Andrea Vance reports:
Wellington-based MP James Shaw will bid to be the Green Party’s co-leader, after earlier saying it was “highly unlikely” he’d run.
It is understood the first-term MP is planning to make the announcement on Monday, after telling caucus colleagues at a meeting earlier this week.
Last month Shaw said it was too early in his parliamentary career. However, he appears to have had a change of heart after being approached by supportive members, including at a recent policy conference in the Hunua ranges, south of Auckland.
Shaw would not confirm his candidacy, saying only: “I’m thinking about it, and considering it and as I have said before I will make up my mind when nominations open.”
A source indicated Shaw will pitch himself as a fresh face, with new ideas, against front-runner and “status quo” candidate Kevin Hague.
On the back of a disappointing general election result, Shaw is set to argue the party needs new strategies if it wants to increase its vote beyond 10 per cent. But the 41-year-old also needs to win over those in the party who are suspicious of his business background. Like Hague, he is known to favour a bi-partisan approach to politics.
The Greens are fortunate that they will get to choose from four candidates – all offering quite different skills, backgrounds and future directions.
Hague is the front-runner and the likely winner. I blogged here on his strengths. He is the safe choice, and would do better than Norman, in my view.
Shaw is a bigger risk to the Greens, but also offer potentially bigger benefits. I think he is the candidate most likely to grow their vote and smash through the ceiling of 10% they seem to have hit.
The current leadership and strategy of the Greens couldn’t exceed 10% despite Labour hitting an 80 year low of 25%. It is hard to see them doing better by staying on the current path.
Shaw has the ability to change the brand of the Greens as extremists and anti-business. He has the potential to allow the Greens to break through 10%.
Even if Labour wins in 2017, the Greens may still be shut out of Government by NZ First. To avoid that fate they need to grow their vote. Shaw offers them that option.