Russel Norman is a greenie, but that doesnâ€™t mean he can’t be admired for his ability to discipline a bunch of fruit loops into a credible political party.
In terms of New Zealand politicians, Russel is about as smart as they get. Ignoring the fact National ran on an election platform of selling assets he has set up a referendum about asset sales.
This works on so many levels. It takes his looney activists with silly first names out of play, keeping them busy getting signatures rather than vandalising National hoardings and committing other senseless, bad news story attacks. It means that instead of just impotently opposing the National majority over asset sales he gets to talk about it in terms of the public not wanting asset sales for much longer, and has a referendum proving it.
What is most impressive is not these relatively minor wins for Russel. It is he has watched politics work in the United States, and how referenda frame elections. He will be dictating the terms of the political debate, turning out voters and putting his opponents on the defence, stopping them from going on the offense.
I respect low rat cunning, and Russel Norman may be on the other side of the political spectrum but his low rat cunning shames Labour and Nationalâ€™s much vaunted strategists.