Greens want to be in the PM vs Opp Ldr debate

February 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

The Green Party has lobbied the television networks to take part in prime-time televised leaders’ debates during the election campaign alongside Labour’s David Cunliffe and Prime Minister John Key rather than being lumped in with the minor parties.

I’m all for Labour and taking turns at being the Leader who goes up against Key, but the reality is these debates are about showcasing the two people who may be Prime Minister after the election.

Andrew Campbell, the Green’s communications director, confirmed it had put in a formal request to both networks to debate National and Labour rather than the smaller parties because it was in a much stronger position in the polls.

“It seems ridiculous to put a party with a genuine strong support base, a significant portion of the electorate, in the same debate as people who can’t even win their own seat without the help of another party. Why would we debate a person who can’t even win it’s own seat without help?”

Why would a party on 51% debate a party on 8%, using the Green’s own logic?

I do understand where they are coming from to a degree – that they and NZ First are medium sized parties compared to some of the “minnows”. Maybe the solution is to just have a medium sized leaders debate between a Green co-leader and Winston. That would be entertaining.

National’s campaign chair Steven Joyce said National wanted to keep the one-on-one debates but that did not necessarily mean Russel Norman would miss out. “We will be very happy to debate with the leader of the largest Opposition party at the time. You never know, maybe the Greens will get there. They’re not that far behind.”

They’re a fair way behind now, as Labour’s campaign strategy appears to be to take votes of the Green at the same rate as they lose centrist voters to National.

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55 Responses to “Greens want to be in the PM vs Opp Ldr debate”

  1. Manolo (13,375 comments) says:

    I wish comrade Norman all the worst in the coming months.

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  2. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Who the eff do these losers think they are? If Norman or Turei were to appear in a leaders’ debate that would be the end of it! Actually, who would be debating, both of them I suppose!

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  3. ShawnLH (3,442 comments) says:

    Of course, this has nothing to do with Russell preferring that there are two lefties against one rightie in the debates. In his mind that probably equates to balanced and fair.

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  4. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    Now that Labour have a structural 15-20% vote deficit, the only left leaning government possible is Greebour, not Labour.

    Maybe the debates should be Key-Cunliffe,then Key-Turei, then Key-Norman.

    One brain vs 3 parts of one brain.

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  5. Cunningham (817 comments) says:

    I think the Greens need to learn the difference between reality and fantasy. Seems their view of themselves is in the latter.

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  6. ciaron (1,315 comments) says:

    To be fair to Norman, (as much as it pains)it seems to me that Key is the only person worth debating, as Colin Craig is the only small party leader that would be opposing him, and he’s not going to get much of a look in. All the others being varying degrees of left or historically swing both ways, it would be a bit of a preaching to the choir session.

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  7. ManuT (35 comments) says:

    This is on the Stranded today:

    Danske 12

    24 February 2014 at 9:52 am

    “I used to be a Labour voter, too. Not now while the pandering to the crazy Greens continue.
    My vote will go to a common-sense party and at this point in time it is NOT the Labour Party.”

    I was banned for much less than this. Maybe Labour have given up. Or more likely they are pissed at the Greens for dragging them away from real people. Either way this is a big change.

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  8. Pete George (22,851 comments) says:

    While Norman no doubt sees himself as above the other riff raff party leaders he may be a bit ambitious here.

    It would be unfair pitching two (Cunliffe_Norman) against one (Key). Perhaps this could compromised and be done in one of the main leader polls only.

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  9. johnwellingtonwells (121 comments) says:

    why not a debate between Cunliffe and Norman?

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  10. Pete George (22,851 comments) says:

    @ciaron

    To be fair to Norman, (as much as it pains)it seems to me that Key is the only person worth debating, as Colin Craig is the only small party leader that would be opposing him, and he’s not going to get much of a look in.

    All the others being varying degrees of left or historically swing both ways, it would be a bit of a preaching to the choir session.

    A bizarre comment. Can it be explained?

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  11. Ed Snack (1,738 comments) says:

    Maybe they could do this, but with Cunliffe and Norman “tag teaming”, they get 50% to answer as a coalition, Key gets 50% of the time. Might be interesting to see the dissent between the “co-leaders”. But by Green rules, wouldn’t have to be Turei so there’s a 50-50 MF divide (but then, what about the LBGBTVDEPLKJXXYZQ factions…).

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  12. Than (425 comments) says:

    The TV networks should respond by asking Norman a simple question – do you (or Turei) have a realistic chance of being Prime Minister after the election? No? Then you won’t be included in the major party debate. This is just standard election year jockeying for position, where every party tries to set thresholds for publicity that include themselves while excluding as many others as possible.

    While the major party debate is clear-cut (it has to be just Key versus Cunliffe), the minor party debate is more interesting. Obviously those parties currently in parliament should be included, but what about the Conservatives, or the Internet party? And if you include them why not any other non-parliamentary party?

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  13. Monty (964 comments) says:

    Maybe Norman should be limited to 8% of speaking time! Cunliffe restricted to 34% of speaking time and John keys gets 51% of speaking time. That seems fair.

    Would wussel like 8% of speaking time?

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  14. dime (9,441 comments) says:

    Can you imagine having two lefties in the debate? They would just scream down everything john said.

    As soon as he spoke it would be double the sighing etc

    The debates would be a joke.

    Also, Cunliffe would be an idiot to allow this.

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  15. radvad (665 comments) says:

    Nah. Put Norman in with the minnows. The dynamics between him, Peters and Craig would be pure gold too watch and Jamie Whyte would be the shining light.

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  16. georgebolwing (611 comments) says:

    Clearly the Greens think that they are now a major force in New zealand politics and thus should be accorded more than “minor party” status.

    If, as is looking more likely, the election results in the return of a National-led government, this will mean that once again the Greens will be in opposition. They have been in Parliament since 1996 (the first term as part of the Alliance) and have never come within a bull’s roar of the cabinet table. The closest they have ever gotten was a supply and confidence agreement after the 1999 election, in retun for which they were allocated $15 million in funding for some pet projects and when Fitzsimons and Donald were appointed government spokespeople outside cabinet for energy efficiency and the Buy Kiwi Made campaign respectively after the 2002 election.

    That is very little to show for almost 20 year’s effort.

    While hope springs etternal, I am assuming that even the average Green member has some limit to their tolerance of failure and there will be moves to replace the current co-leaders with someone less likely to scare the bejesus out of the electorate.

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  17. dime (9,441 comments) says:

    Will Colin Craig be part of the minnows debate?

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  18. Harriet (4,522 comments) says:

    Key might turn the debate into ridding the country of the carbon tax.

    Afterall, 83% of kiwis sort their rubbish while the Carbon tax stands aside doing nothing about global warming.

    And you can’t have a market based carbon tax if you don’t have a market based electricity market.

    So what is it Russle and David – sell power assets into the market place or not have a market based carbon tax?

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  19. chris (567 comments) says:

    So Russel says “Why would we debate a person who can’t even win it’s own seat without help?”

    Never mind the Greens can’t even win an electorate seat.

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  20. tas (596 comments) says:

    Two problems:

    (i) If the greens are included, then so should NZ First. Where would it stop?

    (ii) It would be an unfair two-on-one debate. Presumably all three get the same speaking time, which means the left gets twice as much time and the right.

    I think the greens would gain lots of votes if they were on the same platform as National and Labour. It’s definitely in their interest, but it isn’t in the interest of National or Labour, so it won’t happen.

    Maybe the policy should be the parties that can win seats should be in the debate. That includes everyone except the Greens and NZ first.

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  21. Deane Jessep (55 comments) says:

    If the green party said to Labour “The price for our coalition is the PM role, or Co-PM” (is that even possible?) would labour be desperate enough to do it. Strikes me that this scenario is actually more plausible than that bollocks Winston leads with National scenario.

    My view though is that they should keep the PM debate between the two largest parties and have a series of good old fashioned 3 v 3 debates with each of the three being the largest declared parties on either side. Anyone who does not declare does not get air time in the debate. National and Labour could put up deputy PM candidates so we can see how they perform outside of the traditional leaders debate.

    Debate questions could be traditional left/right issues like:

    Should tax go up or down?
    Should we develop a tax on imports and foreign companies?
    Is it OK under any circumstances to form a coalition with Winston Peters?

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  22. Pete George (22,851 comments) says:

    Will Colin Craig be part of the minnows debate?

    That’s a good question. What about Kim Dotcom if he ever actually gets his party up and running and doesn’t self destruct it as he promised.

    The minnows ‘debate’ gets a bit farcical with so many. Depending on where the line is drawn it’s possible there could be:
    Greens
    NZ First
    Maori
    Mana
    ACT
    UF
    Conservative
    Internet
    Aotea Legalise Cannabis

    I’ve participated in debates with nine people and it’s pretty hopeless, it’s very difficult to debate with more than one or two opponents on one or two issues and still get your own message across – and even if you manage to fire a shot it’s unlikely to become a two way exchange.

    The best mayoral debate was with four and even that is limited. You have to keep waiting your turn and the topic can move on before you get a chance.

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  23. ciaron (1,315 comments) says:

    A bizarre comment. Can it be explained

    Simply.

    Imagine the minor party debate:
    Greens – very left.
    Mana – very very left.
    Maori – hardly right.
    NZF – anti Key.
    UF – depends on the day.
    Act – well, erm, hardly going to be allowed to say much.
    Conservative – Craig won’t even be invited.

    I don’t imagine anything productive or challenging to come from such a debate.

    You see, we have a saying in golf; if you want to get improve, play against better players. Which is why Norman wants a shot at key. The sanity of such a desire is highly suspicious in my opinion but he is welcome to shoot for the stars.

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  24. Than (425 comments) says:

    dime – In my opinion if the Conservatives have either made an arrangement with National over an electorate seat or are consistently polling over 3% then Craig should be included. If neither of these are true that close to the election then their odds of getting into parliament are negligible and he shouldn’t be included.

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  25. Pete George (22,851 comments) says:

    I think a good case could be made for having a separate debate for party leaders not yet MPs so people can assess new options.

    Mixing novices with MPs with long experience is a mismatch.

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  26. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    The Greens have been consistently polling double digits for the last four years or so, I don’t see why not. Or better yet, scrap the one on one debate. We don’t have FPP anymore.

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  27. dime (9,441 comments) says:

    PG – the only way dot com is there is if they want a freakshow. dot com cant become an MP. i think if they did fluke a participant it would have to be their number 1 on the list.

    Cant see it happening, i think dot com is happy now he has purchased the greens.

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  28. gump (1,488 comments) says:

    I suspect that rejecting the Greens from the Leader’s Debate would be one of the few things that Key and Cunliffe would both agree on.

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  29. Lindsay Addie (1,129 comments) says:

    I suggest there is a debate with Cunliffe, Norman/Turei, and Peters.

    I could be called The Muppet Debate (NZ election edition 2014). The debate moderator would have to Miss Piggy. She’d take no nonsense from anyone.

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  30. Longknives (4,464 comments) says:

    “I’ve participated in debates”

    Got me thinking about how thrilling a debate with Pete George would be…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmyuE0NpNgE

    Pete starts at 0:36..

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  31. Pete George (22,851 comments) says:

    The incumbent wasn’t thrilled Longknives, a number of times.

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  32. ciaron (1,315 comments) says:

    I think Norman would present a more challenging opponent than Cunliffe and I’d be much more interested in that debate. Imagine the opportunity, to expose and reveal the greens for what they actually are! you wouldn’t even need to get personal – just logically follow to the conclusions of their policy.

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  33. PaulL (5,873 comments) says:

    I don’t think 2 on 1 is fair. Key would still wipe the floor. :-)

    Remember these debates are run by the TV channels, the question is what would maximise their ratings. I can see a handful of options here:
    1. Allow 2 on 1, but still 50/50 for the time. Cunliffe would be crazy to allow this, but the reality is that’s who you’d be voting for
    2. Go for 2 on 2. Since only Greens have ruled out National, and only Act have ruled out Labour, that would mean Green/Labour v’s ACT/National. That’d be an interesting debate, but Key would be crazy to allow it – he’d get tarred with whatever Whyte says, and nobody knows yet what he might say
    3. Do the normal leaders debates. Then do a “potential coalition” debate
    4. Create a different “minor party” debate – perhaps those who are actually in parliament? That’d give us Green, NZF, ACT, United, Maori Party. That’d be a reasonable mix, and reasonably sensible way to draw the line. If you start adding the Conservatives or Kim DotCom, you’d be hard pushed to keep some of the other small parties out. Maybe a rule of 4% in the polls or current parliamentary party. That’d be a reasonable threshold?

    Ultimately, this is just deliberate publicity seeking by the Greens, trying to differentiate themselves as somehow bigger than the other minor parties.

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  34. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    I’d like to see Norman and Peters on one side, with an average Chinese NZer on the other. Norman and Peters can bang on about how Chinese people shouldn’t be allowed to own farms or homes, and how Chinese-designed mobile phones and routers are dangerous. Peters can complain about there being too many Chinese restaurants. Norman can moan about Chinese people taking his flag and not giving it back.

    On the other hand, the Chinese NZer could talk about the shameful racism of the Left.

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  35. CJPhoto (217 comments) says:

    How many leaders debates will there be – 3? Given Greens are about 1/3 of the left vote, Russel should be asking DC for one of his slots shouldn’t he.

    Seems only fair given how they have joint policies and are coalition partners (not just potential coalition partners)

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  36. Duxton (581 comments) says:

    “We will be very happy to debate with the leader of the largest Opposition party at the time. You never know, maybe the Greens will get there. They’re not that far behind.”

    Ouch!!!! :-)

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  37. Elaycee (4,302 comments) says:

    Reality check:

    The leaders debate is supposed to be between two people – one of whom will form a coalition and be Prime Minister of New Zealand.

    Last time I looked, Wussel didn’t appear to be in the hunt.

    Sorted.

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  38. Steve Wrathall (243 comments) says:

    “hat about the Conservatives, or the Internet party? …” That would be worth it just to force Krim DonCon to stand for an hour

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  39. Chris2 (757 comments) says:

    Lets pit National electorate MP’s against Green electorate MP’s.

    Oh dang, hang on, the Greens don’t have any electorate MP’s who were personally voted into Parliament by the public of New Zealand.

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  40. peterwn (3,163 comments) says:

    Chris2 – Greens may try and strong-arm Labour into letting them have Wellington Central or some other seat.

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  41. RRM (9,467 comments) says:

    DO IT TVNZ / TV3.

    Russell Norman’s insanity needs public airtime! The more the better.

    If they are crushed in the election and Red Russell is identified as the reason, there is a chance they might do some soul searching, and reform as a proper environmental pressure party.

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  42. burt (7,820 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t we need both of the Green Party leaders at the debate – Just one gender couldn’t possibly be expected to cover the ground in a balanced way….

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  43. PaulL (5,873 comments) says:

    @burt: I think we should have gender equality in debates. Let’s have a debate of National’s most senior female against Labour’s most senior. Does that give us Jacinda v’s Collins?

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  44. Fentex (867 comments) says:

    the reality is these debates are about showcasing the two people who may be Prime Minister

    I’m sure people supporting the more popular candidate like the idea of Presidential style personality politics but I’d prefer such debates were used to argue policies more than test individuals media presentation.

    And as such see no reason why more representatives of significant parties shouldn’t participate.

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  45. spanish_tudor (47 comments) says:

    The way Labour’s vote is likely heading maybe Cunliffe should join the minor parties’ debate too. Then the Gweens can have his slot against Key.

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  46. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (788 comments) says:

    Greens will be 51% in the next opinion poll….

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  47. Elaycee (4,302 comments) says:

    @SCS: One moment you’re all aglow with something said by the left and before you know it, you go all gushy about something from the right. And as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, you’ll soon go back again. You’re clearly confused.

    As you lack the intelligence and the wit to comment as a satirist, it leaves only one option:

    Are you a paid up member of United Future? :P

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  48. tvb (4,208 comments) says:

    Steven Joyce just needs to say that John Key will only debate the alternative Prine Minister and the Greens and Labour need to decide who that is. Maybe R Norman thinks it is him but one needs to clarify that. The latest poll has the Greens losing over 1/3 of their vote. Perhaps R Norman needs to focus on that rather than developing pretensions on being the alternative PM.

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  49. ciaron (1,315 comments) says:

    Sudden death knockout debate: Cunliffe v. Norman.
    Winner gets to take on Key for the top job.

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  50. J Bloggs (159 comments) says:

    Actually, I think it would great for Key to have both Cunliffe and Russell up there for the Leaders debate. It would allow him to continue hammering home the message that a vote for Labour also means getting the Greens as well. The big loser would be Cunliffe – He doesn’t want to have to share the top oppostion spot with the Greens

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  51. DJP6-25 (1,268 comments) says:

    davidp 11.29 AM You’re correct about the ‘left’ being racist. They only oppose racism when it doesn’t suit their purposes.

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  52. tas (596 comments) says:

    Cunliffe wouldn’t allow it. He’d be attacked on both sides — Key would call him crazy and Norman would call him not crazy enough.

    The Greens would gain so many votes. This is what happened in the UK in 2010: The Lib Dem leader was put on stage with the Labour and Conservative leaders and his popularity skyrocketed. Most of those votes would be at the expense of Labour.

    Key probably wouldn’t allow it either, as it would be risky to have a two-on-one debate. National needs Key to have maximum exposure.

    The Greens and the TV networks can say what they want. If neither Key nor Cunliffe want to share a stage with Norman, it won’t happen.

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  53. OneTrack (2,613 comments) says:

    “but the reality is these debates are about showcasing the two people who may be Prime Minister after the election.”

    Ok, Key vs Norman then. (The Green’s price for supporting Labour?)

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  54. OneTrack (2,613 comments) says:

    burt – “Just one gender couldn’t possibly be expected to cover the ground in a balanced way….”

    Not to forget race. You need someone to yell rayyyysisst.

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  55. B A W (98 comments) says:

    Perhaps John Key should invite them along. Remind the public about who will be in there with labour. If he can get them divided it will do wonders for his campaign.

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