The dubious campaign to woo the Greens
By Richard Harman (author)
What appears to be a carefully orchestrated social media campaign has been running all weekend designed to try and push National and the Greens into Government formation talks.
The campaign appears to be motivated by National Party supporters (and possibly some MPs) who do not want to see the party do a deal with NZ First.
Right-wing commentators David Farrar and Matthew Hooton have been at the forefront of the campaign.
Hooton claimed last night that National was about to offer Greens co-Leader James Shaw the deputy Prime Ministership and Minister of Finance.
Farrar has been a critic of National doing a deal with NZ First.
An alternative view is that there is an air of desperation about all this because National realises that NZ First are ready to do a deal with Labour and that the Greens could be their last chance to stay in power.
Greens Leader, James Shaw, last night was saying nothing about the proposal.
However, Green MP Julie Anne Genter tweeted: "If National really wanted to work they shouldn't have spent last nine years increasing cows, motorways, oil exploration & poverty.”
Shaw told POLITIK he was saying no more publicly than he had already said.
But Shaw’s hands are tied.
The Greens constitution gives ultimate power within the party to its members rather than its caucus, and it also requires that any motion at a Special General Meeting (such as would be called to endorse a Government formation agreement) have 75% support.
However, the campaign may have more sinister overtones.
There are suggestions that some of the commentaries on social media have been paid for.
Listener political columnist Jane Clifton posted a tweet last Wednesday saying” “Some people are actually being paid to shop this scenario around.”
David Cormack, the former Communications and Policy director for the Greens, replied: "Yup, I was told this by someone who is doing exactly that.”
What is not known is who might be footing the bill.
By yesterday the campaign was getting some high-powered support.
Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger told TVOne’s “Q+A”: “A party like the Greens who campaigned they want to influence the country’s environmental approach on a whole range of issues and some issues of poverty – then why not talk to both sides? Why presume that you only can talk to one side? I think they fail to understand MMP if they do that.”
But the reality is that the Greens members would oppose any deal with National.
That much was made clear in a blog post by former Green MP, Nandor Tanczos.
“I do not think James Shaw should be ringing up Bill English to discuss coalition options,” he wrote
“To support the National Party to become a fourth term government would be both impossible in practical terms and politically suicidal.
“Impossible because any coalition agreement needs ratification by 75% of the party and there is more chance of Winston retiring gracefully from politics.
“Suicidal for a multitude of reasons.
“First, people voted for the Greens on the clear understanding that we would not support a National Government.
“To do so would be a complete betrayal of our voters, akin to NZ First going with National in 1996 (for which they got badly punished).
“Second, it might be worth the risk if we could shape the trajectory of an incoming government.
“To bolster a government almost certainly in its last term, a government that has shown such disregard for both the environment and our growing social inequality, just before their support collapses, would be a tragic mistake.
“Third, to make such a move without lengthy preparation and discussion inside the party would tear the Greens apart.”
Tanczos does, however, believe that the Greens should reposition themselves to be able to talk to National as well as Labour in future Government formation talks.
But not now.
Of course, posturing and bluffs are to be expected as the parties wait for the return of the final results next weekend.
But this latest campaign would appear to have very little chance of success.