Friday, August 18, 2017

The Greens can take nothing for granted

Like many people, I was shocked by last night's One News poll showing the Greens on 4%. Sure, I'd expected them to lose support over middle-class hatred for the poor and Labour finally having a credible leader, but that much? It was a bit of a shock. And while its six weeks to go and there will be other polls etc, its a wake up call that the Greens can take nothing for granted - either the decency of their fellow New Zealanders, or their survival as a party.

There's lessons in here for Labour as well. Historically, the Greens have done best when Labour has been weak, and worst when they're strong. Remember the Clark years, when they worried about scraping in every election? The Greens' success for the past nine years now looks like a commentary on Labour's weakness, its succession of bland, interchangeable dead white male leaders. And now Labour has a leader worthy of the name, someone young (or "youth-adjacent") and inspiring, who promises change rather than more of the same, they're doing well again. Which ought to tell them that the logic that saw them crown the likes of Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little - that they were a safe choice, that they had to go after the bloke vote, that it was their fucking turn - was bullshit. Empirically, Labour does best when it has a woman in charge. That's who their voters are, that's who they represent. So they might as well embrace it rather than pretend they're still the Labour party of the 1930's or 1950's in the era of "National mum and Labour dad".

Back to the Greens. Obviously, they'll need to fight hard, and hopefully they will. Those who want to see them in Parliament, who want there to be a voice for the climate, for the rivers, for the poor, need to give them their party vote. But more than that, every vote is now vital for them, and that includes electorate votes. There's long been a tacit understanding that Green voters would give their electorate votes to Labour candidates because the Greens didn't need electorates to stay in Parliament. Well, now they do. And they should respond accordingly. I know its a long shot, but every vote counts. If it means Labour candidates in tight races lose due to "vote-splitting" (as if they're owed Green support), fuck 'em - they have list spots as backup. The Greens don't, so they need to fight everywhere now.

(Also, this is your regular reminder that the 5% threshold is undemocratic and should be repealed)