The Dim-Post

May 31, 2015

First thoughts on the Green co-leadership race

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:17 am
  • Yay!
  • James Shaw won. I think/hope he’ll be very good. Although, being a political leader is an odd, demanding job. It changes people. You never know how new leaders will do until they’ve done it for a while.
  • But beating Kevin Hague is a promising sign. Hague was a very tough, smart, well organised, experienced opponent. We didn’t realise just how formidable he was until the three-month long campaign was well under-way. James was seen as a risky newcomer, and the only way he stood a chance against Hague was to take some risks but never make a mistake. And it’s very easy for candidates to make mistakes when they’re giving daily speeches, engaging on social media and trying to get their name out in the mainstream media. James did everything right. I really hope he keeps doing that.
  • There was also an element of luck. Part of Kevin Hague’s pitch was that he had parliamentary experience but James didn’t. Kevin was ‘ready to go on day one’. Then, in the crucial final weeks the Saudi sheep story broke. It was James’s portfolio. He was ‘strong in the House’ and got good media coverage so the key attack line against him disintegrated.
  • Although, the ability to identify opportunities and seize them is also a useful quality in a leader. So, again, promising.
  • I’m also happy to see that one of the key platforms of James’s campaign – that he performed well in the general election and got loads of people to vote for his party – was successful. I think one of the reasons that the left is struggling, both here and in other anglo-countries is that there isn’t enough emphasis on campaign skills and public popularity. Power within left-wing political parties is too often won by appealing to factions or affiliates – like unions – instead of the ability to connect with the public. A lot of senior Labour and Green MPs do very poorly in electoral terms but continue to rise through the ranks. So I’m very happy that – in the Green Party at least – the members have sent a signal that if they ever want to be leader, MPs need to go out and win votes.
  • I’ll try not to write about Green Party issues too much from now on. I don’t want to be re-posting their press releases, or become one of those guys who helps write a speech and then jumps on their blog to lavish praise on it.

27 Comments »

  1. Those are first thoughts, and I’d be curious to read your reflexive thoughts when you’ve had a chance to jot them down.

    Comment by aotearoavivente — May 31, 2015 @ 8:28 am

  2. “beating Kevin Hague is a promising sign”

    As you say later on, winning a party’s internal elections is not necessarily a skill that can be generalised to winning national elections.

    Since the campaign’s over now, would you care to go into detail on what role you played in Shaw’s campaign? No pressure, I’m just curious..

    Comment by kalvarnsen — May 31, 2015 @ 8:35 am

  3. Having heard Shaw speak I feel he was and is the right choice for this role. I’ll go further and suggest he will possibly expose the fallibility of some near to him,
    by becoming the main and dominant element of the party.

    A singularly vulnerable aspect of the Green Party has been IMO it’s unwillingness to ‘deal’ with business, or make voters see that political ethical and economic benefits can result from their policies. Shaw appears to be able to articulate these three well.

    He will have a struggle on his hands, but Key will be the least of it though.

    I also applaud your final statement Danyl. Time will tell. my friend. Yes. Time will tell.

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 31, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  4. or become one of those guys who helps write a speech and then jumps on their blog to lavish praise on it

    You help them write speeches? Have the greens gone into satire now?

    Comment by eszett — May 31, 2015 @ 11:18 am

  5. Well done in your foray into electoral politics. While valuing the environment seems a given it has always puzzled me that the people who support the political arm of the environmental movement seem much nuttier than the Jehovahs Witnesses and way dumber and less productive than the Mormons (and with worse dress sense). They also combine an admirable goal with an affection for authoritarian methods that the 20th century has shown both do not work and are bad to the bone. If James Shaw can bring a little ray of liberalism into that dismal scene good for him.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 31, 2015 @ 11:23 am

  6. Yeah makes a change from the usual prolier than thou bollocks which passes for left wing leadership contests.

    Business success doesnt mean he understand how the economy / people work. Though the change signals that at least some in the greens aint prepared to wait until peak oil / global warming kicks in allowing the greens to soar naturally into government.

    Comment by Simon — May 31, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  7. Congrats danyl – must feel good…

    I’m a bit ambivalent about the Greens moving more to the right but after reading this article I’m more upbeat: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11457558

    – I like his immediate focus on climate change. I mean it makes sense given the consultation but at least it shows his priorities are right given his new position and his new role.
    – Growing the membership of the Green Party is a great idea. Money and membership is where political power comes from. I actually need to join myself one of these days…
    – Focus on technology is a win.
    – He looks “competent”. I know this is a terribly superficial thing to say based simply on how he looks, but I read some research recently that there is a correlation between how “competent” a leader looks, and how many votes they get.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — May 31, 2015 @ 12:54 pm

  8. Yes, he looks good. Will be interesting to see how he performs against the Key attack machine. Paleo Martin

    Paleo Martin

    Comment by paleomartin — May 31, 2015 @ 1:41 pm

  9. “I’ll try not to write about Green Party issues too much from now on. I don’t want to be re-posting their press releases, or become one of those guys who helps write a speech and then jumps on their blog to lavish praise on it.”

    Why deny yourself an effective platform to advance a cause you believe in? It’s not like it stops the rest of the NZ punditry. Slap a disclaimer at the bottom of such posts and you’ll be doing better than most.

    Comment by Stephen Judd — May 31, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

  10. I’m a sympathetic non-member of the Greens and have no strong opinion on their leadership race (apart from thinking that that Gareth Hughes always looks like such a nice young lad and why does he let his mother cut his hair?). But my sense from party members I’ve spoken to (and not just in the Hague camp) is that there is some unhappiness and bitterness about the way that this campaign was conducted on both sides (let’s assume that it was always really a two-horse race). Traditionally the Greens have stood for consensus and collaboration – this very competitive, combative, sometimes-quite-nasty presidential style of race is rather foreign to the way the Greens often like to think of themselves. And I’m hearing quite a lot of unhappiness about it, especially from long-standing members of the party. Maybe its inevitable, maybe the Greens are just moving with the times. And maybe the Greens will be able to avoid the longstanding problems that this kind of personality-centred leadership race has created for Labour. Perhaps the party really will unify and strengthen behind him (he says, with more hope than confidence). But I think we can say that in the way this campaign has been conducted James Shaw has already had one lasting effect on the Greens: in terms of their internal culture he has made them, a lot more like every other party in parliament.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — May 31, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

  11. I’m with Stephen Judd. Why on earth wouldn’t you write about the Greens. You support them, are well connected with them and are interested in them. (Although I agree with you on the speech thing, but only because that would make you boring.). Post the latest Hager book, the term “dirty politics” is getting applied so liberally to tweets and blogposts that it is now seen by some almost as a crime to say “go my team,” “the other team are clowns/crooks” etc. Are bloggers meant not to be restricted to writing about only things they don’t know or care about?

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — May 31, 2015 @ 4:26 pm

  12. Traditionally the Greens have stood for consensus and collaboration – this very competitive, combative, sometimes-quite-nasty presidential style of race is rather foreign to the way the Greens often like to think of themselves.

    I think there’s something to this. In the previous leadership contests a large majority of the party supported the candidate who won. Getting consensus wasn’t very hard. This contest was much more contested so the consensus process didn’t work in some cases and some branches were actually quite divided. And some of the older long-standing party members did support Kevin, and they feel disappointed which, combined with a sense that it is ‘their party’ has created a sense of grievance. But I’m not sure how that’s James’s fault or what he was supposed to do. Not run, just because people who opposed him are upset that he won?

    Comment by danylmc — May 31, 2015 @ 4:36 pm

  13. But i gotta say Hooten is right. You cannot go around second-guessing every wing-nut. Just tell people/disclaim and go for it. Recent attempts at dancing on the head of a pin have surely disrupted your circadian rhythm.

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 31, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

  14. Post the latest Hager book, the term “dirty politics” is getting applied so liberally to tweets and blogposts that it is now seen by some almost as a crime to say “go my team,” “the other team are clowns/crooks” etc.

    Pete George does write a lot of comments, true. But most people know what Dirty Politics was actually about.

    But I’m not sure how that’s James’s fault or what he was supposed to do. Not run, just because people who opposed him are upset that he won?

    I suspect that’s what this “consensus and collaboration” stuff is really all about for a lot of people – so, yes, for them he should have not run because the contest and his victory were upsetting for some.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — May 31, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

  15. Sometimes it’s useful to dust off the old memory and do the Received Wisdom Challenge.

    Consensus of that pundit “wisdom”: Rod Donald is irreplaceable. Russel Norman isn’t even in Parliament. How will the Greens cope?

    By ignoring bad faith pundits, for one.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — May 31, 2015 @ 9:41 pm

  16. @Sammy: Look, the price of admission to the Dim Post is accepting that political history doesn’t go back any further than three months ago.

    I’m sure whoever replaces James will be lauded as bringing a new, more pragmatic, more business friendly approach to the Greens.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — May 31, 2015 @ 11:59 pm

  17. Three weeks more like.

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 1, 2015 @ 7:25 am

  18. @Psycho Milt: “But most people know what Dirty Politics was actually about.”

    I don’t know what other people’s experiences have been, but outside the blogosphere and journalism communities, the majority of people I’ve encountered seem to think that “Dirty Politics” is whatever narrative their [favourite political party] put forward to describe it for them.

    For example, my inlaws are adamant that it’s nothing more than what they’ve always known that politicians on all sides always do anyway, and there’s nothing new here, and Nicky Hagar was always a socialist troublemaker so why does anyone care about his vile attempts in league with Kim Dotcom to disrupt democracy and make himself millions in royalties, and why is that Campbell idiot ranting and raving so much about it every night for weeks?

    So they go ahead and vote for the least-worst option which they’ve always voted for, in the same general disgust they always had of politicians. They don’t know or have time for learning about who people like Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham or Jason Ede are. “Whale Oil” is a colourful metaphor for something. If they did understand with more depth, they’d not differentiate them from operations of the alternative options they disliked, anyway.

    Comment by izogi — June 1, 2015 @ 9:15 am

  19. “… I don’t want to be re-posting their press releases…”

    To be fair to DPF, he has also gone all Randian nutter as well lately.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 1, 2015 @ 11:46 am

  20. They don’t know or have time for learning about who people like Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham or Jason Ede are. “Whale Oil” is a colourful metaphor for something. If they did understand with more depth, they’d not differentiate them from operations of the alternative options they disliked, anyway.

    Everyone I know thinks I’m a bit crazy to be spending any time on internet politics. They’re all liberal educated types that just consider it to be a bit crazed and unpleasant.

    There’s a bit of a trade off between being more informed via Twitter etc and having ones political opinions shaped in a negative way by the medium. There’s a certain type of sarcasm that gets reinforced by the constant access to glibness.

    I’m a bit wary of the view about being informed and having understanding and the development of political opinion.

    It’s often a self- serving and circular argument – you would agree with me if you just “understood”. You don’t agree with because you haven’t spent enough time thinking about a “complex” issue.

    I don’t we have much of an understanding of how people develop their political views.

    Comment by NeilM — June 1, 2015 @ 1:25 pm

  21. “…Everyone I know thinks I’m a bit crazy to be spending any time on internet politics…”

    You really should listen to them. It would be win-win.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 1, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

  22. OK so I’ve read up a bit now on this Shaw fellow. Quite frankly, he is the best thing that could have happened for Labour. All we need is for Shaw to piss off the Green base by moving to the right, and Judith Collins to roll Key and labour will, indeed, actually sleepwalk back to power.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 2, 2015 @ 9:52 am

  23. @Sanctuary you’re being a bit mean, it’s nice that the Green’s have a co-leader who isn’t ex McGillicuddy Serious Party (in though if not in deed).

    Comment by rsmsingers — June 2, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

  24. Be careful with those assumptions Danyl, I and a few of the people I know voted GP in Wellington Central and it had nothing to do with James Shaw

    Comment by mag rod aigh — June 2, 2015 @ 4:18 pm

  25. “I and a few of the people I know voted GP in Wellington Central and it had nothing to do with James Shaw”

    Are you sure? As the local candidate he’s the person most responsible for getting all the local advertising and campaigns and information out and in your face, even if you don’t know who he is. And the Green Party’s policy to date has usually been to focus on drawing attention to party votes over local candidates.

    Comment by izogi — June 2, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

  26. James Shaw genuinely looks like he has swing voter appeal.

    Tinakori #5: As compared with the shallow materialists who got billions in American and British taxpayer largesse for effectively causing the Great Recession?

    Comment by Kumara Republic — June 2, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

  27. James Shaw, for those who are mostly on the left of the political spectrum such as myself (apart from issues such as our Armed Forces which conservative parties no longer really care about, anyway), represents a refreshing alternative from Andrew Little, who already is becoming stale for some. Little’s modus operandi is to promote change because that’s his job; James Shaw is promoting his envisaged changes because of passion, and he’s making it positive and exciting for voters.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — June 3, 2015 @ 2:29 pm


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