Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ian Ewen-Street and National

So, former Green MP Ian Ewen-Street is now working for National. I can't say I'm entirely surprised. He was the "bluest" of the Greens' initial intake, and prior to the last election used the platform of the pre-election conference to attack the party's direction and its commitment to social as well as environmental justice. So a move to national seems to be a natural evolution for him.

As for what this means, if it results in National getting a serious environmental policy rather than the "gut the RMA and rape the planet" one they have at the moment, then that can only be a Good Thing. But I think Ewen-Street will be pushing shit uphill. As a party, National is committed to keeping costs for business as low as possible - which means less protection for the environment. It's committed to keeping electricity prices low (which means environmentally subsidised coal), building more roads for more cars (which means more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions), allowing destructive development in national parks (dams, gold mines, you name it, they're allowed to wreck it), and not allowing local communities to stand in the way of any form of development (unless they're rich or its in a senior MPs electorate, in which case they're all for it). Plus, they're led by a climate change denier. And I don't really see this changing. National is a first and foremost a party of farming and big business interests, both of which are overtly hostile to environmental goals. While they can adopt environmentalism as an electoral strategy (and Don Brash and Nick Smith seem to be trying to do exactly that), that is all it will be, and when push comes to shove - when someone wants to build a dirty stinking coal-fired power station or turn a patch of native bush into an open-cast gold mine and stick a giant pile of cyanide-laced tailings next to it - those business interests will win out and the environmental ones will be dumped by the wayside. And I think Green voters are smart enough to know this (and if they're not, then I'm sure someone will remind them of it before the next election; it's not as if anti-environment statements from national MPs are particularly difficult to find).

I'm not trying to deny that parties can ever change - but it will take a lot more than just a dash of green paint on National's coal-fired blue SUV to convince me that they have.


Hopefully he will have some impact - particularly on climate change; what a shame he didn't join Labour, though, as Labour is more likely to lead the next government with NZ First, United, perhaps support from side benches by Maori Party.

The Greens are like ACT in that both have been in parliament since advent of MMP but always somehow manage not to get into government over some big "principle" - in '02 it was a 'non-negotiable' position on GE which by '05 the Greens never mentioned once; In '05 they managed to really sour relations with Labour over something - Zimbabwe & sport and in '99 they didn't push to go into Cabinet because - I can't remember now - but there is always an excuse not to be in government. really what have the Greens contributed on policies to slow global climate change since entering parliament in 1996 - a full decade ago? - the answer is almost zero.

So can hardly blame people like Ian, who is serious, getting sick of that little game of being stuck in the Green rut of being big on press statements and media stunts but totally worthless in terms of actually doing anything significantly positive on climate change ....

Posted by Anonymous : 8/06/2006 08:49:00 AM

Ian Ewen-Street likes Tau Henare an ex two terms MP who what’s a third term in Parliament to get the full MP retire benefits at the tax payers expense. So they join National Party

Posted by Anonymous : 8/06/2006 10:29:00 AM

Anon1: so really what have the Greens contributed on policies to slow global climate change since entering parliament in 1996 - a full decade ago? - the answer is almost zero.

To be fair, they have had a strong influence on energy policy; Labour's pre-election policy was pretty much stolen straight from the Greens. The problem is that they then dumped the carbon tax.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/06/2006 11:11:00 AM

Anonymous #2:

Really? Well, in case you didn't notice Ian Ewen-Street lives in an electorate with an incumbent National MP with a sizable majority. If he's trying to snake back into Parliament to get his organically-raised snount in the trough, it's a very odd way to go about it.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 8/06/2006 12:29:00 PM

Craig: he might be hoping for a high list ranking, and that would be one way for National to show that it is taking the environment seriously. But ATM he's just doing policy for them.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/06/2006 12:55:00 PM

In '05 they managed to really sour relations with Labour over something

Yeah that's exactly what kept the Greens out of government. It didn't have anything to do with UF & NZF boycotting a Green coalition and having the numbers to make their threat stick.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/06/2006 07:05:00 PM

We shall see.

My bet: Ewen-Street struggles on through National's next election campaign, becomes disillusioned that he's not succeeding in changing the party's environmental policy, and finally quits. And by the time he quits nobody notices

Nick Smith is a true politician: someone who will champion the party line despite knowing it is nonsense. Ewen-Street quit the Greens because he's not like that.

But hey, I'd be happy to be proved wrong and to see National develop better environmental policies.

Posted by Icehawk : 8/07/2006 01:52:00 PM

But hey, I'd be happy to be proved wrong and to see National develop better environmental policies.

As would I.

That's the joy of pessimism and cynicism; if you're wrong, you'll at least be pleasantly surprised...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/07/2006 01:57:00 PM

Let's not forget that in both 02 & 05 the Greens didn't get enough seats to form a majority coalition with Labour/Anderton. Like Space says, having to rely on Dunne/Winston meant Labour had no choice but to ditch the Greens.

Didn't Winston also veto any agreement that Act were party to as well? So the idea that there was a 57-all draw for Winnie to choose from was a bit fanciful.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/07/2006 02:38:00 PM

Pablo: while they didn't in 2005, they certainly did in 2002 (9 seats to United Future's 8). The failure to form a government then wasn't about the numbers, but about the breakdown of the relationship and labour's desire to go right rather than left.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/07/2006 03:08:00 PM

It's hard to express how much some members (including myself) dislike(d) him.

There's no doubt that most Greens were quite glad to see the back of him in 2005. People were hoping that he'd stand down before the 05 election to allow fresh faces in. But he wouldn't move.

Bloggreen has a few comments on the matter.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/07/2006 06:07:00 PM

PabloR: In 2002 Labour and Greens had a majority between them - they didn't need Progressive until Mrs Turia resigned but even after she resigned Lab Prog Green had a majority....

Posted by Anonymous : 8/09/2006 08:58:00 AM