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.

Dunne on Labour, Little and poll responds

In his weekly blog post Peter Dunne has criticised Labour for being too negative and having lost their soul.

Sadly, today’s Labour Party is but a shadow of its bold predecessors. There is no sense of future direction or purpose, and even in its rare positive moments, the Party’s best offerings seem to be a hankering for yesteryear.

The boldness in politics is now coming from the National Party – formed primarily to oppose the first Labour government – with no more striking example than its Budget decision this year to lift basic benefit payments, the first such upward adjustment in over 40 years(including the 3rd to 5th Labour Governments). Labour, the traditional friend of the beneficiary, was left gasping in its wake.

Labour’s challenge today is to recover its soul and its place. In this post market age, there is a still a role for a radical reforming party of the left, if it is prepared to be bold.

There is the opportunity to pull together the threads of the Labour heroes and promote a new commitment based around strengthening New Zealand’s national identity through constitutional and social reform, and encouraging diversity.

There is still a place for a progressive party promising a new, more co-operative economic approach in today’s globally digitally and free trade connected world. And there is still a place for a progressive party to promote new, innovative approaches to education and social services.

But rather than grasp these opportunities, Labour has become predeterminedly negative. While it supports a new New Zealand flag, it opposes the current referendum process, essentially because it is a National Prime Minister’s idea.

Its approach to economic policy is stalled because it cannot make up its mind on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Its stigmatising of people with Chinese sounding names buying property in Auckland has robbed it of any credibility in the diversity stakes, and its capacity to champion meaningful education reform is zero while it remains the plaything of the PPTA.

Andrew Little responded – Stuff reports Little says Labour’s job is to ‘contest and challenge’ the Government:

Little rubbished Dunne’s comments saying in Opposition there was a job to be done and that is to “contest and challenge what the Government of the day is doing”.

“This is from a man who left the Labour Party and is now a party of one,” he said from Sydney where he is visiting New Zealand-born detainees at Villawood Detention Centre.

“You’ve got a job also to come up with the alternative ideas but you’ve got situations like this, a bunch of Kiwis who are looking for a voice, and somebody’s got to step in,” Little said.

And Dunne responded to that on Twitter:

Poor old angry Andy, just proves my point

And Stuff have run an online poll (take with a grain of salt):

Has Labour lost it’s way?

  • Yes, it’s too negative 26%
  • Yes, It’s not innovative or bold enough 12%
  • Yes, both of the above 41%
  • No, it’s fine 21%