The Dim-Post

May 8, 2015

Greens’ co-leadership campaign and pro-James propaganda pitch

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:38 am

A few people have asked me what’s happening with the leadership campaign. And the answer is: it’s pretty much happening now. The actual delegate vote takes place at the Green Party AGM at the end of the month, but the branch meetings where members direct their delegates how to vote are already underway. So if you’re a member of the party – or want to be so you can have a say in the contest – get in touch with your local branch.

I’ve been helping James Shaw out with his campaign. Up until now its been impossible to tell how things are going, but now that the branches are voting we have a rough idea and I am cautiously optimistic. It’s going to be close but James could win. My reason for supporting him over Kevin Hague – who I have a huge amount of respect for – is pretty simple. The key role of a leader in a modern political party is to be the public face of that party, to front to the media and the public, and to win new voters. Maybe I’m just blinded by partisan bias, but I think James is going to be a lot better in that core role than the other candidates.

That doesn’t mean he’ll win. Kevin Hague also has a lot of great qualities, and they make him one of the most beloved guys inside the Green Party – which gives him a big advantage in a contest to become leader of it. But being the leader is about connecting with the public, not just the party’s own membership. The best thing for the future of the Green Party is to elect a leader who can grow it.

29 Comments »

  1. “The best thing for the future of the Green Party is to elect a leader who can grow it.” — this is what all four candidates are promising though!

    Comment by pete — May 8, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  2. All four candidates are promising it, and maybe they can all deliver it. But I think James will do the best job of growing our vote. Danyl is right, we shouldn’t be thinking about who appeals to Green party member, we should look at who appeals to the voting public, and James is the strongest candidate there.

    The Nats seem to agree, which is why they’re all calling him ‘one of us’ and trying to taint him by association with them. They’ve been very consistent with that messaging across multiple mediums from before the election.

    Comment by Tane W — May 8, 2015 @ 11:17 am

  3. But being the leader is about connecting with the public, not the party’s own membership.

    I think this pretty simplistic.
    The leader(s) need to do both. If they can’t connect with their base on a meaningful level then they will alienate them and their support will erode.
    Exhibit A: Labour.

    The leader(s) also need to be able to go toe-to-toe with the government, but principally the PM.
    I’m not sure Shaw has either the experience or the chops for that yet.

    I see the risk of him being in a leadership role is that while from a marketing perspective, he’s probably the right guy to grow the white, wellington, professional urban lib vote – which is already fairly well represented in Central and Rongotai GP turnout – he may not be the right guy for landing the hits in Parliament and brokering the hard deals / jockeying the party for position vis-à-vis Labour which will need to happen to ensure the GPs relevancy in the run up to the next election.
    There are also going to have to be some hard discussions with the likes of Delahunty and Browning to get them to move the fuck on.

    Good luck to him though. As long as that flake Hughes doesn’t get a look in, it’ll be a win for the GP.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 8, 2015 @ 11:42 am

  4. The Green Party list gets drawn up by the members, so if you’re a Green MP you do, by default, have a connection with the party base. But quite a lot of the caucus ONLY have a connection with the base – when their actual job is to be the public face of the party.

    Comment by danylmc — May 8, 2015 @ 11:48 am

  5. Which one wears a kilt?

    Comment by NeilM — May 8, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

  6. Wow, I agree with Gregor.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 8, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

  7. The Green Party list gets drawn up by the members, so if you’re a Green MP you do, by default, have a connection with the party base.

    I realise this. But unless you get a view of the proportion of members who support a particular candidate via STV – and unless the selection committee / leadership group adjustments are transparent – we don’t have a clear correlation with how much of the party ‘connects’ with a given candidate.

    Personally I think this is a real risk for Shaw.

    However, the leader’s role is different in a lot of respects in that they will have to act in a way that is congruent with the enough of the (somewhat) disparate activist base or risk merely becoming a front person for a particular clique.
    That will mean being able to corral members turned MPs who have been around for a long time who believe it is their right to wank on about trivial, batshit, nonsensical issues as it appeals to their base but that at the end of the day, are unimportant or unappealing to the non-GP voting public.

    I think Hague has pedigree in this area – certainly in his pre-Parliamentary experience – where Shaw may not but I would love to be proved wrong.

    But quite a lot of the caucus ONLY have a connection with the base – when their actual job is to be the public face of the party.

    Very true and a significant issue for a GP that campaigns for party votes, but who’s candidates are generally dependant on their local support base to get on the list (Cf. Browning).
    But is this an issue Shaw can solve? Probably not without a long overdue bloodletting which may well alienate significant GP factions.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 8, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

  8. A party leader is also responsible for running a caucus in a way that makes it look competent and united (someone once said that ‘the voters are suckers for the appearance of competence and unity’). Don’t underestimate Kevin Hague’s behind-the-scenes leadership ability.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — May 8, 2015 @ 1:14 pm

  9. I’ve always party voted Green, but I have to say almost every politician from any party who I’ve ever met in person has been charming and likeable – with the exceptions of Russel Norman and Gareth Hughes. I’m still a fan of Russel but Hughes doesn’t have enough else going on to win me over anyway. I’ll be happy if Hague or Shaw win.

    Comment by Ronald — May 8, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  10. Maybe Shaw and Hague could be co-leaders?

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — May 8, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

  11. Maybe Shaw and Hague could be co-leaders?

    Not unless one of them had a sex change.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 8, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

  12. It does feel weird to have a leadership campaign in New Zealand where one of the rules is “no women are allowed to run”.

    Comment by rickrowling — May 8, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

  13. “The best thing for the future of the Green Party is to elect a leader who can grow it.”

    The latte sipping, mac using, prius driving, liberal elitists refugees from Labo should be wide open.

    Comment by Simon — May 8, 2015 @ 3:09 pm

  14. I’m shocked that even now, the Green Party appears unable to shake off its obsession with cannabis.
    “… a leader that can grow it” indeed.
    You need to move on and shed this hippy thing, or you never get my vote, sirrah!

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 8, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

  15. … or my wife’s.
    Needless to say.

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 8, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

  16. I watched the Q&A where they had all four of the candidates on. Shaw was the only one to impress me. He actually seemed to know, whereas the other three seemed quite ignorant of, the most basic numbers about the economy.
    Then late in the piece he started to talk about awarding animals and so on personhood. What on earth was he thinking about? Does he worship Gaia?
    All the good work on creating an impression of being a sensible man and he had to blow it in 30 seconds

    Comment by alwyn — May 8, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

  17. How big do you want to try and grow the Greens?

    Perhaps sitting on 10% is the ideal for a niche party. Any larger and there’s the risk of going the way of other small parties that surge and then collapse due to not meeting expectations.

    Comment by NeilM — May 8, 2015 @ 6:56 pm

  18. It does feel weird to have a leadership campaign in New Zealand where one of the rules is “no women are allowed to run”.

    The Green Party elects two leaders every year, one male and one female. Often there isn’t a contest, because there may only be one candidate, but they vote on it every year. There is a woman running this year: Metiria Turei.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — May 8, 2015 @ 9:53 pm

  19. Thankyou for that Graeme. The fact that you felt it necessary to clarify the point has convinced me that you possess a disingenuous type of cunning not seen since Claudius. I can only admire it.

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 8, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

  20. Neil makes a good point. Minor parties that grow their support to a level that enables them to have a robust coalition tends to backfire: NZ First in 1996, Alliance in 1999, LibDems in the UK in 2010. They extract some concessions in the coalition but then get burned at the next election, sometimes never recovering (Alliance).

    The other point is that expanding the Green Party’s vote would seem to require watering down its policies. Soft Labour/Nat voters aren’t going to vote for a Green party that wants to increase taxes in any significant way for example, or adopt more restrictive environmental policies. But if the GP changes their policies, what’s the point of even getting power?

    It’s interesting to think about the economic power of the Green’s constituents. The Nats have farmers/business. Labour has the unions/working class. From my understanding the Greens have an urban elite and traditional radicals. The economic power of that constituency seems pretty weak and maybe not as unified and vocal as other groups. Obviously the Green party is one way to unify those two groups, but could it also make them into a more potent political force somehow?

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — May 9, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

  21. What they didnt say was the election was based on a ‘delegates’ method, originally devised so that aristocratic elites could keep control over the unruly mob. The bonus feature is that there is little transparency about true voting intentions, so that someone who comes a close second can win by a country mile if their votes are in the right places.

    Comment by dukeofurl — May 9, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  22. “The economic power of that constituency seems pretty weak and maybe not as unified and vocal as other groups.”

    Greens received more donations than Labour did in 2014. A reasonable chunk of that is due to MPs themselves, but considering the relative size of the parties, it suggests they at least have the economic power to donate to their party.

    Comment by jmarshall — May 9, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

  23. I think the dynamics of politics to an extent requires parties to aim for growth – growth means winning.

    But for the Greens maybe they should play on the luxury of not having to be a bigger party.

    But that would require an acknowledgement that they will always be a small party – that most people won’t be quite so convinced of their world view re the environment.

    My expectation for the SNP is that they will quickly not meet expectations and will decline. And their base is nationalism that is a much stronger force than most else.

    Comment by NeilM — May 9, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

  24. The Greens attract a fair amount of support from the comfortable middle class. That’s a group with both a good deal of spare cash, and the inclination to donate it to what they perceive as a good cause.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — May 9, 2015 @ 9:43 pm

  25. But that would require an acknowledgement that they will always be a small party – that most people won’t be quite so convinced of their world view re the environment.

    The entire point of the Greens is to convince “most people” that their world view in respect of the environment is not only a good one, but an essential one if human life is to continue in anything like the form that we currently know it.

    Your advice is essentially that the Greens should stop believing what they believe. That’s silly.

    Comment by Flashing Light — May 10, 2015 @ 5:24 pm

  26. Your advice is essentially that the Greens should stop believing what they believe. That’s silly.

    It wasn’t my advice at all. It was a likely condition of accepting being a small party.

    Comment by NeilM — May 11, 2015 @ 8:59 am

  27. Was a labour voter but switched and joined the Greens because Russell Norman made sense. James Shaw seems similar personality and I think the party needs that continuity of approach.

    Comment by Nick — May 14, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

  28. If Act isn’t “accepting being a small party”, why on earth would the Greens be so unambitious?

    Comment by Sacha — May 14, 2015 @ 10:54 pm

  29. Dr Danyl – the Karl Rove of Aro Valley🙂

    Comment by rob — May 30, 2015 @ 10:35 pm


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