Sue Bradford lambasts the Green party for abandoning their principles

Sue Bradford

Sue Bradford gives the Green party a good lashing at The Spinoff:

Last week the Electoral (Integrity) Bill passed its first reading in parliament with the support of Labour, NZ First and the Green Party. If this bill becomes law, any MP who leaves their party during their three-year term will no longer be a member of parliament. In the case of an electorate MP a byelection will be called. For list MPs the next person on the party list will come through.

What’s wrong with this, you might say?

A lot, if you have any sense of history and of the underpinning purpose of MMP. When it was established in 1996 MMP promised much greater diversity in parliament than first past the post (FPP), a system in which, basically, a one-party dictatorship was exercised for each three-year term. Under FPP many people’s votes ended up not counting at all if their party couldn’t secure a constituency seat.

The latest waka-jumping bill is driven by Winston Peters. Five out of 17 NZ First MPs jumped ship in the late 1990s and he fears a repeat. I’d suggest that perhaps he should look at his own management style and candidate selection processes again rather than doggedly pursuing legislative means to stop defectors.

During the second reading of the Electoral Integrity Bill (2001), then Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald asked why the Labour-Alliance government was depending on Winston Peters to ‘”impose the most draconian, obnoxious, anti-democratic, insulting piece of legislation ever inflicted on this parliament”.

The 2001 bill did become law, but had a sunset clause which meant it ran out in 2005, when parliament got to debate it again. With a new balance of parties in parliament it failed this time round, after the Green Party stood firm in opposing legislation which proposed, in Rod’s words, to “stifle democracy”.

Now it is deja vu…

Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald were Alliance MPs when they were first elected in 1996, but left the Alliance as part of the Greens’ formal withdrawal from that party. As sitting MPs they led the Greens into the 1999 election, using parliamentary resources to establish for the first time an independent Green presence in parliament.

Now we have the disturbing sight of their successors flying in the face of their own party’s history and policy as they vote for the latest electoral “integrity” bill.

The Greens really need to get a grip on what being part of a government coalition requires. There is a basic rule of negotiation: don’t give stuff away if you don’t need to.

In sacrificing principle on electoral law they’re gaining no advantage at all. They’re also running a high risk of being seen as nothing but a Labour/NZ First doormat for the next three years.

The Greens have always been Labour’s doormat, and now Winston gets to wipe his feet on them too.

The Greens don’t have much time left in which to make it clear they are still able to carve out their own identity within a three-way government. Their bedrock 5-6% support will collapse if they simply focus on playing nothing but nice with Labour and NZF in return for a few ministerial posts and a small selection of reformist policy gains.

In sharp contrast NZ First voted wholesale against Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill this week. Winston and friends don’t give a damn about keeping their partners happy. The Greens just cave.

If the Green Party leadership continues to reject their own proud history and hard-won integrity, they may lose a number of their more thoughtful members and supporters. With their support sitting at just above the 5% cutoff point, this is a risk they can ill afford.

The Greens are also sitting on tenterhooks with a coming scandal that is erupting all over Twitter, hoping that their mates in the media will cover up their own very dirty politics.


-The Spinoff

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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.