Lefties

Nandor Tanczos has an interesting and challenging blog over at Dread Times, where he assesses the impact that Sue Bradford’s departure will have on the Green Party.  I’m sad to see Sue go – I reckon she’s one of the best MPs we’ve ever had.  And I feel immensely sad and frustrated that we as a party couldn’t find a place for her.  Much as I felt when Nandor left too. In particular I worry that there is no one else in Parliament to speak for the community sector the same way Sue Bradford does. But I disagree with this comment:

Along with new MPs Kennedy Graham and Kevin Hague, David and Gareth signify a change in the Green Party’s political orientation and flavour… With this new influx, the Green Party is likely to become a more emphatically ‘green-wing’ party than has been possible in the past.

I come from that “old left element” of the party, and I’ve always thought the concept of ‘green-wing’ is fundamentally flawed.  While the left-right political spectrum is not the only political divide it is an important one that you cannot pretend doesn’t matter.  The most Green of issues – climate change, water quality, conservation etc – cannot be solved, to my mind without at least some decent left-wing state intervention.  Gareth Hughes might fit the stereotype of young, urban, tree-hugging Green better than Sue Bradford, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him out supporting Unite’s $15 minimum wage campaign and other ‘left wing’ causes – because that stuff is about core Green values. One potential new MP does not make for a change in direction – at least not one that I can discern.  I’m expecting the Greens to remain the only party in Parliament that consistently speaks up on the left-wing issues I care about. Sue Bradford has particular emphases that are different to those that Gareth will have as an MP but the values of the party are not, as far as I can see, going anywhere new.

Can the left be allowed to choose a new spokesperson please?

For some bizarre reason the political left (which for clarity’s sake definitely includes me, and many of the Green Party’s policies but not necessarily the Green Party as a whole*) has spent the better part of a decade lumped with Chris Trotter as its media spokesperson.  When comment is needed from a left wing perspective he is inevitably rolled out by the media to give some pompous talk about the 1950s wharfie strike and its relationship to British social democratic theory in the later part of the 18th century.

Left wing thought has long since moved on incorporating democratic, feminist, anti racist and environmental strands to it’s philosophy, and leaving Trotter to his historical reminiscences. (I should be clear that I don’t think that Trotter is racist, sexist or anti-democratic – just dated). While Trotter was speaking to the NZ First conference in 2001 assuring Peters and his cohorts that they were the victims of pretentious snobbery by a Wellington political elite, the rest of us recognised that no matter how economically left-leaning Peters’ rhetoric was, his campaigns were a nasty influence on New Zealand politics. And things haven’t changed. Not changed, that is, except that Peters got caught.

Today Trotter is attacking the Maori Party and the Greens because we did not blindly defend Peters from his accusers, the same way Labour did:

The level of discomfort in the Greens and the Maori Party can only be imagined.

To find yourself patted on the head by the right-wing news media for playing the role assigned to you so well.

To hear yourself praised by National and Act for your sturdy ”independence” and staunch “neutrality” (while they laugh in their sleeves at your naivete, and noisily celebrate the triumph of their own utterly ruthless partisanship).

So, with all that in mind, please can we have a new media spokesperson.

*Blah, blah, neither left nor right, but out in front, blah, blah…