Greens return leftward, away from National

Green’s sole leader over the last eight months, James Shaw, is seen as relatively moderate, almost centrist-ish (in some ways at least). He is regarded as business friendly, not a particularly NZ green attribute.

The Green Party has just chosen a new co-leader, Marama Davidson, by a wide margin of 110 delegate votes to 34 over the more business savvy centris-ish Julie Anne Genter.

Davidson has been active on left wing issues as an MP. She is likely to remain so. And she has much more scope than Shaw to promote her more radical views and policy positions – while not in Cabinet Shaw has some responsibility as a Minister not to rock the Government boat too much

As she doesn’t have any ministerial responsibilities Davidson is not so constrained, and without a ministerial workload she will have much more time to work on issues of interest to her and the Green membership.

Both Shaw and Genter are learning the realities and compromises of working in a Government. Davidson doesn’t have this, she is firmly in the Green idealist activist bubble.

And that bubble is staunchly anti-National.

Henry Cooke at Stuff: Greens swing left with Marama Davidson in the co-pilot seat

This should finally and completely end the notion that the Green Party could consider going into Government with National. It was never going to happen under James Shaw and it is really never going to happen with Davidson, who took care in her victory speech to trash-talk the former National-led Government for the massive problems at Middlemore Hospital.

Just as some Green Party members threatened to leave the party if Davidson didn’t get selected, similar threats have been made in the past when any suggestion of a Green-National deal.

By supporting Davidson so strongly the membership of the Green Party have shown their desire to make the party more than just a junior partner in Government, pushing Labour to the left in the areas its ministers are responsible for.

We just have to accept that the Greens are two parties in one – a strongly pro-environment party, and a staunch hard left social issue socialist-type party. They claim that the two are co-dependent, but that’s more of an attempt to justify their more hard-left policies.

Environmental issues are acknowledged across the political spectrum, to different degrees, but both National and the business world know they have to work more on sustainable practices and lowering pollution. They do differ with the Greens on the preferred levels of socialisation and socialism.

Big business and big money are going to be important influences in New Zealand, especially with farming practices.

In tone, tactics, and perception, however, Davidson was always the left candidate, even if she prefers to say “progressive”.

‘Progressive’ is a left wing populist attempt at deception.

Many Green members don’t want to put more women in the boardroom, they want to destroy it. Davidson made clear in her acceptance speech her distaste for the fact that two men held more wealth than the poorest 30 per cent of New Zealanders. In our debate she professed support for a new top tax rate on higher earners and free dental care for all Kiwis.

Davidson-Green is to a large extent anti-business (and pro socialism). Shaw-Green promotes more responsible business.

Of course, the Green Party hasn’t lost the more suit-and-tie Shaw as co-leader. There will be plenty of members who voted for Davidson because they want balance at the top, with the environmentally focused climate change minister fighting besides the new co-leader for a holistic Green vision.

It’s impossible to know how many Green members and Green branches preferred the far more left wing leanings of Davidson, or chose her for balance. The Māori  factor can’t be discounted either.

But for the next wee while –  at least –  Davidson has the mandate to make some real change to how the Green Party operates in Government. Ardern and Winston Peters should expect some well-publicised disagreements – which will be particularly biting as non-Minister Davidson isn’t bound by Cabinet collective responsibility.

The party now enters into a somewhat strange two-year period, where the Green ministers actually making change arguably represent the wing of the party just rejected by the membership.

It will be interesting to compare the so far moderate ministerial missives of Shaw, Genter and the third Green minister, Eugenie Sage, and the more radical activism of Davidson and her activist Green supporters.

Genter has been seeking attention during the two month leadership contest but may well retreat to her ministerial responsibilities. She probably won’t want to compete with Davidson for attention now.

Shaw has been fairly anonymous as he gets to grips with working in Government. Sage would have also been barely noticed except for her embarrassing involvement in publicity over allegations of interference in state agencies, and her changing claims due to ‘poor memory’.

So Davidson may well get a disproportionate amount of attention. This will please the activist socialist Greens, but how will this affect wider green support?

But there are over a hundred thousand more Green Party voters than there are members. For that number to keep steady or properly increase both wings of the party will need to rack up some decent wins in the real world, not just the tiny landscape of internal party politics. Everyone in the party will be watching the next poll with a whole lot of interest. It’ll be what makes this whole thing finally real.

It will take more than the next poll, it will take several months and several polls to see how things pan out. It will also take that long to see how the Green Ministers perform and get attention, versus Davidson’s freedom to promote a more radical agenda.

Goodbye left/right, hello conservative centre

The resounding success of the Conservative Party in the UK (who increased their seats by 24) and the disaster for Labour (who decreased their seats by 26) seems to reinforce a change in politics over the last few decades, at least in the New Zealand-centric world.

Centre right parties:

  • Canada – since 2006 (third term)
  • New Zealand – since 2008 (third term)
  • UK – since 2010 (just won second term)
  • Australia – since 2013 (first term)

Centre left parties seem to be struggling to adjust to changing voter habits and preferences.

There seems to be insufficient appetite for radical left politics and that seems to scare voters away from the centre-left.The centre right seems to be able to downplay the radical far right elements who aren’t big enough in numbers to wag the centrist dog.

New Zealand’s centre left (Labour Party) has shrunk since being ousted in 2008 and is still struggling to recover. It is also burdened with sizable harder left parties that scare many voters off giving them power.

It appears that electorates prefer conservative centrist government – steady stable management and avoiding ideological lurches.

In this situation ‘conservative’ means avoiding radical changes as opposed to far right politics.

There’s certainly wide support for conservative centrist governments. Is the twenty first century saying goodbye to the left/right divide and goodbye to revolutionary shifts?

That’s how it looks and feels to me.

Post-Survey United Future’s Direction Charted

Alan Simmons from UnitedFuture asked for this to be posted:

The United Future party is mapping out it’s future course following the results of a comprehensive survey of voter opinion.

Party President Alan Simmons said the data from the survey had revealed “exciting” potential opportunities for the party’s future direction.

“I’m very keen to see strategies developed to cement United Future as the sensible center party of New Zealand,” he said.

At a United Future Board “retreat” held in Turangi on Saturday, board members spent the day perusing and analysing the results of the national survey.

“We’re mindful that the general publics perception is vitally important” said Mr Simmons. “But so too is the expectations of the party members. Putting all of this together was no mean task but the results clearly showed the way forward.”

He said the survey had been an invaluable success with sufficient respondents to give reliable, credible results but admitted there were some surprises amongst the data sets with a number of positives for the party.

“For example, among them was that center right voters see United Future as the environmental consciousness of National while another was 78 percent of all respondents believe the party has an important role to play in future New Zealand politics. Plus there was overwhelming support from non-party members for the party to continue its centrist, commonsense role in building a future for generations to come and ensuring good stewardship of the outdoors and environment.”

Mr Simmons said that with the survey revealing current members thinking and also that of potential voters, the party’s board was now mapping out the future direction.

“The survey was great in providing a wealth of revealing data. United Future will naturally make some changes as highlighted by the results aiming to give a new direction of the party to ensure United Future can look to a substantial future.”

This is the sort of thing I would post from other parties so happy to do it, if I had seen it in a press release or media report I would have posted on it anyway. UnitedFuture have a huge challenge regaining a political presence beyond Peter Dunne but it’s good to see them trying. (I have had no involvement with the party since 2013).

Colin’s Centrist Conservative Party

How conservative are the Conservatives? NZ Herald: Conservatives butt heads with NZ First over lookalike policies

The Conservatives have begun laying their election platform in a series of billboards and leaflet drops over the past month.

A few of their priorities so closely resembled New Zealand First’s manifesto that leader Winston Peters said they appeared to be stolen.

“Plagiarism is what you’re talking about. He’s not got similar policies, he’s trawled through our stuff and tried to present it as being his own.”

Both parties want to end asset sales, stop the sale of farmland to foreigners…

How conservative/right wing are the Conservatives?

Mr Craig told the Weekend Herald it was inevitable some of their policies would be similar because they were both competing for a similar pool of centrist voters.

Ah, they are centrist conservatives.