Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Fundamental incomprehension II

Another day, and another journalist who just doesn't get it about the Greens. This time its Duncan Garner:

The Green Party needs a serious rethink. For as long as they have been in Parliament, they have been a left wing party – linked to the fortunes of the Labour Party. The Greens have constantly ruled out voting confidence and supply in a National Government. It means they can only ever be in Government if Labour is in Government. And the truth is – even when the tide was in for the Labour Party - Helen Clark and co shafted them.


The truth is the Greens can go on about social justice and poverty until they’re Blue/Green in the face, it ain’t working for them. They need a total rethink and they need to position themselves as being able to support either a National or Labour Government. They need to be more than a protest vote.

There's the usual unstated assumption that the Greens (should) want power. But as I've pointed out before, they don't: they want change, and power is just one possible vehicle to pursue that. But there's also another one: that policy, and indeed a party's fundamental direction, is something that can just be altered at will to appeal to (as beltway journalists derisively call us) "the punters". That might be true of National, and of Labour before its 2012 democratisation. But its not true of the Greens. Their core values - including social justice - are set out in their charter. Their policy committee is entirely elected by the membership. And their decision-making process requires consensus, or, failing that, a 75% majority. If the Greens want to give in to highly-paid beltway journalists' calls to throw the poor overboard so they (and others like them) can safely vote for clean rivers without having to think about poverty and hungry kids, they can - but it would require the overwhelming approval of the membership, rather than just a few cuckoos at the top. Which I think we can safely say is not going to happen anytime soon. And if that refusal to compromise their fundamental values means that they stay as a 10% party (while other, larger parties, adopt all their policies), then I don't think they'll be unhappy with that. Because unlike Garner, they don't think that "winning" is solely determined by whether you get a Ministerial salary.