Marama Davidson: “I had to pull the party together”

Marama Davidson is a radical activist who has struggled to work with the realities of being in Parliament, and especially the realities of leading a party in Government.

She had an opportunity to mmake a mark while co-leader James Shaw is busy being a Minister trying to establish the Greens as a party in power, but she is still more of a niche politician trying to appeal to a wider audience.

She has a long way to go to lift the Green Party out of Labour’s shadow, and the big challenge here is to do this without appearing to be too left wing radical, which would deter support from those who prefer the greens as an environmental party.

Newsroom – Davidson: very Green, very outspoken and a lot to prove

On the reality of last year’s Green leadership contest:

But all was not well behind the scenes. The contest brought to the fore an identity crisis for the very soul of the party. At its heart was a question of whether the Greens were radical enough — and whether, as a party of Government, it would naturally move further to the centre, losing its activist raison d’être.

Eugenie Sage and Julie Anne Genter were prospects for taking the leadership position left vacant by Metiria Turei.

Then there was Marama Davidson. Entering Parliament in 2015, she was the least experienced potential contender and initially hesitant to run. But she was popular with the party’s activist left, who lobbied strongly for her to put her hat in the ring in the hope she would counterbalance Shaw’s perceived corporate-ness and pull the party back to the left.

Sitting down one year later, Davidson admitted the time after the leadership battle was difficult.

“We went through some tough stuff and none of it was very secret,” she said.

“I had to pull the party together”.

But has she?

But the first few months were difficult. The Greens had haemorrhaged staff through the first half of 2018, stretching the party’s back room. The chaos came to a head in June when the party forgot to lodge its Parliamentary questions.

Then further chaos erupted in August, when Davidson told a protest she would reclaim the C-word because she was sick of being slandered with it online. The episode quickly spiralled out of control.

Looking back on it now, Davidson is mostly disappointed the story became about the appropriateness of the word, rather than the fact she was campaigning against the online abuse she received.

Observers felt it showed a lack of focus from the Green leadership as the campaign drew ever more attention, diverting people from the party’s work elsewhere. Less time thinking about climate change, more time thinking about, well, the c-word.

That didn’t pull the party together.

Davidson still has a lot to prove — especially to the hard left of the party who lobbied so effectively to elevate her to the leadership. Criticising the Government from her position is hard — some would say impossible.

Davidson could go harder in future. She thinks one of the main reasons the Maori Party didn’t survive was because it failed to properly hold the National Government to account. She sees continuing to put pressure on Labour as being essential to the Greens’ survival in Government.

On the other side of the equation, concessions won by Davidson from within Government, like Phil Twyford’s work on improving rental properties, are significant but hardly enough to take back to a hungry electorate in 2020.

There is the suggestion this has meant some on the hard-left of the party are dissatisfied with her leadership.

On Sunday, she will make a speech to party members at the Greens’ summer policy conference about the wellbeing budget and the environment.

She has made that speech: Marama Davidson – Summer Policy Conference

The conference has some big decisions to make, not least of which is whether to sign the Greens up to another round of Budget Responsibility Rules for the next parliamentary term.

With both Davidson and the membership strongly opposed, its likely the party will junk the rules for the next election. However Labour, which will control the finance portfolio in any future left-wing Government is likely to sign back up.

The looming question for the Greens is whether or not they can force the larger party’s hand – getting them to release, or even loosen the purse strings in any future Government.

RNZ: Greens want wide-ranging tax reform

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson wants a capital gains tax to be just the start of wide-ranging tax reform.

There’s real doubt Labour will even go for the CGT.

Speaking at the party’s summer policy conference Ms Davidson told members that resistance to a tax on capital gains came from a wealthy elite who are holding the country’s political system hostage.

She said the Greens want more reform including a tax rate for the richest 1 percent and taxing polluting big businesses and housing speculators.

Davidson was asked about this on RNZ this morning, and she came across as waffly and unsure. Outside her radical Green circles, her comfort zone, she struggles.

It may be to soon to judge whether Davidson is more asset or liability for the Green re-election chances. She has to find an assured and credible way of talking to a wider audience.

I see no sign of her pulling the party together. More like the opposite.

 

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39 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  11th March 2019

    ”Speaking at the party’s summer policy conference Ms Davidson told members that resistance to a tax on capital gains came from a wealthy elite.”

    Proof positive of how ignorant she is. Seems she has no perception of the real world outside
    of her little bubble.

    That said, Marama is a great National Party asset. Let’s hope she doesn’t wake up to that fact.

    Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  11th March 2019

    The Greens would do well to read all 61 answers to this question;

    Why don’t the rich stop amassing more wealth and leave some for the rest of us?

    https://www.quora.com/Why-dont-the-rich-stop-amassing-more-wealth-and-leave-some-for-the-rest-of-us

    Might learn something about wealth and wealth creation.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  11th March 2019

      read the Spirit Level..and you might learn something.

      Reply
      • adamsmith1922

         /  11th March 2019

        The Spirit Level was overblown and overhyped

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  11th March 2019

          which of their conclusions did you disagree with.

          They provided extensive data to back up their research.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  11th March 2019

            “They provided extensive data to back up their research.”‘

            Odd that extensive data left out some notable countries that would have rendered their conclusion bunk. Funny that.

            Reply
          • Pink David

             /  11th March 2019

            Here is a great example of the slight of hand;

            Two outliers create the ‘trend. Add Singapore into the chart and it’s completely flat line, yet Singapore is absent. Oddly, Singapore is in much of the other data used. Strange.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              Singapore ,because of its size and unique governance is excluded from many case studies.

              Need to do better than that.

            • Pink David

               /  11th March 2019

              Why is included in the data for the other aspects of The Spirit Level where it suited the narrative?

              Singapore is bigger than most of the Scandinavian countries, yet they are never exuded on the grounds of ‘size’, nor is Ireland.

              Is it too big or something?

            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              Trying to cherry pick…a book of over 300 pages and years of intensive study and corroboration of facts.

            • Pink David

               /  11th March 2019

              Yes. 300 pages and years of intensive study and corroboration of facts and they are wrong.

              The book made a number of predictions base on the years of intensive study and corroboration of facts. How have they stood up to the 10 years since the book was published?

            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              @Pink..I have got hold of a copy-2010.

              From page 273 on…critiques of the book are dealt with…including the one you site.

              The conclusions stack up well.Inequality has hardly been addressed and is as apparent now as it was then.

            • Pink David

               /  11th March 2019

              “The conclusions stack up well.Inequality has hardly been addressed and is as apparent now as it was then.”

              Why is the crime rate falling in the USA?

            • Blazer

               /  12th March 2019

              ‘why is the crime rate falling in the USA?….not aware it is.

              We know America has ludicrous rates of incarceration.

      • sorethumb

         /  11th March 2019

        [Use proper names for politicians] loves travel. “Kiwis always travel. We both love travel.” CO2 ….
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/107948749/five-ways-new-zealand-has-changed-beyond-recognition–and-changed-for-the-better

        Being a Kiwi is about NZ Values such as egalitarianism and giving everyone a fair go. She went bare feet to the dairy and bought an ice block therefore becoming a Kiwi. I went to Japan put on pants and therefore became Japanese.

        At end of said video calls herself “an environmental activist” (goes well with Guy Williams #1 Joke “I am a comedian”).

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  11th March 2019

      Gawd ! Even Guyon was obviously most likely rolling his eyes in the studio.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  11th March 2019

        Just what I’m thinking. Guyon seemed…I don’t know what word to use..frustrated?

        Basically, she doesn’t believe in having money in the kitty for a rainy day because there are present moment problems money should be spent on right now.

        She really needs to sit down with an economist and be taught what happens when a household has no budget reserves and an unexpected bill comes in.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  11th March 2019

          ‘She really needs to sit down with an economist and be taught what happens when a household has no budget reserves and an unexpected bill comes in.’

          A nations economy is not the same as a household budget despite the usual suspects narrative that it…is.

          You need to distinguish between public and private debt.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  11th March 2019

            Please remember the economist would be talking to Marama.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              yes…but I’m talking to….you.

            • Corky

               /  11th March 2019

              Oh, in that case I will stick with the household analogy for explaining a nations debt…but I will add a ”shopping mall” run by a fractious board of directors who can have a direct influence on our household budget.

            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              what do you really need to buy from a shopping mall?

            • Corky

               /  11th March 2019

              The shopping mall represents our overseas markets.

            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              ‘The shopping mall represents our overseas markets.’


              what do you really need to buy from a shopping mall?’

      • Blazer

         /  11th March 2019

        I like Espiner as an interviewer.

        Marama got lost in the cause and effect basis for CGT,applying to housing affordability.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  11th March 2019

          She just got lost in the idea some people have a lot more money than others and that’s not fair so more of it should be taken off them and given to others. And in the idea that the homeless man outside Parliament should be given a free home by the government. She’s very sweet. I like her, I think she’s genuine in wanting a more caring society but she spoke in that interview like someone who thinks the world should just be full of flowers and pixies and people living in nice little houses the government has given them.

          Reply
          • David

             /  11th March 2019

            We should take half her salary off her and give it to the homeless guy with no strings attached for a year and then we will see if she is still into redistribution of others hard earned.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              ‘hard earned.’…this is the point though…for years a house in Auckland made more every WEEK,than a person …working!(a hardworking Kiwi)😒

            • David

               /  11th March 2019

              Well that is largely due to the resource management act and artificial restraints on land supply which is the Green policy.
              Given 65% of houses are owner occupied, another 25% are long term rentals (including council, HNZ, Social Housing)5% are owned by speculators who already pay a CGT, 2% are caught by the bright line tax and there is not a single person who thinks houses will be any cheaper your point is utter tosh and utterly irrelevant.
              If my house doubled in value it doesnt make me any richer because I need somewhere to live, if I want to move I will be poorer because I need to borrow much more money. Few are richer because of movement in the value of their home, its a headline and frankly gives you a talking point and nothing more.

            • Blazer

               /  11th March 2019

              @David..’ your point is utter tosh and utterly irrelevant.’

              Like hell it is!
              The fact is property ‘investors’ leverage the increase in value to buy more stock as you well know …which cuts more people out of the market.

              ‘Well that is largely due to the resource management act and artificial restraints on land supply’ ..THIS is utter TOSH…however.

              Many more factors in play here.

              Houses should be homes for people to own and live in,to have a stake in society.
              Not a vehicle of enrichment with advantages over other asset classes.

  3. Finbaar Rustle

     /  11th March 2019

    Turei’s melt down so close to the election cost the Greens
    a few seats and probable King maker status.
    That won’t happen this time so the Greens could
    hit their cyclical high of 10% this time round.
    Davidson’s problem is that she has a young
    strong Labour woman PM who is also Green focused.
    What is/are the Greens point/point of difference?
    A charismatic male Green leader would be better.
    A new Nándor Tánczos?
    The Greens need to broaden their support base.
    But all the niche markets seem to be already oversubscribed.
    Getting all the safe Labour, Maori and Pacific Islander
    older voters .first time voters party vote would be a start..
    The swinging seats are the most vital.
    The third party decides the election now.

    Reply
  4. Wayne Mapp

     /  11th March 2019

    Marama will keep the Greens in the 5 to 10% zone, probably closer to 5%.

    She is a constant reminder of the Greens complete lack of understanding of the economy. She hasn’t even done what AOS is doing in the US. That is, sketch out what the economy looks like under her philosophy, and in a broad sense the size of government and thus taxes within that economy.

    On reading Marama’s speeches, and I have read a few, all I know is that she wants the government to spend money on every itch, without any explanation of where it will come from, except the “rich elite.”

    She comes across an an enthusiastic idealistic Year 13 student, who has empathy aplenty, but no idea how to achieve the goals.

    Except she is a woman in her 40’s, who is a leader of a party in government.

    I reckon she owes it to us as an MP who is a leader of a party in government to actually explain her philosophy, what kind of economy it represents, the extent to which we trade internationally, and the broad size of government and of taxes. She has the time and a well funded research unit to do the work. We don’t need the detail, but I reckon we are at least owed the broad brush strokes. Not just the aspiration.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  11th March 2019

      National did not meet your criteria and got elected…

      ‘The National Party’s 2008 general election campaign strategy was widely criticised for being conservative and uninspiring. There were three main integral elements that contributed to this blandness: an ideologically-centrist election platform, a relatively policy-free approach, and a general ultra-cautious attempt to avoid mistakes or cause offence to any voters.’

      ‘National never put great effort into setting the policy agenda, because such an attempt would be futile, as the party strategists believed in the classic Downesian concept that it is the public that chooses the policy agenda and the political parties are forced to simply follow this. Detecting that the three main policy themes that the public was interested in were the economy, education, and law and order – National attempted to associate its campaign with these, using the overarching theme of change to cohere these ideas. ‘

      ‘In general, National attempted to run a relatively policy-free campaign. Little detail was given for what a National government would do in terms of the economy, health, education, the environment, industrial relations, and infrastructure development. In particular, very few economic policies were detailed and commentators noted that despite the unfolding economic crisis there was a lack of a coherent economic vision from Key and his finance spokesperson Bill English. What little economic policy that was actually presented was criticized from both the left and right as being neither visionary nor a comprehensive enough response to the global economic crisis that was widely predicted to impact strongly on New Zealand.’

      Bryce Edwards.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  11th March 2019

        As if Bryce Edwards was either knowledgeable or impartial re economic policy. Just another opinionated Lefty.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  12th March 2019

          looks like Wayne knows when to cut and run when you mention National and their RMA policy…Al!

          Reply
      • Wayne Mapp

         /  11th March 2019

        Blazer,

        National was very clear in what it would do in 2008. We had clear policies on tax, employment law, RMA, social policy, health, education, foreign policy etc. People knew what sort of government that are going to get.

        Of course a 5 to 10% party is not under that sort of pressure. People know that only one or two policies of such a party will be implemented. And they won’t fundamentally stretch what the major party is prepared to accept.

        My beef with Marama is that I can’t tell what she believes in, except in the most general of terms.

        I presume she is a socialist, but what does that mean for the Greens, given she is the co-leader?

        I presume she believes in a much steeper tax system than at present, but is that 40% or 50% or 60% or more top tax rate. Obviously a CGT, presumably at the same rates. Foreign investment, any at all? Compulsory unionism? Nationalisation (of power, forestry, and what else). Tight controls on farming, state mandated stock numbers? I could go on and on with different issues.

        At least Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a clear set of policies on all these issues. Whether they are practical is another matter, but it is clear what they are.

        Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  11th March 2019

    ‘National was very clear in what it would do in 2008. We had clear policies on tax, employment law, RMA, social policy, health, education, foreign policy etc. People knew what sort of government that are going to get.’

    that’s interesting Wayne…so is Bryce just making shit up?

    Btw,I know Al will be interested ,what exactly was that clear policy on the RMA?

    Reply
  6. Ben Waimata

     /  11th March 2019

    I think Marama is a liability for the Greens, probably because her idealism is beyond the normal social convention. I voted Green 3 elections in a row, and almost did this last time too (until Metirias speech showed me just how out of touch with mainstream NZ social values they are). There are lots of people like myself who want an environmental party, but don’t want a party who consider responsibility-free beneficiaries obtaining a living wage for doing nothing the highest priority. I am very happy to see welfare for people who are part of society and who have a sense of social responsibility, but not keen on supporting a non-productive class who feel seperate from society. The rich have a social obligation to the poor, the welfare-supported poor have a social obligation to the rest of society. Any other system creates an entitlement that should not exist.

    Reply

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