Saturday 29 July 2017

Escape Velocity: The Greens Rocket Out Of Labour’s Gravity.

Blinded By The Light: Ignited by the fiery exhaust of the Green’s policy rocket, Labour’s Big Plan has burst into flame and crashed. Weary National supporters are unlikely to cross all the way over to Labour if it means endorsing, even tacitly, the behaviour of “welfare cheats”. For these cautious Kiwis, NZ First will be “quite far enough, thank you”.
WHERE DOES LABOUR GO from here? Because their Big Plan is fluttering down to earth in flaming tatters – burned out of the sky by Metiria Turei and the Greens.
Labour’s Big Plan? What’s that?
Simple. Labour’s Big Plan was an election strategy based entirely on luring the National voters of 2008, 2011 and 2014 back into Labour’s column. Tactically, that required Labour to be seen, by the people that matter – i.e. Chambers of Commerce and senior political journalists – as the “responsible” providers of “strong and stable” government. It also required the side-lining and/or removal of all those Labour MPs, party workers and ordinary members who see Labour as something more than National’s occasional substitute. At the same time, the Greens had to be persuaded to soften their public image and become Labour’s equally “responsible” helpers.
If these objectives are achieved, Andrew Little’s campaign strategists assure him, Labour will win and you will be Prime Minister.
To give the people behind Labour’s Big Plan their due, they came bloody close to pulling it off. Matt McCarten was exiled to Auckland, leaving the Leader of the Opposition’s Office in the hands of political operatives who looked for guidance and inspiration to the campaign “professionalism” of the Blairite Labour Party and the US Democratic Party. (It was McCarten’s determination to re-energise Labour’s electoral effort that led to the “Campaign For Change” fiasco.)
Even more successful were the Big Planners’ efforts to empty the Green brand of its “scary” radicalism. The infamous North & South cover shoot was only the most cheesy example of this re-branding exercise. Of considerably more importance was the Labour leadership’s success in persuading the Greens to sign-up to Grant Robertson’s extraordinary “Budget Responsibility Rules”. The latter were the clearest possible signal to the business community that it had nothing to fear from a change of government.
It’s possible that the Greens’ “rejuvenated” Party List is another side-effect of Labour’s “taming” of the Greens. The party’s new faces: Chloe Swarbrick, Golriz Ghahraman, Jack McDonald and Haley Holt; will have their chance to prove or disprove the charge in the weeks and months that lie ahead. In the words of Matthew’s gospel: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
That Labour’s Big Plan might be at risk was first revealed by NZ First’s gathering political momentum. Clearly, there was a hunger out there in the electorate for something gruntier than the Little/Shaw Business Breakfast Travelling Roadshow. Winston Peters’ angry denunciation of Neoliberalism (something Labour has yet to do unequivocally) struck a nerve in those voters weary of National but wary of Labour. The shift was on – Peters felt it in his bones – and his ambitions for the 2017 contest expanded accordingly.
The realisation that Labour’s Big Plan might result in the Greens being hopelessly compromised as a political force came very late. Labour’s strategists have for long been convinced that electoral success can only be achieved by substantially increasing Labour’s support, and that that, in turn, will only happen by decreasing the electoral heft of the Greens. That decrease can be absolute or relative – it hardly matters. What counts is that the public be reassured that in any future Labour-Green Government, Labour will be calling the shots.
Fortunately for the Greens, there were enough ex-Alliance activists in their ranks to warn them of the consequences of Labour’s Big Plan. First, your Party Vote drops precipitately. Second, your MPs are co-opted by their Labour “comrades” – to the point where they start looking upon their own members as “the enemy”. Third, the party descends into acrimonious arguments and recriminations, splits into factions, and falls below the 5 percent MMP threshold at the next election. Even those Greens disinclined to be believe the old Alliance fighters, could hardly deny that this is precisely what happened to the German Greens.
If the Greens were to be treated as anything other than Labour’s hapless footstool, then they had to do something. The party’s unease was heightened by the obvious success of Winston Peters’ angry populism. Speculation was growing that, once again, the Greens were going to be jilted at the altar. The much bally-hooed Labour-Green “Memorandum of Understanding” notwithstanding, it was generally agreed that NZ First was winking at Labour in the most provocative fashion.
If the Greens failed to pick up the banner of left-wing populism – which Labour steadfastly refused to touch – then the 2017 General Election was going to leave them politically stranded. Their best option: junior partners in a cautiously centrist Labour-led administration. Their worst: to sit in helpless frustration on the cross-benches as Andrew Little and Winston Peters governed the country over their heads.
Only by striking out boldly in the direction of the radicalism that Labour had worked so hard to extract from the Greens’ manifesto, could their supposed “partner’s” Big Plan be stymied. The launch of the party’s welfare policies at its AGM provided an opportunity for this departure. There was nothing cold-blooded about this. It represented, rather, the whole party’s growing awareness that it was on the wrong road. Six months earlier, they might have pulled their punches on welfare; now they saw the policy launch as possibly their last chance to reassert the Green Party’s core commitment to transformative politics. Metiria Turei’s decision to add the booster-rocket of her personal testimony as a former beneficiary to the launch – even at the cost of her political future – allowed her party to achieve escape velocity.
Ignited by the fiery exhaust of the Green’s policy rocket, Labour’s Big Plan burst into flame and crashed. Weary National supporters are unlikely to cross all the way over to Labour if it means endorsing, even tacitly, the behaviour of “welfare cheats”. For these cautious Kiwis, NZ First will be “quite far enough, thank you”. Meanwhile, Labour’s increasingly disillusioned progressive supporters will listen to their party’s deafening silence on the heart-and-soul issues paraded front-and-centre by Metiria and the Greens – and draw the inescapable conclusion. That to keep faith with the legacy of Mickey Savage, Norman Kirk – and Rod Donald – there is only one way to cast their Party Vote.
For the Greens.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Saturday, 29 July 2017.


Polly said...

No thanks.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I've been giving the greens my party vote for some time now. Don't particularly like them, but as far as I'm concerned they are the best of a bad lot. And I don't believe in not voting – even as a political statement.

Simon Cohen said...

How long will it be before the Greens overtake Labour in the opinion polls.As an ex Labour voter who now votes Green there is a long term trend here.

Kat said...

So to "keep faith with the legacy of Mickey Savage, Norman Kirk – and Rod Donald" I would suggest the Greens change the party's name back to Values or better still just join the ranks of Labour and stop white anting. Otherwise the benches of power are permanently open to National and even with a growing pack of substandard members they will be the govt.

greywarbler said...

Hey now don't dream it's over. Don't anyone believe that. We are just establishing the battle lines. Let's see if the effete and comfortable have anything left of their NZ pride. If Gay Pride can gather itself from its undistinguished level, then Green Pride can also arise to take their rightful place in the Parliament. It'll be a CROWDED HOUSE.

Don't Dream It's Over
Crowded House

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're traveling with me

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win

Now I'm towing my car, there's a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof
In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win

Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum
And I'm…

greywarbler said...

What a nutty idea. Greens join Labour? All these years of voting Values and now Greens and trying to make an impact on NZ ignorance, conformity and complacency. And you are saying that Greens should bear the burden that Labour has lumbered itself with, Those of the the middle class who are only concerned about their own social mobility and wealth accretion?? At least Greens have more than a semblance of empathy with humanity as a whole. Labour is still hankering after the baubles that Winston talked of.

The poor, the labouring class are the precariat and under-employed, and the well-spoken women and men who have found jobs riding the backs of the spiritless, partly educated, shufflers are handing out charity and good advice. It doesn't matter to the children of the neo lib era that these people have been locked out of a self-sustaining life of work and play as fully independent people. They are just seen as the end result of the vicious economic competitive society created in the 1980s and TINA rules.
Maybe there will be some use for them on a sort of Reality TV. Like The Running Man:

The year is 2017. The world economy has collapsed. The United States has sealed off it's borders and has become a military controlled police state which controls TV, movies, art, books, communication and censorship.

In the police state America has become, criminals have a choice. They can serve their sentences in prison or they can take part in "The Running Man" a government owned violent game-show where contestants running for freedom are pursued by "Stalkers" wrestler-like bounty hunters. "The Running Man" is the top rating show on network TV and Damon Killian, the creator and host is the most popular entertainer in the US. But one man has yet to play...

Former L.A. police officer Ben Richards, framed for the massacre of innocent people, when disobeyed orders is recaptured, after escaping from prison.

Ben is forced to appear on "The Running Man", joined by resistance fighters William Laughlin and Harold Weiss and Amber Mendez, (a network employee who Richards took hostage and she turned Richards into the authorities) are chased by The Stalkers, as they search for the secret base of the resistance, as they bid to broadcast the truth about the government and prove Ben's innocence.

Kat said...


You either believe that the Greens are going to become the new major opposition, very soon, or that you do not want a change in govt this election. I voted Labour and Norm Kirk in 72. After Muldoon and his Cossacks blitzed the scene in 75 voting Values and listening to BLERTA was de rigueur. However a lot of smoke has passed over the water since those days and now the choice is stark. Labour is our best chance to change the rotten National govt this election and then all concerned can join Chris in helping to keep Labour on the best path for all NZ. Maybe you, and others, need to better get to know who is who and what they stand for in Labour. We no longer have the luxury to vote for Utopia. We can vote strategically though.

Otherwise its three more years of blue with a possible tinge of black.

Simon Cohen said...

I am not trying to be smug but my comment was posted early this afternoon before the latest opinion poll was released.Labour 24% Greens 15%.
Come on and join us Kat.
Why continue grasping to a sinking ship.
The future is green !!!!!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Greens now up to 15% in the Colmar Brunton poll, their highest ever. Well, as Charles said that's the last we'll see of Metiria.

Galeandra said...

Maybe on the grounds of their evidence based approach to policy TOP deserve our disinterested appraisal?

Nick J said...

Just looked at the latest Poll results...basically Labour and the Greens have remained combined 40%. Just that the Greens have more of the percentage now than prior. The balance of course is Winston.

Some thoughts:
* there is a "core" Labour constituency, I would love to know who those who have switched to Green are? Are they the young idealists, and / or the "identity lobby"? Would love to know because I suggest that the older "grey conservative Labour types might be more in Littles camp (and by corollary the former in Jacindas camp). Speculation of course as I am not close to the action, but would love to hear some informed commentary.
* National seem remarkably adept at not fracturing the way the Left has, yet they represent just as diverse a spectrum. There are true conservatives who wish for continuity and uniformity of culture and tradition versus the liberals who want the exact opposite. How it hangs together is beyond me, maybe it is defense of filthy lucre versus a common enemy?
* Can the Greens become the senior party and the natural party of opposition? Strange times these, Labour was very much born out of an industrial revolution and the social consequences, brought to power by the Depression. Are the Greens the natural consequence of todays environmental and socio economic catastrophe?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well, if you believe what Matthew Hooton said on national radio this morning the greens get most of their votes from the posher electorates. So I doubt if they're the "identity lobby", because everyone knows Polynesians and lesbians don't live in those places./Sarc in case anyone was wondering.

aberfoyle said...

Walking the dog the other day in the park came upon labours campaign hoarding,the one with Little and Ardern,and the wording Vote Labour,goodness me, looks like a poster for a man suffering from amnesia with Ardern being the care giver and the wording,does anyone know this man found aimlessly wandering.

Myself long time labour voter,not this time party vote going to the Greens.If there was ever a time in history for the Greens to raise their take of the vote to a serious contender level it is now.

Polly said...

Simon Cohen,
I am not Kat, but I would rather slit my throat.
The Greens would not be safe as guardians and leaders of this country.

Bushbaptist said...

This clip shows why Labour is faltering in this election. It refers to Yankland but is just as relevant here.

greywarbler said...

Commenters who talk wildly about slitting their throats if their non-choice gets in are an unlikely pleasure to be safely avoided.

And Kat who is desperate to have Labour get in is really casting us into Helen Clark's time. She got in and succeeded in swinging the ship around but still there was no Labour heart for all. Now we need 3 years of real Labour that starts to pick up on the things that Labour Lean didn't do last time. I'm not sure from the carry-on we have witnessed that the line-up know how to deliver real Labour policies and embrace the people warts and all, well say most of the people.

sumsuch said...

You are a scientist(and, mind you, lyricist)of politics, where I'm a viewer of it.

Greens ring me about once a year, and 'th' ledy' and I agree poverty and climate change are the most important things. Maybe that influenced Meteria's volte-face. In dim view, maybe they are just reaching out to 'Grey Lynn' voters.

I'm thinking of giving $200 to the Greens, for them stepping up, and $100 to Labour ,to keep them in play. ( Tho' I don't think 'Labour' should have a right wing --contradiction in terms).

Peters, in my view, was bankrupted by calling for the referendum on the Maori seats--prospect of a race war-- and after a talk with his vital new recruit, Shane Jones, over the weekend, saying it would just be for Maori. But his supporters fart more intelligent than their thoughts. His comments about neo-liberalism are heart-felt but meaningless--he's always relied on dividing people.

The Greens need Mike Williams's party machine in 2005. Evangelisation of , in this case , non-voters. The present voters are on the American course. Just don't think the Greens understand this. 0

Freddie said...

- Nick J asked:

"* there is a "core" Labour constituency, I would love to know who those who have switched to Green are? Are they the young idealists, and / or the "identity lobby"?"

Those that switched from Labour to the Greens are the ones who responded to Metiria's promise of unfettered "free money" for not working for as long as they like.

Labour only has to match that and write off all student loans and tertiary fees and they won't need NZ First to govern.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Those that switched from Labour to the Greens are the ones who responded to Metiria's promise of unfettered "free money" for not working for as long as they like."

And you know this how? Because according to Matthew Hooton, apparently the Greens get most of their votes from the middle-class/wealthy. So Citation or shut up please, because your "opinions/feelings" only count in things like the flavour of ice cream you favour.

Not to mention that if you think a benefit is "free money" you are sadly mistaken, and have probably never been on a benefit. It is anything but free.

Oops said...

That rockets looking premature? Will fall into the Sea of Japan?