The Dim-Post

January 30, 2015

Thoughts on Russel Norman’s retirement and Green Party leadership

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:00 am
  • 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.


  1. I hope other MPs stand against him though. It’ll be good for the party to raise the profile of the contenders…

    (cough, cough) James Shaw (cough, cough)

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 30, 2015 @ 11:28 am

  2. It’s a loss in the sense of Norman’s past achievements, but it’s also time for him to go as co-leader. His performance the week before the election and in the post-election period was off, he came across as jaded and there were too many times when Turei had to run interference/patch things up. Norman looked at odds with the party.

    I hope he stays on as an MP, because his skills are needed, but can understand if he doesn’t want to do that.

    Comment by weka — January 30, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  3. As long as the Green Party keeps selecting the likes of Steffan Browning as candidates it is going to be difficult to eliminate the pot smoking morris dancing meme.
    I reckon the crazy is part of the Greens DNA.

    Comment by Nick R — January 30, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  4. I wish Russel the best of luck in his new role as head of Exploration and Production at Todd Energy.


    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — January 30, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  5. @Nick R – AFAIK, Steffan Browning does not smoke pot nor does he morris dance, although he does wear woolly jumpers. Perhaps the meme is simply an unjustified bias, pea ?

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — January 30, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

  6. “I reckon the crazy is part of the Greens DNA.”

    If you only need one MP to smear a whole party, then we’re currently governed by violent bigots.

    Want to try being a grown-up? This isn’t Kiwiblog, do better.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — January 30, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

  7. On Norman’s resignation: it’s presented as a “shock”, but it’s not that surprising. ACT have had 27 leaders since 2006, Norman was in his job before Key led National.

    He did as well as anyone could have asked, and can hardly be blamed for the failings of the rest of the opposition, from Labour to Mana.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — January 30, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

  8. I thought Norman was quite deflated by the Green vote last election, he probably ran out of gas around then. Anyway, good on him, he left the Greens better than he found them, and a big thank you for his years of public service.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 30, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

  9. Well said Sanctuary, I almost sent a reply in the same vein to the notification email I got from the Greens, until I remembered that there’s not much point replying to an automated mail list…

    Comment by Conrad — January 30, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

  10. It’s a great loss to the party.


    P.S. He should do very well at Todd’s though

    Comment by Antoine — January 30, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  11. I’m a bit gutted. Understand the party is bigger than an individual and all that. And the fear I had after Donald died proved groundless, substantially thanks to Norman, but maybe it was thanks to the systematic depth sitting in the Greens and I just don’t realise that and I’m about to see that demonstrated in the performance of the next co-leader they pick. But even so, he was class, and I’m never complacent about that: individuals can change the course of things in politics for parties let’s face it – I mean would the Nats have had one term, let alone three or god help us maybe four, if Key hadn’t turned up? Would NZ First even exist?

    BTW – I totally understand Norman’s personal reasons. He’s a real person. I love Danyl’s Todd Energy joke but it will be interesting who snaps him up. No doubt his next role will have to have very family friendly hours! All the best to you Russell.

    Comment by Joe-90 — January 30, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

  12. I heard a senior public service role in Greece. Does Russel speak any Greek?

    Comment by richdrich — January 30, 2015 @ 3:37 pm

  13. Whined a lot, but achieved absolutely nothing. Jog on fanta pants!

    Comment by King Kong — January 30, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

  14. This can only be considered a huge vote of confidence in Turei by Norman.

    Comment by Lee C — January 30, 2015 @ 5:22 pm

  15. I thought the Greens were pretty on-message and media-savvy before Norman became leader.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

  16. Nick R: “I reckon the crazy is part of the Greens DNA.”

    Unless you’ve been living in a fallout shelter, haven’t you heard of Bob Clarkson or David Garrett?

    Comment by Kumara Republic — January 31, 2015 @ 12:47 am

  17. And of course there was that time he sqeaked “Give me back my flag” when he protested against the Chinese
    Not a high point!

    Comment by rayinnz — January 31, 2015 @ 8:13 am

  18. Ray’s comment reminds me of so many heard during protests against apartheid, mocking the protestors, while ignoring the cause. Years later, it turns out everyone was against apartheid after all! Who knew?

    I’d suggest ignoring human rights abuses would qualify better as “not a high point”. But each to his own. If you never stand up for anything, you never look silly on telly. I guess we should all just stay on the couch, not march, but wait for Selma the movie – protest with popcorn.

    (Where DO you stand on this, Ray? Military massacres – worse than a guy with a squeaky voice, or not really?).

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — January 31, 2015 @ 2:56 pm

  19. And of course there was that time he sqeaked “Give me back my flag” when he protested against the Chinese
    Not a high point!

    Seriously? Standing up for human rights is not a high point?

    Comment by TerryB — January 31, 2015 @ 3:04 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: