James Shaw responds to Winston’s announcement

An email just sent from James Shaw – Greens are yet to make a decision.

I want to give you a quick update on the process towards forming a government.

The Green Party has been working constructively with Labour over the past few weeks to form a progressive, stable governing agreement based on the values and goals that we share for New Zealand.

The NZ First leader, Winston Peters, has today indicated his preference is to support a Labour-led government. That government would also need the Green Party’s support to have a majority in Parliament.

This evening, Green Party delegates from around the country will meet via video conference to make a decision about whether we will support a Labour-led government.

These delegates have been chosen by the membership of Green Party branches to represent the range of people and views in our party.

I look forward to sharing more information with you as soon as I can.

So clearly no decision from the Greens.

Media conference – he talks of Ardern as the presumptive new Prime Minister.

He also acknowledges National and Bill English in particular for what they have done for the country.

The Greens are currently considering a confidence and supply proposal with a Labour led government.

He says he is confident they will be able to say soon that they accept the agreement, he is confident it will be a done deal tonight.

Greens will be outside Cabinet, three ministers and one under-secretary.

He says it will be a very good position for the Greens to be in, enabling them to be part of the government but also retain their distinctiveness.

Pointed out it is different to what he proposed last week, a full coalition arrangement, but he’s now happy with confidence and supply.

He says Greens will be able to vote against the government.

Shaw hasn’t seen the Labour-NZ First agreement so doesn’t know what Greens are supporting.

He says it is an extraordinary moment for the Greens – it is.

He overstates how different an MMP arrangement it is, previous governments have had to seek support of multiple parties to progress legislation.

An announcement about an announcement…

A short time ago Winston peters made an announcement that he will make an announcement about the NZ First decision on government tomorrow afternoon, Some time. Maybe.

But there will be more to do from there, the Greens won’t make their decision and announcement until they now what the NZ First decision is.

Winston’s full press release:

New Zealand First will be in a position tomorrow afternoon to make an announcement on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters said he had spoken to the leaders of the National Party and the Labour Party today and, amongst other matters, advised them of that.

That announces very little.

Reports from Stuff  Live: Choosing a new government on what the greens will do from there:

From what I understand speaking to Green Party people off the record, that standing conference call with their members to ratify any deal won’t be tonight. In fact it can only happen after Peters makes his decision public tomorrow (and of course only if he decides to go with the left). Which means if he does go that way we could have an announcement from Peters in the afternoon but no confirmed government until the evening.

It’s also possible that Peters could send Labour a final agreement document before actually making a decision, and the Greens could get their Labour/Greens package ratified – all before Peters makes anything public. There are going to be a lot of moving parts tomorrow morning.

Green leader James Shaw says the party will not be holding its conference call, with its up to 155 delegates, tonight.

He said the decision not to go ahead with the call tonight was made mid-afternoon.

So it predated Winston Peters’ public statement that he would make an announcement on Thursday on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.

I won’t be planning my Labour weekend around this, but a few MPs and Parliamentary workers may be busy.

UPDATE: another announcement, this one from Bill English:

National is holding a caucus meeting tomorrow at 11 am in Wellington to provide MPs with an update on coalition talks. A separate teleconference will then take place with the National party board.

We stress that we have had no indication of what decision New Zealand First will make.

We have no further comment at this stage.

Greens – selling their soul for baubles for Winston?

The Greens have always claimed they are a party of integrity and principle.

But they appear to be so desperate to have some involvement in the next government that they have virtually given Labour a blank signed cheque and are relying on anothe party to negotiate a deal with NZ First that includes Greens, and that maybe gives the Greens some sort of policy wins.

Throughout the election campaign and since their leader James Shaw insisted that they were campaigning to ‘change the government’ and they couldn’t possibly do any sort of a deal with National. Their integrity was at stake.

But Shaw seems to have capitulated almost equal power that NZ First has  (based on their respective party votes) and handed over their future to Labour negotiators.

The Greens have had a number of meetings with Labour, but Winston Peters has refused to allow them to be directly involved in negotiations trying to form a new government.

It has been reported that Labour have been bound by a confidentiality agreement not to tell the Greens what was being negotiated between Labour and NZ First.

From Stuff: Winston Peters will take both options to the NZ First board after Thursday night

Peters has suggested that if a Government was to be formed with Labour, then the inclusion of the Greens as a headline party would be a “gross misrepresentation”.

The NZ First leader was responding to questions over whether it was his understanding that the Green Party would be voting to accept the Labour-NZ First deal, or whether they would simply be voting to approve their deal in separate negotiations with Labour.

It comes from questions over whether the Greens were at the mercy of Labour to fight their corner in dealings with NZ First.

Peters appears to be treating the Greens with contempt. For someone who demands to be treated with respect, whether he deserves it or not, this is highly hypocritical.

And the Greens are letting him treat them with contempt.

Labour have been left trying to negotiate on behalf of the Greens, an awkward position for them, and a weakened position. Labour will not have been able to push hard for their own benefit and policy wins if they have also had to negotiate for the Greens.

Peters has has ruled out including the Greens in partnership talks, forcing Shaw and his team to negotiate with Labour in parallel and in isolation to NZ First negotiations.

Peters said he had nothing against Green Party leader James Shaw.

“You know full well… I’ve never had a bad word with him, or about him that you could possibly quote because I’ve never said something bad about him in my career.”

Has Peters ever said anything about Shaw? He doesn’t need to say anything to show his disdain for a rookie idealist who has been an MP for just 3 years, a party leader for two, and was left trying to save a highly dysfunctional party 6 weeks before the election when co-leader Metiria Turei and two senior MPs stood down.

Shaw confirmed his trust in Ardern to negotiate a deal that won’t see his party locked out in the cold, or pushed beneath NZ First.

He is relying almost entirely on what Labour negotiate for the Greens. Remarkable.

As Government talks enter into their fourth day, Shaw emerged from a two-hour long meeting with Labour and said he was confident he could trust Labour would argue a fair deal on their behalf.

“Jacinda made fairness one of her principle values in the campaign, I’ve known her a number of years and, I said this before the election, I trust her and she seems to be doing a good job of it.

Ardern does seem fair minded – but she has also shown signs of having a ruthless political streak. And she has a responsibility to put the interests of Labour ahead of the Greens.

It just happens that she needs the Greens, and the Greens need Labour

“It’s got to be a stable and responsible Government that’s going to go the full distance in the national interest. Labour are working very hard on ensuring that that happens. That’s of paramount concern to all of us,” he said.

Shaw said he was confident he would be happy with the deal Labour eventually presented to them, but all the partners had to be “pretty sure” of their Government’s direction to ensure stability.

This is alarmingly vague. It looks like Shaw is so desperate to be a part of the next Government he has handed over everything, Green hopes, Green principals and Green integrity, to another political party that is negotiating with a third party that treats him and the Greens with contempt.

“It’s got to be a stable and responsible Government that’s going to go the full distance in the national interest” is going to be either fraught with disappointment and tension, or the Greens are going to be compliant doormats for a Labour-NZ First government.

Peters may enjoy the power he has imposed over the Greens, but how could he see any respect in using them to enable and prop up a government he has concocted?

The Greens had a huge scare this election, dipping below the make or break threshold in polls before recovering enough to survive.

But survival may be a three year battle if they end up making up numbers to enable a government in which one of the other parties has treated them with open contempt, and the other party tried to poach their policies and votes and then stitched up a deal for them when they needed each other.

And losing respect and integrity is just one problem for the Greens. In an email Shaw sent to part supporters on Wednesday, ironically titled We’ve accomplished so much!, Shaw explained:

Although the Green MPs tithe 10% back to the Party (they always have) we now have sixfewer MPs to pay into the coffers this election cycle.

They have dropped from 14 to 8 MPs.

And right now with the campaign bills still to pay, we have a shortfall despite the chance of now being at the heart of a new progressive government.

They have overspent in their campaign?

They will also have less resources in Parliament – fewer MPs means fewer support staff and researchers.

It could be a tough term for the Greens whether they are a tacked on part of the next Government or not.

And with fewer MPs able to travel (tax payer funded) around the country campaigning the next election could be difficult as well.

Especially if they have sold their soul for baubles for Winston.

There are other parties, and they’re saying little

While Winston Peters holds centre stage day after day National and Labour are saying as little as possible about ongoing negotiations.

James Shaw keeps highlighting how weak he and the Greens are.

Stuff: Winston Peters will take both options to the NZ First board after Thursday night

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern did not stop to talk to media on her way to or from her team’s last meeting of the day with NZ First.

On the way into the 6.30pm meeting she said she still had “plenty of stamina” while walking past reporters.

On her way out of the meeting she kept her eyes averted and did not answer any questions.

After past meetings Ardern has said things are going very well and she is absolutely positive etc but the Labour team haven’t looked filled with glee or confidence.

James Shaw and the Greens seem to have resigned themselves to relying on Labour to negotiate for them.

Peters has ruled out including the Greens in partnership talks, forcing Shaw and his team to negotiate with Labour in parallel and in isolation to NZ First negotiations.

As Government talks enter into their fourth day, Shaw emerged from a two-hour long meeting with Labour and said he was confident he could trust Labour would argue a fair deal on their behalf.

“Jacinda made fairness one of her principle values in the campaign, I’ve known her a number of years and, I said this before the election, I trust her and she seems to be doing a good job of it.

“It’s got to be a stable and responsible Government that’s going to go the full distance in the national interest. Labour are working very hard on ensuring that that happens. That’s of paramount concern to all of us,” he said.

Shaw said he was confident he would be happy with the deal Labour eventually presented to them, but all the partners had to be “pretty sure” of their Government’s direction to ensure stability.

This sounds very vague and weak from Shaw. If they can’t stand up to Peters and insist on being included before a government is set up how confident can anyone be of them playing a meaningful part in a government?

It was suggested yesterday that the greens may be having a special general meeting last night. Perhaps that was to get party approval to hand their future totally over to Labour.

Bill English and the National negotiators have found a route to and from the meetings that avoids media contact. National are not revealing anything about the negotiations.

English has even worked out a route to the second floor Beehive room where talks are being held that neatly avoids the media, so there is no chance of upstaging Peters on his many media standups on his way to and from the Beehive.

From Stuff: Winston Peters says he’s going to change New Zealand – where is his mandate?

The two major parties have given Peters the run of the Beehive while Bill English and Jacinda Ardern keep a low profile to avoid upsetting the famously capricious NZ First leader.

So fearful are both major parties of losing the upper hand in the negotiations they’ve agreed to blanket silence while Peters apparently has free licence to talk.

Peters has claimed everything is confidential but keeps talking to the media.

English and Ardern are saying as little as possible.

Shaw just looks hapless. The Greens becoming the heart of a new progressive government looks a forlorn ideal now.

Winston Peters is grandstanding his way towards what he hopes will be a grand finale to his political career.

The others are looking like grovellers, especially Shaw.

Peters warns of “disappointment and anguish”, deadline softens.

Winston Peters appears to be preparing supporters for disappointment over his decision on who to govern with and what policies will be agreed on. Via his Facebook page:

Thanks for your continued interest.
Be assured we are working towards a decision as fast as we can.
For obvious reasons we cannot talk publicly of what we have discussed at this stage.
We are all sworn to secrecy to ensure we have frank and open discussions.

Except that he is drip feeding bits of information in every interview.

You will all know as well as us that whatever decision we make it will cause disappointment and anguish.
That’s reality and there is no escaping that.

Peters promised a lot. He seems to be backing off some of his rhetoric.

Be confident that when we make our choice, it will be done in the greater interests of this country and its future.
All of us are proud New Zealanders.
We want the best for our country.

Peters also seems to be softening his commitment to a decision on government by Thursday. Today he said his party would make it’s decision by Thursday, but wouldn’t commit to making it public then.

This could be due to the reality that other parties may need time to make their own decisions. From Stuff:

On his way to the meeting, Greens leader James Shaw maintained a deadline of Thursday for a coalition deal was still realistic but wasn’t concerned if it was slightly longer.

“I’ve said before the process takes as long as it takes, a day here or there is no big deal.”

He said calling together the party for a special general meeting – the formal process required before entering a coalition – could be done quickly.

That will surely take a day or two at least, if everyone agrees. If anyone in the party isn’t happy then it will require 75% party support, and that will take days at least.

“We’ve got to go to them but we’re able to call a meeting pretty quickly.”

He said he wouldn’t expect any delays from his end.

Being left largely in the dark Shaw is hardly in any position to know how long things might take.

Shoddy treatment of the Greens

The Greens have put themselves in a weak negotiating position by choice, but that still doesn’t excuse the treatment of them by Winston Peters. A 7.2% party leader is treating a 6.3% party with contempt.

Labour are little better, because they are supporting Peters in his treatment of the Greens.

interest.co.nz: Winston Peters indicates he’s treating Labour and the Greens as one party

…in response to question on why he won’t meet with James Shaw; ‘They’ve hugged each other for years’; Greens tried to reach out to NZ First – no answer

We have an answer to why Winston Peters isn’t talking with the Greens: New Zealand First is effectively treating James Shaw’s lot as a branch of the Labour Party.

Even though that Labour-Greens memorandum of understanding officially terminated on election night, its impact is now being felt strongly through coalition talks.

And this means the Greens may be relying on Jacinda Ardern’s negotiating skills when it comes to whether any of their policies that NZ First doesn’t have a common stance on, get through into the final government manifesto.

Essentially, it looks like Shaw is left hoping Winston Peters agrees there is enough three-way commonality on some policy areas to give him something to work on these next three years.

Greens have put themselves in a position where they have little choice but to accept being pissed on by Peters.

James Shaw revealed on Tuesday afternoon that the Greens had reached out to New Zealand First in the last week or two, although he added they hadn’t gone as far as to formally request a meeting with Winston Peters and his team.

“We just made some contact to say, if they wanted to, we’re available, but…” Shaw said to media Tuesday afternoon following a meeting with Labour. “We’ve made ourselves available, for anybody, but like I said last week, the Labour Party will be taking the lead in negotiations, and so that’s what they’re doing.

Shaw still seemed keen on at least a cup of tea with Ardern and Peters together. He maintained that, “at some point, I assume you’ve got to get in a room together with the people that you’re going to go into coalition with.”

It appears he has no idea what part Greens may be allowed to play in negotiations. If any.

Shaw said he was following the process New Zealand had been using for most of the last 20 years – that the largest party took the lead in negotiations. “We’re not the largest party, so we’re just playing our part in putting together the next government.”

Except that the largest party isn’t taking the lead. National has allowed Peters to run things – that may suit them – but the second largest party, Labour, is also allowing Peters to call all the shots and doing nothing to insist in Greens being directly involved in the process.

It was Peters’ turn next.

Speaking to the media after meeting with National, Peters wasn’t taking a bar of any suggestion that his talks with Labour should be expanded to a three-way conversation with the inclusion of the Greens.

He said he wasn’t aware of the Greens reaching out, although even if he did know, that doesn’t seem like it would have mattered.

“I made it very clear at the start, and everybody’s aware of it, that we were to speak to the National Party and the Labour Party, not necessarily in that order, but each day we’ve been doing that,” he said. He wouldn’t comment on whether he thought Labour might look to put Green Party points across in negotiations.

Asked whether it might be worthwhile to sit down with Labour and the Greens before he made a decision, Peters replied: “Well, I’ve got no idea why this question’s being asked of me. I told you all we were going to be negotiating in good faith with both the National and the Labour parties.”

And very poor faith sidelining of the Greens.

Peters said New Zealand First hadn’t campaigned for another party, and that the rest did. “For months, and months, in fact for years, they all campaigned together, hugging each other, embracing each other, and loving each other. We didn’t.” New Zealand First “was never part of any pre-arranged structure, so why are you trying to force it upon us now?”

I haven’t seen anyone trying to do that.

Was he effectively treating the Greens as a bloc of Labour?

“Well take a wild guess. That’s what they campaigned on. Have you forgotten?”

“They ran on an MoU all those months, in fact years, and now you want to know how I explain this connection?”

The MoU clearly expired on election day so shoudn’t be a factor any more, but even if it was it would be reasonable to expect the Greens to be treated with some respect – ironic given it appears that Peters is demanding respect for himself.

He was also asked if there was a chance he could be sitting around a Cabinet table with Green Party MPs without having had discussions with them beforehand. “This is an extraordinary question,” he said. “That has no relativity to these discussions whatsoever.”

Who might end up in Cabinet in a Labour-NZ First-Green government is of great importance. It is extraordinary that Peters is fobbing off questions like that.

It is shabby of Labour to allow this treatment of the party they relied on and based their campaign on for 18 months to try to gain credibility as an alternative government. Very poor leadership by Jacinda Ardern.

It is more than shabby of Peters, it is arrogant, disgraceful and fundamentally undemocratic to refuse to include the Greens directly.

If a NZ First government is formed with the support of Labour and the compliance of the Greens it could be on very shaky ground right from the start. If they can’t even appear to work together in negotiating a governing arrangement then when inevitable disgruntlement sets in the risks of falling apart are high.

Greens in an awkward position

Meetings are going going at full steam between NZ First and National, and between NZ First and Labour.  And Labour are also having meetings with the Greens, who appear to have been largely sidelined.

Yesterday Bill English highlighted this – Newshub: Greens don’t understand their position – Bill English

Bill English has praised Winston Peters’ “tough” approach to negotiations, saying the Greens could learn a thing or two from the veteran MP.

“Mr Peters, as you would expect, is using the weight of the position he has to make gains,” the National Party leader told The AM Show on Monday.

“The Green Party don’t appear to understand the position they’re in or could have been in,” said Mr English.

“[Mr Peters is] playing his hand with a great deal more assertion than the Greens… He’s a tough negotiator and he understands the position he’s in.”

Peters is an experienced negotiator, but he seems to have been allowed to call most of the shots by both National and Labour.

And he seems to have no inclination to deal with the Greens. Instead Labour has allowed itself to be a go-between, switching from meetings with NZ first and the Greens.

James Shaw has said he is confident of there being a Labour-NZ First-Green ‘progressive government’, and has talked up their key policies of climate change and poverty, but he doesn’t look confident. He looks like he and the greens have been largely left out in the cold.

Jacinda Ardern has just been interviewed on RNZ: VIDEO: Jacinda Ardern on coalition talks

In that she waffled around the question of why Greens seem to be shunned by Winston Peters, saying that ‘absolutely’ Greens shoukd be a part of the decision making but it was just the way the meetings were arranged.

In other words Peters has arranged to deal with Labour with Labour being left to try to keep the Greens informed and involved from the sidelines.

This is an odd way to negotiate, and raises questions about how a Labour-NZ First-Green could operate.

Shaw and the Greens look largely impotent. They are no match for Winston’s experience and forcefulness.

Greens and Cabinet gender equality

Two years ago James Shaw stated that Greens will ensure gender balance in Cabinet

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw announced to the CTU conference in Wellington today that the Green Party would put gender equality at the heart of any Government it is involved in, starting with equal representation in Cabinet.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

“A Government with 70 percent of its Ministers men isn’t good for women and it isn’t good for New Zealand.

“By committing to a gender balance in Cabinet, the Green Party won’t immediately fix the inequalities women are forced to deal with at work every day, but it will show that we are committed to gender equality everywhere, starting with where we work ourselves,” Mr Shaw said.

I don’t know how much priority the Greens will put on this policy in coalition negotiations.

The Greens haven’t achieved gender equality in their own caucus. They campaigned on having a line up dominated by females, and have ended up with two male MPs and six female MPs.

In contrast NZ First is slanted the other way, with two female MPs to seven male MPs, so I guess there is balance between the two of them.

Labour have more female MPs this time ( I count 21 of their 46 MPs as female), but most of their experienced MPs likely to fill Cabinet positions are male. Three of their top ten MPs are female, and just seven of their top twenty.

So gender balance in a Labour-NZ First-Green government would be difficult to achieve.

Overall the new Parliament is slanted male, still.  From Kiwiblog The 52nd New Zealand Parliament Demographics:


  • 74 (-8) Males, 62% (-6%)
  • 46 (+7) Females, 38% (+6%)

Seven of National’s top twenty MPs are female so if they form a Cabinet with NZ First there will be gender imbalance.

Gender equality in Cabinet is worth aiming for, but it will continue to take time. Forcing it by promoting female MPs over more experienced male MPs is not a good idea.

And overbalancing by having a party caucus with female MPs is not going to help overall gender equality.

Nandor Tanczos on Greens and National

In the political vacuum awaiting a new government a lot of media attention has put the spotlight on the reluctance of the greens to consider a governing deal with national.

Many people think that sound economic management plus more efforts dealing with environmental and social issues makes this an attractive proposition, but many staunch Green activists, and their current leader and MPs, think that it would be a dastardly dance with the devil.

Ex Green MP Nandor Tanczos, who once said that the Greens weren’t left or right, they were Green has added to the discussions on Green reluctance to even consider a governing arrangement with National.


Now reposted at The Spinoff: Nandor Tanczos: the Greens need to figure out a way to talk to National

National, of course, would love to have a second option strengthening their hand with New Zealand First.

It is important to understand, though, that this is not just coming from the Nats. People are increasingly concerned about our looming social and environment crisis and some see it as a way to make progress even if we don’t get a change of government.

I think that this is correct – some of those opposing any suggestion of a National-Green government are claiming the talk is just a National plot to undermine the Greens and strengthen their hand against NZ First, but that fails to appreciate the breadth of interest in a so-called blue-green government.

Let me state clearly at this stage that I do not think James Shaw should be ringing up Bill English to discuss coalition options. To support the National Party to become a fourth term government would be both impossible in practical terms and politically suicidal.

Tanczos is right. the Greens have painted themselves into a corner this election, making it very difficult if not impossible for them to enable a fourth National term.

Impossible because any coalition agreement needs ratification by 75% of the party and there is more chance of Winston retiring gracefully from politics.

At least the Greens have been upfront about their aversion to dealing with National for the past eighteen months, in contrast to Winston’s staunch refusal to inform voters of his possible inclinations before the election.

Suicidal for a multitude of reasons.

First, people voted for the Greens on the clear understanding that we would not support a National Government. To do so would be a complete betrayal of our voters, akin to NZ First going with National in 1996 (for which they got badly punished).

Greens too a gamble on hitching their colours to Labour’s mast and can’t jump to the blue ship now.

Second, it might be worth the risk if we could shape the trajectory of an incoming government. To bolster a government almost certainly in its last term, a government that has shown such disregard for both the environment and our growing social inequality, just before their support collapses, would be a tragic mistake.

This is left wing bullshit. Sure the National led government could have done more for the environment and social inequality, but accusing them of ‘such disregard’ is extreme green arrogance – they believe their way is the only way and anything different is evil, which is nonsense.

Third, to make such a move without lengthy preparation and discussion inside the party would tear the Greens apart.

That’s likely to be correct. The reaction from some Green supporters and activists even to the suggestion that National and Greens talk about possibilities has highlighted how intolerant some of them are to anything but their untainted idealism.

Note I did not say ‘because going into coalition with National kills small parties’. Coalitions are always dangerous for small parties but there are many lessons to be learned from the demise of the Alliance and the Māori Party, and from the zombie resurrection that is ACT.

As has been stated by many, being afraid of going into coalition in case it damages your party is pathetic. There is never going to be a perfect risk free time to be in government, something Green idealists don’t seem to get.

FFS, they’re lining up for a coalition with Labour and NZ First, there’s as much risk in that as anything.

There’s also a high risk for a now 6% party to sit on the sidelines deluded in thinking they can be ‘at the heart of a progressive government’ led by Labour and dominated by Peters. Or to be left right out. Voters may give up hope the Greens can ever be a strong contender.

Entering into a coalition with National right now would be a disaster for the Greens and one from which we might not recover. But as I first said in 2008, at some stage in the future we must be prepared to seriously consider the idea.

Given the reaction to the idea over the last week I doubt that the Greens could seriously consider it.

The tactical negotiating reason is compelling enough, in my view. Labour is currently the only option for the Greens but the same is not true in reverse. Labour doesn’t owe the Greens any favours, and the fact is that Labour will never respect the Greens until we recognise that truth. Rather than expecting a guaranteed relationship with a party that we aggressively target for votes and constantly criticise for not being enough like us, we need to recognise that Labour will give us just as much as they need to, to stay in power. Having an unconditional promise of support means that they don’t have to give us very much at all.

To put that another way, players only respect other players.

Relying totally on Labour may have been a misjudgement in the chances of a Labour+Green majority, or it may have been a simple gamble that failed.

But even if the Greens are ourselves content in our current codependency, there is a more fundamental problem. If Greens cannot carve out a constituency beyond the ‘left of Labour’ cul de sac we are in, we will continue to play out the dynamic of this election over and over, soaring in the polls only as long as Labour is doing badly, but dropping back to 5% as soon as Labour turns left again. Or finds a charismatic leader.

We may be mighty in opposition, but we will always be puny in coalition until we stop relying on discontented Labour voters for support.

Yep. Green support strengthened when Labour’s weakened, and when Labour recovered Green support shrank to near disaster level. It was always going to be difficult to grow both Green and Labour support at the same time.

And I note that another attempt to pick up extra vote by getting non-voters and young people to vote for them seems to have been futile.

Some people on the left think being left means you care about other people and being right means you are selfish. Some people on the right think being left means you are economically illiterate and being right means you are clever. It is sadly common in political debates for people to assume that their opponents are either stupid or morally deficient or both.

Political arrogance and ignorance.

My experience is that most people from either side are neither.

That’s how I see it too.

In fact, if you look at the fundamentals, there is very little genuine political difference between National and Labour. What we have now is more in the way of different political clans, held together by a sense of shared identity (often inherited) rather than by any coherent political core. It is in that way that the Greens have become tied to Labour. Not because our principles demand it, but because of a sense of kinship.

I don’t think there’s much kinship involved, and that’s been evident by Labour’s focus on doing a deal with NZ First, leaving Greens on the sidelines.

It wasn’t kinship behind the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding that expired on election night, the time of the intended political wedding). Labour numbers were persistently bad and they say the Greens as their only hop of competing with National.

Because if you look at the most fundamental Green concerns: climate change, protection of waterways, child poverty, growing inequality, protecting civil and human rights, tāngata whenua rights, the last Labour government was barely more progressive than National.

In fact the main argument used against ever forming a coalition with National – that their economic agenda is fundamentally at odds with a Green agenda – applies just as strongly to Labour.

And there are key parts of NZ First policy that are fundamentally at odds with a Green agenda.

There are actually lots of Greens who are small business owners – probably a disproportionate number compared to either National or Labour. Both National and Labour tend to focus on large corporate bureaucracies and play little attention to how their policies impact on small businesses – who as we know are New Zealand’s biggest employer.

It’s nonsense to suggest that National and Labour pay little attention to small businesses.

For years the Greens put loads of effort into trying to woo the unions.

Unsuccessfully. They have tried to woo young people, unsuccessfully. They have tried to woo non-voters, unsuccessfully. Why would small business be any different?

In the campaign James Shaw said that reducing dairy farm profits by 6% would not impact on them – many dairy farmers are small business owners, and I doubt they would have been happy with Shaw’s proposal.

Greens have a fundamental problem – they seem to think that their policies and their causes are so just and so good people will naturally support them, if only…

But the Greens don’t attract widespread support because they staunchly remain hard left. Many people like their influence but prefer that was balanced with political and economic realism.

The very notion of a centre sitting half-way between Labour and National is irrelevant when we locate ourself on a triangle. Neither is it about ‘abandoning our principles’. Rather it is about embodying them in their entirety. What they cannot mean, though, is relegating ourselves to the periphery of power just because we are committed to giving Labour a free run.

Another fundamental problem for the Greens – they don’t want to do anything other than embody their principles in their entirety.

One of the key principles of democracy and of our MMP system is that when people get together, when parties get together, different ideas and different policies have to be debated and compromises must be made.

The Greens can stick to their principles as much as they like, but that is unlikely to be a successful strategy, ever.

A party that peaked at 11% (when Labour were abysmal) and dropped in polls to under the threshold before recovering to a precarious 6% is getting something wrong. Actually i think they are getting quite a few things wrong, and they show no sign of accepting  their weaknesses and flaws.

Environmentalists lobby incoming government

An open letter has been sent to sent to Bill English,  Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw and Winston Peters from environmental groups and lobbyists including Forest and Bird, Greenpeace New Zealand, WWF New Zealand and Fish & Game New Zealand.

It’s not very open, I can’t find a copy online, but NZ Herald reports: Leading environmentalists’ plea to the next Government

“A winner in this year’s election was the New Zealand environment. It featured as a bigger concern amongst the electorate than ever before. All of you through your party manifestos made commitments to improve the state of our environment. We congratulate you for those promises.”

It says there must be a more structured and transparent approach to tackling the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

“New Zealand’s emissions have continued to climb and we need an ambitious plan on how to reduce them. “

They call for a new law to establish a statutory carbon budgeting process overseen by an independent commission to plan, monitor and report on the transition to “net zero by 2050”.

“Anything less betrays this and future generations.”

The letter says a key measure of environmental success will be ecologically healthy fresh waters which New Zealanders are able to swim in.

It also states the unique species of New Zealand are “the jewels in the crown of our national identity” and calls for stronger emphasis on conservation.

Increasing the Department of Conservation’s core budget must be a key component in that strategy, the letter says.

Lobbying was in full swing during the election campaign, and continues as we wait for parties to work out who is going to form a government.