Monday, February 02, 2015

The Greens belong to their members

Pre-election, we had a bunch of clueless pundits arguing that the Greens needed to abandon their core principles and collaborate with National to gain power. As I argued at the time, this was born of a fundamental incomprehension of the Greens' goals and of the political environment. Now, in the wake of Russel Norman's resignation, we have another bunch of clueless pundits arguing that the Greens should seize this "opportunity" to "reposition" themselves - and throw their other, highly effective, co-leader overboard to make this happen.

I guess its a problem with the rich and their paid mouthpieces that they view political parties as existing to serve their interests. They don't. Political parties exist for one purpose, and one purpose only: to serve the interests of their members. And in the Greens' case, that's not just an ideal, but a constitutional requirement.

Unlike other parties, where a tiny cabal within the Parliamentary party gets to decide everything, everything in the Greens is ultimately decided by their members. They elect their leaders every year. They decide policy by consensus. Who they back on confidence and supply goes to the membership. In such a party, the ability of an MP, even an elected leader, to change political direction is limited to their power to persuade the membership to follow them. In a party whose membership base swings heavily left as well as Green, that is a very tall order (especially with a 75% majority required to avoid consensus on policy). And if its unpopular, annual leadership elections means that a co-leader who advocates such a shift may soon cease to be co-leader.

The punditocracy have also scoffed that that is no way to run a political party. I disagree strongly. Its a very good way to run a political party if you want it to remain a vehicle for its members, rather than a tool for delivering their votes to their enemies. And it speaks volumes about our political commentators that they seem to favour the latter.