Green MP Steffan Browning has been justifiably heavily criticised for his efforts in promoting homoeopathy to combat ebola. Despair at the stupidity was evident from Russel Norman and the Green health spokesperson Kevin Hague.
Green leaning blogger Danyl at Dim-Post (whose wife works in the Green coms team) didn’t hold back.
Here’s why this Steffan Browning/Ebola/Homeopathy thing is a really big deal for the Green Party. (a) Historically they’ve been stereotyped by their opponents as a bunch of nutters (b) The main focus of the party for the past five years – at least – has been to counter that perception and convince voters that they’re a sober and credible political alternative. (c) Arguing that homeopathy should be used to cure Ebola is so fucking crazy it instantly undermines a lot of that work and reveals to the public that at least one of the MPs in the party is a total nutcase.
Just after the election someone asked me what they could do to help the Greens, and I told them to join the party and vote for candidates that weren’t deluded lunatics. Disasters like this illustrate why it’s important for sane, sensible people to contribute to the political process at a grassroots level and make sure the MPs in their party aren’t laughable weirdos.
Browning was 14 on the Green list this election, down from 10 in 2011.
They must have known what he could be like. Why was he placed in an electable position?
Some tried to deal with it, like ‘anonymous’:
Steffan Browning is the reason I joined the greens, in order to vote him down the list. He is usually ranked lowly by the delegates (16th this time) and then when the general membership votes moves up a couple places (to 14 this time). He is the worst example of the “anti-science” greens, and only his local support keeps him high in the list.
If his “anti-science” it’s odd to see him surviving their list process. Danyl sort of explains:
It’s one of the problems with the Greens’ democratic list process: some of the regions bloc-vote their MPs at number one on the list, which means they get a much higher list placing than their support in the party merits. I don’t know how you fix that.
All party selection systems have their strengths and flaws. Graeme Edgeler points out a flaw in the criticism:
On the contrary, bloc vote support for MPs as number one on the list means that they get exactly the right list placing based on their support in the party. If a largish group of party members thinks you are that awesome as to rank you number one, then democratically, you should have a high list placing.
Browning got sufficient support within a much praised (by Greens) democratic selection system to get a winnable list position.
There must be other Greens with the same sense of “laughable weirdo” humour.