Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Will the Greens never learn?

A prominent feature of recent Australian politics has been the growing influence of the Green party in inner city electorates. Particularly in state elections where tired and unpopular Labor governments are opposed by state Liberal parties that, particularly in NSW, are a shambles populated by the barking mad.

At the weekend the Greens got the balance of power in the ACT.

Why is the Green party not doing better in inner city electorates in New Zealand?

Because they continually display the political nous that led them to declare prior to the election that they would not support the National party in Government. This despite the fact that an exactly similar declaration saw them kept out of the Cabinet after the last election. Russel Norman sometimes seems to understand the issue.

"Labour taught us a good lesson: you can't trust Labour to do anything except look after themselves, and I think National's the same. So you have to be tough."


Then they go and walk into the same old trap a second time. Twice seems like carelessness.

The Greens desperately need electorate seats so that they don't continue to rely on the 5% margin to get them into Parliament. These seats could well be one of the three with "Central" after its name but the Greens would have to break some eggs to get them.

However they persist in 'campaigning for the party vote' at least in Christchurch Central (where my parents live) and Auckland Central (where I have to decide who to vote for). I couldn't name the Green candidate in either electorate.

In both seats if they stood a warm body with a good list place and a long term committment to the electorate and campaigned agressively for the electorate vote they would attract significant support. This could damage relations with Labour in the short term, but as I have noted the Greens should have punished Labour for last election's shenanigans and this seems to be one way they could have made the point. Better still with effective challengers from National standing in both seats it might possibly have had the effect of giving the seats to the Nats.

This would be ideal for the Greens since these seats will never be safe for the right of politics and a warm Green body with the advantage of list incumbency and growing urban support would maximize the possibility of eventually winning the seat.

I can't resist pointing out that this was a particularly good year to initiate this strategy in Christchurch Central. The popular Labour MP has retired and Labour has seen fit to nominate in his place a spin doctor who has never previously lived in the city. I can assure you that Christchurch people very much dislike having to vote for these Labour carpet-baggers. (I was naive enough to believe that MMP had put a stop to the practice.) Moreover in last year's local body elections Green candidates unseated several Labour incumbents representing central parts of Christchurch on the regional council. They did this by running against Labour-led council and Government support for an enormous irrigation project on the Canterbury plains. This shows that local environmental issues could be big winners for the Greens, and the issue could have been revived for the general election by an enthusiastic campaigner.

The Green party of New Zealand is asleep at the wheel.

Just as well the anti-science Greens are one of my least favourite parties in the New Zealand Parliament. A genuinely Green, genuinely political, Green party would however be an asset.

1 comment:

Kotare said...

Interesting post, Andrew.

I think that the Greens need to make a genuine effort to connect with ordinary New Zealanders. They have a good story, but it needs to be pitched in a way that connects with the interests of ordinary folk. And they need to work together and stay "on message" - no more friggin' Morris dancers.

Unfortunately, the current crop of Green MPs lack commonsense and the ability to relate to real people. In effect, they are one-man, or one-woman, bands, each off on their own peculiar hobby horses.