Tuesday 11 July 2017

Neither Principled, Nor Pragmatic. What’s Eating The Greens?

Why, Metiria, Why? In light of the Greens’ recent ideological contortions on the subject of immigration, it is possible to interpret Metiria’s attack on NZ First as being driven by internal – not external – considerations. It is possible that the immigration issue has become a symbol of the increasingly bitter divisions that have opened up between idealists and pragmatists within the Green Party. If so, then NZ First has been made the whipping-boy for offences much closer to home.
PRINCIPLE AND PRAGMATISM are not, as Radio New Zealand’s Guyon Espiner attempted to assert on yesterday morning’s (10/7/17) Morning Report, incompatible. They are, however, obliged to get out of each other’s way. If the Greens’ Metiria Turei has a principled objection to aspects of NZ First’s immigration policies, then she needs to be careful about how those objections are expressed. Especially when she and her colleagues are also committed to the principled objective of bringing a progressive government into existence on 23 September.
Pragmatism is all about working out what you want most. This morning, Metiria informed New Zealand that her top priority is securing a change of government. Obviously, she would like to see her own party playing a major role in any new government. Furthermore and ideally, the progressive administration she’s after would include only the Greens and the Labour Party. There is, however, a very strong likelihood that the two left-leaning parties will not secure sufficient electoral support to govern on their own. Realistically, the support of Winston Peters’ NZ First Party will be required to drive the National Party from the Treasury Benches.
All of which raises the question of why, over the course of the weekend just past, Metiria felt moved to attack NZ First’s immigration policies in such uncompromising terms. Whether or not their policies are “racist” – a charge vehemently denied by NZ First – the question arises: what principle was served by levelling such an accusation?
It certainly wasn’t the principle of doing everything within one’s power as a co-leader of the Green Party to put an end to the cruelty and incompetence being meted out by the present National-led Government. Nor was it the principle of collegiality: of doing everything possible to ensure that the inevitable differences between the members of a Red-Green-Black coalition can be resolved amicably and in the spirit of generous compromise. Even the principle of racial equality was ill-served by Metiria’s intemperate accusations. Dismissing people and parties as “racists” not only discourages dialogue, it also generates hostility and a hardening of attitudes. In this context, Metiria’s charge that NZ First is a “divisive” political force takes on a grimly ironic aspect.
Simply put, Metiria’s claim that she takes a pragmatic approach to the political exigencies of coalition government cannot be sustained. A pragmatic politician would not have drawn public attention to matters about which there remain serious disagreements between the Greens and NZ First. Ideally, she wouldn’t have mentioned NZ First at all – preferring instead to promote her own party’s policies. If asked to comment on potential areas of difficulty between the Greens and NZ First, she would have highlighted those areas where the two parties are in agreement. At all times, her objective would be to demonstrate how easily and how well the two parties could work together. In relation to NZ First, nothing Metiria did over the weekend, or on Morning Report, could be considered pragmatic – or principled.
Which leaves a great many progressive voters asking themselves: “Why did she do it? What’s eating the Greens?”
In light of the Greens’ recent ideological contortions on the subject of immigration, it is possible to interpret Metiria’s attack on NZ First as being driven by internal – not external – considerations. It is possible that the immigration issue has become a symbol of the increasingly bitter divisions that have opened up between idealists and pragmatists within the Green Party. If so, then NZ First has been made the whipping-boy for offences much closer to home.
Given that the Greens long ago left behind their original mission of bearing witness to the need for fundamental environmental, economic and societal change, this sort of internecine bickering is unforgiveable. Accepting the need for pragmatism means accepting the definition of politics as the art of the possible. It also means accepting that morality is not indivisible. That for good people to have a chance of achieving anything at all, a lot of bad people must remain unpunished.
If the sixteenth century Protestant leader, Henry of Navarre (later to become the very Catholic Henry IV of France) was willing to concede that “Paris is worth a mass”, then Metiria Turei should be willing to concede that the Ninth Floor of the Beehive is worth biting her tongue over Winston’s shortcomings.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Monday, 10 July 2017.


David Stone said...

Hi Chris
The implication is that the Greens don't expect to form an agreement with NZF. So NZF is the opposition along with national.
That's my instinct too.

jh said...

The Greens have always had a hard job explaining why growth is good.I doubt all the other fauna and flora would agree.
I think the Green members are bitten by the Corbyn bug:
[quoting Stephanie Rodgers speech to the Fabians]
The question I ponder when polls show people are anxious about immigration is, what’s behind it? Immigration in of itself is just the movement of people across borders. Are they worried about wages? Job losses? Housing pressure? Rents? Traffic? Crime? A loss of our national identity? All those things immigrants get blamed for.
What Corbyn did as well as play strongly to progressive values, is offer solutions to all those underlying anxieties which feed anti-migrant sentiment. You don’t need to fear newcomers if housing and transport and industry and pay and corporate greed are getting sorted. You don’t need to fear losing your identity if your identity is founded on community and collectivism.


Robert M said...

The problem is rather obvious I would think. In the usual hierarchy of the left, the Greens are second fiddle, seen like Act as a collection of enthusiasts of dubious ideological loyalty. However in the modern media world of 2017 the Greens are rock stars, tailored beauties and well read and tailored men, while Labour MPs are dry, grey unionists, community lawyers and social workers more fitted to a half percent revolutionary movement of last century. Led by a good looking political titan, a Clark, Cunliffe or Keating it might be a different story. At this time Paul Keating or David Curl offs would be daily dissembling, Bill English, the former MP for Clutha Southland daily in Parliament , in the TV news and on the hustling. Have a look on YouTube at Keating in his last great moment the impossible destruction of Hewson in the 1992 election. English who is 90/years out of date( about Forbes time) would be day for Cunliffe.

Nick J said...

The politically correct versus the conservative not persuaded, the ideologically pure versus the gnarly pragmatists....would that we could put them in a pot and get a blend. Fatal to both parties methinks.

Polly said...

Have large donors to the Greens been told them to get their feet under the table as per Maori Party? with National.
There are now clear indications from Metiria Turei's attack on Winnie's Party that could be the situation.
Surely it is galling to them and their money backers to be in Parliament for about 20 years sitting on the hapless back bench's, watching and speaking for Green policies to see them ignored by the Government bench.
In my view the Greens now see Labour as lame duck for the September election and led internally by James Shaw, the blue set and donors are now saying the Maori are in the tent, achieving and sitting on better seats, our bums are sore on these seats.

Jigsaw said...

How funny that a party like the Greens-keen to promote racial separatism, currently over water, calls the New Zealand First party racist!

Polly said...

I agree with you about Paul Keating, a articulate and powerful politician.
I have watched all the YouTube clips.

Polly said...

My last post was addressed to Robert M.

Kat said...

The Greens are simply just a distraction. If Labour does not get over 30% then its a fourth term National govt. Simple as that. Any voter that wants to see a change of govt this September Labour has to get within 7% of National minimum. Just saying.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Robert M

Before next you decide to wax eloquent, try studying the English language, particularly the word 'dissemble.' Further, it's a good idea to read what you have written before you press the 'publish' button. You'd be surprised how many unnecessary words you can remove.

And as for Hewson, he was the dopiest leader the Libs had since MacMahon.

Wayne Mapp said...

David Stone,

I don't understand your comment.

There is no left govt without Winston Peters. Labour and the Greens simply don't have the numbers, and will not on September 23.

So if you and Meteria see NZF as the opposition it is an opposition the Greens have to deal with to have any prospect of being in govt. And from my perspective NZF is in a much stronger position the the Greens to dictate the terms. The Greens have already said they are irrevocably tied to Labour, thereby instantly reducing their negotiating leverage.

Her ill starred intervention will further weaken the Greens negotiating position. NZF (Winston) may well require Labour to give the Greens only the most modest of positions and influence, and what can the Greens do about it? Basically nothing since they cannot do the alternative of supporting National.

sumsuch said...

You're a pragmatist after your previous post? Is Peters a player of the racism card or is he not?! Pragmatism or principle? When principle is both our heart and victory.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Adolf. Waste of time, been there done that. Doesn't work. The next one will be just as impenetrable. Sometimes I think he's Donald Trump.

greywarbler said...

Nick J
I have already thought of a name for those wise-guys and gals. Pragmatic Idealists. Spread the words. I think that should be a description that goes to the front of the crowd and speaks to them.

Charles E said...

Well said Chris.
I think both NZF & the Gs are racist & divisive, but NZF is more honest about it. They are what you see whereas the Gs are a fake front.
The Gs want to import 5000 Muslims every year which is hugely divisive and aimed at undermining our society and culture, which they hate.
And they promote Maori preference for seats and other separatist apartheid type policies which is racist.
NZF just want a stop to Chinese, Indian & Arab immigration, which is racist. But it is a vote winner so the Gs, as you point out, are bizarrely trying to rule out being in government late September. Winnie can't stand them so it was a long shot before anyway.
Labour should dump the Gs now.

David Stone said...

Wayne Mapp
I'm suggesting that Meteria does not expect Winston to finish up forming an agreement with Labour/Greens to form a government. That she expects Winston to support a national government in the final analysis if in the very likely event that he holds the balance. This is also my prediction. He has said in the past that there is a moral responsibility to give initial priority to cooperating with the party that gains most votes, and that's going to be National this time. He won't regard Labour/Green coalition till the day after the election as being one party. He will talk to the nats first, and then to Labour and the Greens, and in the end go with the option that affords him most influence in government, and support for most of NZF's objectives, and I think , and I suggest Meteria thinks , that will be National.
Cheers D J S

Robert M said...

Any campaign by Labour led by Little to defeat English will have to be deceptive and disguised as they both stand in the same pointless discredited ideological position of maintaining an outdated male dominated society built on unsustainable and the artificial creation of low grade jobs and immigration.Yesterdays package avoided the creation of an Australian style paternity support scheme which if a women wants to have sex and children at 18 she will get full state support regardless of her employment or marriage status.Labour continues to base justice on education, work and male priority and remains little interested in public transport outside Auckland or closing down the dairy industry.Much could be said in favour of a Green NZF government.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Adolph. I was wrong.