First, let me say I thought the Green’s campaign team ran a strategically awesome campaign. It was smart, nuanced and pitched very elegantly. It was the best run campaign of the election (with the possible exception of Winston Peters late-finishing ‘smell of an oily rag’ campaign. Congratulations to the whole team.
I’ve had a few niggling concerns at the back of my brain throughout this campaign. I understood that the ‘highly unlikely’ positioning thing was important in terms of being an independent party and positioning ourselves as separate from Labour. But let’s be honest – No party has been more diagrammatically opposed to National in their voting record over the last three years that the Greens (92 percent voting against the National Party vs Labour’s record of voting 58 percent against the National Party). Much as we may be sick of it, our role for this next three years must staunch opposition to the National/Banks/Dunne government. Getting people to vote for us under the pretence that we might be able to work with National felt deceptive.
But the ‘highly unlikely’ thing didn’t bug me too much – it was relatively honest if we ignored the dog-whistling to soft National voters and looked at in a purely analytical way.
But more concerning for me has been the general tone of the policy presentation for the campaign. Instead of climate change we talked about holidaying people being able to swim in rivers. Our advertising defined poverty purely in terms of children, and we presented a Green economy as some utopia where we need make no sacrifices, and everyone has jobs building windmills and goes camping every summer.
When ‘Vote for a richer New Zealand‘ first came out I thought it was cleverly ironic - undercutting our traditional beliefs about the value of economic growth. But, as the campaign went on it felt less ironic, and more divorced from an accurate reflection of what I understood Green economics to be. I believe a true Green economy will take away some people’s jobs. It may create other jobs too but it will involve some hard choices that will hurt some sectors of the economy and benefit others. A Green economy should be challenging, because it is radically different from the current capitalist economy that both National and Labour support.
I know the party’s policies have not changed. But it felt to me that what we offered people to vote for us on was sun-drenched holidays swimming in rivers, pink batts for children and jobs for everyone constructing windmills.
What worries me is that our new MPs now face a tough choice. Do they represent the traditional Green values or do they represent the Green-lite values for which I suspect large numbers of voters voted? I hope they (the MPs), who will have talked to lots more voters than I, feel they have a mandate to be more than the advertising presented them as.