-leader.

Shaw has taken on Climate Change, with Metiria Turei continuing her focus on Inequality.

Most notable is the promotion of Julie Anne Genter to the Finance role, taking over from Russel Norman. Genter has been one of the Greens’ most capable and prominent spokespeople in her previous role on Transport (which she retains).

Interestingly Genter is still only ranked ninth in the Green pecking order, having dropped a place from last year’s list after the promotion of Shaw.

New portfolio line-up for the Green Party

New portfolios
MP Portfolio
Metiria Turei Inequality

Building and Housing (inc. Social Housing, HNZ)

Maori Affairs

James Shaw Climate Change

Economic Development

Russel Norman Trade

Justice (electoral)

National Intelligence and Security (inc. NZSIS, GCSB)

Kevin Hague Health (inc. ACC, Sport & Recreation)

Conservation

Rainbow Issues

Eugenie Sage Environment

Primary Industries

Land Information

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Earthquake Commission

Gareth Hughes Energy and Resources

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

Science and Innovation

ICT

Broadcasting

Wellington Issues

Catherine Delahunty Education (inc. Novopay)

Water

Human Rights

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Kennedy Graham Foreign Affairs (inc. Defence, Disarmament, Customs)

Veterans Affairs

Senior Citizens

Julie Anne Genter Finance (inc. Revenue, SOEs)

Transport

Youth

Mojo Mathers Commerce and Consumer Affairs (inc. Regulatory Reform)

Disability Issues

Animal Welfare

Jan Logie Social Development (inc. Women, Community and Voluntary Sector)

State Services

Local Government (inc. Civil Defence)

Rainbow Issues

Dave Clendon Tourism

Small Business

Criminal Justice (inc. Courts, Corrections, Police)

Musterer

Denise Roche Workplace Relations and Safety

Waste

Immigration, Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Affairs

Internal Affairs (inc. Statistics, Arts Culture & Heritage, Ministerial Services, Racing, Gambling)

Auckland Issues

Steffan Browning Organics

GE

Biosecurity

Pesticides

Food Safety

Greens confuse democratic process with democratic votes

Despite what some try to claim he number of submissions in a democratic process is not a measure of popular support.

Submissions are not votes.

A high number of submissions promoting one view has become common, but they often mean that one view has been organised and promoted with mass submissions.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei recently sent out an email that was predictably critical of the Government emissions target announcement but her argument is a bad example of the confusion of democratic process versus democratic votes.

Here are five reasons why this weak target should be a concern for all New Zealanders:

  1. This target undermines our democratic process. Back in May, thousands of New Zealanders participated in the Government’s climate consultation. An overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target) asked for a more ambitious target than what the Government is proposing. John Key’s administration has effectively ignored almost everyone who participated in the consultation, from doctors and business leaders to scientists and conservation groups.

For a start this doesn’t even give the total number of submissions, she just claims “an overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target)”.

How many submissions were there?

How many submissions didn’t specify a target?

But claiming “this target undermines our democratic process” is based either on ignorance of democracy (which is alarming from a party that claims to be more democratic than any other) or it is deliberately deceptive.

Submissions are an important  part of the democratic process, a means of giving the public a say.

But organising mass submissions has become common practice from parties like the Greens and also allied activists:

Like Generation Zero: Use our quick submission tool to call on the Government to commit to a pathway towards zero CO2 emissions by 2050 or earlier, and call for a global zero carbon target in the Paris deal.

This is our chance to call for a plan to Fix Our Future. Take a few minutes to add your voice by submitting below.

It’s easy to have your say. Just fill in your details and tick all the points you agree with.

Personalising your submission will really add weight to it so please add your own thoughts and comments at the end of the form.

In an open democracy like ours groups are free to organise mass submissions, a form of group speak.

But claiming that the number of submissions is some sort of democratic measure of support is an abuse of democracy, or ignorance of how democracy works.Metiria Turei

Either way a party leader should know better than to make claims like Turei has.

Are the Greens confused about democratic processes? Or are they deliberately trying to confuse?

Dunne on Shaw and the Greens

Peter Dunne has seen a lot of politics, a lot of parties, and he’s seen a lot of party leaders come and go. His latest blog post is on James Shaw and the Greens.

For a moment earlier this week I found myself in agreement with the Greens’ new co-leader James Shaw and his call for the government to work with other parties towards an agreed emissions reduction target as part of our approach to curbing the impacts of climate change. After all, Shaw seems such a sensible chap, and many other countries are moving in this direction, so it seemed a not unreasonable idea to try to work towards such a consensus in New Zealand. At last, I naively thought, the Greens are shedding their dogmatism and have worked out that the way to work with other parties is to co-operate with them, not to badger and harangue them.

But it was only a brief lapse on my part. The more Shaw pushed his ideas before a clearly uninterested Prime Minister, the more it became clear that John Key was not being asked to sit down and talk about a commonly agreed target, but to just adopt the Greens’ pre-determined target.

That seems to be a common problem with the Greens in general. Some Green MPs understand how to work across party lines and work on pragmatic solutions, like Kevin Hague. Others seem entrenched with their own ideologies.

The Greens, after all, as they smugly keep reminding us, are a party of principle, so can never be wrong. All of which explains why as the oldest of our newer political parties they are the only ones never to have been part of a government, and why both National and Labour have been extremely wary of working too closely with them. Their sanctimony would simply be too much to bear. Those who had hopes Shaw might be the circuit breaker will have been sorely disappointed by the outcome of his first foray. Nothing has actually changed, it seems, and the Greens are as isolated as ever.  

There has certainly been quite a bit of that, or at least it’s been a common perception of the Greens.

The big loser out of all this is the environment – the cause the Greens profess to care so passionately about. New Zealand needs an influential Green Party, but will probably now go in to the next round of climate change discussions with a very modest emissions reductions target. UnitedFuture and the Maori Party have shown some environmental credentials, as their stands on seeking to prevent National’s attempts to gut the Resource Management Act have shown, but with only three seats in Parliament between them cannot at this stage sustain the influence a mainstream environment party would have.

An interesting point. If the Greens worked pragmatically with UnitedFuture and the Maori Party then they would have the numbers to influence environmental policy.

Here is the problem in a nutshell. Many New Zealanders care passionately about preserving our environment and worry that successive governments have not been doing enough in that space. Yet these same New Zealanders do not want to put their heads above the environmental parapet, because some of the extreme (and often not-environment related) positions the Greens have taken over the years have attracted so much ridicule and scorn.

There is widespread sympathy on environmental issues – just not on the more extreme non-compromising stance that the Greens often try to maintain, and not with the far left social policies the Greens promote.

I think James Shaw instinctively understands this conundrum, and wants to change the perception, but I doubt the wider Green Party will let him.

That will be a real test for Shaw. Time will tell whether he does understand, or whether he becomes embedded in the Green bubble.

He has already discovered this week that the moral high ground is not always the place to be if you want to make real change in politics. It is fine if you just want to make a statement, and never be held to account for it, something the Greens have thus far been past masters at.

But if you want to achieve things in politics, you have to be prepared to get on the same ground as others, and work alongside them patiently, compromise by wretched compromise if need be, until you finally achieve your objective.

That’s something Dunne has a lot of experience with.

Moving the Green Party onto that space will be James Shaw’s biggest credibility challenge.  

If Shaw wants to move to where the Greens could have a real influence. And if he does, if the party allows him to.

And that may not be easy. Responding to something else written about the Greens Metiria Turei recently tweeted:

People write all sorts of bollocks about us. Nothing really new here tbh.

I don’t think the Greens are good at taking advice they don’t want to hear.

Shaw sets a high target for Green membership

New Green co-leader James Shaw has set some very optimistic membership targets on lifting Green membership.

NZH reports on his key-note speech at the Green conference in ‘More like modern NZ’ says new co-leader.

During the half-hour address at the party’s AGM in Auckland this morning, Mr Shaw set out ambitious plans for the Greens.

He wanted to double the membership of the party this year and double it again next year. The party currently has around 6000 members.

While the National Party was a “behemoth” of money and strategists, he said, the Green Party’s strength came from its members.

“If we’re going to contend with such a formidable adversary, we need a lot more of them. And then twice that number again.”

Shaw didn’t mention Labour, he wants the Greens to take National on.

Shaw has been effective in his Wellington electorate, with Greens out-polling Labour in the party vote last election.

It will be much harder lifting membership across the country, especially as proposed, to four times the current membership in two years, from 6,000 to 24,000. That’s probably more than Labour membership (excluding union affiliates).

Mr Shaw said, the Green Party needed to be more like modern New Zealand.

“People vote for people they feel a connection to. If we aim to govern the country then we need to represent it.”

To get a connection with far more people, to get many more members Greens, will have to do a much better selling job with their policies, or they will have to significantly change their policy approach.

Shaw may appeal to a wider range of New Zealanders, but Metiria Turei is still co-leader and it’s hard to see her broadening her appeal much.

What if those targets aren’t reached? We may not hear about it – Shaw may hope that it’s forgotten.

Greens are a niche party. Trying to make them “more like modern New Zealand” would mean making major changes to their policy positions and priorities, something Shaw hasn’t given any indication of doing.

It will be interesting to see how he goes on boosting Green membership.

Shaw hasn’t said it explicitly but he appears to be trying to take over from Labour as the main opposition party.

Reality missing from Greens and Turei

Metiria Turei is now the co-leader of Greens with substantial experience. She was introduced to the Green conference this weekend as “senior female politician in Opposition”. But she is showing signs of missing a reality quotient, and this could damage Green ambitions.

NZ Herald reports on her conference speech.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says her party’s 25th year has been its most successful yet.

That’s highly debatable.

The party received the highest number of votes in its history, has enrolled record numbers of members, and raised more money than Labour.

But it got a smaller % of the vote than in the previous election, only just maintained the same number of MPs, just lost their and looks as far from being in Government as they have this century.

“If orange is the new black, then green must be the new mainstream.”

Greens are now well established as a major minor party but they are entrenched in a sidestream. Especially with Turei leading them – she appeals to a minority elite that is blind to her lack or reality.

“The longer John Key and his National Party sit in the Beehive, the more out of touch with the lives of New Zealanders they become.”

She may be right to an extent but five times as many voters are in touch with John Key and National than are in touch with Turei’s Greens. It’s hard to see how Turei is in touch with much outside her Green bubble.

“I have to say I feel a little bit like the Bachelorette,” Mrs Turei said. “It’s certainly been a while since I’ve had four men chasing after me to become my partner.

“And while they may not have the rippling abs and paleo diet toned bodies of the TV version, our bachelors are all political Adonises.”

Outside her conference speech Turei was interviewed by Lisa Own on The Nation. Turei was waffly and contradictory. Like:

We are absolutely moving forward with the change of co-leadership this weekend.

I think we’ll see who the new guy is and what changes he might want to make to our direction.

We’re open to what a new co-leader will bring to our caucus and to our party. It’s a very exciting time for us. We don’t change leaders very often, compared to some other parties, and so it’s always good to have someone new, with new ideas about where we should be going and how we should be opening our relationships and the kinds of solutions we should be putting forward to the public.

…a new direction, because, of course, a new person in this role is going to have new ideas about things they might want to change…

But…

The caucus priorities will remain.

Much of our approach to issues will continue the same.

And in one sentence…

the new guy is going to have great ideas about things we should be doing, but we also need to be respectful of our membership and what they want to do, because they are the ones that we serve, and our voters and what they want to see us doing. So it’s a relationship that you build, rather than changing direction or making—

Does a new leader mean exciting change or the same old, dictated by party members.

And then on Green progress:

This is two elections in a row where we’ve hit over the 10% mark. So I think we’re on a trajectory of growth, absolutely. And with the new co-leadership team focused on 2017, I think we will continue to grow. That’s why this time is so exciting for us.

Except it looks more like the Greens have flattened off as if they have hit a Green ceiling. Two elections in a row they got about the same level of support, just over 10%. They were targeting 15% in last year’s election and failed to gain any ground, despite the rest of the left – Labour and Mana – losing ground.

  • 2011 – 11.06%, 14 seats
  • 2014 – 10.70%, 14 seats

They got an increase in votes – 247,372 to 257,359 – but their share went backwards.

Greens were noticeably deflated by last year’s election result, at least a bit despondent. That contribted to Russel Norman’s decision to step down. There was no perception of “a trajectory of growth”.

Talking rubbish doesn’t help bridge the Green credibility gap.

Moving forward, growing our vote, growing our membership, raising more money, these are all… this is all about momentum, and we have great momentum as a party. The last few months have been focused on ourselves, with our co-leadership, and I think that’s been important. Today we elect a new co-leader, a new co-leadership team, and we will move forward from here. There is only… I think there’s only room for growth for us at this point.

In politics there’s always room for growth. And there’s as much chance of decline.

The last few months have been difficult for the Greens.  The election was a reality check that seems to have escaped Turei, unless she is ignoring it and making things up.

Well, the electorate is— The electorate is telling us that we are successful. More people voted for us at the last election than ever before. We’ve only been in Parliament for less than 20 years, and we are already cemented as the third-largest party. Of all of those parties that were involved in the alliance, we are the only ones still here, and we are growing

Yes they are the third largest party – although NZ First support has grown while Greens have stagnated.

“Only been in Parliament for less than 20 years” – they contested as part of the Alliance group in 1993 and 1996, and then on their own as the green party in 1999 they got seven seats. Since then they have had nine, seven, nine, fourteen and fourteen seats. That’s a creditable achievement.

But their support has flattened and they don’t look any closer to getting into Government than they did last century.

And this is in large part due to Turei type hard left idealism that rules out going in to Government with National. Greens put more priority on promoting their socialist agenda than achieving environmental gains.

This will continue to limit their chances of growing and especially their chances of being a prominent player in Government.

And Turei is the the flag bearer of the idealism and intransigence that is likely to keep limiting Green appeal.

Turei The Nation May 2015

That is a reality that Turei either can’t see or tries to pretend doesn’t exist.

Third-largest party which is on the outside, on the periphery, not making the decision, not in power.

But that’s not true. I mean, when we were… When Labour was in government, we had great success with them, including significant budget successes with them. When— Now that National is in government, we’ve done the same through our MOU. So we’ve gotten our policy through with both Labour and National in different kinds of ways, and we are growing, and we are cementing ourselves in New Zealand politics.

The future for the Greens is only success and growth at this stage, and with the new co-leadership team, I think we’ve got infinite possibilities for how we want to extend that growth.

And infinite possibilities for ignoring reality. And for stagnating. And if Labour ever get their act together and if NZ First continue to grow then Greens face a real possibility of shrinking.

Full transcript:

A few minutes ago, I spoke to Metiria Turei and asked her, with Norman gone, is this an opportunity for a change in direction?
We are absolutely moving forward with the change of co-leadership this weekend, and we’re really looking forward to having the new guy working alongside me and working with the caucus and with the party and focus, actually, very much on the 2017 election. Russel will stay as an MP, and the caucus priorities will remain – inequality and climate change. The party commitment to working on the ground with communities remains. So although we’ll have a new co-leader, much of our approach to issues will continue the same. It’s the party that makes all our important political decisions too, rather than the leadership or the caucus, so I think that’s important to note.
So steady as she goes is the attitude you’re taking?
We’ll, I think we’ll see who the new guy is and what changes he might want to make to our direction. But we work collaboratively with our caucus and with our party in making these decisions, so you won’t see any radical shifts in direction. But we will be moving forward towards the 2017 election with fresh blood, with new ideas, but we’ll take a little time to work all those through.
Well, you said it depends on what the new guy thinks, so you’re open to a change in direction?
Oh, absolutely. We’re open to what a new co-leader will bring to our caucus and to our party. It’s a very exciting time for us. We don’t change leaders very often, compared to some other parties, and so it’s always good to have someone new, with new ideas about where we should be going and how we should be opening our relationships and the kinds of solutions we should be putting forward to the public.
We’ll talk a little bit about that later – the relationships – but you said this week that you want a running mate who understands that leadership is about forging a new direction, so what did you mean by that?
Both a new direction, because, of course, a new person in this role is going to have new ideas about things they might want to change, but also that leadership is about service – service to our members and service to our voters. So although a person— the new guy is going to have great ideas about things we should be doing, but we also need to be respectful of our membership and what they want to do, because they are the ones that we serve, and our voters and what they want to see us doing. So it’s a relationship that you build, rather than changing direction or making—
Okay, can you afford not to change direction? Can you get 15% of the vote without changing direction?
We have been fantastically successful, and, in fact, Russel and I have been one of the most successful political partnerships now for a number of years. We’ve led the Greens over two elections to over 10% of the party.
Yes, but you’ve also had nine elections where you’re not part of the government at the end of the day.
And we have worked really hard with other parties to try to form this idea of a government in waiting, and we will try to do that again for 2017. But in terms of the work that the Green Party does, putting solutions to the public, making sure that we have good relationships across the political spectrum, Russel and I in particular have done a great deal of work in that, and it’s been successful. The Green Party is very successful. We’re the only party other than National and Labour to achieve other 10% of the party vote in two elections running. So I think the Greens are doing really well.
But you’re still not in government, and isn’t one of the lessons from the last election that you have maxed out your vote on this road?
Not at all.
You’ve said that you’ve raised more money than Labour last election; you had the highest record of membership. You played nice; you didn’t make 15%. If you do the same, won’t you just get the same? That’s it; you’ve maxed it out.
We set an audacious target so that we work really hard to achieve it. And although we didn’t hit the target, we did have more members, more voters and raise more money at the last election than ever before. This is two elections in a row where we’ve hit over the 10% mark. So I think we’re on a trajectory of growth, absolutely. And with the new co-leadership team focused on 2017, I think we will continue to grow. That’s why this time is so exciting for us.
But the evidence doesn’t seem to suggest that you are on a trajectory for growth, because you have about the same result both times, both elections.
So we’ve been in Parliament now for nearly 20 years, and it’s only been in the last two elections that we have achieved over 10% of the vote. I think that shows that we are both stable and here for the long-term as a third political force in New Zealand politics, that we have the capacity to grow significantly more, and that with a new co-leadership team focused on 2017 that we will.
Some people might see that as being stuck in a rut — not moving, same spot.
Moving forward, growing our vote, growing our membership, raising more money, these are all… this is all about momentum, and we have great momentum as a party. The last few months have been focused on ourselves, with our co-leadership, and I think that’s been important. Today we elect a new co-leader, a new co-leadership team, and we will move forward from here. There is only… I think there’s only room for growth for us at this point.
When you talk about moving forward, well, Labour learned some hard lessons at the last election. After bombing at the polls, it started to ditch unpopular policy. So what policies do you think that the Greens need to flick?
I don’t think we need to flick any, and I think what we now need to do with the new co-leadership team is we will look at our priorities, which at the moment are climate change and inequality, and we’ve proven really successful in putting those issues on the political agenda up to this point, and so building on the success that we’ve created so in our momentum towards 2017. And National would not have raised benefits if there had not been a strong political voice from the Greens on child poverty time after time. A persistent strong voice, particularly in the election campaign. We continue—
But the thing is you don’t look like you’re listening to the electorate. You don’t look like you’re listening to the electorate because your vote is stuck around a certain amount. You say you don’t need to flick any policies and you don’t need any major changes in direction. Are you ignoring what the electorate is telling you?
Well, the electorate is— The electorate is telling us that we are successful. More people voted for us at the last election than ever before. We’ve only been in Parliament for less than 20 years, and we are already cemented as the third-largest party. Of all of those parties that were involved in the alliance, we are the only ones still here, and we are growing.
Third-largest party which is on the outside, on the periphery, not making the decision, not in power.
But that’s not true. I mean, when we were… When Labour was in government, we had great success with them, including significant budget successes with them. When— Now that National is in government, we’ve done the same through our MOU. So we’ve gotten our policy through with both Labour and National in different kinds of ways, and we are growing, and we are cementing ourselves in New Zealand politics. The future for the Greens is only success and growth at this stage, and with the new co-leadership team, I think we’ve got infinite possibilities for how we want to extend that growth.
Okay, in your speech, you say that in the past, people have looked and thought… And this is your words. ‘What would a bunch of hippies and treaty activists know about the economy?’ Is that the problem? That people still see you that way, and without Russel, they are going to perceive you like that?
No, you’ve taken that quote totally out of context in the speech—
It’s how you say people used to see you, but I’m suggesting to you that perhaps that’s the way they still see you, and that might be your problem.
No, it’s not. That’s the point – and you will hear more in the speech if you quote more of it – is that actually our ideas on the economy, our capital gains tax, has been taken up by National; we’ve campaigned so hard for child poverty and raising benefits – that’s been taken up by National. Even Labour has taken our policy ideas, as we saw with capital gains tax as well. We are the thought leaders inside the Parliament, and other parties are taking our policy ideas, because they are tired and struggling to find their own. Now, you know, we welcome that. Please, take our ideas. Put them into place. But there is no doubt that the Greens are the ones who are leading on these issues.
OK, well, when it comes to Labour and your relationship with Labour, do you want Labour’s vote to grow or do you want their votes to come to you? What would be the best thing for the Greens?
Well, we always are going to be in competition and cooperation with Labour around votes, and that’s just the way it is. In an election campaign, I want as many votes as possible, and I don’t care where they come from – Labour, National, from other parties. We want to make sure our ideas— we sell our ideas really well to the public and that the public want those ideas put in place, either in government or in a relationship with government.
Yeah, but where do you think those votes will come from? Where is the growth market for you?
We get votes from both Labour and National. Some elections, it’s quite a similar percentage, and some elections it’s different. But we know that we can get votes from across the political spectrum. That’s what our evidence shows us. And we welcome that, because our ideas for combating child poverty and inequality, for protecting the environment, for smart, green economics – these are ideas that cross the political divide.
OK, well, if they cross the political divide, then isn’t the problem with the Greens declaring that they would work only with Labour and not National? I mean, no one really has to fight for your affections. You’ve got no leverage, no power.
No, what we said is that we’d be more likely to form a coalition relationship with Labour than with National but that we could work across the political spectrum, and we have proven that to be the case. The only reason why—
Policy by policy. But on the outside?
Well, we haven’t been in a government relationship – that’s true. And we are looking forward to that. And I expect that in the next co-leader— male co-leader’s term that we will be in a governing relationship at some point. I’m really looking forward to that challenge. I think that’s going to be a fantastic new step up for the Greens. But in the meantime, we have got our policies through, and that’s the most important thing.
But having identified that as your biggest goal— 
It’s a great goal.
New Zealand First has been bolstered by the win in the Northland by-election. They’re in the centre, where politics are won and lost. So why would Labour choose you, the Greens, over New Zealand First?
Labour knows that the Greens are the growing political force on the left of centre and that they will not govern without us. So they’re coming to terms with that, I think. I’m not worried about—
They can govern without you.
They can’t.
They can if they choose Winston Peters. And Winston Peters has made it clear that he doesn’t want a bar of the Greens.
No, that’s not true either. You know, that’s an old thing from, like, 10 years ago. I mean, that’s ancient. No, Winston and the Greens, we work quite well together, actually, and we’ve got a lot of common policy.
So are you making nice with Winston Peters? Are you fostering that relationship?
We’ve been managing a relationship with Winston Peters for years now and with Labour and others.
No, but are you actively fostering it now with Winston Peters, a relationship?
We’ve worked together with him on the manufacturing inquiry in the last term. We work really well with a number of the MPs, including Tracey Martin. I talk with Winston. We are very committed—
So can you talk him into a coalition that involves—?
Nobody can talk Winston into anything. Let’s be really clear about that.
You can’t talk him into a coalition with the Greens, then?
The best thing we can do is make sure we have good relationships with Labour and New Zealand First and National, where we can, and other parties and put solutions— our green solutions to the public so that they vote for them so we have the strength in an election to be able to negotiate well. That’s the best— that’s what we need to focus on, and I think that’s what the new co-leadership team will.
All right. Metiria Turei, thanks for joining me this morning. But just before we go, how long are you committed to being a leader in the Greens party?
I will certainly be here for the next election.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1505/S00406/lisa-owen-interviews-green-party-co-leader-metiria-turei.htm

Shaw a good bet for the Green future

It’s hard on Kevin Hague to miss out on the Green co-leadership. He’s a good guy who works hard with anyone to progress worthwhile policies and issues. But the Greens have gone for an alternative that’s a better bet for their future.

James Shaw was chosen as the new male co-leader, a Parliamentary novice against Hague’s experience. He was suggested as a leader of the future before getting into Parliament eight months ago.

When Russel Norman announced he was stepping down  Shaw initially said he wouldn’t be in the contest to replace Norman, but then he changed his mind. He must have sounded out support, or supporters encouraged him, and put himself forward.

I think Shaw is a good bet for the Greens. He is more likely than most to work well across the political spectrum and more likely than moist to attract a wide range of voters. He has solid Green credentials but also has solid business experience.

His biggest handicap was his lack of Parliamentary and leadership experience, but that’s not a big issue here as he is co-leader and is not in sole charge. He will have Metiria Turei’s experience alongside him, and Norman has promised to help him learn the leadership ropes.

I think it’s possible, even likely, that Shaw will quickly become more attractive to potential voters than Turei, who is fairly left of left and doesn’t appeal much to people outside the faithful Green flock.

Shaw is as good bet for the Green future.

James Shaw new Green co-leader

Kia ora Peter

I’m James Shaw. I want you to be one of the first to know that I have just been elected as the new Green Party male Co-leader.

This is a huge privilege. I do not take it lightly.

You can help me get the word out about my election by sharing this facebook post.

The last few months have been amazing. It’s been great to get across the country and meet so many of you and hear about your ideas and passion for a better, cleaner future for our beautiful country.

It’s been an inspiring and tough contest, and I want to acknowledge the hard work, passion and vision of all the Co-leader contestants. It was a pleasure to campaign alongside them and I value and respect them all highly.

I’m looking forward to working with you, my fellow Green MPs, and all the people who care about the future of New Zealand.

I know this will be hard work, but it’s worth it – because we can change the system. We can win. And we have to, because our current system is broken.

We have an economy that encourages people and companies to extract as much short term wealth as they can, from the environment or from their workers, regardless of the damage they cause, because they don’t have to pay for it.

The Government is supposed to help those who need help the most, not those who need it the least.

With your help the Green Party will change that, we will lead the change to a system that is sustainable and looks after all our people.

Together we can do it – the campaign to put the Greens in Government in 2017 starts today.

I’m excited, I hope you are too.

Arohanui

James Shaw

Green Party Co-leader

PS – if you want to find out more about me and hear about my vision for the Green Party and New Zealand, you can watch my first speech as Green Party Co-leader live tomorrow, Sunday 31 May at 11.30am.

Hague or Shaw? Does it matter much?

The Greens choose their new co-leader this weekend. As predicted it has come down to a contest between the reliable and experienced Kevin Hague and the newbie with potential James Shaw.

I think either would probably do a good job as co-leader. It’s up to Green Party members to decide whether they want to play it safe-ish with Hague or take a punt with the green Green MP Shaw.

Will either make much difference to what the Greens can achieve? Maybe a bit. But they will only be co-leader alongside Metiria Turei, and they will be governed by the wishes of the membership on key things like which parties they would work with in Government.

Whoever gets the promotion the Greens will still have a major challenge – how to appeal to and get votes from the constituents they seem intent on representing, the poor and the oppressed.

The Greens are praised (or grudgingly admired) by many for their ideals, but rated by far fewer as being realistic, or of being able to deliver their utopia.

The new co-leader will somehow have to keep appeasing their membership on their utopian ideals while appearing to the wider voting population they can somehow be practical and successful.

Kevin Hague favourite for Green leadership

It’s not surprising to see it reported that Kevin Hague is the frontrunner in the Green co-leadership race, ahead of James Shaw. I would have been surprised if either of the other two, Gareth Hughes and Vernon Tava, were seriously contesting.

Radio NZ reports Two-horse race for Green Party leadership.

With two weeks till the votes are counted, initial reports put experienced MP Kevin Hague out in front alongside the party’s newest MP James Shaw.

Mr Hague, Mr Shaw and fellow MP Gareth Hughes, as well as Green Party member Vernon Tava, are standing to be the Greens’ male co-leader following the resignation of Russel Norman.

This is probably a bit soon for Shaw, having only just become an MP last year. Tava was always going to be an outsider from outside Parliament.

I think either Hague or Shaw would be a good bet for the Greens.

Mr Hughes said it showed the strength in the Green Party that all four could potentially lead the party.

Anyone could potentially lead the party. Some would be better than others.

I’ll be cheeky and quote alongside that:

Metiria Turei is the sole nomination to be re-elected as female co-leader.

Does that show a weakness on the female side of the Green Party? Maybe, maybe not, incumbents often go unchallenged.

It could be difficult for the new male co-leader not to be overshadowed by Turei. Hague is probably the one who could match and balance her best.

So Hague is my favourite to get the nod, but the Greens sometimes have funny ways of thinking.

Vance fans Hughes’ leadership chances

Kevin Hague is a clear favourite in the Green leadership contest (in May, nominations don’t close until mid April). James Shaw is a newbie MP who will interest some, but may struggle to get support from party faithful.

Vernon Tova is prepared top argue outside the Green square – this may appeal to the wider voter base Greens desperately want but is unlikely to win him Green backing.

Gareth Hughes is as party faithful as you can get. He knows how to pander to the Green-wow crowd.

All four current leadership contenders were in a panel interview on The Nationa.

And Hughes has a Fairfax journalist fan, Andrea Vance. She praised his chances on The Nation panel in the weekend, although inadvertently highlighted a significant anomaly.

You’ve got Kevin and James who are considered the front runners. I was actually very impressed by Gareth Hughes because, as you say he lacked gravitas, but he actually has probably the best message to win over new voters.

I thought Hughes would appeal more to the party faithful than new voters, being one of the party faithful himself. But Vance echoed Hughes’ introduction.

Hughes: I want to be part of the most progressive government this country has seen in generations.

That doesn’t sound like winning over middle New Zealand voters.

Hughes: The Greens under my helm would be larger. My mission is to excite and inspire, to reach out and represent a new generation of voters. We’d be making sure we’re seeing action on climate change. What I want to see is a bigger, more powerful, more influential Green Party, because the issues we work on, they’re more important than ever.

Do you have the gravitas, the credibility to be a co-leader?

Hughes: This is my opportunity over the next two months to stand up and show the members of my party what I know I have inside, which is I know who I am, I know what I stand for, I know where I want to go. This is my opportunity, and the members have a fantastic choice. I’m standing as someone who’s been a campaigner for 15 years. I’ve got the experience, I’ve got the wins under my belt, and I want to lead our party to a bigger Green Party.

He may have a job to convince that he can lead.

We’re something new, we’re something different, and we’re something better.

I’m a Green because I support our new, different, independent party.

And he has to think up some convincing slogans. He repeated the ‘new’ theme – Greens have been around since last century.

Hughes showed a number of times how entrenched in Green procedure he is.

I stand by our party’s decision.

I’m stuck on the green.

I support what the members want. They make the decision, not the leader.

Our members look at what’s the level of agreement…

Well, I support what my party’s policy is.

Well, Lisa, in my party the leader and the caucus do not decide the policy. It’s our members.

Give me your opinion.

Hughes: I would have a discussion with our members…

Bit of philosophical discussion, but I think what voters and our members want to see from us is pragmatic solutions.

Greens have an admirable system of party wide decision making. But most people look to politicians to lead, and especially to leaders to lead, not just follow the crowd.

The Hughes approach will please many Green members, but it is unlikely to enthuse more voters. But Vance wasn’t enthused by Hughes’ lack of knowledge.

Now, coming to you, Gareth, what about the rate of inflation?

Hughes: It’s less than 2 percent.

Would you like another crack at that?

Hughes: Well, it’s around 2 percent recently.

0.8 percent.

Vance:

I mean it’s basic 101, you do your prep if you’re going on the telly to give your first national pitch.

An MP knowing the current inflation rate should require any prep, it’s something they should know.

You know you’ve gotta know what the inflation rate is, that was just appalling.

And on party renewal:

I think that also Green members have gotta look for someone who’s gonna be a little bit ruthless in terms of cleaning out the Greens. There’s definitely, in the way National has,  and Labour might well start to. There needs to be renewal  in the Green party for them to move forward.

It’s hard to see Hughes being ruthless. He seems very committed to discussions and listening to party members. The party members have a lot of say on the green list, and therefore on renewal. There was little sign of this in their last election list.

But despite these obvious drawbacks to his leadership ambitions Vance closed with more praise of Hughes.

I think that Gareth Hughes, and perhaps it didn’t come through quite as well today…

As well as what?

…but I think he has got quite an appealing message to middle New Zealand. He’s talking about people in the suburbs, he’s talking about people with young families that are you know sort of struggling day to day.

You know he’s pitching to that. He’s not talking about macro economics and sustainability, he’s actually talking about back pocket issues. And I think that would actually have a lot of appeal.

It’s just that Gareth sort of needs to work on his image a little bit I think.

So she twice singled out Hughes above the others for praise, despite several shortcomings. I’m not sure how well in tune with middle new Zealand Vance is.

I’m fairly sure Hughes will appeal more to Green Party faithful far more than wider voters.

And even they may prefer someone with some sign of leadership.

Hughes can’t always ‘Hey party/Clint’ at a leadership level.

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