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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.