Green co-leader Russel Norman has announced he’s retiring as Green co-leader in May. My understanding is that he’ll stay on for a while as an MP.
It’s a huge loss to the Green Party. To a certain vintage of political pundits – Barry Soper, Jane Clifton – the Greens have always been Morris-Dancing Pot-Smokers and always will be. But everyone else who watches politics has observed a dramatic shift over the years to a more corporate, media-savvy, relentlessly on-message Green Party. A lot of that is Norman’s doing. He’s also turned the Greens into a party of serious policy development. (It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that for several years Labour’s policy development process consisted of cutting and pasting text from the Green Party web site.)
Consequently the Green Party vote has roughly doubled during Norman’s eight years as co-leader.
There will be a leadership contest. It will, presumably, be very fair and democratic and insanely complicated, because that’s the Green Party way.
If Kevin Hague stands then I expect he’ll win. I hope other MPs stand against him though. It’ll be good for the party to raise the profile of the contenders, and it’s good for the new leader to earn their his position not just have it handed to them.
The next MP on the list is Marama Davidson. She’ll come in if/when Norman stands down as an MP. I think she’ll be good. And she’s Auckland based: the Greens need to expand their presence there.
This shouldn’t be the last Green Party MP to retire this year. Russel is a big loss but there are a couple of Green MPs who really, obviously aren’t working out and who need to stand down so that the next candidates on the party list can come in and campaign as MPs in 2017. As we’ve seen with Labour, if a party doesn’t rejuvenate itself the electorate will rejuvenate for them by voting for someone else.
This is good for Labour! If Annette King stands down and there’s a by-election in Rongotai then Andrew Little – or some other candidate – will almost certainly win, an outcome that wasn’t guaranteed with Norman around.
I wish Russel the best of luck in his new role as head of Exploration and Production at Todd Energy.