Greens outspent Labour on election advertising

Parties’ election advertising expenses were released yesterday.

  • National $2.6 million
  • Conservative Party $1.9 million
  • Greens $1.29 million
  • Labour $1.27 million
  • Internet-Mana $660,000
  • Mana $320,000

While advertsing spending doesn’t necessarily translate into seats in Parliament (as Conservative and Internet-Mana prove) it helps.

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald points out the fact that Greens just outspent Labour

Labour’s shoestring budget and low election result will have the party asking how the much smaller Green Party had more funds. In 2011, the Greens spent $780,000 and Labour $1.8 million.

That’s a big rise in spending by Greens with the result being a small decrease on % support.

And it’s a big drop in Labour spending from 1.8 to 1.27 million.

General secretary Tim Barnett said Labour had never had large reserves and had spent within its means. The lower costs were partly because of more “low cost, high impact” campaigning, such as phoning, door knocking and direct mail rather than traditional media advertising.

“If you’re asking, ‘Were there lots of things you would have done if you had an extra million’, obviously that would be a nice position to have, but we stayed within the budget we had.”

In other words they had a significantly smaller budget.

Labour’s hierarchy has been criticised for failing to fundraise and the election expenses indicate it was a problem.

Lack of success fundraising was only one of a number of problems but it was a significant problem.

Labour is selecting a new president and former president Mike Williams said the ability to bring in the money would be a key factor. However, he did not necessarily think money was the be all and end all for a successful campaign, saying the ability to motivate grassroots members was more important.

But Barnett claims Labour did more “low cost, high impact” campaigning, such as phoning, door knocking. The work of grassroots members didn’t lift their election result because that dropped from 2011.

Greens do a lot of micro fundraising seeking money from their grassroots support. The two are related.

United Future spent $2000 on advertising.

I think Labour needs more fundraising and more grassroots support. And they need to perform at the top. And get some palatable policies.

It’s all related. People with money to hand out to political parties like to back potential winners.

Greens versus political and Intelligence realities

Tracey Watkins writes about the realities of Intelligence and security and how the Greens keep themselves on the outside of the pragmatic political club.

In Greens must learn sometimes national interest comes first she talks of Metiria Turei’s ‘ignorance’

Like her Green colleagues, Turei is deliberately ignorant of the rules of “the club” and would have it no other way.

Her path into politics was through the radical fringes, rather than the old boys’ network.

She is, in other words, the last person Labour and National want sitting across from them on a secretive body like the intelligence and security committee as they embark on a sensitive review of the intelligence agencies.

She would raise hackles. She would oppose. She would demand root and branch reform.

That’s the Green way. They haven’t worked out how to move from fringe players to practical inflkuences in major issues.

In contrast, any differences between Labour and National on intelligence and national security matters are superficial at best.

Prime Minister John Key’s statement that Labour and National will be the natural parties of government “for as far as the eye can see” was all that needed to be said on the reasons why Turei was excluded as an Opposition nominee for the committee.

The implied subtext was that the Greens can afford to be blindly naive about the methods employed by the state in the protection of its citizens. Labour and National can’t.

It’s the difference between parties that have had and will have the responsibility to lead governments, versus a fringe party that has grown to a potentially influential size but still has a fringe protest mentality.

That system was MMP, the system under which former radical Marxist student politicians and parties of the Right-wing fringe can be elected to Parliament and challenge the status quo, question the established order and be a thorn in the side of the mainstream parties.

“Former radical Marxist student politicians’ could refer to Turei or Norman.

Parties like the Greens, NZ First, ACT and the Maori Party – and before them the Alliance – have all filled that role over the years.

They can be pig-headed in pursuit of their own ideological agenda, even when it seems they are wilfully out of touch with mainstream New Zealand.

They often incur the wrath of voters as a result – no-one likes the spectacle of the tail wagging the dog.

Somethimg Greens struggle with and Internet-Mana failed to understand.

But despite all that, MMP endures. Confronted with the choice, voters still prefer MMP and the baggage that comes with it over the alternative first-past-the-post system, which would effectively deliver untrammelled power to the winning party.

Turei’s presence on the security and intelligence committee would be an annoyance to Key and Little in equal measures.

But it is also the price of MMP.

Her voice – and those of ACT’s David Seymour, NZ First’s Winston Peters and the Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell – are the elected curb on absolute power.

The quid pro quo for the Greens is that there is a price of admission to “the club”. And that may be biting the bullet on the reality that on occasion the national interest really does override party politicking.

If Greens want to have a significant input into important issues they have to learn that a positive pragmatic approach achieves more than being anti everything.

Greens are committed to their own club which will probably exclude them from any bullet biting.

There’s some hope for the Greens though, Kevin Hague understands and practices co-operative pragmatic politics.

Greens not contesting Northland

Apparently circulating via Green email (I haven’t got one yet, it could be to members only):


The Green Party’s National Executive has decided not to stand a candidate in the Northland by-election.

“It is our strategic assessment that we should not run in the by-election and focus on our nationwide climate change and inequality campaigns,” said Green Party Co-convenor John Ranta.

“The world’s attention will be focused on fixing climate change this year and we will be at the forefront of that issue here in New Zealand.

“We have a real opportunity to address both climate change and inequality and we want our party focused on those issues.”


Greens would gain little by standing in the by-election, and they don’t seriously contest electorates in general elections anyway.

It makes sense for them to concentrate their efforts and resources where they think they can have an impact.

Hague keen for Green leadership

Current Green number three  Kevin Hague has confirmed that he will put himself forward for the Green co-leadership position that Russel Norman is vacating.

On his Facebook timeline:

You may not have caught up with my news today: I have just formally announced that I will put my name forward for the election of male co-leader of the Green Party when Russel steps down from the role in May.

The vision and values of the Green Party are ones that I am hugely passionate about, and have spent much of my life fighting for, in various roles. For the past 6 years I have been the Caucus strategist, working as the wider leadership team with Russel and Metiria, and I can’t think of a role that I’d rather have than to stand alongside Metiria and lead this great Party through our next stage of development – into Government.

People reading this who are Party members already know about the process, which will see lots of opportunities to meet with me between now and the election at the end of May. If you’d like to have a say, and aren’t a member already, well . .…/contribute/transact…

James Shaw has indicated he is unlikely to stand as he considers himself too new and inexperienced (which he is).

There’s no other obvious contenders so it looks like Hague will be appointed uncontested.

If someone else stands for the leadership it’s unlikely they will be anything other than token competition, it’s hard to see anyone heading off Hague.

Kevin should make a good replacement for Norman. He is staunchly Green but is a political pragmatic who is willing to work with anyone to advance common causes.

However it will be a major challenge working out how to position Greens as a Government partner party.

UPDATE: David Farrar has also posted on this, and has listed some  what he sees as Hague positives:

Without discounting who else might stand, it is fair to say that Kevin Hague is a very good potential co-leader, and he could do significantly better than his predecessor, if elected.

The strengths that Hague would bring to the Greens are:

  1. He is not a communist (or former communist)
  2. He has significant political skills, playing a key role in campaigns such as the marriage equality campaign
  3. He is trusted and respected with most MPs from both National and Labour
  4. He will generally put progressing an issue, ahead of point scoring, for example working behind the scenes with National MPs on adoption law reform rather than grand-standing on the issue such as a Labour MP did
  5. Has the ability to work with MPs from other parties, including National. Involved in many cross-party caucuses.
  6. Has been influential in the Greens in reducing the power of the anti-science brigade, and has moved the Greens away from blanket opposition to fluoridation and vaccinations to more balanced positions
  7. Has significant management experience, having been a CEO of a District Health Board

I think Kevin Hague would be an excellent choice by the Greens to replace Russel Norman as the male co-leader.

All valid points – Hague announces candidacy

Twelve answers from Metiria Turei

Green co-leader Metiria Turei was asked twelve questions by Sarah Stuart (NZ Herald). Here are abbreviated answers.

1. Did the feminist in you rejoice at being allowed to speak at Te Tii last year?

The feminist in me rejoiced about women talking to women and respecting their authority. It was the kuia who make it possible. All I did was ask.

2. How do you think Helen Clark would have felt about it?

3. How do you feel on Waitangi Day?

I love every bit of it. The political challenges and protests are really important. Our country has been built on love and pain and we have to be honest about both.

4. Are you missing Russel yet?

Are you kidding? I have a long list of jobs he needs to do before he goes. I will miss him. He’s a very deep thinker and full of ideas and he’s prepared to have those ideas tested, which is enormously valuable.

5. Do you wish, like him, that you had spent more time with the kids?

It’s my greatest regret about taking this job 13 years ago. I missed out on my daughter’s last half of childhood

6. Your family moved around a lot when you were a child: was that the time you felt at your loneliest?

Probably. It’s difficult having to explain to other kids repeatedly who you are and why you are at their school, making friends and not worrying you might not see them again.

7. What did your parents teach you?

Generosity. No matter how little you have, you have enough to share.

8. What did your parents teach you that you’d never pass on?

I can only think of the naughty things. Like nicking other people’s firewood and the techniques we used to do that. Or sucking the cream from other people’s milk bottles then putting the lid back down. Now I feel very sorry for those people, and embarrassed.

9. You drifted for a few years after school: were you hard on yourself for not achieving over those years?

I was really. But I took this view that to do something, anything, was better than nothing. That if I kept on trying to do things, then something would happen.

10. You were a single mum at 22, and then decided to get a law degree: how did you find the confidence, the time and money?

It wasn’t really about confidence – Piupiu needed her mum to make a better life.

11. Who is your favourite National politician?

I have a lot of time for Nikki Kaye, a young woman doing very well in a very hard place. She’s got a good conscience. Tau [Henare] was my favourite. I enjoyed his caustic, high maintenance company because he is funny as hell

12. Will your time as leader be up soon too?

I believe in staggered succession and that’s the advantage of a co-leadership. We’ll see what happens after the next election.

Detailed responses: Twelve Questions: Metiria Turei

Who will replace Russel Norman?

Of course no one knows yet who will be Russel Norman’s replacement as Green co-leader in May, but speculation has begun.

Andrea Vance sums up the possibilities:

5. Anyway, who’s going to be the new Greens co-leader?

Party rules mean it has to be a fella and the top picks are former health boss Kevin Hague, and newbie James Shaw. A wild-card from outside Parliament is a remote possibility. Hague is likeable, sharp and would be a steady hand. Shaw’s list placing was downgraded by the membership, suggesting they are suspicious of the pro-business reformer. He also has foes within the caucus. But he would certainly shake the party from a post-election slump, if there was an appetite for change.

Kevin Hague is currently ranked 3 in the Green pecking order. He is widely respected as an intelligent and practical MP, willing to work with anyone with common interests. He must be one of the leading contenders, but we’ll have to see whether he wants to put himself into the leader’s limelight.

James Shaw has been touted as a potential leader since before he became an MP through last year’s election (at 12 on the list). It may be too soon for him, and he may have trouble getting enough support from across the Green membership. And of course he may or may not want to put himself forward at this stage.

Hague could step up and be seen on an equal-ish footing with co-leader Metiria Turei. Shaw would struggle not to be overshadowed and there could be distinct philosphical clashes with Turei being strongly pro Government doing everything while Shaw is much more business friendly.

There is no other obvious contender within the Green Caucus. The other male MPs are Gareth Hughes, Kennedy Graham, David Clendon and Steffan Browning.

A wildcard precedent

Vance mentions that ‘a wild-card from outside Parliament is a remote possibility’. There’s a precedent for this as that’s how Norman became leader.

In the 2002 election Norman stood unsuccessfully in Rimutaka, ranked seventeenth on the Green list.

In 2005 he didn’t stand in an electorate but was ranked tenth on the Green list. Greens ended up with six MPs, but there were several changes during the term.

Just after the election on 6 November 2005 Rod Donald died. His place was taken by the next on the list, Nándor Tánczos.

On 3 June 2006 Norman was elected Green co-leader from outside Parliament, beating beating Tanczos, David Clendon and former MP Mike Ward.

After Tánczos resigned he was replaced on 26 June 2008 by Norman – this was after the two ahead of Norman on the list, Ward and Catherine Delahunty, stood aside.

While it may be possible for Greens to appoint a leader who is not currently on the list that seems extremely unlikely. It also seems unlikely they would go outside the current MPs.

So that makes Hague and Shaw the most likely contenders, although other current MPs might fancy their chances (Clendon contested the leadership when Norman won).

The loser leaves precedent

Another Green precedent is for unsuccessful leadership contenders to leave Parliament. Tánczos resigned after losing to Norman in 2006

And Sue Bradford resigned after losing to Metiria Turei in 2009, ‘citing her disappointment at the loss and wish to take new directions’ (Wikipedia).

But that doesn’t mean a losing leadership contender would leave this time, especially if it’s Shaw as he has just become an MP.

3 News poll – first for 2015

The first 3 News/Reid Research poll of the year has just been released.

  • National 49.8% (up 2,8)
  • Labour 29.1% (up 4.0)
  • Greens 9.3% (down 1,4)
  • NZ First 6.9% (down 1.9)
  • Conservatives 2.7% (down 1.3)
  • Maori Party 1.3% (no change)
  • Internet Mana 0.6% (down 0.8)
  • ACT 0.4% (down 0.3)
  • United Future 0% (down 0.2)

National will be happy. Labour and Little will be hopeful that it’s a sign of a recovery trend. Greens will be a bit worried.

The small party results mean little this far out from the next election, although Internet Mana is sliding and United Future looks terminal.

Preferred Prime Minister

  • John Key 44.0% (up 3.9)
  • Andrew Little 9.8% (first result

55% of voters thing Andrew Little will be a better match for John Key than the last three leLabour leaders.
48% of National voters thought Little would be a better match.

Is a capable leadeer?

  • John Key 81%
  • Andrew Little 54%

How are the leaders performing:

  • Key – well 63%, poorly 24%
  • Little – well 45%, poorly 24%

On capable leader and performance Little got the best result for any Labour leader since Helen Clark.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent (at 50%).

If Russel Norman resigned from Parliament

This is a hypothetical because Russel Norman has only resigned as Green co-leader.

But if Norman resigned from Parliament the next off the party list would be Marama Davidson. If she replaced Norman that would upset their gender balance.

Unless Davidson chose to stand aside that may simply end up with more female MPs forn the rest of the term, 8 female to 6 male. I can’t find anything in their candiate selection rules or theirn constitution that stipulates anything different.

The closest related rule is in Candidate Selection Processes document:

5.5 General Provision regarding Withdrawal

5.5.1 If a person withdraws from the list at any stage, each candidate ranked below that person shall move up one ranking place.

So that would break their normal male/female alternating sequence if someone wirthdrew from the list prior to the election.

A further hypothetical – if there were an equal number of male and female MPs, but due to a male candidate withdrawal the next two on the list were female, and two male MPs resigned, that would result in, on current numbers, five male MPs to nine female MPs.

That would be only 37% male MPs and 63% female, outside their list selection  rule of 60% maximum of any gender::

5.2 Application of Balance Criteria

5.2.1 The balance criteria for the list ranking process are as follows:

(i) Maori – a minimum of 10% of candidates shall be of Maori descent;

(ii) Gender – a maximum of 60% of candidates shall be male; a maximum of 60% of candidates shall be female;

(iii) Region – a minimum of 40% of candidates shall be from the North Island; a minimum of 20% of candidates shall be from the South Island;

(iv) Age – a minimum of 10% of candidates shall be under 35;

But rules can’t be expected to cover every unexpected circumstance.

Russel Norman

Russel Norman has surprised just about everyone with his announcement that he’ll step down as Green co-leader.

But it’s not a shock. Norman was looking weary with politics threough last year and the disappointing Green election result seemed to knowck the stuffing out of him.

When Norman took over the male leader role after Rod Donald’s death and then Metiria Turei replaced the retired Jeannette Fitzsimon I thought the Green Party wouold struggle to maintain their support. But not only did the Greens survive, they doubled their support.

Norman has to take much credit for this. Amongst other things he widened the Greens from being dominated by a environmental and social agenda to include an economic focus.

The environmental shift may have helped lift Green support but it also probably contributed to them hitting a support ceiling, failing to improve on their 2011 result in last year’s election.

This is despite Labour weakening further.

The challenge for Greens now is to find a new co-leader, and then find a way of not losing support if Labour recovers as looks likely under Andrew Little.

Norman may have looked far left to some but he was a more measured and moderate face compoared to Turei.

Leading a party is a very tough job with extreme media exposure at times. And it must be very frustrating for the Greens to buiold support but still fail to play a part in governing the country.

So Norman has succeeded admirably in ways, but failed at the primary goal. This hasn’t been helped by Labour’s hopelessness as Greens couldn’t govern without Labour,

I’m not a great supporter of Norman’s political ideology and leanings but I think he deserves a lot of respect for a doing a hard job well.

He will be hard for the Greens to replace.

“The Greens will have their worry beads out”

Russel Norman stepping down as co-leader poses a new challenge for the Greens, especially if Metiria Turei becomes more dominant as she has leas broad appeal.

And according to Patrick Gower the Greens have another worry from the latest 3 News poll:

Gower said the latest polls would shock a couple of parties.

“The Greens will have their worry beads out.”

Results will be tonight on 3 News. The polling will presumably have been done before Norman announced he will be stepping down.

The new Green co-leader won’t be chosen until May. That leaves a co-vacuum until then, as Norman is likely to leave more of the leader’s duties to Turei.

Leadership transition is always an uncertain time for a party, and a long lead-in until the new leader takes over won’t help.


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