The Dim-Post

November 26, 2014

The very odd Slightly Left of Centre

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:11 pm

There’s a new voice in the blogosphere. Josh Forman, the author of SlightlyLeftofCentre:

27 years old, from the left, and on a mission to reclaim the centre left from the loopy extremists from the far left who have hijacked the Labour Party.

Josh doesn’t care if Labour survives in its current state, as long as the people it used to represent are given a voice, and as long as there is a strong opposition to the National Government.

If you look through his posts Forman doesn’t seem all that left-wing though. His views seem pretty right-wing. And his targets aren’t the usual left-wing targets. He really dislikes National Party president Peter Goodfellow. And Bomber. And Kim Dotcom. And muslims. And the New Zealand Herald’s investigative editor David Fisher. You might say he happens to hate everyone Cameron Slater hates.

The similarities don’t stop there. Forman’s style seems very familiar. Politicians are troughers. If they lie they tell porkies. There are loads of breathless exclusives, all on issues close to Slater’s heart. Forman is very sympathetic to the Whale, as we see in the cached copy of this post that Forman has deleted. And the Whale loved Forman and promoted him heavily. You might even say it looks like Slater has set up a fake left-wing blog to disseminate his smears from, which is such a typically Slateresque thing to do I can’t believe he’s only just gotten around to it.

Josh Forman is a real guy. I met him for coffee earlier this week. He denied having any relationship with Slater, or that any of the content on his blog came from Slater. Something in his manner made me think that wasn’t quite true though, so I did a little more digging and found Forman’s  completely brilliant press release back from when he launched his blog:

Josh Forman is pleased to announce the creation of a new force on the Left of politics in New Zealand.

“My goal is to create an online environment that provides sane and reasonable views from the left of the spectrum.” Mr Forman said this morning when asked about his motivation to create the site.

“For far too long, the dominant online voices on our side of politics have been the shrill and hysterical ranting on offer at The Daily Blog and The Standard.

Slightly Left of Centre will provide calm and reasoned views that more closely reflect the views of compassionate New Zealanders in the centre. These are the people that have flocked to National under John Key, and those who have abandoned Labour in droves.”

Responding to questions about working with WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater to build a voice for the centre left, Mr Forman was blunt. “He is extremely successful at what he does and we need a comparable success story of our own for the sake of decent democratic debate. The time for name calling and identity politics has passed.

And today Forman – the guy who has no relationship with Slater – posted this:

Dirty Politics: John Key – Pork Pie PM

Have you really never spoken to Cameron Slater in your capacity as Prime Minister?

I would like you to consider the following questions before you answer this, because I would suggest you choose your words carefully. Remember John, no-one likes a liar…

1) You told Parliament in late October that that you have never spoken to Cameron Slater in your capacity as Prime Minister. Was this really true?

2) Did you talk to Cameron Slater the night before the release of the IGIS report, and the Justice Chisholm report on Judith Collins?

3) How many times in the last month have you spoken to Slater?

4) Does Cameron Slater records his phone calls, and if he does, how much leverage does he now have over you (whether in your capacity as a private citizen, PM, Minister of Tourism etc, etc)?

5) Are you OK with the possibility of Slater having the calls you have made to him, or received from him released to the public? If any such recordings were to be released, how would they reflect on you? Would your position as PM be tenable if they were?

Forman is – allegedly – the person who leaked the details of recent Key’s text conversation with Slater, forcing Key to return to the House and make a personal statement correcting a question he answered earlier today in which he claimed he hadn’t been in conversation with Slater. And now, this evening, here’s Slater in a post titled ‘LABOUR’S OWN DIRTY POLITICS SCAM BUSTED, JOSH FORMAN AND ANNETTE KING NEED TO EXPLAIN':

In my conversation with Josh Forman I got suspicious because of his intense interest and so fed him some information that wasn’t strictly true so that it could be easily verified by cellphone records.

I repeat. I never had a text conversation with Judith Collins on Monday night. Cellphone records will clearly show this.

The following day Josh Forman continued along that line of inquiry and was imploring me to out the txt with John Key, I couldn’t work out why.

That is until this afternoon.

Josh Forman is a man who lacks integrity. In good faith I was willing to coach someone from the other side so they could have a better voice in the blogosphere.

I now know that his request for coaching was a subterfuge, at the behest of the Labour party in order to gain my trust.

He has used that and disseminated an email that only he was party to and so the media source was easily identifiable as was my plan.

Josh Forman works closely with Annette King, his own emails show that.

Labour’s own willingness to play dirty politics team has now been busted. Their sanctimony in parliament is shown for what is is worth.

What the hell is going on? I don’t know. But based on the premise that everything Slater says is a lie, my guess is that Slater had Forman leak the details of his text conversation with Key, and that this ‘falling out’ is a sham to make Forman look like a slightly less obvious sock-puppet of Slater’s, and to try and smear Labour with the ‘Dirty Politics’, ‘Labour does it too’, brush.

Update: As far as I can tell Forman has never worked for Labour, and their senior staffers have never heard of him.

And another update: Another post from Slater detailing the collaboration between Forman and Slater, but which tries to attack Forman’s job and makes me wonder if their split is real. Maybe?

November 25, 2014

A further thought on the Gwyn report

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 1:25 pm

The report itself is here. The main issues have been well covered by the media.

Here’s what struck me. One of Key’s big achievements as Prime Minister has been the expansion of the size and powers of the state security services. That’s fine. There’s been plenty of debate around that. The public seem ‘relaxed’ about it.

But what we didn’t know is that the same time Key was expanding the powers of the intelligence agencies he also – as revealed in the Gwyn report – delegated over-sight of those agencies to National Party operatives working in his office, a role that had previously been exclusive to the Prime Minister. And, the Gwyn report goes on to tell us:

 . . . as part of his role as Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr de Joux was involved in
the media work of PMO, as was Mr Ede, who was also a political adviser.
Consistent with those roles, Mr de Joux and Mr Ede treated information that they
were given as available for release for political purposes unless they had been
advised otherwise. This was contrary to the assumption by NZSIS that the
information that it provided would be held in confidence unless expressly
approved for release.

Also, too:

I issued a production order to Mr Ede in
respect of his personal email accounts after it became apparent from evidence,
including evidence provided directly by Mr Ede, that some of the correspondence
pertinent to this inquiry was conducted from non-official email accounts. Upon receipt
of the production order, Mr Ede provided a supplementary written statement to the
inquiry in which he advised that the emails had been permanently deleted prior to the
commencement of the inquiry and could not be recovered. I made my own enquiries
and confirmed this was the case.

If staff in Key’s office are using non-official accounts like this then they’re breaching the Public Records Act, and should be prosecuted. If they are, or were exchanging classified information on non-official accounts then that’s, like, an actual major national security issue. I don’t know who investigates these matters but they’re pretty important no matter which political tribe you support. Unless everyone on the right is totally cool with the SIS and GCSB reporting to Matt McCarten in a couple years, and McCarten forwarding it all onto Bomber?

Seems that this is also a pretty big victory for Nicky Hager. This was one of the key claims in his book, and Key flatly denied it and called Hager a crazy conspiracy theorist. We now know that this accusation stands up. Key isn’t admitting that, of course. He’s running around crowing that he’s been exonerated, somehow, because he knows that virtually no member of the public will read the report. But this is a stain on his record as Prime Minister. Historically he’ll be the guy whose office collaborated with the SIS to falsely smear the opposition leader.

November 24, 2014

The Gwyn Report

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 8:34 pm

This is the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security’s inquiry into how Cameron Slater obtained classified SIS documents that embarrassed then-Labour leader Phil Goff.

  • It gets released tomorrow but some media have been briefed on some of the contents, presumably by Goff.
  • So the information out there is selective. Here is a Herald article.
  • My understanding – and this could all change tomorrow when the actual report comes out – is that Tucker, the former SIS director was deeply misleading when he briefed Key’s office about what took place between him and Goff.
  • This is a big deal because Tucker has always had a somewhat sympathetic role in all of this. Goff was accusing him of lying, and so Tucker was seen to have put this information out to defend himself. But it sounds as if Tucker ommited crucial details and smeared Goff. The head of Intelligence playing politics to embarrass the opposition leader is banana republic stuff.
  • Also a really big deal: the Prime Minister appears to have lied about the role his office played in releasing the document. Here’s Key back in August before the election denying that his office had ‘anything to do with the release of the document’. And current SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge backed Key. However, the Gwyn report apparently finds that Key’s staffer Jason Ede was on the phone with Slater at the time Slater made the OIA request.
  • I guess Key had this revelation in the back of his mind when he transferred responsibility of SIS and GCSB to Finlayson. We know that Key isn’t responsible for stuff that his office does – they’re just these guys who work for him – or the stuff that Key does when he’s not Prime Minister, which is whenever he feels like it. So we’ll probably spend the next few days watching Key insist that he doesn’t have to answer any questions about this because it’s not his portfolio anymore.
  • What happens to Tucker? If the media reports are correct, it doesn’t seem right that he should be able to abuse his position, then retire and get away with it. There is a political neutrality provision in the SIS Act. I’d be interested to hear from the lawyers out there if and how this applies.
  • This is a bad time to be giving the intelligence agencies greater powers. We keep hearing about how trustworthy these secret, unaccountable agencies are, and now the former head of one of them seems to be involved in a partisan political scandal, and the current head appears to have mislead the country to try and cover-up for the Prime Minister.

November 19, 2014

Good grief

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:54 am

Via Stuff:

The woman who made a sexual harassment complaint against Cera chief executive Roger Sutton is “torn up” and upset he has been able to foster public sympathy.

The victim has been told by State Services Commission (SSC) lawyers not to speak publicly about the case. She has repeatedly declined to comment when approached by Press.

The Press has obtained details of the complaint from a source that describes the nature of Sutton’s alleged impropriety.

They include:

- Suggesting to young female staff that they participate in “visible G-string Friday”.

- Unwanted, body-press hugs.

- Asking the complainant whom she considered to be “hot” and “sexy” and who she would like to have sex with.

State Services Commissioner Ian Rennie has said that ‘the bulk of the complaint made by the complainant was upheld’. But he’s also said that:

A report provided to the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie did not establish conduct which would have led to Sutton being dismissed and Rennie said he would not have asked him to stand down.

Now, maybe I’m just being a super-sensitive politically correct guy who can’t take a joke, or ‘unwanted body-press hug’, but I’d expect behavior like this to result in instant dismissal. However, the SSC Commissioner is saying that managers in the public service can behave like this towards their staff and keep their jobs. Combine that with the fiasco of the SSC press conference, which was a stage-managed PR opportunity for Sutton, and Rennie’s position no longer looks tenable. No woman in the public service can have any confidence in the system to protect them from sexual harassment when the Commissioner enables and minimises it to the extent that Rennie has. This is now a matter for the State Services Minister. Does she have confidence in this clown?

November 18, 2014

Credit for prescience where credit for prescience is due

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 3:34 pm

This was John Armstrong writing back in August of 2013 about Labour’s leadership primary model:

On the face of it, Labour would seem deserving of much applause for rule changes which now make the election of the party’s leader a far better exercise in democracy.

Changes to the constitution which give every party member a say on whether David Cunliffe, Shane Jones or Grant Robertson should be handed the difficult task of returning Labour to the Promised Land have surely got to be a good thing, haven’t they?

Or are they? There is a long-forgotten but still very solid reason why election of the leader was the preserve of Labour’s MPs for so long.

MPs are hostage to the fortunes (good and bad) of their leader more than anyone else in the party. It can be argued that deciding who gets the job should remain the prerogative of MPs – and theirs alone.

The recent rule changes may instead result in the election of someone – Cunliffe to be precise – who caucus members may regard as being inflicted upon them as leader by misguided outsiders. The caucus – or at least the majority of its members – may thus not feel obliged to take “ownership” of the new leader.

November 11, 2014

Labour, leadership and magical thinking

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 5:31 pm

There’s been a bit of talk on the blogosphere/twitter about this column by Stephen Mills from UMR (they do Labour’s polling) about the future of the Labour Party:

The deaths of major political parties in Western democracies are often predicted but very seldom occur.

There was some talk after National’s 2002 election disaster that New Zealand First could become the major party on the right. That now looks really stupid.

In the last few years tens of millions of words have been written about the inevitable demise of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

While the ALP has some problems it has been in front in every major Australian poll since the first Coalition Budget in May.

Whether New Zealand Labour has a future has been questioned since its terrible party vote result in the September election.

Labour will be encouraged that most voters do see Labour as retaining major party status.

Given a choice, only 13 per cent think the party “has no place in modern New Zealand politics and is going to fade away”; 78 per cent think “its current problems are just the usual political cycle and it remains the alternative major party political party that people will turn to when they get tired of John Key and National”.

I don’t know if Labour is a dying party. Looks like it to me, but there’s still time to turn things around. I do think there’s an important difference between National in 2002 and the Labour Party in 2014. After their 2002 election loss National realised that it faced an existential crisis and took drastic action. They bought Steven Joyce in to review the party, underwent a huge reorganisation and then united behind their subsequent leaders, Brash and Key. The sense I get from Labour is that they don’t have anything to worry about because hey, National was in big trouble a few years ago and now look at them go! Sure, Labour aren’t doing great right now but it’s just history; it’s political cycles. You gotta ride it out and wait until the tide washes you back into government again. There was a nice example of this from former Labour President Mike Williams on the Nine to Noon political segment last week. Williams announced that the leader of the Labour leadership contest will probably be the Prime Minister in 2017 because four term governments are rare. Forget all that hard work of somehow beating John Key, which Labour has no idea how to do, or even reforming the party. Fate will just return them to power, somehow, because that’s what sometimes happened in the past.

I don’t think Key and National see themselves as being circumscribed by fate, and that they should just resign themselves to losing in 2017. I think they’ve built a fearsome political behemoth that dominates New Zealand’s political landscape and which they hope will endure for a long, long time, even after Key finally retires in his fifth term (or whenever).  Labour dying is not a worst-case scenario for the New Zealand left. Labour hanging around, slowly dwindling, occupying the political space of the center-left but not winning an election for another twenty years is the real and highly plausible doomsday scenario. I don’t know how much of National’s strength is an accident of Labour’s current weakness, but I do know that the new Labour leaders job will be reforming their party, and not beating Key. That’s not even an option for Labour until they somehow transform themselves into a modern professional political party, and figure out who they are and what they stand for.

What does that even mean? Let me make three points.

  • Values. I agree with people like Josie Pagani when she says Labour needs to be a ‘broad church’. If it’s going to be a major party then it needs candidates that speak to many different groups of New Zealanders; it can’t just be a bunch of educated urban liberals shouting at everyone about what they’re allowed to think and say. But a broad church is still a, y’know, church. You need to believe in God, so to speak. Pagani endorsed Shane Jones for leader, and it was really obvious for a long time that St Jonesy’s values were basically ACT Party values. He said it himself when he left, that he wanted Labour to be more like the Lange/Douglas government. It was completely ridiculous to have a guy that openly hated the party and everything it stood for sitting on the front bench, and of course it worked out terribly for Labour. That’s not something that happens to functional political parties. New Zealand First doesn’t have an MP that hates old people. National is a ‘broad church’ party, but they don’t have John Minto in there talking about abolishing private property, and a whole bunch of National activists cheering him on and endorsing him for leader. Labour needs to articulate a meaningful set of values that MPs and party members agree on.  How the hell are the public supposed to know what they’re voting for if the MPs can’t agree?
  • Performance: Having said all that about values, grasp what Key grasps: that the majority of those centrist voters Stephen Mills talks about in his column aren’t morons – as Chris Trotter alleges – but valence voters who look for qualities like competence rather than policy or ideology. Labour does not present itself as a competent, credible party. Take last election: all that phenomenal policy work in the lead-up to the 2014 election campaign was pointless: whenever the policies were launched all the MPs either went on holiday or started talking about anything other than, say, the education policy they’d invested months developing. That’s not down to factionalism, or media bias, or any of the other problems Labour contends with (or thinks it does). That’s just a badly run political party. Stop purging high-performing staff whenever there’s a leadership change. Don’t replace them with random unqualified people who can’t do those jobs.
  • Winning. In 2005 Labour won the party vote in Nelson with 43% of the vote. In 2008 high-ranking list MP Maryan Street became the Labour candidate, and by 2011 Labour’s party vote in Nelson was 27.3%. That’s a huge decline but not, weirdly, a reason for Labour not to run her again in that electorate in 2014 or give her a high position on the list (albeit not high enough to return her to Parliament). Why did the party select someone with no apparent connection to Nelson as the electorate candidate and then keep running them even through their result just kept getting worse and worse? That was a really dumb thing to do. The ability to run campaigns that win party votes is the key performance indicator for politicians in the MMP system. but half of Labour’s candidates repeatedly run electorate only campaigns and the rest keep getting re-selected and back in on the list irregardless of how they perform. (Nelson isn’t the worst decline, either. Mt Albert, Dunedin South and Auckland Central have seen even larger drops in party vote support). MPs and candidates need to understand that if they’re not winning party votes for Labour they need to go and do something else with their life.

Those problems are symptoms of institutional dysfunction. I don’t know what the core issues are, or how you fix them, but that’s what the next leaders main job is. ‘Beating Key’ is way down the list. The danger is that the next leader starts to reform the party which freaks out and fights back, white-anting and leaking against him (or her) and they get rolled because they’re down in the polls.

I don’t know which candidate for leadership is best suited to run the party. I thought Cunliffe would be a good leader! But here are my brief thoughts:

  • Gracinda. The urban liberal dream-team of Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern. Will be popular and effective in Auckland and Wellington. Will make Labour attractive to soft-Green voters. I find it hard to imagine them winning many National or New Zealand First voters, not just because Robertson is gay but because I can’t see two childless career politicians being wildly popular with ‘middle-New Zealand’. Clark was though so maybe I’m imposing my own subconscious bigotry onto the voters, or something. Also, as a Green voter I question the strategic value of trying to win votes off the Green Party, but there’s a strong consensus in Labour that the Greens need to be knocked back (Mike Williams talked about this on Monday as well), and a historic precedent for it – National consumed ACT before they moved to the center – and ‘Gracinda’ is the best leadership team to go about this.
  • Andrew Little. Hasn’t won an electorate. Neither did Brash though, and he came pretty close to winning in 05 (which goes to show that leadership isn’t everything, since Brash was pretty shocking at it). Little seems to be keen to ‘Clause IV’ Labour and provoke a fight with the party by rolling back various policies that are near and dear to the hearts of Labour’s activists. Apparently Little was a very formidable operator when he ran the EPMU, so maybe he has the organisational abilities to reform Labour?
  • Nanaia Mahuta. She did well in the Nation’s Labour leaders debate. I don’t think she’ll win, but I can’t help contrasting her treatment by mainstream media commentators, who seem to regard her as a bit of a joke with that of St Jonesy, who was hailed as a superstar and Labour’s last chance to reconnect with real voters, given that Mahuta managed to win and hold an electorate seat, and be a Cabinet Minister without constantly disgracing herself, feats Jones never quite pulled off. I wonder if Maori Labour MPs like Mahuta are told to focus on Maori media and winning Maori votes, and then when they stand up in a contest like this they’re greeted with bafflement by Pakeha pundits?
  • David Parker. I have no strong opinions about David Parker.

I have no idea which of the three blokes will win, or which of them should win. But if I was a Labour voter I’d worry less about ‘who I’d like to have a beer with’, or which faction they championed, or even whose policies and values I identified closely with, and more with which of them has the qualities to fix the deep, structural problems within Labour and turn it into a modern professional party.

October 31, 2014

The idiot

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:29 am

Here’s why this Steffan Browning/Ebola/Homeopathy thing is a really big deal for the Green Party. (a) Historically they’ve been stereotyped by their opponents as a bunch of nutters (b) The main focus of the party for the past five years – at least – has been to counter that perception and convince voters that they’re a sober and credible political alternative. (c) Arguing that homeopathy should be used to cure Ebola is so fucking crazy it instantly undermines a lot of that work and reveals to the public that at least one of the MPs in the party is a total nutcase.

Just after the election someone asked me what they could do to help the Greens, and I told them to join the party and vote for candidates that weren’t deluded lunatics. Disasters like this illustrate why it’s important for sane, sensible people to contribute to the political process at a grassroots level and make sure the MPs in their party aren’t laughable weirdos.

October 29, 2014

Hiatus interruptus

Filed under: books,Politics — danylmc @ 9:04 am
  • My friend James gave his maiden speech in Parliament yesterday! 

 

  • I’ve just finished reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Half-way through I was describing it to friends as one of my favorite books ever. One of the odd, quirky things about it was a minor character called Leonard who was obviously a deft little sketch of David Foster-Wallace. Then in the second half of the book Leonard becomes a main character and the book turns into a study of Leonard’s depression, and the fact that David Foster-Wallace is shuffling around inside this novel is just really weird and uncomfortable.
  • Here’s a point I meant to make before i went on hiatus. Here’s the aggregated polling for the Internet-Mana Party.

internetmana

 

  • So. The Internet Party and the Mana Party merged in May. They were trending upwards in the polls until August when they slumped. What happened in August? A few things – it was a crazy campaign – but the big events for Internet/Mana were the ‘Fuck John Key’ video and Pam Corkery’s on camera meltdown. My post-hoc hypothesis is that those events were terribly damaging for Internet/Mana. But when those events happened the conventional wisdom among on-line activists (on my twitter feed, the comments of my blog, places like Public Address System, see also many posts on The Daily Blog, like this one) is these events were great for Internet/Mana. They were ‘disruptors’, and although these things might have upset mainstream New Zealand, that didn’t matter because Internet/Mana appealed to radicals and the disenfranchised, and they’d love this stuff, which was tapping into this deep vein of anger among the youth of the nation.
  • And, at the time, that sounded plausible to me. After all, Internet/Mana was a radical party. It turned out to be totally wrong though, so it’s worth bearing in mind that most of the left-wing commentariat aren’t just out of touch with mainstream New Zealand, they’re also out of touch with radical left-wing New Zealand. Something I think left-wing MPs and their staffers need to bear in mind when they’re being howled at by these folks on twitter all day.

October 14, 2014

Hiatus

Filed under: blogging — danylmc @ 12:55 pm
  • I’m not saying I’m taking a break from blogging, exactly, because every time I do that something really interesting happens that I want to blog about and I look like a doofus. But I’m taking a break from blogging unless something interesting happens.
  • Partly because this is because I’m busy with other stuff. But I’m also feeling despondent about left-wing politics: Labour is a horrible mess and looks to remain one, and the Greens couldn’t capitalise on Labour’s failure and grow their vote. It’s depressing.
  • This might sound solipsistic but I feel like some of the left’s problems stem from over-engagement with social-media. If you’re listening to and engaging with a cacophony of voices online it’s easy to lose touch with the silent but demographically much, much larger section of the population that aren’t commenting via blogs or twitter etc, and have very different priorities and concerns. So I’m part of the problem!
  • And the left-wing blogoscape seems pretty bleak. I think The Standard, especially, need to stop and ask themselves some tough questions; right now it feels – to me – that they’re doing more harm than good, mostly to Labour and that having a bunch of anonymous and pseudo-anonymous bloggers widely suspected of working in the Labour leaders’ office hasn’t worked out for them.
  • Also, people should stop writing content for Bomber, or reading anything he says, or generally doing anything that acknowledges that he exists. He’s a fool and a buffoon and the suggestion that he speaks for the left, or is representative of the left is very harmful to the left.
  • If there’s one thing I think the left can learn from National it’s that we need to talk about what the public cares about, not what we care about – because nobody cares about what we care about. That doesn’t mean left-wing parties have to abandon the things we care about. It’s not like National have abandoned the TPPA, say, or expanding the powers of the security state. They just know that those issues aren’t relevant to that many voters so they talk about things that are. And it works.

 

October 6, 2014

Thoughts on the special votes and the Greens

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:16 am
  • The special votes really are special, in the sense that there were an awful lot of them (~13% of the total vote) and they’re weighted quite differently to the rest. So people (like me) who called Key’s victory two weeks ago ‘historic’ on the grounds that he defied gravity and increased his percentage of the vote going into his third term and won an outright majority now look rather silly given that he did not actually do either of those things.
  • Likewise, those people talking about how the Greens were ‘gutted’ or that their loss was as great as Labour’s in proportional terms also look pretty silly given that the Greens haven’t actually lost a seat and their final result is 0.36% lower than their best result ever.
  • They did under-perform relative to their expectations – they wanted 15% of the vote – and the polls which had them at around 12.5%.
  • More ominously, they failed to grow their vote even though Labour declined. If they can’t take votes off Labour during their worst election ever, how will the Green Party grow as a party?
  • From the far left? The missing million mostly young voters who yearn for an alternative to the neo-liberal consensus?
  • Probably not. I suspect the failure of Mana and then Internet/Mana to attract meaningful support – even though in the last election they had resources that the Greens could only dream about – signals the death of the activist far-left in mainstream New Zealand politics. Left-wing political parties can’t keep chasing after people who don’t vote at the expense of the support of people who do, and they can’t keep listening to online activists who claim to speak for the poor, disenfranchised non-voters etc, but whose values and rhetoric don’t actually attract any votes from those demographics.
  • Can the Greens win votes from the center right? Abandon their left-wing social policies, focus on their environmental policies and re-position themselves as a potential coalition partner for National?
  • Again, probably not. The Greens are an environmental party but they’re also a left-wing party. I know, I know – Twitter is flooded with know-it-alls braying that the Greens are neo-liberal middle-class sell-outs, but the actual Green Party as it exists in the real world is a left-wing party with left-wing policies. Even if the leaders could convince the caucus, party officials and members into supporting a National government, it is impossible to imagine this National government agreeing to the kind of environmental concessions the Greens would want. Are Joyce, Brownlee and Bridges ever going to sign off on, say, a moratorium on deep sea drilling and mining in national parks, cleaning up the rivers, scrapping the roads of national significance and investing in public transport, and a carbon tax? That would probably be the bare minimum of the Greens demands, and National would never agree to it. There’s no common ground there the way there is with, say, Winston Peters, whose coalition demands would have consisted of knighthoods and portfolios and other concessions that would have been (mostly) painless for the National Party.
  • I suspect that new Green votes will come from (a) the center left. Labour moved to the left under Cunliffe, both rhetorically and in policy terms (again, I know, the conventional wisdom of twitter is that Labour are far-right neo–liberal whatevers, but this was probably the most left-wing policy platform Labour ran on since the 1970s). I think we’ll see a more conservative Labour after the leadership contest and there will be opportunities for the Green Party there. I also think they can (b) pick up ‘center voters’ who care about environmental issues but didn’t vote Green in 2014 because they were afraid a left-wing vote was a vote for a Cunliffe/ABC/Green/Peters/Harawira/Harre/Dotcom fiasco. And (c) I think the Maori electorates are a huge opportunity for the Green Party. They saw percentage increases in most of those electorates (pre specials) and, intriguingly Jack McDonald and Marama Davidson both got significantly higher electorate votes than the Greens received party votes even though they campaigned as list candidates. I hope they can recruit high quality candidates for the three Maori electorates that didn’t have Green candidates and that there’s a resignation in the caucus before 2017, so that Davidson can come in on the list and campaign as an MP in those Maori seats.
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