Green leadership – sickly sweet political correctness versus political realism

John Armstrong still does the occasional column for 1 News. On this occasion he looks at the Green leadership, and assesses Marama Davidson versus Julie Anne Genter.

Co-leaders are chosen by the Green party membership, and I doubt they will take much notice of Armstrong, but he makes some astute points.

1 News: Julie Anne Genter would deliver effective tonic of political realism for Greens as they up weigh who should be co-leader

The playing field would appear to be too heavily tilted against Julie Anne Genter overhauling the front-runner in the two-horse race to become female co-leader.

As a Maori and someone deeply rooted in the party’s “social justice” wing, Marama Davidson’s candidacy ticks all the right boxes.

She is not a minister. She is thus positioning herself as the voice of the party. That is important.

The Greens have long toyed with the concept of one of its co-leaders not being part of a ministry, instead being a two-way conduit ensuring relations between the hierarchy and the wider party do not sour as a result of the compromises and concessions required for a multi-party government to function effectively.

Davidson is second in the rankings of the party’s eight-strong caucus. Genter is third. Were Genter to become female co-leader, it would be regarded as a slap in the face for Davidson.

It may be be a slap in the face of a significant Green faction as well, the ‘social justice’ campaigners.

Moreover, given Davidson is the closest thing to a clone of Turei, it would also be regarded as a slap in the face for the memory of Turei.

Most leadership changes signify a change in party direction, sometimes forced by circumstances. Simon Bridges was not chosen as an English clone. Jacinda Ardern was very different to Andrew Little. James Shaw was quite different to Russel Norman. Metiria Turei was very different to Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Replacing Turei with another Turei-type, especially after Turei’s ignominious exit, might make sense for some within the Greens but it would be a risk given the poll reaction to Turei’s big gamble.

These obstacles will have forced Genter to take a different tack as she seeks to woo members ahead of the party-wide vote on the co-leadership which will be completed early next month.

Her carefully coded message is that installing Davidson in the post would see the resumption of the status quo prior to Turei’s departure.

That might have been okay in Opposition, but it is hopeless in the white heat of government.

Is the Green membership able to see that though? In some ways they don’t seem to have transitioned to power very well.

During a head-to-head debate with Davidson last week conducted by Stuff, Genter was surprisingly frank. She indicated an unhappiness that the decision to highlight Turei’s bout of welfare fraud back in the 1990s had followed consultation with only a select few in the Greens’ caucus.

She bemoaned the absence of a viable risk management plan should Turei’s admission backfire — which of course it did.

Turei and her supporters seemed shocked that her admission of benefit fraud might not go down well outside the green bubble. Turei’s political bubble burst, but Green views remain to an extent encapsulated in their conviction of infallibility.

Davidson’s push on poverty would drive the Greens even further down the dead end street which sees them run smack bang into Labour. It would see them competing with the Prime Minister for ownership of child poverty as an issue. That would not be a contest that Davidson could hope to win.

She would be unlikely to get anywhere near the attention or support that Ardern is currently feasting on. If Ardern succeeds with a positive shift in social policy Davidson would continue to be in her shadow. If Ardern fails then the greens will probably be dragged down with her.

Genter made a brutally honest assessment of the Greens’ chances at the 2020 election, saying recovery to the 11 per cent backing that the party received in 2014 would be a “good start”.

Even that will be a hard target to hit unless the Greens can differentiate themselves from the coalition Government they are propping up. Few support parties prosper in Government, most struggle and fade.

To reach that level would require recapturing the roughly 95,000 votes which switched to Labour in 2017 — a task made even more arduous by having to get the better of such a formidable campaigner as Ardern.

That’s presuming Ardern remains as a formidable campaigner in 2020, and the voters don’t tire of woman’s magazine style celebrity politics.

Genter is issuing a big wake-up call. That is sufficient reason why the party needs her as co-leader. The challenge for the party membership in coming weeks is to switch from supping on the sickly sweet political correctness being flogged by Davidson and start imbibing the bitter, but far more effective tonic of political realism advertised by Genter.

Genter certainly seems to have been ready for a governing role, and has fairly wide respect beyond the core Green support base, in contrast to Davidson.

Choosing Marama Davidson would feed into the self admiration within devout Green circles, but it would struggle to appeal to the voters Greens need back, or to new voters.

Julie Anne Genter is likely to have wider appeal – I would seriously consider voting for her if I had the opportunity, but am unlikely to warm to Davidson unless she changes significantly (who knows how someone will become as leader?).

Greens should put the Turei debacle behind them and look ahead, and choose a new leader based on political realism, but I suspect they will side with “the sickly sweet political correctness being flogged by Davidson”.

58 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  March 9, 2018

    Have said it before and will say it again, the Greens are a SJW party, no room for eco warriors (anyone seen Gareth Hughes lately?). The environmental concerns are but a vehicle for the SJW ideology.

    Their hypocrisy to offer open hostility to the TPP in public but silently support it in parliament is indicative that they lack integrity.

    Why exactly are they in parliament? Peters lapdog?

    No doubt Robert will be along shortly to sort out our simple minds and put right that the Greens lofty ideals are not sanctimonious clap trap.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 9, 2018

      To be fair, they are voting against it in parliament. The legislation is passing because National are supporting it.

    • sorethumb

       /  March 9, 2018

      The Red Army advancing under brush.

  2. Blazer

     /  March 9, 2018

    Big surprise…Armstrong of all people,actually…talking..sense.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 9, 2018

      Anything sensible is a surprise to you, B. Honestly, what a completely idiotic comment you polluted the morning with.

      • Blazer

         /  March 9, 2018

        ?….I know that’s your specialty…don’t feel…threatened.

  3. High Flying Duck

     /  March 9, 2018

    TL:DR:
    Genter is a far better candidate than Davidson, so the Greens will pick Davidson.

  4. sorethumb

     /  March 9, 2018

    Davidson is one of those PC Maori who believe it doesn’t matter how many foreigners come to live here. She refers to concerns as “xenophobia”.

  5. robertguyton

     /  March 9, 2018

    In his post, Pete seems to be highlighting the depth of comments from the Green aspirants. That contrasts sharply with the vacuous pish dished up by Bridges, Adams et al whilst wrestling for leadership of the National Party. In response, Gerrit, and I quote, says, “Have said it before and will say it again…” Well, yes, you have and will, ad nauseum . HFD said, “To be fair…” and that’s to his credit. Alan seems to have tumbled out of bed to the starboard, where his bedside mat is to port.

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  March 9, 2018

      Marama all day every day…. JAGs “spetic tank” accent grates…

    • Gerrit

       /  March 9, 2018

      So Robert, have you seen Gareth Hughes lately? The eco warrior is very very quiet.

      Muzzled? Or too “male” for the female Greens? What happened to 50/50 split between the genders for the Greens? Fallen to the need for more SJW?

      Mind you two males versus six females, not good to get ones voice heard I guess for Gareth Hughes.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  March 9, 2018

        Poor Gareth’s hit the grass ceiling. He can go no further.
        As to where he is – ask Clint

        • PDB

           /  March 9, 2018

          Gareth has been quiet because he doesn’t have Clint around anymore to tell him what to say.

          • Graham.

             /  March 9, 2018

            The Schoolboy Gareth.One day he will leave School and Enter the World of Adults.

          • robertguyton

             /  March 9, 2018

            I love the “Clint” clip and marvel that you do also. Are there politicians who don’t use advisers? I thought Gareth’s casual checking with Clint was classic! I like the guy. This thread has really brought out the green-fear in some of you. I guess with the Greens in power now, it’s to be expected. Funny as; enjoy you anguish and angst, pointless though it may be.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  March 9, 2018

              He does seem like a nice, if very earnest, person. But surely he should have fully formed views on his portfolio responsibilities without needing to resort to advisers to let him know where he stands?

            • Trevors_elbow

               /  March 9, 2018

              Green fear? Hahahahahaha…

              Are there any real Greens left i the Green Party?

              Dislike of marxists is more accurate

            • robertguyton

               /  March 9, 2018

              “Are there any real Greens left i the Green Party?”

              Can’t think of a more ridiculous question than this.
              Perhaps you can, Trev – you’ve a talent for them.

            • robertguyton

               /  March 9, 2018

              Nice, earnest politicians don’t need advisers, HFD?
              Why’s that?

      • robertguyton

         /  March 9, 2018

        Wild, pointless speculation, Gerrit. You don’t know something so you compile a list of “what-ifs” and “maybe’s” based on your own bitter and twisted view of the Greens – no wonder your “thoughts” around Gareth ring hollow.

        • Gerrit

           /  March 9, 2018

          No repudiation than Robert? Fact is the 50/50 gender split so hyped by the greens has gone out the window. Not my twisted view but the truth.

          Worth a read

          “Half of the ministers in the next progressive government will be women and we will call on our coalition partners to do the same,” co leader James Shaw told the Council of Trade Unions conference this morning.

          Mr Shaw said government had to lead the way on equal representation.

          “People will say it should be about the best person for the job, it should be about merit.

          “In a perfect world, they’re right. But in this world they’re wrong.”

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11529612

          The reality is far from the truth

          “Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has noted her disappointment at the lack of women who will take up top jobs in the new Government.

          Of the 16 Labour MPs who have been elected as Cabinet ministers, six are women.”

          http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/election/2017/10/gender-imbalance-in-new-government-s-top-jobs.html

          Greens simply don’t walk the talk.

          And Gareth Hughes remains in hiding, his voice stilled, his concerns for the environment ignored.

          Just to refresh your memory on what Gareth Hughes is supposed to be doing whilst on the tax payers ticket.

          “Musterer, Spokesperson for Commerce & Consumer Affairs, Energy and Resources, Primary Industries, Science and Innovation, Animal Welfare, ICT, Tourism, and Wellington Issues ”

          https://www.greens.org.nz/ourpeople/gareth-hughes-mp

          • He’s not hiding. He’s busy overturning the Orcish business National brought in during their 9 years anti-environment governance.

            • sorethumb

               /  March 9, 2018

              He will never get anywhere since he claimed to have unfurled a banner in Tienanmen Square (but forgot to take a photo).

            • robertguyton

               /  March 9, 2018

              “He’ll never get anywhere…”
              He’s not in Opposition though, is he?

            • PDB

               /  March 9, 2018

              With Winston pulling all the strings he may as well be…

            • robertguyton

               /  March 9, 2018

              Oppopsition, PDB?
              Nah – that space is occupied…by your team. Gareth’s sitting on the other side of the House, grinning…

    • PDB

       /  March 9, 2018

      No need for a vote on leadership of the Green party Robert…Winston is already in charge of them.

      • robertguyton

         /  March 9, 2018

        Winston’s in charge of…your future, PDB.

        • PDB

           /  March 9, 2018

          Just in charge of the Greens and Labour Robert – otherwise National-lite carries on…

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 9, 2018

            So the Greens would prefer a less competent woman to a more competent man, given the choice ? What an admission. How patronising. We must include the girls in case they get upset and start to cry.

  6. PDB

     /  March 9, 2018

    “Genter was surprisingly frank. She indicated an unhappiness that the decision to highlight Turei’s bout of welfare fraud back in the 1990s had followed consultation with only a select few in the Greens’ caucus. She bemoaned the absence of a viable risk management plan should Turei’s admission backfire — which of course it did.”

    So admission from Genter that it was all just a cynical political stunt rather than highlighting the plight of those on welfare………the Greens are but one giant fraud, neither environmentalists nor defenders of the less well off. Now where’s my latte?

  7. robertguyton

     /  March 9, 2018

    “So admission from Genter that it was all just a cynical political stunt”
    The quote you provided doesn’t support what you have said at all – nothing new there, PDB – it’s your usual mad extrapolation and fantastical reckoning, tainted by your crazy fear of the Greens.

    • Gezza

       /  March 9, 2018

      Well it sort of does, actually. It indicates Turei just decided to pull that stunt without first talking it thru with everyone she should have.

    • PDB

       /  March 9, 2018

      You’re clutching at straws again as usual Robert – you must have quite a collection now the Greens are showing their true colours……….

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 9, 2018

        He needs them to make the nests that he has in his beard.

        It’s unfortunate that many Greens do themselves a great disservice by sounding self-righteous and self-satisfied.

  8. Gezza

     /  March 9, 2018

    Genter is ambitious & driven & can be quite fierce in Parliament, & with tv reporters, when challenged. A contrast to Shaw’s quiet, smooth-talking style.

    Marama’s more politically naive, but if they don’t elect her it might cost them some of any Maori votes they received at the last election. They’d have to calculate whether Genter could make up any loss.

    I think whichever way they go, though, the Green’s Parliamentary Team will stay tight & back each other.

    • sorethumb

       /  March 9, 2018

      Do Maori vote for the Greens?

      • Gezza

         /  March 9, 2018

        They might have picked up some Party votes, thumbsta? I’m guessing Metiria & Marama may not have stuck with the Green party if they weren’t getting told by some Maori that they were voting for them.

        • sorethumb

           /  March 9, 2018

          I can’t speak for Maori. I do know one who is pro National. National are smart enough to get Maori on board in their property development schemes and therefore pay a dividend. left-wing Tame Iti types might like the Greens (the product of Maori Studies and post colonial studies etc.

          • robertguyton

             /  March 9, 2018

            “I can’t speak for Maori. I do know one who is pro National.”
            Hilarious comment!

  9. sorethumb

     /  March 9, 2018

    Greens don’t have the monopoly on the environment since every human activity is involved and an economy is layered with the most basic needs in the center and frivolities on the outer (eg tourism). The notion of voluntary co operation is a Utopian pipe dream in a world where life is tough and resources are scarce so (at the end of the day) it all comes down to tough choices.

  10. sorethumb

     /  March 9, 2018

    I wonder how many Maori think the status quo prior to identity politics (and pre the diversity agenda would have been better)? I base that on the assumption that the Treaty didn’t decide anything much (based on the moment and demographics)?

  11. sorethumb

     /  March 9, 2018

    Basically the Greens are flogging yesterday’s horse. One paper by Anita Plavenko put the pin in Superdiversity Sophistry and likewise Jordan Peterson, Johnathan Haidt, Steven Pinker, Gad Saad etc are out there.

    • sorethumb

       /  March 9, 2018

      People will be thinking twice: I don’t want to turn out like those post modernist SJW’s?

  12. David

     /  March 9, 2018

    I would pick Genter and try and re capture the votes lost after Turei,s shenanigans which cost them all that middle class support, the people who care deeply for the environment and chose not to take any notice of the nuttier parts of the party.
    My eldest for example who loves his fishing and hunting, has a science degree and wants to protect the environment as much as possible, he was an enthusiastic Green supporter and went right off them after the Turei thing. Genter could probably lure him back Davidson would turn him off forever, no doubt this will get Guyton et al all excited and personal but the reality is the Davidson vote remained and the Genter vote departed so the maths is simple.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 9, 2018

      Certainly the suburban blue-greens and soft environmentalists are more likely to be won over by Genter than Davidson.
      National is taking a more overt environmental stance under Bridges, which may also have an effect on where the votes need to come from for the Greens.

      • robertguyton

         /  March 9, 2018

        “National is taking a more overt environmental stance under Bridges…”
        Pfffffft! Bridges! Mr Big Oil? Anadarko, I-give-you-my-heart Bridges?
        Nothing more than greenwash from oily Simom.

  13. phantom snowflake

     /  March 9, 2018

    Pete I have to disagree with you when you state: “Simon Bridges was not chosen as an English clone.” Both English and Bridges are from the religious right/social conservative fringe of the National Party. They have identical views on issues such as marriage equality, abortion, euthanasia and cannabis. Bridges being Maori/urban/youngish is little more than camouflage. It’s obvious to me that in their leadership contests National have made a deliberate choice for the status quo in retaining Bennett (against all expectation) and choosing the most English-like candidate for leader. The impression given is of being in a holding pattern.
    Is this a result of the party’s natural conservatism? Are Bridges & Bennett merely caretaker leaders? Is Judith Collins being held back because she would be best as an ‘attack dog’ during an election campaign? It would be interesting to hear the opinions of one of the National Party insiders who comment here.

    • phantom snowflake

       /  March 10, 2018

      What? Suddenly there’s a dearth of National Party hacks??

      • robertguyton

         /  March 10, 2018

        Gone to ground.

        • phantom snowflake

           /  March 10, 2018

          Well you’ll have to do then hehe. What you reckon?

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