Why National won't be able to deal with the Greens
By Richard Harman (author)
The campaign to try and form a National Party – Greens Government continued yesterday seemingly oblivious to the reality of the situation.
The campaign is believed to be being backed by a group of wealthy Auckland business people.
One of its leading propagandists, PR man, Matthew Hooton, yesterday told RNZ’s “Nine to Noon” show that they were inspired to act after seeing the press conference from NZ First Leader, Winston Peters, last Wednesday.
Hooton also claims that National is ready to offer Greens Co-Leader, James Shaw, the job of Minister of Finance.
That was being scoffed at in the Beehive last night.
But it is a measure of the madness which seems to have infected the whole debate.
What is being forgotten is that there is a sizable segment of the National Party, mainly from the rural electorates, which is highly suspicious of the Greens.
At the same time, the proposal also denies the real politics of the ordinary members of the Greens.
Former Green, and a contender for the party’s co-leadership in 2015, Vernon Tava says many grass roots Greens are from the far left. Their influence has grown because many centrist Greens have left the party --- including a number who left over the Metiria Turei benefit fraud revelations.
The party requires that a decision to support any Government must have the support of 75% of the members at a general meeting. That support is already here for a deal with Labour, but a National deal has never been put to the membership.
Tava believes any proposal to support a National Government would get a very hostile reaction from the membership.
“It would put James Shaw as being in a difficult position as being the lightning rod for what would be a very emotional response," he told POLITIK.
“A lot of people would be offended that the idea was even brought to them given that they have been so clear throughout the campaign that a vote for the Greens was a vote to change the Government,” he said.
“But also the idea of a coalition with National or any sort of rapprochement with National has been so thoroughly discussed within the party in recent yeaRs I think the leadership would be hesitant to even bring the proposal to a special general meeting such has been the strength of feeling about it.”
The proposal would also become tangled up in the Greens debate over who is to elect to replace Metiria Turei as the Greens female co-leader.
The front-runner is thought to be Marama Davidson who comes from the party's "red" or left wing.
Meanwhile, there is also lukewarm enthusiasm for the idea among National's rural supporters who are sceptical about the Greens’ willingness to moderate their environmental policies such as their proposed tax on nitrates or their call to bring agriculture into the ETS.
Greens Leader James Shaw raised farmers’ hackles in June when he backed a March report by UK-based Vivid Economics which recommended a 20- to 35-per cent reduction in pastoral animals to meet the party's carbon neutral 2050 promise.
Andrew McGiven, Waikato Federated Farmers President, organiser of the Morrinsville farmers’ protest who also sought National's Waikato nomination last year told POLITIK that he had an open mind about any possible deal.
“I’m adopting a wait and see approach,” he said.
“I think the Greens need to stay out of social policy and maybe just focus on the environment and if National went with them they'd tone down some of their more extreme views and look at the whole spectrum, not just the environment but the economy and the social part of it as well so you are not putting hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs.”
The problem is that the Greens are a party of the left.
In fact they are so much a party of the left and regarded by many as the “true” left party that the convenor of the left-wing "Standard" blog site, Lynn Prentice, commenting in August on Jacinda Ardern taking over the Labour leadership said: "I've heard rumours of a move by the conservatives and ambitious in the caucus to do this for a while. So I'm going to party vote Green again."
Reconciling environmentalism with the hard left has been a problem for other Green parties.
In New South Wales the Greens have split into two factions, the so-called “Tree Tories” and the “watermelons” or “Eastern Bloc”.
In Europe there have been tensions, often described using the German words “fundis” and “realos" between those who see the Greens as a movement and those who see them as a political party.
Those tensions and potential splits exist here.
There are voices from the outside like Nador Tanczos who want to see the party move towards the centre of politics over the longer term.
But that won’t happen before October 12, the date set by Winston Peters for his announcement on which party, National or Labour, NZ First will support into Government.
Unlike the Greens he understands the power of having a choice.