I was interviewed for TV3 News on Saturday about what Bradford’s departure may mean politically, along with Andrew Little, Chris Trotter and Matt McCarten.
I took the view that it was potentially beneficial to the Greens as replacing Bradford with Clendon strengthens their environmental brand and if they are smart they could get as much as 10% of the vote if they position themselves as “greening” the Government no matter if it is National or Labour.
I stressed that the Greens will always support a Labour-led Government over a National-Led Government if one is possible. But if only National can form a Government, the Greens might be able to go beyond their current co-operation agreement to an abstain on supply and confidence agreement.
I understand Matt McCarten saw the move as potentially beneficial to the Greens also, and their ability to work on both sides of the aisle so to speak.
Andrew Little saw it as good for Labour, as Labour could pick up social justice voters from the Greens. I responded that this doesn’t actually help Labour win office, just as National picking up ACT voters doesn’t. And it can actually backfire if the Greens drop below 5% (as they have done in last night’s TVNZ poll). Also I have some doubts that Goff-led Labour will be more convincing to social justice voters than the Greens.
The real benefit to Labour would be if the Greens pick up some centrist voters who were previously put off by Bradford. For that will grow the left’s vote.
Chris Trotter sees the departure of Bradford as being the death of the left as the Greens go middle class.
He’s done a follow-up post today, which has some interesting observations:
The dangers inherent in the Greens’ educative model are demonstrated in their policy on the Treaty of Waitangi. Though the signing of the Treaty, like all historical events, is the subject of multiple, and often sharply contradictory, interpretations, the Greens have adopted an unequivocal and quite inflexible interpretation of the Treaty’s meaning. So much so that when some of their own members, unconvinced by the official party line, openly questioned it’s accuracy, they were deemed ineligible to stand as Green candidates by the Party leadership.
That the dissidents’ views on the Treaty of Waitangi were actually more in tune with those of the majority of Pakeha New Zealanders was an “inconvenient truth” to be overcome by – yes, you guessed it – a taxpayer-funded traveling road-show which would take the “true” meaning of the Treaty directly to the ignorant Pakeha masses and educate them into full conformity with the Greens’ historical interpretation.
Education for the masses!
This authoritarian aspect of the Greens’ political style is nowhere more apparent than in their so-called “consensus-based decision-making” constitution. Described as a means of “seeking positions that the maximum number of people can support, rather than a simple majority”, what these rules actually make possible is the ability of a tiny minority to over-rule and/or subvert the will of the majority.
In practical terms, it allows the leadership of the party, either directly or through their surrogates, to prevent the membership from directly challenging the Green Party caucus’s political strategy and tactics. Rather than promoting the open contest of conflicting political options, it fosters the cobbling together of compromises. Also, by imposing enormous emotional pressure on dissenters, it drives opposition below the surface of party affairs – a situation which, once again, privileges those in senior positions, and makes rank-and-file challenges to official party policy extremely difficult.
That is an interesting analysis of how the much vaunted consensus system actually can favour the hierarchy.