Colin James – the Green factor

Colin James looks at Greens post-election (surprisingly without mentioning Russel Norman oir Metiria Turei):

Then there is the Green factor
And, for Labour to be competitive in 2017, it needs to re-forge a working relationship with the Greens so that there is a visible alternative government.

The Greens have become well established, with close to 11% of the party vote in both 2011 and 2014. They have become a respectable option for disillusioned Labour supporters or environmentally conscious National supporters. In 2011 they decided they did want to be part of a government, with all the risks of attrition for smaller partners in coalitions. In 2014 they proposed to Labour that the two parties run as a coalition.

Labour rejected that. But Labour also knows it is unlikely to be the government in 2017 without the Greens alongside. Ideally, it would like the Greens a bit smaller than 11% but not so small as to drag the combined vote down short of a majority. The Greens in their turn wanted a higher vote and talked of getting 15% but recognised privately that too high a vote for the Greens would reduce Labour’s vote and could cause the combined vote to fall short of a majority.

In fact, the Greens’ vote went down slightly, by 0.4%, not up. This may have been in part because some potential young voters went to the Internet part of Internet Mana, which did best in the same general electorates as the Greens did, in part because other potential voters concluded there was not going to be a Labour-Green government and in part because the Greens were stereotyped as well to the left of Labour on social and economic issues – and too sympathetic to “poisonous” Kim Dotcom on spying matters – which may have discouraged environmentally conscious centrist or National-leaning voters.

The static vote has triggered a debate within the party. Kennedy Graham, in an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald on 9 October, argued that the Greens need to reposition themselves on a “vertical sustainability axis” as distinct from a left-right axis, which he said consigns sustainability to secondary status when it is the primary issue – “whether we shall live, tomorrow”.

He noted that one of the Greens’ charter’s four principles is “social responsibility”, a centrist notion flowing from sustainability and implying individual obligation, and not “social justice” (a left-right term, which is one of the Global Greens’ six principles). “The vertical axis of sustainability allows us to move more freely along the left-right axis in analysis and prescription,” Graham wrote, implying Greens could (in theory) be open to coalition with National as well as Labour. [Graham 2014]

With new MP James Shaw, a business consultant, Graham also shares an understanding that the economy is global (as well as the environment) and that policy has to reflect that reality – which poses difficult policy questions similar to those Labour faces.

From Colin James to the Victoria University post-election conference, 3 December 2014 DRAFT – MAYBE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT

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  1. alloytoo

     /  5th December 2014

    The time is ripe to challenge the Greens environmental credentials, most sensible folks understand they have zero economic nous, but if their environmental credentials could be exposed similarly exposed they may find their guilty leafy suburb support dry up.

    Don’t get me wrong, I fully support sustainable environmental practices, but nothing in the Green Party suggests either hard earned environmental credentials, or the chops (or nous) to make realistic practical policy in this regard, rather the opposite in fact.

    Frankly the current green party reeks of opportunistic dishonesty.

    • Their problem on environmental issues is their extreme stances – no drilling, no fracking, no mining etc.

      If they campaigned strongly for the environment with realistic aims that might achieve a practical balance between sustainable environment and sustainable economy they would get a lot wider support.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  5th December 2014

      What is sustainable and how can you ever know?

      The word is a delusion for fools and knaves.


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