Monday, April 04, 2011

The Greens and National

Its election year - which means that once again the Greens are having to consider their political positioning in post-election talks, and the possibility of a relationship with National. Because they're a democratic party, instead of leaving these decisions up to the caucus, they're putting them to the wider membership, seeking a mandate for a clear preference for Labour but holding out the possibility of working with National on particular policies (as they do at present), while calling the prospect of support for National on confidence and supply "extremely unlikely".

Seizing on the merest sliver - no explicit rejection of abstaining on confidence and supply - DPF calls this "the Greens getting smart". Getting? While the wording has changed, this isn't really any different from their position last election, of assessing possible coalition partners on their policy merits. The difference is that they've made that assessment already, and concluded that the anti-environment National Party will lose every time. After all, the Greens are hardly likely to support policies such as weakening the ETS, gutting the RMA, handing conservation land over to businesses, catching every fish that moves, digging up "sexy" coal, loosening air quality standards and giving a blank cheque to dirty dairying, are they? And that's without even getting into the social justice angle, which is a core value in the Green Charter...

So, this isn't the Greens "getting smart". Its the Greens doing what they've always done: pushing for policy, while being willing to work even with their enemies where there is common ground (and make no mistake: on core values, National are the Greens' enemies). Though given the bad experience of this term (where they were basically sidelined over energy efficiency, despite being promised consultation, and eventually withdrew cooperation in that area to prevent National using them for greenwash), I'd have thought they'd be a bit more wary of that in the future.