Monday 10 July 2023

The Greens’ Manifesto Is Called “The Time Is Now” – But Is It?

You Cannot Be Serious! To announce that your party is even “exploring” the idea of bestowing upon Māori the “right of first refusal” to privately-owned land offered for sale will certainly test the relative strengths of collectivism and individualism in New Zealand! Attempting to restore the status-quo-ante that prevailed prior to the enforced alienation of Māori land is an invitation to civil war.

NORMAN KIRK’S COLLEAGUES called it the “bloody red book”, and privately lamented that he referred to it constantly at Cabinet. But Labour’s 1972 Manifesto was taken very seriously by “The Boss”. It contained promises which the voters expected a Labour Government to keep – and Kirk was not about to let them down.

It is a measure of how profoundly the practice of New Zealand politics has changed since the 1970s that, back then, both the public sector chiefs and the news media took party manifestos very seriously. The former detailed talented underlings to tease out the costs and consequences of the parties’ plans. The news media did its best to do acquaint the public with the same information.

Just how far party manifestos had been downgraded was demonstrated vividly by another Labour prime minister, David Lange, who frankly admitted to his party not bothering with a manifesto in 1987 – on the grounds that had his government told the voters what it was planning to do they would have voted it out of office!

What passed for manifestos in the aftermath of the radical economic changes of the 1980s and 90s were glossy documents containing few words and many pictures. Coherent arguments were replaced by bullet-pointed sentences inspired by the reactions of focus-groups. From being statements of party principle and purpose, manifestos simply told voters what they wanted to hear – as interpreted by the polling agencies hired to translate the vox populi.

Even then, there was no guarantee that these pre-tested promises would be kept. The extent to which cynicism had come to guide the behaviour of New Zealand politicians was famously revealed by the Labour Cabinet Minister Steve Maharey, who informed the House of Representatives that an unfulfilled party promise was: “Just one of those things you say when you’re in Opposition, and then forget about when you’re in Government.”

The exception to this downgrading of the election manifesto was the small, ideologically-driven party determined to present its transformational programme to the electorate in considerable detail. Perhaps the most famous of these was the manifesto prepared by the Values Party for the 1975 general election. Across 91 pages, its idealistic authors described the sort of nation the Values Party believed New Zealand could/should become. Retailing for $1.65 (roughly $20.00 in today’s money) Beyond Tomorrow became a best seller.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the impressive precedent set by their Values predecessors served as an inspiration to the Greens who remembered it. So much so that, even today, the Green Party makes an effort to present its ideas in some detail to the public. This year’s effort, The Time Is Now, at 48 A4 pages, may not be as inspiring as Beyond Tomorrow, but the Greens have, at least, made an effort.

No matter how odious comparisons are said to be, it is instructive to compare the opening lines of The Time Is Now with those of Beyond Tomorrow. The latter begins with a quote from Gandhi: “The earth has enough for everyman’s need, but not enough for everyman’s greed.” The opening line of The Time Is Now reads: “Our vision is a climate-friendly Aotearoa that honours Te Tiriti and meets the needs of everyone within the boundaries of the planet, so that we and the rest of nature can thrive.” The remaining 47 pages are intended to translate that “vision” into a consistent policy platform.

Introducing the Greens’ manifesto to the party’s AGM on Sunday (9/7/23) Co-Leader Marama Davidson began by describing what she believes to be the essence of Greenness:

“As Greens we have always found [our] humanity in being part of a collective.”

Not the best start in a nation whose majority culture is firmly founded upon the principle that the human individual is supreme, and whose touchstone novel is entitled Man Alone. Being of Ngāti Porou, Te Rarawa, and Ngāpuhi descent, it is entirely reasonable for Davidson to espouse the values of te Ao Māori, but for a party whose voter base is overwhelmingly well-educated, middle-class and Pakeha, extolling collective values may not be the most effective opening gambit – psycho-socially speaking.

Never mind. Let us proceed on the assumption that the Green Party’s members and voters are all staunch collectivists. Certainly, that would need to be the case if their commitment to an Aotearoa which honours te Tiriti is genuine. Especially when honouring te Tiriti involves facilitating “the return of whenua that was wrongfully alienated from tangata whenua, including through exploring a right of first refusal process that enables the return of private land to iwi, hapū and whānau at point of sale”.

To announce that your party is even “exploring” the idea of bestowing upon Māori the “right of first refusal” to privately-owned land offered for sale will certainly test the relative strengths of collectivism and individualism in New Zealand!

There was a very good reason why the Waitangi Tribunal was forbidden from considering privately-owned land, a reason which is, almost certainly, as valid today as it was forty years ago. Restoring the status-quo-ante that prevailed prior to the enforced alienation of Māori land is an invitation to civil war. One suspects that the Greens’ manifesto promise to “Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Aotearoa”, would amount to the same thing.

Not to worry, just a few pages on, under the heading of “Workforce”, the Greens’ manifesto promises to: “Legislate for a right to solidarity strikes and political strikes.”

One of the most effective political strikes on record is the general strike of Protestant workers organised by the Ulster Workers Council, which took place in Northern Ireland between 15-28 May 1974. The strikers successfully destroyed the Sunningdale Agreement establishing a power-sharing arrangement between the (majority) Protestant and (minority) Catholic communities under the auspices of the governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The ruthlessly enforced sectarian strike forced the UK Government to restore direct rule from London.

This sort of political strike is, patently, not the sort of political strike the Greens were thinking of when they confirmed that particular element of their Workforce policy. But they should be under no illusion that it is but one of the many radical responses to which the Pakeha majority would likely have resort if UNDRIP was imposed from above by a Green Government.

Many readers will undoubtedly object that the Greens are fully aware that they will be in no position to enforce the policies contained in their manifesto, and that its content is purely aspirational. But, if that is the case, then they are merely children playing at the game of politics, and should not be treated as serious contenders for office.

A political party offering a manifesto to the public, is expected to have thoroughly debated its contents and satisfied itself that the measures proposed are both desirable and workable. And, further, that its MPs are committed, 100 percent, to implementing its promises. “Given the power, this is what we’ll do.” That is the pledge they are making. If the only purpose of publishing a manifesto is to make themselves feel better, then the Greens should abjure participation in any government.

Norman Kirk was very likely the last New Zealand prime minister to take his party’s manifesto promises seriously. What New Zealanders read in the “bloody red book”, was what New Zealanders got from “Big Norm” – until the pressures of giving it to them killed him.

If the “bloody green book” is not a document to be taken seriously, then neither is the party that wrote it.

This essay was originally posted on the website of Monday, 10 July 2023.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I have for a years longed for the time when politicians made formal promises and tended – mostly if not always – to keep them. But to call the Greens playing at politics just because they have no chance of getting their manifesto accepted by a government is a bit harsh.
Everyone knows that if they are in government next year they'll be part of a coalition, and a reasonably minor part at that. But it's their right and as far as I'm concerned duty to make explicit the things in which they believe so that the electorate can judge whether they want to vote for them or not. A duty which has become sadly neglected by many parties in favour of vague waffle and Laura Norder, pandering to the lowest common denominator – and of course the wealthy.
The content of their manifesto is as usual, a mixed bag. But certainly, providing free lunches in schools would be a damn good idea and probably free breakfasts even better. Of course conservatives will moan and wail about "do they really, really NEED free school lunches?" – "what about the parents?" ad nauseam, to which the answer is many don't, but also many would benefit from them – as were our education system, because hungry kids don't learn and don't behave.
And it's the sort of social democratic policy that Labour should be behind, except it lost the social part of social democracy years ago.

Tiger Mountain said...

Is it time?–it is always time for a class left analysis. For 39 years Neo Liberal and post modernist hegemony has been where it is at in AO/NZ. The narrative (and state) has been seized for far too long by that thief in the night–Sir Rog.–and his support crew in the Natzos and Act.

The birth rate for pākehā is around 1.6%, below replacement level of 2.2%. Māori is on or above replacement level, and numbers are climbing. It would be nice to kick Rogernomics arse in this years General Election. But while it won’t happen overnight–it will happen. Younger and browner is where the new gens are headed. Every Natzo boomer funeral brings it closer. Time waits for no one and it won’t wait for me…

The Greens have a beautiful manifesto actually and they will likely be the quiet achievers on October 14. So many people here are sitting on stolen or dubiously acquired land that deep denial still prevails, particularly in the provinces. Until post colonial fallout is addressed fully this country will remain divided.

DS said...

Obvious point: Manifestos were much more serious in the days of single-party majority First Past the Post Government. Because there was none of the messy power-sharing one sees under MMP, whereby different parties negotiate with each other to get stuff done. Instead, the only think limiting a Government was political will.

Unless you genuinely think the Greens are capable of single-party majority Government under MMP, their Manifesto is simply what they will be arguing for with Labour - not a cast-iron commitment.

David Stone said...

I don't really see why the first right of refusal should be a problem , especially where a wrongful historic acquisition has been established; so long as the price is true market value on the day. But to establish the true market value would amount to the same as the Maori entity competing openly with other interested parties on the day. So what would be the relevance of the first right of refusal as long as they were advised of the sale and given the opportunity to bid?
I can't see where the issue is.
They would have to have some money of course.

greywarbler said...

The new Santa Claws. The government claws money in from taxes, starting from the bottom and then consults with you what you might like for Christmas, and gives you a vote if you have been good (prisoners lost their vote and are getting it/got it back). It's too much like a lolly scramble rather than a thoughtful disbursement as needed. In a scramble the big boys and some girls get the most.
What passed for manifestos in the aftermath of the radical economic changes of the 1980s and 90s were glossy documents containing few words and many pictures. Coherent arguments were replaced by bullet-pointed sentences inspired by the reactions of focus-groups. From being statements of party principle and purpose, manifestos simply told voters what they wanted to hear – as interpreted by the polling agencies hired to translate the vox populi.

So true.

Gary Peters said...

Any "white cis male" that votes green should be ashamed of themselves.

Any biological woman who'd rather not share her toilet and dressing room with an intact male but who votes green should also be ashamed of themselves.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Statistically speaking, I think any biological woman is probably safer with a drag queen or a trans person than a priest.

No-Skates said...

Sheesh Gary, you're not meant to say those things without wearing your hood!

After a couple of rather well thought out posts that would have required some genuine mental effort to type out, your comment was like high beams over the crest of a hill. Ack!

David George said...

Yes, good points DS. Even the major parties are constrained by MMP negotiations. The most egregious deception was Labour's arrogant and dishonest non disclosure of it's He Puapua agenda at the last election. A interesting approach: have a manifesto full of things people want to hear, utterly fail in their delivery but introduce the ugly hidden agenda on the unsuspecting peasants. Unforgivable.

larry said...

Dumb? Question:

Have I missed something but have all BR correspondents missed ... or deliberately ignored Luxon"s pledge to implement standing 6 monthly after the fact public reviews of performance- non performance ... OF ALL NATIONAL PARTY PROGRAMS- PLEDGES.

When operational this procedure WILL achieve useful and better transparency... accountability. No ifs buts or maybe...or look out!

Cheers Larry

Odysseus said...

As for the Greens, the time is never.

Anonymous said...

I can only see Marama Davidson's happy face as she left the Posi Parker rally in Albert Park. That was the real facile, untruthful (traumatised by a motorbike accident?) racist, useless Green Party (for whom I voted following Values for 30 years!)

Anonymous said...

Present govt. ( transparency not) has not kept voters informed. The spin and b.s. has blindsided us all . Godzone has never felt more divided . My extended family ( labour hard ) suffered in the Lange Era losing jobs in the NZFS and MOW .What once were egalitarian thriving communities reduced to gang/ beneficiary ghettos.the heart and soul ripped out( like the only ATM inMurupara ( taken by the mob .) I am an old man and don't want to be a"good old days bore "but occasionally sitting by the coal range weep for my many grandchildren

Gary Peters said...

Hi no skates. I'd rate your thoughts higher if I had a name to address.

I'll stand by my thoughts thanks, I guess I'm just a TERF, you know, someone who respects and adores women.

sumsuch said...

They don't know what they're doing if they bring this up. Just the PR most importantly.

'This is the time' is correct about their programme for the neediest never cared for for 40 years, and climate change action.

Quite a refreshment to hear the latter necessity said in public.

Gary Peters said...

So Skates, you're saying my comment was like a "beacon of light".

I thought so as well 😎

Gary Peters said...

And as for your comment GS, I suggest you google the torture and muder of Dimetrius “Precious” Pairama by one Ashley Winter, an intact male identifying as a woman and also a convicted rapist.

I have yet to see a priest frequenting womens changing rooms or competing against them in a full contact sport.

You may move in different circles though.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I certainly do move in different circles Gary, and for every crime committed by a trans person, I can pretty much give you a hundred committed by priests or other religious. Often against children, not just women.
So much so that in Alabama a rehabilitation centre has been built at some expense to cope with the many religious who have "sinned" in this way.

I would take a bet that the number of priests credibly it accused just in NZ outnumbers the worldwide figures for trans people committing similar crimes. If you can produce numbers please do so but I'd put money on it myself.

200,000+ children in France – and that's just the Catholics.

And here's the Baptists – at least the US Baptists.

"The report found roughly 380 clergy, lay leaders and volunteers had faced allegations of sexual misconduct, leaving behind over 700 victims[1] since 1998. The extent of misconduct is further complicated by work within the Southern Baptist Convention to move sex offenders to other communities and resist attempts to address the culture of abuse."

The number of trans people competing against women in any sports is minuscule. And the decision over whether to let them do that is up to the sports administrative bodies depending on how much advantage they think a trans person has over the non-trans woman.
Which is probably why trans women are allowed to compete in darts.

D'Esterre said...

David Stone: "...where a wrongful historic acquisition has been established..."

The problem as I see it is that the current owner/seller is being required to atone for the past wrongs of the Crown (which was responsible for such alienations as occurred) and, of course for various acts of chicanery, in respect of land, committed by Maori themselves against each other.

This is a priori unjust. I'm not at all surprised that the Greens wouldn't have considered such implications: they appear to be incapable of thinking issues through.

"...Maori entity competing openly with other interested parties on the day."

As I understand things, that's not how "right of first refusal" works. This process allows the entity conferred such a right to decide whether it will purchase. If it decides against it, then other parties can bid. It's certainly not an open process, such as we might see in an auction.

"They would have to have some money of course."

The iwi have plenty of money. We should know: the ToW settlements have over many years given them massive amounts of taxpayer cash.

But any "first right of refusal" will, if exercised, drive down prices. I daresay activists will see this as a very good thing. Until it happens to them.

Gary Peters said...

"The Colorado Springs shooter identified as non binary.

The Denver shooter identified as trans.

The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans.

The Nashville shooter identified as trans.

One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists."

"4 shooters out of over 300 mass shooters since 2009 are transgender or non binary. That's just 1.3 percent of all shooters,

around 0.6 percent of Americans over the age of 13 identify as transgender."

So they are performing at twicwe their average. Those priests better get cracking.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Xavier Kraus, who said he lived next door to the suspect and the suspect’s mother from August 2021 to September 2022, said he believes the claim that Aldrich is nonbinary is “a total troll on the community, and a total troll on the system.” Aldrich, he said, never used they/them pronouns with him or mentioned being nonbinary."

Really can't be bothered investigating the rest, but how many of these shooters identify as "Christian"? Or "men"? Or "ex-military"? All these groups perform at better than average – but the whole question is meaningless as these numbers are so small that any small variation could cause a blip. If you adored statistics as much as you adored women you'd probably understand this. But I suspect you're simply letting your hatred of trans people get in the way of your reason.
And of course we don't actually know the number of trans people in the US, partly because it's difficult to come out, largely due to people like you I suspect.

D'Esterre said...

"There was a very good reason why the Waitangi Tribunal was forbidden from considering privately-owned land
Restoring the status-quo-ante that prevailed prior to the enforced alienation of Māori land is an invitation to civil war."

I remember when the Waitangi tribunal was established. The reason for the prohibition on private land was, as I recall, because it was the Crown which was responsible for land alienation, not private individuals. Those citizens who own such land bought it in good faith and don't have an obligation to atone for the wrongs of past governments.

The government at the time of the 1990s Treaty settlements (which I and many others supported) was well aware of the fact that a large amount of taxpayer cash was to be applied to those settlements. How else to interpret this than private individuals being asked to pay for the past wrongs of the Crown? But ther

David George said...

The trouble we have now, GS, is that "every crime committed by a trans person" is reported as down to their assumed gender. Thus we see this sort of nonsense:

"ex-soldier exposed her penis and used wheelie bin as sex toy in public”*.

That's kind of funny (a wheelie bin FFS) but the kidnapping, pedophilia, rapes and murders reportedly committed by "women" are not.

* Headline in Metro April 2022.
Mentioned in Brendan O’Neill’s new book A Heretic’s Manifesto.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The trouble we have now David is people like you spreading myths and lies about trans people. Crime is crime, and this seems to be the only study that has objectively looked at trans crime after the changes in the laws. I'll save you the trouble of reading it, it says that there have been no increases in the reporting of crime in public toilets and changing rooms since trans people were allowed to use bathrooms appropriate to their gender. Not that it will persuade you at all – there is the yuck factor that seems to dominate conservative thought on this subject which seems to preclude anything other than an emotional response.