Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Greens Reach Out To Reach Up

Reaching Out To The 'New Majority': The Green's Metiria Turei is hoping that by inviting idealistic New Zealanders to join her party in advancing progressive causes they will, through the osmosis of engagement, be ready to assist the Greens in next year's election. Labour, by contrast, has circled the wagons against everyone except those belonging to what one Shearer advisor calls "The Real Labour Party".
 
THE REAL FIGHT is now on the Left. John Key’s government has begun descending the long slope that leads to electoral destruction – which only the most extraordinary events (think 9/11) can interrupt. Once political gravity has a government in its grip, the location of the really significant political battles shifts immediately to the territory of its opponents. This is what we see happening right now in the respective strategies of Labour and the Greens.
 
So far, the Greens are winning.
 
On Sunday, the Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, delivered her “State of the Planet” speech to picnickers gathered in the Tahaki Reserve on the slopes of Auckland’s Maungawhau/Mt Eden. At roughly the same time, 600 kilometres to the South, Labour’s David Shearer was addressing his party’s Summer School in Wainuiomata.
 
The overwhelming focus of Ms Turei’s speech was what she called “the new majority” and how the Green Party proposes to harness its decisive electoral power. This new initiative, “I’m in – for the future”, seeks to replicate in a New Zealand context the extraordinarily successful ‘get-out-the-vote’ initiatives perfected by Barack Obama’s campaign organisations in both 2008 and 2012.
 
One need not be a member of the Greens to participate in this new organising initiative. Road-tested in the campaign to secure a Citizens Initiated Referendum on the partial sale of the state’s energy generators, the goal of “I’m in – for the future” is to enlist activists around specific progressive issues and causes (like affordable housing) trusting that the Green Party message will be absorbed through the osmosis of engagement. Over three thousand “Asset Savers” – only 60 percent of whom were Green Party members when they signed on – have already been identified in this fashion.
 
The Greens hope to call on this newly-recruited activist base in 2014. By building up their numbers “on-the-ground”, the gap between the Greens’ nominal support (as measured by the pollsters) and the support actually received in the polling booths should be narrowed significantly. Even if “I’m in – for the future” only delivers a 1-2 percent boost in the Greens’ Party Vote, its overall impact on the outcome of the 2014 General Election could prove decisive.
 
Labour’s ability to “get-out-the-vote” – once the subject of political legend – is now a pallid shadow of its former prodigious grunt. With a steadily declining share of the Party Vote, Labour, too, must find a way of plugging into the energy of the New Majority. (Defined by Ms Turei as “the new consciousness of environmental issues, human rights, fairness and the need for good change.”)
 
Unfortunately for the people Labour purports to represent, the current disposition of political forces within the Labour Party makes this impossible. Ignoring the radically democratic message from delegates attending last year’s annual conference, David Shearer has circled the wagons against not only his own activist rank-and-file, but also the expectations of the broader labour movement.
 
The Labour Leader’s inner circle of advisors is distinguished neither by intellectual creativity nor operational dynamism. Far from reaching-out to activists and supporters outside the party’s structures, most of the Shearer Camp’s energies appear to be devoted to finding new ways of insulting and excluding them from policy-making. Like the unlamented Stalinists of the old Socialist Unity Party, Mr Shearer’s backers would rather keep control of the losing side – than lose control of the winning side.
 
State Of The Nation: David Shearer's speech to Labour's Summer School was a leaden rehearsal of policy announcements already months old.
 
Mr Shearer’s speech to the Labour Party Summer School at Wainuiomata show-cased every one of these weaknesses. A leaden rehearsal of policy announcements already months old, written in exactly the same unconvincing and uninspiring style as every other speech he has delivered since becoming leader (at the very least you’d think Mr Shearer might have found a better speech-writer!) the address possessed only one notable line:
 
“A tide for change is building.”
 
These words, at least, ring true. The tragedy, however, is that Labour’s response to this tide's surge and pull is a cautious collection of technocratic adjustments to the status quo. A Capital Gains Tax. Raising the age of eligibility for NZ Super. Employer subsidies and youth training schemes. Fussing about with the Reserve Bank Act. Even Labour’s policy centrepiece – the KiwiBuild scheme – is little more than a gigantic PPP scheme targeted at the restive children of the middle class. It took the Greens to come up with a housing policy specifically designed for Kiwis without homes.
 
Given their head, the Labour Party’s rank-and-file would give the Greens a serious run for their money in the progressive policy stakes. Unfortunately, the only interest Mr Shearer has in his rank-and-file’s head is in it being presented to him on a platter. And if the cautious coterie of centrists advising Mr Shearer have little time for their own members, they have none at all for progressives outside the party.
 
The Greens, by reaching-out, are reaching-up.
 
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 29 January 2013.

34 comments:

Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

You're a bit harsh on David Shearer, but then again I suspect you put a couple of bucks on the other David, whats his name - Cunliffe?

David Shearer is improving, and will continue to improve with added confidence.

I think by 2014 Donald Duck could beat the Mickey Mouse John Key outfit. A long term bet from Pete - a very early election in 2014?

Grant Hay said...

Absolutely agree Chris. As usual you articulate better than most of us can, exactly how many of us are feeling and thinking. It's taken thirty years to get to this point, but I really feel we are just about at a tipping point. I'm definitely picking up a mood of impatience,anger and resolve that I haven't seen since the last years of the Muldoon Government. Our family have all signed up for the Green's initiative and may well join the party as well. The Greens have had our (initially reluctant, but increasingly enthusiastic!!) vote since they started, because we are part of the huge number of ex Labour voters abandoned by the party in its lurch to the right. Time for Labour to unequivocally rejoin the Progressive Left or bugger off.

Pete said...

It looks like the Greens have taken a leaf out of Barack Obama's book - his campaign organisation has been turned into a lobbying organisation to pressure Congress into action http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/how-organizing-for-action-plans-to-keep-obamas-foot-soldiers-enlisted/267384/

Victor said...

I agree with every word you've written here, Chris.

But thew clobbering machine is already hard at work attempting to discredit the Greens.

BrightSpark said...

Yep. What I really fear about the current leadership of Labour is that it may very well kill off what is left of the movement and the party.

Activists continue to leave for the Greens in droves. Yes, lots of people rejoined Labour before Christmas, thousands perhaps, but this was only to participate in a February vote to boot Shearer out.

If that vote doesn't go ahead, they won't involve themselves in the party at all, won't fight at the election, and instead, give their energy to the Greens.

You can then expect that Labour's ability to command and lead a government is in doubt, as the Greens will naturally demand many cabinet positions as a price of their support.

Bye bye Labour (said with a tear)

Anonymous said...

Ha - I love this. You guys have been patronising the Greens and damning them with faint praise for years, and now the chooks are roosting - schadenfreude abounds.

peterpeasant said...

!984 and 1987 gutted me. I quit the party. I still voted Labour.

For the first time in my 70 years of existence I seriously doubt I can bring myself to vote for them ever again.

I have more respect for prostitutes than the LP.
Prostitutes are honest, dislike their job but get on with it.

Politicians of any stripe play hypocritical games.

The parliamentary LP does not care about its support base.
The supporters did not show up last time.
What will make the LP supporters turn up next time?

So far the cabinet cabal has been pathetic.

RIP NZLP

Paul said...

I also agree with your post 100% Chris. I am a Labour member and I would like to remain a Labour member but the arrogance combined with stupidity of the small group running Labour make it difficult. This group have no respect for members, personally I'm surprised they have any members at all. They are relying on the Brand value of Labour to give themselves a chance in 2014, as National shed voters as people realise that they are hopeless.

Rob said...

Labour to the centre of the Greens makes electoral sense: the notion they should fight each other for the progressive/activist vote doesn't.
But. It could leave Labour in a dull Peter Dunne sort of backwater, without spark or identity- and that's no good to anyone.
Bottom line- I'm pleased the Greens are eloquently articulating the sorts of policy I like. At least someone is! And since a Labour/Green coalition/arrangement is almost certain to be required to form a progressive Govt, I want them to have a big voice. Love to see a vote of 22% Green, 30% Labour!

Yoza said...

The Labour Party appears to be dying the same slow death as the corporate media, a form of death by internet. When people were confined to be, more or less, passive receptors of information the corporate media/political party duopoly was an effective form of managing the population.

The internet has poisoned the well. Now people have the ability to actively discuss, analyse, critique, compare and synthesize dissent and this mix is toxic to the grandiose pronouncements of officialdom. The Labour Party 'Shearer clique', like their mainstream media contemporaries, are reacting in a similar manner - abuse the dissenters then whine about how threatening actual free-speech is to their carefully cultivated positions of status and authority.

I feel sort of sorry for Shearer, hoisted up like some kind of lightening rod. He has become a focal point for all that energy the Labour hierarchy has been generating through its apparent contempt for the opinions and ideas of a large swathe of the rank and file membership.

The political environment and the media environment are being subjected to a seismic shift in the ability to monopolise, control and disseminate information. This catastrophic rupture will ultimately render those Labour Party dinosaurs, incapable of evolving, extinct.

the pigman said...

Chris,

This is a classic example of someone seeing what they want to see and hearing what they want to hear.

The speeches, put side by side on the Standard, were comparable in both their content (or lack thereof) and rhetoric. Turei's rang particularly hollow, though she chose a good venue in preaching to picnicking Mt. Eden wankers/chardonnay socialists.

But over at the Standard, Jenny went one further by breaking them down and anonymizing them in terms of their content related to the environment, together with some questions to bear in mind while reading them.

I can only ask you to have a look, 2 minutes of your time: http://thestandard.org.nz/states-of-it-turei-and-shearer/#comment-579235

Best,

the pigman

Cactus Kate said...

It is demeaning Chris to compare any Labour MP to the Greens.

The Greens can harp on all they like but given time the fraud of climate change will make bank bailouts look like play money.

Chris Trotter said...

Not quite sure what you're driving at, Cactus.

If you believe Climate Change is a "fraud" then I must confess to being very surprised.

But, when it comes to bail-outs, you may well be right. Except, in the case of rising sea-levels, the bail-outs won't be metaphorical - they'll be real.

Anonymous said...

'Fraud of climate change.'god help us even hardcore deniers are admitting it's taking place. Well behind the play there as you might expect.

Actually it's fascinating to watch deniers change. First 'it's not happening', then went the evidence is overwhelming that it is – 'it may be happening but humans aren't responsible', then when the evidence overwhelms that piece of bullshit, 'it's happening, humans might be responsible, but it is not economically feasible to do anything about it.' Personally I think that's probably about as far as these idiots will go, because they painted themselves into a corner :-).

Paulus said...

The thought of the Greens having a powerful control of the next Parliament frightens me.
They appear to talk the talk and I expect this will feature heavily up in the power control contest with Labour and Winston, after the 2014 election.
They lack worldly experience in political, and certainly economic sense.
Russel Norman this morning on economics on National Radio was full of media buzzwords. He is not for moving, despite some of his theories being really silly in real terms.
His intention, if they come to play will harm New Zealand very quickly and probably destroy international credibility, which as trading nation we constantly need.

Grant Hay said...

Anonymous @ 11.18

Ditto :) I can't even be bothered debating this stuff with fools like Kate. Half of them are still confused because they think it means they'll be able to sunbathe in mid-winter and that'll be a good thing. Then when we get an unseasonable cold snap they go "See, it's getting colder not warmer". Pshaw... what can you say and why would you bother?

peterpeasant said...

I am uncertain how climate change got into this post.

Odgers over the alcoholic limit (again!).

Berry said...

Well much to my long term surprise, it does seem that the greens are making headway; and it certainlyseems that Labour are headed for oblivion.

I can only hope that:
1. A green type party gets into power overseas so that we can see the damage their ideas will bring upon us - and I hope that it happens fairly soon so that we dont do the same thing here.

2. Re Climate change. Climate is certainly changing - as it always has and always will. But what is the really big fraud is that its not hapening as a result of human activity. The CO2 thing is simply an unproven theory. Climate change taxes will make no difference - and even if we stopped using all carbon based energy tomorrow, it would take probably 500 years to see any effect - even if there was an measurable influence from CO2.

3. However I still take some comfort that between the Greens and Labour the activists will continue to fight and scrap and argue and throw insults at each other and with any luck this will divert them from impossing the worst of their ;cures' upon us.

Anonymous said...

You're not wrong Grant. It's always right wingers who deny climate change. Follow the money.

Jigsaw said...

Well said Berry! - the only problem is that should we have the disaster of a Labour/Greens government, we will all have to suffer. I doubt your 3rd point although I hope that you are correct. It will be immensely entertaining though.
Re climate change: The greatest con the world has ever seen. Read what the UK Met organisation has had to say-NO TEMPERATURE RISE IN THE LAST 10 YEARS>

Loz said...

"It is very likely that 2013 will be one of the warmest 10 years in the record which goes back to 1850, and it is likely to be warmer than 2012," the Met Office said in its annual forecast for the coming year.
...
How has our climate changed? (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk)

There's a wide range of evidence which indicates our climate is warming:

Increasing temperatures at the surface, above the surface, and in the depths of the ocean
* Changes in rainfall patterns
* Changes in nature
* Sea-level rise
* Melting glaciers
* Reduction in Arctic sea-ice
* Shrinking ice-sheets
* Increasing temperatures

We know from global temperature records that the Earth has warmed by about 0.75°C in the last century. From the 1970s to 1990s warming was faster than over the century as a whole, but the rise has slowed more recently.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/guide/how

Anonymous said...

Always amuses me with right-wingers that they can blag on about being scientific blah blah blah, but as soon as something affects their pockets SIZE goes out the window, and they're willing to ignore the scientific consensus. Next thing you know they'll be going on about Galileo. What annoys me is, and I've had some experience of this sort of thing, when it's all over and it's absolutely incontrovertible, do they apologise for flocking everybody up? Do they buggery - they disappear into the woodwork.

Jigsaw said...

Sealevel rise estimated by a recent study to be 2.4 inches in the next century! A prediction-that's all.
Whoever said that climate didn't change - that it was some sort of constant? Of course there are changes, that is the very nature of climate. Also changed are
countless other things like where people live etc. A flood in say 1908 that might have done little property damage now occurs in the same area which has a hugely increased population-of course the result is different. How could it not be?

berry said...

Loz - so what?. Od course its warming - thats obvious to even a blind man - but its whats causing that the big lie. Warminf has happened before and will happen again. Why is GREENLAND called that? Its because when the scadinavians first got there it was green.....
Dont forget that sooner or later rivers of ice will also again cover your backyard - maybe a few thousand years - but thats the way the world has always gone - cycles.
Mankind didnt cause the last warm cycle and neither did a lack of CO2 cause the last cold cycle.

Its the religious belief that many have that the only way to fix the problem is to revert to horse and cart - Oh - and to levy lots of taxes too of course - otherwise we wouldnt be able to afford all those scientists trying to prove that its CO2.

Grant Hay said...

@Loz. Greenland was called that because Eiric the Red gave it that name in order to encourage settlers to follow him. (It was an early example of colonial minded duplicity a la E G Wakefield and the NZ Co.)It only took a tiny bit of cooling to send the ice back over the habitable fringe during the Little Ice Age, just as it only takes a little warming to swing us back the other way. We are going to experience much more than a little warming.

I hope I last long enough to see what CC deniers are saying 10 or 20 yrs from now...Although I suspect my satisfaction will be tempered by the knowledge that we're pretty much all stuffed anyway.

Grant Hay said...

Hi Chris. I'm sorry, but I erred... If you publish my last post, could you edit it so that it is addressed to @berry, instead of @Loz. Thanks and sorry to mess you around..

danial young said...

Getting back to the topic.It was stated in the house the other day by Labour "we are a centrist/left party".

It is apparent for all to see and as Chris, has clearly pointed out,Labour are after the middle class vote, and are attempting to claw back lost middle class votes that may have gone to the Greens or National,as the floating 14 odd % is the vote that makes governments under M.M.P.

Shearer has been saying lately that the world is changing or as Chris points out in Shearers state of the Nation speech 'A tide for change is building" that is obviously reference to a change of Government.Then again, he also says in other sound bites "times have changed"is this in reference to the austerity that other countries are going through, or the direction of the party.It is always difficult to discern Shearers statements, for at best they are obscure.

It is somewhat strange that Labour should ridicule who will obviously be their front bench partners the Greens,who!s supporters as like the centrist Labour, are middle class.

Anonymous said...

That should be science not SIZE BTW. Actually it's a religious belief that god won't let the earth warm. So y'all do share something with the religious right. The scientific consensus says we caused it. I go with the science.

Olwyn said...

@daniel young: there is a difference between winning the middle class over to Labour, and delivering Labour over to some focus grouped conception of the middle class. The Greens are an example of a party who have managed to win a chunk of the middle class over to their point of view. Labour, on the other hand, seems to be engaged in doing the latter.

There is in fact a list of Labour Party principles, and I think that anyone representing the Labour Party ought to be held answerable to those principles, rather than deciding for themselves what the party is to be under their watch.

blueleopardthinks said...

re berry's comment February 1, 2013 at 10:05 AM
"1. A green type party gets into power overseas so that we can see the damage their ideas will bring upon us - and I hope that it happens fairly soon so that we dont do the same thing here."

Berry,

Have you observed the situations in places that follow conventional political approaches?

Last time I checked some of the world leaders of the western world are fairly well bankrupt, if it weren't for their ability to print money and require that their dollars/pounds were used for trade/financial transactions, despite the reality of the true worthlessness of such currencies in real terms.

Don't you think that we need to be looking at trying different approaches than those that have categorically failed?

Anonymous said...

Beware the Greens! They are becoming mainstream by stealth. Russel Norman now talks of growth in an economic context. That was heretical in the recent past in the Green movement. Where is the De-Growth/Sustainability that was their trademark point of difference. Growth is a failed concept and its not just the neolibs who peddle it. It's all those who crave power without principle. It's also followed by those with no imagination.

Anonymous said...

Berry, Cactus Kate, Jigsaw

Leaving aside whether 'climate change' is real, surely you can see that putting pollutants into the air we breathe and the water we drink is not a good idea? That even if 'climate change' is a hoax as you claim, that cleaning up our act is still a good thing to do?

I ask this of you because it seems to me that many people who are simply unwilling to spend money on protecting the environment and/or want business as usual to continue are using a denial of 'climate change' as fig-leaf to hide behind whilst taking no action.

I would argue that irrespective of the climate change debate, it is pretty indisputable that that our environment needs protecting - I'd challenge any one of you three to swim in the Manawatu or Tarawera rivers for example - I'd also ask Cathy Odgers how much she enjoyed breathing in all that lovely Hong Kong air when the wind and the dust storms were sweeping down from the Mainland.

Stop hiding behind the anti-climate change argument and say what you think should be done to preserve our environment.

jingyang

PS, I agree with Chris' post, the Labour leadership are just as much 'Hollow Men' as National's are - they're all trapped in the same 'progress + economic growth" paradigm that is now clearly not serving us well. It would seem that Berry, Cactus and Jigsaw are too.

jh said...

Labour, by contrast, has circled the wagons against everyone except those belonging to what one Shearer advisor calls "The Real Labour Party".
....................
I have a question for you:

are you pro immigration and if so is this on you're interpretation of economic theory or is it a non exclusion principle. Keith Locke used the word exclusionary ("The Green Party policy is fundamentally humanitarian, not exclusionary like Mr Peters').
Another quote:
“Both in New Zealand and globally, the best of the leftwing tradition has always rejected small-minded nationalism, xenophobia and racism. In fact, leftists of an internationalist tradition have always favoured globalization and getting rid of national borders and barriers to migration. Progressive advocates of globalization of course do not defend a handful of rich imperialist countries, including New Zealand, dominating the world’s economy, but instead advocate an integrated and radically egalitarian world economy where production is based on social need and not on private profit. ”
http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2012/02/guest-blog-post-john-moore-leftwing-xenophobia-in-new-zealand.html

jh said...

" The Green's Metiria Turei is hoping that by inviting idealistic New Zealanders to join her party in advancing progressive causes they will, through the osmosis of engagement, be ready to assist the Greens in next year's election."
.....
like a battle of bugs in a petrie dish you have Meteria and here support for the indigenous version of the treaty (Robert Mugabe in a tutu dancing through the forest) in one corner and Auntie Catherine in the other (picture your Nurse Ratched)stuffing treaty education down your throat and in the other Elizabeth Rata (penicillin) with her thoughts on aboriginal title etc as "an appeal to antiquity"...
Interesting