Green political positioning re Labour and National

I’ve spent the last two days as a delegate at the Green Party Annual Conference and, masochist as I am, I’m going back for another day tomorrow.

There’s a debate happening over at Frogblog, about the remit on the Greens’ political positioning with respect to National and Labour, so I thought I should chip in my two cents worth:

  • I despise the current National-led Government, and am confident the vast majority of Green members think it would be the death knell for the Greens as a political force if we were to ever give National the votes to form another Government after the November election.
  • One of the Green Party Charter Principles is “appropriate decision-making”. Under the Green Party Constitution, a General Meeting of the Party is the supreme decision-making body, and the Party has always reserved decisions about coalition or confidence and supply arrangements to a Special General Meeting following a General Election.
  • The issue for me, and for the electorate I represent, is that one General Meeting of the Party (i.e the AGM that has occurred over the last two days) cannot bind a subsequent post-election SGM to a position.  So we cannot constitutionally predetermine at the current General Meeting the position that electorate delegates have the constitutional right to overturn post election.
  • Personally, I would prefer the Green Party make no statements about which other Parties we may want to work with in Government after the November election.  I think we should just state that Greens aspire to lead the next Government, and that if we fail to achieve that the Greens will not enter any agreement that may require Green MPs to vote against Green Party policy.
  • However, that was not the majority view among delegates to the Green Party AGM.   The majority  wanted a preference between National and Labour in the likely event of the Greens not having the upper hand in negotiations, and they wanted that preference to be for Labour, and a statement that it would be highly unlikely that the Greens to support a National-led Government.
  • So, I reluctantly agreed to the “highly unlikely” position regarding support for a National-led Government.  And I had recorded my electorate’s position of opposition to any support for a National-led Government.

The reality is that no Green General Meeting will ever support a coalition or confidence and supply agreement with National.  But, in accordance with the Green appropriate decision-making principle, we cannot at our AGM pre-empt the possibility that a post-election SGM may decide to do otherwise.

So it is faux argument happening at Frogblog..  Unless National were to suddenly adopt pro-environment and pro social-justice positions, they are not in the picture.  And, from what I, and the vast majority of Green members, know about the National Party led by John Key Steven Joyce, that is not going to happen.

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3 thoughts on “Green political positioning re Labour and National

  1. Whew, Toad.

    Have been fighting fires on this one all over the place, since kiwiblog posted yesterday. Found two posts on other blogs that assumed Farrar had a clue. Been linking the media releases like crazy.

    Direct quotes from Meyt’s speech seem to be ignored by the right-wing, both blogs and trad media. ‘Why does evil have to lie?’ – well, I guess this time it’s because they are running scared and need to either foster the idea that they have more support, or create friction amongst their natural opposition to dispell co-operation amongst campaigns.

    Sounds like it’s been a great AGM, but with some solid rounds of talk before consensus…

  2. Hey Toad, I was going to write about this too – but I think a comment under your post will suffice.
    I’m concerned because a number of people that I respect are saying that the Greens have lost their vote because of this remit.
    Personally, technically I agree that there are some limited circumstances under which I could support coalition and/or confidence and supply with National. But that very limited scenario in my head is that the Nats are so power-hungry that they hand over their entire legislative policy agenda to the Greens in return for keeping just the baubles and the Iroquois = pretty unlikely?!
    I also think that Labour and the Nats are far closer to each other than either is to the Greens. And I can see some Machiavellian wisdom (non-pejorative) in positioning the Greens more independently from Labour. And that, by its nature means sending a signal to Labour that it is not the only game in town.
    But instinctively I need to hear from the Greens that what National currently is doing is wrong, it is hurting people, and it will be bought to an end. Although it doesn’t say so, the remit sends an undercurrent message to traditional left-of-Labour voters that the Greens care more about environmental-conservation type issues than they do about the rest of our policies. I know that’s not the case, and so do most Greens. Most would argue, I think, that you can’t have sustainable environment without social justice and vice-versa. But every time we try to step off that left right spectrum (to out in front) we send the signal to left-of-Labour voters that their issues are of secondary importance; a hobby rather than a cause. I can put up with the hypocritical derision around this remit from Labour Party politicians and their supporters. But I am worried about losing the respect of those left-of-Labour voters.

  3. Hi Stevedore, I agree that some people will be concerned and appreciate your efforts, as there is just no good reason that they should be.

    But instinctively I need to hear from the Greens that what National currently is doing is wrong, it is hurting people, and it will be bought to an end.

    The Greens say this all the time, every day in Parliament and out. We are more critical of the govt than Labour and vote against their legislation more often than Labour too. The remit says National’s track record is very bad and MPs spell out exacty why every day, so these things need to be taken together.

    Although it doesn’t say so, the remit sends an undercurrent message to traditional left-of-Labour voters that the Greens care more about environmental-conservation type issues than they do about the rest of our policies. I know that’s not the case, and so do most Greens.

    This is frustrating. I get tired of constantly having to prove our left credentials, when again, they are much stronger than Labour’s. Not only that, the Greens supported Labour in the past to achieve social goals while our environmental goals were actually being harmed by Labour. Environmentalists have more reason to be wary than do the traditional left.

    Most would argue, I think, that you can’t have sustainable environment without social justice and vice-versa. But every time we try to step off that left right spectrum (to out in front) we send the signal to left-of-Labour voters that their issues are of secondary importance; a hobby rather than a cause.

    Which is of course not true and I think we need to more forthright in saying so to these people.

    I can put up with the hypocritical derision around this remit from Labour Party politicians and their supporters. But I am worried about losing the respect of those left-of-Labour voters.

    My favourite part of Nandor’s blog is this:

    Paradoxically, he also says that while he “believe(s) in everything the Greens have ever said and done when it comes to policy” voting Labour would be a better choice. He remains conspicuously silent on how he reconciles this with Labour’s record on all the issues he holds dear.

    That’s either very stupid, or shows just how much Bomber is driven by fear rather than creating positive change.

    Our record is a proud one and we should stand by it unflinchingly. I don’t want to lose votes either, but we should not pander to unreason. If some voters are that fickle, perhaps we should just wish them luck and assure them we’ll be here when they are ready.

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