Friday 1 February 2019

There Can be Only One Green Party.

Spoiler Alert: If the Greens and NZ First fall below the MMP threshold – if only by a sliver of a percentage point – and Labour fails to attract more votes than National, then there is a very good chance that National would find itself with sufficient List seats to govern alone. If the founder of a Blue-Green Party (such as Vernon Tava - pictured above) could demonstrate that his creation had played a crucial role in securing such a satisfactory result for the New Zealand Right, then it would surely not be unreasonable of him to anticipate a very substantial reward.

VERNON TAVA seems content to remain an electoral pawn if, by doing so, he can become a political king-maker. All of the most recent and credible research relating to the study of New Zealand elections suggests that the potential support-base for a “Blue-Green” political party is much too small to carry it into Parliament. The defection of 1 or 2 percent of electors who had formerly voted Green, however, might be just enough to drive an unpopular, ultra-left, “Red-Green” party below the five-percent MMP threshold. And that, in the opinion of many political observers, is the Blue-Green Party’s true electoral objective.

If the Greens and NZ First fall below the MMP threshold – if only by a sliver of a percentage point – and Labour fails to attract more votes than National, then there is a very good chance that National would find itself with sufficient List seats to govern alone. If the founder of a Blue-Green Party could demonstrate that his creation had played a crucial role in securing such a satisfactory result for the New Zealand Right, then it would surely not be unreasonable of him to anticipate a very substantial reward. A high-ranking on the 2023 National Party List, for example? Sometimes, in politics, it pays to play the long game.

It is, therefore, not just National which has a vital interest in Tava’s putative Blue-Green Party; the Greens, themselves, should take his words and deeds very seriously indeed. The party’s uncomfortably close proximity to the all-important five-percent threshold in the latest One News/Colmar-Brunton opinion poll should, of itself, have been enough to provoke some very serious re-thinking about the way it is presenting itself to the electorate.

The Greens leadership needs to decide which of the two dominant perceptions is the more likely to keep it on the right side of the MMP threshold. The perception generated by its Ministers, James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage: one which is, for the most part, of competence, diligence and a somewhat muted commitment to the Greens’ core environmental objectives. Or, the perception reinforced by the party’s co-leader, Marama Davidson, and its foreign affairs spokesperson, Golriz Ghahraman, of a party driven by white-hot radicalism and uncompromisingly “woke” political correctness.

From the hints he has so far thrown out to the news media, Tava’s strategy would appear to be to match the Greens in the “responsible environmentalists” stakes, while highlighting the outlandish and seriously alienating words and deeds of the Greens’ social revolutionaries. The more of the latter he is able to bring to the electorate’s attention, the more likely Tava is to detach at least some of the Greens’ more conservative supporters. The Greens leaders should be aware that there will be no shortage of generous right-wing donors lining-up to resource a Blue-Green Party dedicated to dividing and demoralising the Greens’ electoral base.

Political common-sense suggests that the perception for the Greens to promote is that of competent, diligent and responsible environmentalism. In the interests of presenting Tava with a much smaller target, Davidson and Ghahraman should undertake to turn down the heat and intensify the light. In this regard, their role model should be Chloe Swarbrick who, on the issue of cannabis law reform, has been highly successful at projecting an image of courageous and uncompromising rationality.

Clearly articulated and evidence-based policy is the surest way of countering Tava’s threat. That, and a laser-like focus on the issues around which more and more New Zealanders are demanding urgent action: climate change and the nation’s polluted waterways.

In the words spoken by the US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, more than 80 years ago in the depths of the Great Depression: “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

The fatal weakness of Tava’s plan is that, among the sort of people and organisations to whom he and his party will have to turn for funds and expertise, the very notion of “bold, persistent experimentation” is anathema. For the Right, a Blue-Green Party is not about trying something; it’s about ensuring nothing is tried.

When it comes to saving the planet, there’s justification for only one Green Party.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 1 February 2019.


Nick J said...

Seems Nationals supporters are frustrated that their party cannot win an overall majority. They consistently gerrymander an extra seat with the underhand Epsom deal with ACT. Labour could easily do this with the Greens but to both parties credit they haven't.

This Blue Green idea reeks of cynical desperation, the real issue is that the balance of power rests with the conservative voters that neither main party represent, but who flock to Winston. Does that mean that Nationals backers have written them off as a lost cause?

peteswriteplace said...

Tava is nothing - but rightwing media and other irresponsible writers can boost his presence. Bowalley Road should concentrate on the truth - Tava is nothing.

Polly said...

I'm not convinced by your opinion.
There are many people who are turned off the Greens because of their ties to Labour.
A small group in the Green Party wanted to go National at the last election, they are still alive and kicking.
The idea should be tried and tested.

greywarbler said...

Totally agree. 'Now is the time [for Greens and sprouts]
to come to the aid of the [Green] Party. You know it aun't easy sodon't leave your friends dangling in midair whrn they need solid help and loyalty. Stick through.

Margaret Thorn was a loyal, tireless worker for the left. She wrote -
'Stick out Keep Left'. She tried her damnedst and achieved much for fledging Labour. Greens are the next step forward. We have to plod on or we will lose much of what these great people such as Margaret, husband Jim and others achieved from great application to the rights of people, and now the need of the planet. stub needs more)

Nick J said...

Extraordinary people the Thorns Grey, as were the Lockes. When I was a student years back I interviewed a man in Greymouth who had been on the picket against Massey's Cossacks. It was hard to believe his visceral description of real class warfare. Later in Lyttelton another acquaintance Stan described the block system on the waterfront. Like the Thorns these people fought for their class their whole life.

Unknown said...

Swarbrick is incomprehensible. Is it medical cannabis, a harm reduction approach to substance misuse, or cannabis legalization that is the goal??

Anonymous said...

To suggest that the potential supporters of a Blue-Green initiative are not familiar with bold, persistent innovation is completely incorrect. Entrepreneurs (an uncomfortable word for Green ideologists) are commercial scientists and tech inventors who look at the future of the planet for their children and who are coming up with green tech solutions that involve extensive R&D, funding, industry partnerships, create jobs and are inventing disruptive technologies. These ‘business’ people cannot relate to the current Green Party and there are plenty of us. A recent partnership with one of America’s industrial manufacturers has allowed NZ technology and science to fund a pilot plant in Australia, with Australian government R&D tax breaks, that will provide green tech and cleanup of waste that will disrupt an entire industry. These are the risk takers and innovators who are intolerant of Green Party social revolutionaries and will never vote for them. I listened to Tava when he was first highlighted in the Herald and was initially concerned about his overly eloquent approach which will put off the ordinary New Zealander. Then I listened to his pitch to the Green Party on You Tube for a VP role. He was sensible, logical and business focused. This is what we will vote for.

greywarbler said...

'Entrepreneurs (an uncomfortable word for Green ideologists)'...
I would think that Greens are the ultimate entrepreneurs. If you think about that (Anonymous at 5Feb2019 7.37 whoever you were at that time and date), then you might think I am right and you are confused. And that you rely on other confused people who look for only two things when they examine a proposal - is it profitable, or will it make a problem we have seem to go away so that we can be profitable.

This may say something to you. It was fascinating to see an infographic comparing The Case For and Against Millennials as the Greatest Entrepreneurial Generation. In addition to being the most educated and business-savvy generation, there’s been quite a groundswell of media hype linking Gen Y with entrepreneurship, at least in theory.

Unfortunately, the Millennial generation is also the most indebted, unemployed, and underemployed in decades. Not only has the labor force participation rate plummeted among that age group, so has entrepreneurship. If that’s news to you, you’ll find more on the subject, including plenty of links to the data here.

It is great to be focussed on a goal; it is enervating to be trying to encompass two or more differing aspects and so deep thinking is costly.
Bertrand Russell's cliche: 'The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. (

Anonymous said...

In 1998 the jury was still out on English and Smith. We now of course now they are what they looked like rural fringe peasants, dedicated to 1954 Social Credit expansion of the lowlands with Cows. Tava of course is the kiwi Lee Saltwater, an indescribable lowlife aiming to find some sex, race, flag issue to get Green voters not to vote. Its negative politics. No one will actually vote for this turncoat traitor probably strutting for Judy Collins who will go lower than Hanson to degrade the services with more trash

sumsuch said...

Simon Walker, the? Swarbrick is a rapid talker certainly. Marijuana is injurious, but not more so than alcohol.

Anonymous 7.37, we're in the era of complete mobilisation. You business tykes who led us here -- have your part to play, under the command of democracy. Plutocracy has had its time -- thanks Roge.

Galeandra said...

perhaps 'anonymous' is referencing TechCollect?

"Risk takers and innovators" cleaning up the bold persistent innovations of those whose polluting products continue to cause ecological (& sociological) damage across the entire planet? omg, we certainly need a true-blue Green party. As for R&D tax breaks from the coal heavers in Canberra, Lord give me strength.

Geoff Fischer said...

New Zealand politicians are products of their environment, driven more by personal ambition than by political conviction and moral principle, and there is nothing to suggest that Vernon Tava is an exception to the rule. Best not to waste our time on them.

Jays said...

If the greens and nzf are smashed into oblivion then they only have themselves to blame.
The greens have sacrificed any environmental credentials they had to largely pursue a heavy socialist, identity politics agenda.
NZ First made all sorts of promises (as politicians do) and then went in precisely the opposite direction once Winnie was handed "the baubles of power".
Of all three coalition parties, only Labour has made any attempt (albeit a feeble one) to keep good their promises.

sumsuch said...

Jays, collective is the only way to go now, J.K Galbraith running the WW2 American economy with his little left finger, after which his disdain for the powers that be was confirmed. The best of my people. Collectivism is the only way now.

I'm glad Milton Friedman was happy. It's never been a goal we Scots would be proud of.