Trotter is onto it with the loss of Russel Norman

Chris Trotter thinks the bloodless coup within the Greens is a move to push the Green party towards the right.

I think he is right…and as usual wrong at the same time.

RUSSEL NORMAN’S DECISION to step down as the Greens co-leader reflects the party’s longstanding determination to reposition itself rightward. For eight years Norman’s personal energy and political discipline succeeded in turning aside the pleas of a clear majority of the Greens’ membership to break the party out of its left-wing ghetto. Only by exploiting to the full his party’s consensus-based decision-making processes was Norman able to keep the Greens anchored firmly on the left of New Zealand politics.

For eight years Norman strove to fashion a Green Party manifesto that was not only compatible with the Labour Party’s policy platform but would, to a remarkable degree, serve as its inspiration. His astonishing and largely successful mission to master the challenges of contemporary economics; an effort which allowed him to participate in policy debates with an authority sadly lacking in his predecessors, and to drag Labour along in his wake, is probably the most impressive achievement of his leadership.

It was this ability to render the Greens’ left-wing policies economically intelligible that allowed Norman to spike the guns of the Greens’ very sizeable “moderate” (for want of a better description) faction. The latter had demonstrated its power by installing Metiria Turei as co-leader – rather than the overtly left-wing Sue Bradford – following Jeanette Fitzsimons’ retirement in 2008. Had the rules made it possible, this same faction would have radically repositioned the Greens as an ideologically agnostic environmentalist party of the political centre; one capable of forming a coalition with either of the main political parties.

Which is the right place to be…a lot of their Auckland support comes from the leafy suburbs in Auckland where the missus balances out the husband and his propensity to vote National by voting Green because she is thinking of the kiddies and their future. It is wrong-headed but that is what is happening.

Why the Green’s vote drops from polling is because some of them wake up to the crazy…and won’t risk a left-wing government dominated by Green loons.

Norman was only able to appease these moderate Greens by holding out to them the promise of real power as members of a Labour-Green coalition government. Following the party’s record level of electoral support in 2011, and the narrowness of National’s victory, that had, at least initially, looked like a realistic prospect. What Norman could not have anticipated was the Labour Party’s self-indulgent descent into fratricidal factional conflict. Three Labour leaders in as many years destroyed any chance of a Labour-Green coalition. It also fatally compromised Norman’s political position.

The intrusion of Kim Dotcom and the Internet-Mana alliance only made things worse.

The coup de grace that finally extinguished the Green Left’s survival chances was the Labour Party’s very public spurning of the Greens’ (i.e. Norman’s) invitation to campaign together. Labour clearly regarded the Greens as mad, bad and dangerous to know, a judgement reinforced in the last few weeks of the election campaign when it became increasingly obvious to Green Party members that David Cunliffe was much more disposed to forming a coalition with NZ First’s Winston Peters than Norman and the Greens.

The final, ignominious defeat of the Left on 20 September 2014 undoubtedly caused cries of “We told you so!” to reverberate through the Green Party organisation. Combined with the slight, but unexpected, decline in the Greens’ Party Vote (the polls suggested, and the Green leadership were anticipating, an outcome of 14 percent-plus) the Labour Party’s abysmal performance, not to mention its unreconstructed hostility, when the chips were down, towards all things Green, rendered Norman’s position untenable. His fate was sealed.

Labour have shafted the Greens since 1999, in 2002 Helen Clark preferred working with Peter Dunne than dealing with them and in 2005 she shafted them to form a coalition with Winston Peters knowing the Greens with their hard left stance were never going to talk to the National party.

Labour knows that while it is larger and more dominant that they can shaft the Greens into bridesmaid roles only. The Greens have only themselves to blame though for taking the hard left track rather than positioning themselves sensibly on across the centre.

It is highly unlikely that Labour fully grasps what a friend they have lost in Norman, nor how very uncomfortable their relationship with the Greens is about to become.

If Labour is lucky, the Greens’ transition from Left to Centre will be gradual. The supporters of Kevin Hague, widely tipped to be Norman’s successor, will be arguing that his accession offers the best chance of taking the party from its present position of political irrelevancy to that of permanent kingmaker in good order.

For those who favour a much more decisive break with the traditional Green “brand”, by electing co-leaders who can make a plausible case for representing a Green Party which has moved on from its radical left-wing past, James Shaw is the obvious choice. One has only to look at the official video of his maiden parliamentary speech to realise that this is a very different sort of Green to Russel Norman – and Kevin Hague.

Kevin Hague has already made noises in the past about working with National. And frankly I wouldn’t mind seeing a Kevin Hague led Green party work with National.

I can see enormous benefits of that arrangement.

Firstly it eliminates the control Labour have over the Greens, secondly it gives the Greens options, thirdly it softens National and allows the Greens to do environmental stuff, and fourthly it shafts Labour and teaches them a valuable lesson in not taking support partners for granted. lastly it shows National can work with Maori, with Act, with Peter Dunne and now the Greens…quite the reverse of the situation that commentators have been claiming for years…that National doesn’t have support partners. Oh wait there is one more reason…it neutralises and isolates Winston Peters.

The hard left have taken a pounding…losing Russel.

You will know what John Key thinks if he comes out saying that Kevin Hague is a top bloke, can work across party lines and he looks forward to working with him in the future.

Then the tears of impotent rage will flow from the hard left.


– The Daily blog


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  • MaryLou

    Oh, let it be so! Might have to do some reading up on Mr Shaw though. Not sure about this Kevin Hague.

    Labour has never achieved anything for either the Maori Party (or Maoris in general) or the Greens despite all the lovely soundbites they’d have us believe. If Greens and National can achieve this, we’re on our way towards a really stable centre-right government. Personally I’d prefer more right, but I can live with most of it.

    • BW_Lord

      I was impressed by Shaw’s opening speech in parliament. It’s rare to find a left-winger with a sense of humour, and he struck as an entirely reasonable sort.

      Too early to tell for sure, but anyway, I seriously doubt he would fit well with the other raving lunatic co-leader.

  • Rodger T

    All the kudos heading Normans way show what a farce the whole “co-leadership” nonsense is.
    If it were true ,then Turei is as responsible for the Greens failure as Norman,tho` I`ll doubt she would voluntarily remove her snout from the trough.

    • GT

      Mainly because she couldn’t get another job with the perks she has. If she was not in the green leadership there would be no exposure which she clearly coverts

      • Phill

        It would be entertaining to read her CV. The “Career Achievements” and “Transferable Skills” sections must be real short.

  • Curly1952

    Trotter is probably right in his assessment but I can see National wanting that other vicious leader be put out to pasture before they go to far with the greens. She has shown her utter contempt for John Key and the National Party in no uncertain terms. I cannot believe that they would work fully with a party that had harboured and supported her

    • Cadwallader

      Her drivel at Ratana will take a lot of time to forget. Besides I think she is a complete and delusional nut job.

  • sandalwood789

    I don’t know anything about Kevin Hague. However, if the Greens shifted their focus onto more practical and sensible stuff (e.g. waterway quality, that kind of thing) rather than “climate change” and their loopy economics then I might be able to tolerate having them in a Nat-led coalition.

  • Sally

    I would like to see the Greens move more to the centre which would then allow them to connect with those of National’s centre voters and then National can reclaim in position more to the right.
    However Turei has to go before that happens.

    • sandalwood789


      I’d like to see the Nats regain focus on welfare dependency and make some bold moves there. Their welfare policies are *very* widely supported – they have nothing to fear there.

      If they could do that and the Greens could become more *pragmatic* and focus on practical stuff like river quality (and not stupid stuff like axing dairy herds) then the Greens could indeed work with the Nats.

    • corporate refugee

      Turei will not go voluntarily. She is deluded, self obsessed and power-hungry. She claimed that Norman’s resignation was a vote of confidence in her, for crying out loud. Which means that Greens will remain unwanted by any of the other main parties as a coalition partner as long as she is there.

  • Reid

    I don’t think the Gweens are going to be able to do it without splitting. Like all Marxists their raison d’etre is economics followed closely by foreign policy (because they dearly want to export their madness – remember the Comintern?)

    As we all know their environmentalism is just a front for the above and without the above, for most Gweenies, they are nothing.

    So Hague may well end up by repositioning them, but if he does the only ones who’ll be in the party will be a few tree-hugging hippy types numbering approximately the total membership of Forest & Bird.

    • sandalwood789

      It’d be great to see a split in the Greens. The “hardliner treehuggers” could leave and set up their own small party and the more practical types (if there are any) could remain.

      This would mean –
      * the new hard-line “ultraGreens” could struggle to cross the 5% barrier.
      * the existing Green party (shorn of many of its more extreme types) might consolidate around 7-8% or so, especially if it became more pragmatic and said they were open to working with the Nats.

      This would all be bad news for Labour. A more pragmatic “Old Greens” party open to working with the Nats and a much smaller “ultraGreens” party that might struggle to get over 5%.

      • Mainstream Mike

        No, no, it would be good news for Labour.
        Assuming no other at the next election, you’d expect

        12% of MA
        5% of “Red” Green voting lefties switch from Green to Labour.

    • ex-JAFA

      They were originally an environmental party, back when Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons were running the show. Sure, they were a bit of a joke with MPs like Nandor Tanzos, but at least they stood for something that had value. Since then, of course, they’ve become a marxist party which only uses environmentalism as a tool to trick non-nutters into voting for them.

      Even if/when they purge the marxism from their leadership and ranks and forget about trying to destroy the economy, unfortunately their environmental policies still revolve around socialism. All the pure green things they want to achieve can be realised through sensible capitalist policies from the likes of National and ACT. For example, more efficient energy usage doesn’t necessitate subsidising uneconomical things like solar and wind energy.

    • Mainstream Mike

      few tree-hugging hippy types numbering approximately the total membership of Forest & Bird

      Hmm. Over 70,000 members of RFBPSNZ. That would make the NZ Greens bigger than the membership of every other political party in NZ – combined. It would also make the NZ Greens bigger than every Australian political party.

      • Logo

        If they are genuinely interested in birds and trees, rather than politics, why is it that there is no massive protest at the increasing number of those uneconomic subsidised bird-shredding windmills?

  • steve and monique

    I can’t believe they haven’t tried to get rid of the Tuatara, that woman is poisonous with a typically left viewpoint of being owed something and if she had half a chance, she would divide this country right down the middle; from allowing Maori folk (no offence to anyone intended here by the way) growing dope because it shows horticultural skills and should be applauded, to indicating that someone who puts her in her place when she bleats about poverty, refers to it as racist when they were simply pointing out the irony of wearing $2000 jackets. With her it is always someone else’s fault and if all else fails, go for the race card.

    • All_on_Red

      I reckon she will be the next to go. She has to, if they want to move to the centre. As co leader she should be sharing equal responsibility for the disappointing electoral result.

      • steve and monique

        I found it rather disturbing to see the look of virtual glee on her face when Normal was giving his speech. Nasty piece of work she is, very vindictive so hopefully she gets her just desserts.

  • Richard

    The Greens need to revert to a single party leader and get Turei completely out of the picture.
    There is no way National will deal with the Greens with Turei in a co-leadership role.
    It’s like considering going over to a mates house but knowing his stupid crazy wife will be home which will just spoil the fun.

  • Wallace Westland

    If Chris Trotter thinks that Metiria Turei is a shift to the right he’s watching a different game to me.
    The McGillicuddy Serious Party refuge has as many Right leaning philosophies as Chairman Mao.
    Her nose has never been out of the trough, she’s never had a real job (although she’s hardly alone in the eh Jacinda, Grant?)
    The epitome of worthless bludging seat filling ineptness. The glib rubbish that spews from her mouth and that smarmy look on her face in her high end jackets and shoes make her unpalatable to even moderate left of centre Right supporters.
    John Key would choke on his croissant before inviting her to tea.
    Next please.

    • KGB

      100% agree. They know Labour is going to attempt to move to the middle where the votes are. MT is astute enough to see that leaves more room for the extreme left of Green. They were competing for the same vote when Labour shifted so much to the left. MT is now settling her bottom firmly into her tax-payer funded seat.

      • Wallace Westland

        Yes. But does that mean she will be next for a Hauge delivered knife in the back?

        • KGB

          My theory is that MT was behind the thrust. Hauge will fear her.

  • KGB

    Interesting because my read on the Greens move is totally opposite. I saw Norman as the more reasonable and the rest as simply bat-wing crazy.(Especially Turei) I could see RN compromising to form a working agreement with National, never MT.
    RN claimed his visit to the mansion was to convince KDC to stay out of NZ politics. I believed, and credited him with that insight. It was RN who appeared to extend the invitation to campaign with Labour. He seemed disappointed by the rejection, MT appeared pleased.
    Though I reject his politics, I see RN as an intelligent, educated, articulate man. I remember how impressed I was with his debating skills during the 2011 election campaign. He presents as a family man, scrubs up well in a suit, and always looked the most credible.
    Turei has many, many, agenda’s. She is unprofessional, barely educated, and simply nasty. I have always read her as the most ‘dangerous’ in terms of polities.
    I saw RN’s removal as a means for the Greens to move even further to the left. A move instigated by MT in her pursuit of ultimate control of the hard left. MT will never cuddle up to anyone for power, and under MMP she doesn’t need to. She will happily stay outside Government, taking her salary each week with dignified delusion of importance.
    It will be interesting to see this play out.

    • Je Suis Charlie – Respect!!

      MTs face at RNs speech spoke volumes.

  • Teletubby

    I’ve said it on here before, if the greens do away with their economic and social policy and just have their green policies they can then go into government with the highest polling party at any election without huge policy conflicts. In one move they could go from never being at the table to always at the table. Very likely this move would attract green vote from the right while only shedding the communist vote from the left

    • Wallace Westland

      That in itself is a frightening prospect. The simple reality is there are too many environmental polices choking development at every turn now.

      Lump in heritage and Mana Whenua as well and it’s a wonder you can replace a window.
      Oh…that’s right. you can’t.

      I’m all for protecting the environment in fact it’s part of my job but there are massive over the top regulations already and if the bat…crazy Gweens had their way there would be even more.

      Everyone forgets that if Jeanette Fitzsimons’ had got her way we’d all be living in caves (except here and her elite) and fossicking for grubs, roots and berries.

    • Andy

      They won’t be able to do so until they have culled all the crazies within their ranks and replaced them with a new breed of Greens.

    • parorchestia

      But their green policies may have enormous economic consequences. So would any moderate government have anything to do with that?

  • cows4me

    As far as I’m concerned the so called center is over crowded as it is. At least the Melons could have be relied upon to be insane, where’s the fun in everyone been the same. The Melons moving to the center is very bad news, the people needed to see what a screwed up ideology the left offered. If there is no madness on offer then how do we benchmark what is good?

    • MaryLou

      Oh so cynical Cows. There’s still Labour.

      • Mainstream Mike

        There’s still National – on the left that is.

  • terrynaki

    This Aussie bottom feeder has the nerve to say he ls stepping down to spend more time with his family,don’t think so!!!!!
    He has done his 3 terms and now can expect taxpayer funded perks and travel for ever,pity his family didn’t come first before the election.
    What a nasty little man and now he can fly all over the place ,creating excess green house gases at our expense.

    • Luis Cannon

      And get a nice cushy taxpayer funded job on top.

    • Pita

      I’m sure that perk only applies to MP’s who were elected to Parliament before 1999

  • BR

    The Greens can NEVER be trusted. Regardless of who they have as a front person, they are a HARD LEFT party. The environmental lobby has always been a HARD LEFT movement. That will never change. The overfed, overdressed Turei is a typical example of someone possessed of a ruling communist mindset.


    • Mainstream Mike

      The Greens aren’t “HARD LEFT.”

      ACT is HARD LEFT. National is to the left of ACT. NZF is to the left of National; Labour to the left of NZF; and the Greens even further to the left than that, if that’s at all possible!

  • Phill

    “His astonishing and largely successful mission to master the challenges of contemporary economics; ….is probably the most impressive achievement of his leadership”
    Print more money and nationalise the utilities? Sounds like RN missed 5th form economics. If this is his most impressive achievement, then I would call it an epic fail. Lets list his achievements at making the country a better place……..
    The greens will never be anything but bumper sticker slogans while tuatara is at the wheel.

  • Eiselmann

    Personally I think its a push to move the greens towards the Mcgilligully Serious Party as the larper goes back to her political roots.

  • Je Suis Charlie – Respect!!

    Maybe RN wasnt pushed. Perhaps he just got sick of fighting a losing battle. We have no idea about internal struggles and perhaps he wanted a more moderate approach as their current approach wasnt working but the heavies (pun intended) are too left to see sense. Of course it could just be because they are batshitcrazy and he has been shafted by the shiney tuatara.

  • CheesyEarWax

    Unlike his MSM luvvies I think Norman was total waste of my tax money. Ultimately, Norman didn’t achieve anything. Not as an MP nor as a Green leader. Even Sue Bradford has achieved much more in her short parliamentary time than Norman’s 8-9 years in the Green party. He may have led the Greens to their largest win in 2011 election but he failed to maximise the opportunity, their biggest achievement in that term was their home insulation policy – whoopee doody. Like most of the Green MPs he was too preoccupied with his personal agenda and ideology, rather than being an effective MP and leader, he leader is not.

  • Benoni

    A fascinating analysis. Calling a green shift to the centre because Russel Norman is gone seems reasonable. The remaining greens are going to seem more crazy than ever now Russel is gone.

  • JC

    Good Lord, Fran gets it too!

    She says the tuatua must go if the party is to achieve power.


    • KGB

      Well worth a read. I think this is closer to reality than Trotter’s read on Norman’s resignation.

  • Tony

    As main political parties become more involved in green issues then a green party becomes irrelevant and will disappear. The sooner the better!

  • la la land

    Yes I would much prefer to see Julie Ann Genter leading the Greens. I would also like to see a green – blue – Maori coalition …

  • parorchestia

    Typical Trotter. He gives new meaning to the old saw “like the Curate’s egg” in that he is brilliant in parts, but the rest, the majority, is stinky nonsense. Your analysis, Cam, is excellent.

  • Mainstream Mike

    thirdly it softens National

    Why on earth is “softening” National good in any way shape or form?

    Compare John Key to Tony Abbott, David Cameron, or Stephen Harper. Three of them are actual right-wing reformers: one of them is – according to their own state broadcaster – a socialist.