The NZ Herald editorial:
Green MP Sue Bradford’s sudden retirement from Parliament yesterday reflects little credit on her party. With typical candour she declares her decision was prompted by the party’s co-leadership election a few months ago, which she lost to a young Maori, Metiria Turei.
Normally this would sound like sour grapes but whatever one thinks of Ms Bradford’s politics, she does not seem to suffer from wounded pride or excessive self-importance. She is remembered for the indignities she was willing to suffer in the years before entering Parliament when she was pictured in every small protest sit-in, usually being carried away by the police.
This is true, but I still regard it as a bad look for an MP to bail out of Parliament just a few months after they got elected.
Being elected to Parliament is a huge privilege, and MPs are elected for a three year term. It is one of the downsides of MMP that List MPs especially are being shuffled into and out of Parliament outside the electoral cycle.
I think no MP should bail out of Parliament early, unless it is for ill health, or to take up an appointment.
When Jeanette Fitzsimons relinquished the female co-leadership this year Ms Bradford was clearly the strongest candidate to replace her, and she knew it. Ms Turei was barely known outside the party and Sue Kedgley, another previous campaigner who has found her feet in Parliament, seemed not to be interested.
I’m not sure I agree. First of all Turei was deemed the favourite to win at a very early stage. Secondly the skills at being a good legislator (which Bradford was) are not necessarily the skills of leadership. Leadership is about taking people with you – and I think Bradford has never shown much in the way of skills there.
So why did Ms Bradford miss out? It is reasonable to conclude the Greens wanted a different face. They are a party sensitive to demographic character, as evidenced by co-leadership from different genders. Ms Turei offered youth and ethnic diversity. In the four months since her election she has not shown much else.
A party that puts appearances before substance is making difficulties for itself.
The Herald overlooks another issue – maybe the biggest issue. Bradford has rarely been involved with environmental issues. Her causes are social justice. In fact some in the Greens had grumbled her fights for so called social justice diminished the Greens branding as an environmental party.
Russel Norman (who like Bradford used to be a communist – Marxist not Maoist though) also has a background more on the social justice side, than the environmental side. Since becoming co-leader his focus has changed – but nevertheless I think a combination of Norman and Bradford would have weakened the Greens brand as an environmental party – and I suspect this was a factor in Turei’s victory.