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.

Little’s Green snub may benefit intelligence review

Fran O’Sullivan: Little relegates Greens to sidelines

Norman is now claiming the two old parties have colluded to entrench the enormous powers of the Prime Minister and his spy agencies behind a “facade of pretend accountability” and that a “duopoly of illegal” spying will be maintained without any independent oversight.

The counter-factual to Norman’s hyperbole is that his own independent oversight at the committee level clearly hadn’t stopped what he complains about.

Why do Greens think that Turei would stop more than Norman who doesn’t appear to have achieved much?

If “a “duopoly of illegal” spying will be maintained then Norman hasn’t been very effective. Of course his rhetoric is also debatable.

So, he’s feeling a little political heat right now and is having to field claims he has been “cavalier” and “sexist” to boot by bypassing the opportunity to inject Turei into the slot on the committee which was held by Green.

Neither Little’s decision, nor Key’s, has been driven by the “old boys’ club” syndrome.

What the pair have done is formed a “grown-ups club” to deal with the critically sensitive issue of overseeing the major review of New Zealand’s intelligence services.

Replacing someone who has seemed to oppose all surveillance and security with someone else who share’s that opposition may not be very helpful to properly review intelligence services.

Greens can keep opposing everything from outside the committee.

Andrew Little’s Green snub may benefit the intelligence review by providing more positive input.

Greens add ‘sexism’ card to inexperience indignation

Andrew Little stuffed up his appointment of David Shearer rather than another party leader to the Intelligence committee. He broked the law by not consulting the other opposition parties.

The Greens have every right to express indignation. Labour acted unlawfully over security committee spot – Greens:

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said Labour leader Andrew Little had not spoken to her or co-leader Russel Norman before he nominated foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer for the committee, leaving the Greens out in the cold.

“Andrew Little has acted unlawfully. I expect to get a call from him quite soon,” she said.

Mrs Turei said the Green Party was the only party with a “genuine critical eye” for security and intelligence matters.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters also said he was not consulted.

Fair enough to complain about it. Little has tried to explain:

Mr Little said he stood by his decision to nominate Mr Shearer to join Mr Little on the committee, saying he needed someone with the relevant skills and experience and had not wanted to upset NZ First by giving it to the Green Party.

But the Greens risk overplaying their hand.

Mrs Turei rejected Mr Little’s description of her as inexperienced, saying she had been co-leader of her party “for five years, not five minutes”.

There’s no doubt Turei is experienced as a party co-leader, but she is not regarded as being experienced on security and intelligence issues. And Winston Peters is far more experienced.

Turei is at risk of highlighting her lesser experience.

And it doesn’t help that Green MP Mojo Mather has now claimed it was sexist to criticise Turei’s credentials – Labour accused of sexism over intelligence committee spot.

During a debate in the House this afternoon on the membership of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Green MP Mojo Mathers said she was “dismayed” by comments made by Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“He said that he did not invite our co-leader Metiria Turei to be on the committee because he wanted someone with … ‘skills, understanding and experience’ … implying that Metiria did not have these qualities, which is so far from the truth as to be farcical.”

Mr Little angered the Greens by nominating his foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer for the committee without consultation with other parties — a breach of the laws governing the committee.

Ms Mathers said it was hard to escape the feeling that “male privilege” played a role in Mr Little’s dismissal of Ms Turei.

“I would like to be generous and give Little — a privileged male who has been a Member of Parliament for just three years and a leader for just two months — the benefit of doubt, and assume that he made these comments without thinking.

“But that makes these comments no less offensive to me and many other women.”

She said similar “arrogant dismissals” of women’s skills and expertise was “nothing new”, and every day skilled women found themselves overlooked for jobs or promotion, or competing with men with far less experience and ability.

Ms Mathers added: “[Ms Turei] might well have brought to the committee some views that others do not want to hear, maybe a powerful understanding of what powerlessness and humiliation feels like, maybe a cautionary view of surveillance based on the experience of how prejudice and privilege excludes and labels the potentially spied upon.”

Mathers makes some reasonable points. And I think party diversity on the Intelligence committee is important.

But laying the sexism card on thick is unlikely to help Turei’s case.

And Labour’s deputy leader (who got that job due to her extensive experience) Annette King has disagreed.

“This is not about whether it’s a man or a woman or a bum on a seat or numbers. It’s about the most competent person for the job.”

As a deputy leader and a former police minister, Ms King said she could have taken the spot on the committee.

King hasn’t been in Parliament for twenty eight minutes, She has been an MP since 1984 (with a three year gap in the early nineties).

“But I do not believe that I have the skills that David Shearer has. When I look on balance as to who we would put on this committee, I could not go past the person who has had on-the-ground experience.”

The Greens don’t like Little’s breach of law and political protocol, and they don’t like his blunt assessment of experience. It’s a sign of Little’s inexperience

And Greens have a right to complain.

But overplaying the sexism card won’t help their case. Perhaps it’s a sign of inexperience.

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.

“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.

Greens support Catton on truth and traitors

The Green Party has confirmed on Facebook their support for Eleanor Catton’s fairly extreme crticism of New Zealand and our politicians.

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand on Facebook:

We were grateful to have Eleanor Catton‘s support during the election campaign, and we fully support her right to speak freely about the Government’s priorities without being shouted down or called a ‘traitor’ by media commentators.

Comments supported this, for example:

Some people from the Right can’t handle the truth about their selfish economic policies that create such huge social and environmental problems. No confidence in National’s NZ Inc policies that are destroying our country

In effect call ‘the Right’ traitors to the country and the planet.

The only traitor to this country is John Key who has sold us all down the river.

Someone does accuse Key of being a traitor.

How about we start by getting rid of that treasonous Shonkey?? That would be a good start. Then we could begin to address the fricken mess he’s dropped the %99 in.

And another.

We need more people like her that are not afraid to speak up and speak the truth…its just a shame our upper echelons in Parliament lack this ability except to pimp out their own personal agenda.

So Greens speak “the truth” and critics shout down.

I think it shows that characters of many, who, can’t accept a comment as a call for a civil discussion on how to make things better for the country.

You don’t make a call for civil discussion with an extreme criticism, and then complain about the reaction.

Eleanor Catton’s comments about the government are right on, and a bit of introspection would not go amiss.

I wonder if Green supporters will try some introspection.

There were a few alternate opinions, like:

Loony left trougher – happy to have all the freedoms capitalism & tax-payer funds allow to write a few books, then kicks the gift horse in the mouth (slight mod). Traitor is a bit strong: more like high functioning professional trougher with no loyalty!

An a response:

Sorry Pete, I forgot women weren’t allowed to have opinions…

Trying the sexist putdown.

There have been extreme reactions against Catton, notably Sean Plunket.

But the extreme claims against Key and the Government and the refusal to accept there can be any reasonable alternative to their own extreme ‘truth’ makes the Green narrative as insidious as it’s opposites in it’s own way.

The ultimate irony from the Greens on Twitter, retweeted by Metiria Turia.

Yes, but labeling someone a traitor for expressing an opinion is an attempt to shut down their free speech

Extreme criticism will attract at times extreme reactions. Free speech works both ways.

Greens want the right to criticise but try to shut down criticism of themselves and their own. Blind hypocrisy, convinced that their ‘truth’ is the only way and shouldn’t be questioned.

Metiria Turei versus John Key (Ratana speech)

Metiria Turei continued a tradiotion of “the Māngai spent his life confronting politicians” in her prepared speech for Ratana yesterday.

In fact due to time constraints she didn’t get to make her speech but she distributed her speech notes.

Here is the part of Turei’s speech that referred to John Key.

I want to speak today about one aspect of that legacy, and that is the Māngai’s efforts to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Māngai spent his life confronting politicians and Pākehā society about the need to provide redress for past injustices and to move forward as a true partnership.

Even now, in 2015, we are still struggling to truly honour the agreement that lies at the foundation of our nation.

This came to a head last month, with the release of stage one of the Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into the Treaty claims of Te Paparahi o Te Raki. The decision reflected decades of scholarship and affirms what we, as tangata whenua, have always known: that the Māori text of Te Tiriti o Waitangi never ceded the tino rangatiratanga of Māori over our lands, peoples and resources.

To have this stated, once and for all, was huge. It was an enormous step forward. But the Prime Minister’s response was to knock us several steps back.

John Key had the gall to claim that NZ was settled “peacefully,” as if all Māori grievances evaporated into irrelevance on his command.

But he didn’t finish there. In an attempt to really put us in our place, John Key said Māori would have been grateful for the injection of capital early Pākehā brought with them when they settled in Aotearoa.

Māori would have been grateful. For the capital.

The Prime Minister’s warped and outrageous view of history is deeply offensive to Māori but it also undermines decades of effort by Māori and Pākehā, including even by his own Government, to address some of the historic wrongs and to encourage an understanding of Aotearoa’s true history, both the good and the bad.

While in recent times Governments have made significant progress in completing historical settlements, all too often these are undermined as Ministers resort to cynical dog-whistle tactics that play to the widespread ignorance of Te Tiriti and, in so doing, shore up their Government’s short term political goals.

Sadly, this has long term consequences for all of us, Māori and non-Māori, by entrenching prejudice and wedging us further apart.

We saw this when John Key allowed Pita Sharples to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples in New York, giving the Māori Party a token win and then immediately undermining that by telling journalists the declaration would have “no practical effect.”

And therein lies the rub. John Key can’t actually abide by that declaration because that would mean acknowledging that the Māori text of Te Tiriti is the only legitimate and legally binding text. That would mean conceding that tangata whenua never ceded tino rangatiratanga. That the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, was so quick to dismiss the Tribunal’s ruling and assert the Crown’s sovereignty, prove that National won’t do this.

I am proud that the Green Party has, for many years, held the Māori text of Te Tiriti as a core part of our party’s constitutional arrangements.

I was honoured, today, to walk on to this marae alongside Labour’s new leader Andrew Little. I am very much looking forward to working with, and getting to know Andrew better.

Our respective parties are focussed on changing the Government in 2017. The Greens are committed to creating a new Government which will be better for Māori and better for Aotearoa New Zealand.

That alternative stands in stark contrast to the current Government that believes New Zealand was settled peacefully and that our people were somehow grateful – grateful for the bloodshed, the loss of millions of hectares of land.

Grateful. For the capital.

From Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei’s Rātana speech

Interesting to see that Turei (with Greens ap;proval presumably) has chosen to start the year in attack mode.

NZ Herald reported Ratana: Turei launches stinging attack on Key

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

“This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that’s what I’m doing.”

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a “disgraceful way to describe New Zealand’s history”.

Green gloves are off.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is filling in for Mr Key and it was left to him to defend the PM.

Mr English said the Greens were “nasty” on occasion and it didn’t serve them well.

“John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn’t very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don’t think the audience will be too impressed by it.”

Time will tell whether this is blast at the past from Turei or whether it signals an intention for an aggressive approach by Greens this year.

The joke’s on the nannies of Ratana

Ratana seems to get media attention due to being the first political gathering of the year, but it’s hardly a scene setting event.

Claire Trevett’s focus on what the nannies of Ratana laughed at trivialised what is in the whole scheme of our politics a fairly trivial event.

NZ Herald: Andrew Little survives at Ratana but Peters steals show

Andrew Little has survived his first address to Maori at Ratana but was well and truly upstaged by NZ First leader Winston Peters when it came to wooing the nannies.

Mr Little managed to get through his speech without looking at his notes. He even managed to get in a few jokes, saying of the prophet Ratana that he was “80 years ahead of Gareth Morgan. And he didn’t have a book to sell”.

However, he didn’t get many laughs…

Success at Ratana is how many laughs the politicians get?

If that’s the case Metiria Turei must have been the big loser, choosing to spit tacks at John Key.

But on the marae, Mr Little was followed by Mr Peters who had them rolling on the paepae with his first quip that politicians were “fast on the lip and slow on the hip”.

They were still laughing when he told them their koha “was in the email. We’re a modern party”.

Even Deputy Prime Minister Bill English managed to get more laughs than Mr Little…

That’s a serious dig being upstaged by dour Bill.

The nannies said afterwards that they thought Mr Little was a bit boring but gave him leeway as a first-timer.

They were far more enamoured with Mr Peters’ pitch. So the nannies will do their own annual review next year. Be warned, Mr Little.

Yes, be warned that some of the politicians and media think that Ratana is a joke.

But don’t be too worried about the nannies of Ratana. They’re hardly a pivotal political demographic.

Barbed wire bum

It’s often amused me to see how political activists on the political extremes don’t understand how anyone can see things both left and right to praise and criticise. And they also don’t tolerate non-strongly aligned politics.

Vto at The Standard aimed this barb at me today:

I really don’t know how you manage to sit on the fence all your bloglife and not end up with numerous barbed wire gashes interrupting your thought processes on a daily, hourly, minutely basis ……………….

But I don’t have a barbed wire bum problem. I try to see both sides of arguments and the good and bad on both sides of politics. That’s quite different to sitting on the fence. I sometimes express strong views on issues and policies, but I don’t see them red or blue, black or white, left or right.

The vto’s of the blogosphere expect everyone to have one eyed views like them, either totally for or totally against.

Practical politics doesn’t work like that. Most politics involves finding common ground, compromising, and settling on policies far closer to the centre than the fringes.

‘Karol’ quotes Metiria Turei from Radio NZ:

Turei adds that politics goes in cycles, and she expects that over the current term, the pendulum will swing against Key’s government and their very radical policies.

There’s little radical about Key’s government, clling them that is laughable. National gets as much criticism for being non-radical (moderate conservatism) from the right as it gets for being extreme or radical from the left.

That means they are somewhere in between. It doesn’t mean they are sitting on the fence. It just means that most politics is done closer to the centre ground. And fringe activists remain frustrated.

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