Whatever happened to the Green party?

 

Rod Donald was a respected figure. With a genuine interest in electoral reform, Buy Kiwi Made and regional development, he co-led the Green party until his untimely death in 2005. He was 48. The country mourned his death, and Parliament suspended business for a whole day in his honour.

His co-leader Jeannette Fitzsimons was also a respected figure. Voted Politician of the Year in 2007 and New Zealand’s Most Trusted Politician in 2008, her main interest was climate change, and she was responsible for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000. She was a bit like the nation’s grandmother, going to Parliament with a wicker basket. I always used to joke that the basket contained muffins with ingredients produced from her composting toilet. Very tasty, no doubt, but I would rather give it a miss.

But, agree with their principles or not (and I didn’t for the most part), Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons were highly respected as politicians and as people, who did not throw mud or behave badly, like so many others. In fact, they adhered faithfully to the Green party principles, which are as follows:

  1. Act according to our Charter
  2. Respect the planet and the web of life of which we are one part
  3. Take the path of caution in the face of serious uncertainty about the consequences of human action
  4. Think long term and holistically
  5. Make decisions by consensus whenever possible
  6. Engage respectfully, without personal attacks
  7. Support ideas on their merit, regardless of where they originate
  8. Actively respect cultural and individual diversity and celebrate difference
  9. Maintain a community focus
  10. Enable participation with dignity and challenge oppression
  11. Encourage new voices and cherish wisdom
  12. Recognise our duty of care towards those who cannot speak for themselves
  13. Foster compassion, a sense of humour and mutual enjoyment in our work

Their successors, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, did not achieve anywhere near the levels of respect that their predecessors had done. Norman was a miserable character; an activist who would play the victim card when it suited him. Constantly on picket lines, he claimed he was assaulted by Chinese security staff in 2010 when he was protesting the visit of Xi Jinping to New Zealand, carrying a Tibetan flag.

I always think that a politician on a picket line is a self-defeating exercise. Most of us can do very little to achieve things we want for the country, but politicians can. It makes no sense to me to be part of a government, sitting in the house all day, and then spending your days off on picket lines. As far as I am concerned, that is an admission of failure to achieve what you want to achieve in your day job.

Metiria Turei was a polarising figure. Those who worked with her apparently loved her, but most of the voting public disliked her intensely. She took every opportunity to play the race card but was quite capable of issuing stinging attacks herself, particularly on National MPs. You would never have seen Rod Donald or Jeanette Fitzsimons behaving like Metiria Turei. They lived out their principle of engaging respectfully, without personal attacks. Metiria Turei did not.

Norman stood down in 2014 and left politics shortly after, taking up a position as head of Greenpeace New Zealand. Nothing has changed for Norman. He is currently facing charges of interfering with an oil exploration ship, the Amazon Warrior, and is due in court in April this year. Once an activist, always an idiot. Nobody was particularly sorry to see the back of Russel Norman.

Metiria Turei’s star came crashing down when she admitted to benefit fraud last year. Even though it had all happened when she was much younger, she never had the smarts to realise what a ticking time bomb this was for her political career. As she had never dealt with the issue by making recompense for the amount owed, she was crucified by the media, and deservedly so. As politicians make the law, we reasonably expect them to also observe it. Turei clearly thought she was within her rights to do what she did, and what’s more, not to have to account for it. She was living in a parallel universe and came crashing down to earth when she realised that most of us don’t agree with her, and never will.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, what became clear was that many of the Green party supported Turei. Loyalty is one thing in politics, but stupidity is quite another. So, the third largest political party in the country showed that they were completely at ease with their members breaking the law, and defended Turei. The party even expelled two of its long-standing and highly respected members for expressing their disapproval of her behaviour.

Jeanette Fitzsimons tried to defend her, and her own reputation as a former trusted politician was tarnished. The reputation of the Green party was in tatters and the only ones who couldn’t see this were themselves.

Since then, things have only got worse.

 

(There was another tweet I saw of her criticising Cam for being sued for defamation by health academics, but it seems to have been removed. As if anyone should dare to question an academic. Golly gee!) So much for the core principle of engaging respectfully.

And then there is this:

A member of the New Zealand Parliament calling a sovereign government ‘criminal’ for protecting its own borders?

And this:

It’s always good to support ideas on merit, no matter where they came from. And, for anyone from the Greens to be calling ANYONE else a virtue signaller is a bit rich.

And this:

They claim to create a more compassionate welfare system by upholding benefit fraud? It seems anything is OK if it is one of them doing it.

Respect is an interesting thing. If someone behaves graciously and always acts on their principles, they can be respected even by people who do not agree with them. Take Sue Bradford. Known for inciting near riots outside events promoted by the National government, she nevertheless was always true to her beliefs and criticises the Green party today for moving away from their core values, such as supporting Winston Peters’ waka-jumping bill.

I never agreed with anything she said, but she stood by her principles at all times, and for that alone she deserves respect. But, Sue was a member of the original Green party, of course, who made it into Parliament in 1999, along with Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons, and she never forgot her core values either.

These days, the Green party are a disgrace. They have forgotten their values of respect for all, of supporting ideas on their merit, and are nothing more than attack dogs who wag their tail immediately if there is anything to be gained by it for themselves. One can only hope their vote falls dramatically in the next election.

If he were alive today, Rod Donald would be in despair. As it is, he must be turning in his grave.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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