The Herald reports:
James Shaw has been elected as the new co-leader of the Green Party.
The Wellington-based MP, who has only been in Parliament for seven months, was confirmed as the successor to Russel Norman at the party’s AGM this afternoon.
Mr Shaw said it was an “extraordinary privilege” to take on the top role.
He acknowledged that some people would be disappointed in the result, and said: “I will do everything within my power to earn everyone’s respect.”
Mr Shaw thanked his rivals, Mr Hague, Gareth Hughes, and Vernon Tava.
Kevin Hague, who had been the early favourite for the male co-leader position, placed second after a vote by delegates.
Congratulations to James, and commiserations to Kevin, Gareth and Vernon.
This is a rare opportunity for the Greens to significantly grow their appeal. If they play their cards right, people who have always dismissed them as being an anti-business and anti-economy party may now stop and listen to what they are saying. They may not necessarily get converted, but more of them will now listen.
James has both an impressive business background, but also knows how to communicate to people who are not left wing. Anyone can persuade people who already agree with you, but the skill is persuading people who don’t.
The election of Shaw is not a silver bullet for The Greens, but it is a golden opportunity. They have shown an ability to win votes off Labour – now they may have the ability to win some votes off National. The election of Shaw is a potential thorn for National. However it is also good for people who believe in sensible policy, as eventually there will be a Labour-Green Government, and I’d rather have James Shaw as the Finance Minister in it, than Russel Norman. Not because Russel is a bad person, but his beliefs were shaped by Marxism, and Shaw’s are not. This does not mean Shaw is right wing, or not left wing. He is definitely left wing – but just more centre left than hard left.
Kevin Hague would have been a very good co-leader if he had been elected. As I have blogged previously, Kevin has achieved a lot as an MP, and would have done so also as co-leader. he was just unfortunate with the timing of the vacancy, and the fact the Greens under-performed at the last election meant that their members were more attracted to a circuit-breaker.
So it will be interesting to see how The Greens go with their new male co-leader. They have the opportunity to grow their support now, but it won’t happen automatically.