Claire Browning at Pundit has a piece up about my friend James Shaw, who is the Green Party’s new Wellington candidate. Various excerpts:
He divides his time between jobs in two quite different, some say irreconcilable, worlds. He jets off, from time to time, to fund the months he spends campaigning for the Greens. He is a consultant “focused on helping business leaders formulate and implement sustainable development strategies in their organisations”. More simply: “My international work is centered on assisting a large global bank to become more sustainable (or perhaps, less unsustainable)”
The Greens’ candidate selection process requires him to put his case to party members, who all vote on list rankings. Some have said that they won’t or can’t support him.
Part of what he’s doing at the moment is proving himself to the party on their terms, especially, he suspects, a “hard core of purists … who are deeply worried about the presence in the Party of people who aren’t career campaigners or unionists and fret that this will weaken us rather than strengthen us”.
One recent commenter here on Pundit, a party member, remained unconvinced about whether Shaw himself had any substance, versus quite a lot of style.
As someone who has known James for about twenty years I can set this style over substance issue to rest right now: all the items in his wardrobe were chosen for him by gay friends, his old Italian flat-mate or his ex-girlfriends. He has no actual style of his own.
If the Greens can’t embrace the likes of James Shaw— if they can’t build a broad enough church to fit everybody inside of it— the movement may well fail, because this is about us all, and it takes all kinds to save a world.
There’s a not-insignificant proportion of (mostly older) Green activists who are basically Marxist-Leninists who want to use the problem of climate change as a pretext for a socialist revolution – and that’s provoked a huge backlash against the entire concept of environmentalism from the rest of the political spectrum, and made the job of serious environmental change much harder. There’s a huge irony that these activists are rejecting people like James as not being ‘real’ environmentalists.