The Green Party needs a serious rethink. For as long as they have been in Parliament, they have been a left wing party – linked to the fortunes of the Labour Party. The Greens have constantly ruled out voting confidence and supply in a National Government. It means they can only ever be in Government if Labour is in Government. And the truth is – even when the tide was in for the Labour Party - Helen Clark and co shafted them.
Clark chose to officially work with Peter Dunne and Winston Peters to form a Government and she left the Greens out in the cold, knowing their votes came for free. She knew how to keep her enemies close and her friends voted for Labour anyway.
History shows the Greens have missed out on power in New Zealand. If that is to change, the Greens need to evolve and be open to formally supporting a National Government.
The Greens talk poverty and social justice, but the poor aren’t listening – and they’re certainly not voting for them. Look at these telling statistics from the poorest electorates in the country:
In Manurewa, in the crucial party vote, just 868 people voted for the Greens; in Manukau, East it was just 744; in Mangere, it was just 865.
Now look at the two most wealthy suburbs in NZ:
In Epsom, the Greens got 3415 votes; in Wellington Central, they got 8627 party votes, more than Labour’s 7351; in Auckland Central the Greens got 4584 votes, compared to Labour’s 4758.
The truth is the Greens can go on about social justice and poverty until they’re Blue/Green in the face, it ain’t working for them. They need a total rethink and they need to position themselves as being able to support either a National or Labour Government. They need to be more than a protest vote.
Some of their policies around home insulation and public transport make total sense. They need to start getting some serious policy wins in Government, be more than just a party making noises on the sidelines.
However, as long as they hold their current position of being unable to support National they remain Labour’s little play thing. And even then Labour has the ability to shaft them; it’s time for them to modernise and to get away from Labour’s weak grip.
The Greens have been in power in Germany and Finland. Of course, they will always oppose National’s intention to mine, and of course they will oppose the numerous free-trade agreements, and of course they will disagree with farming practices and carbon emissions. But Labour supports mining and free-trade too – they aren’t that different to National. And what difference has Labour made to dairy farming in NZ? Zilch. Not forgetting, Labour negotiated and signed the China free-trade deal – not National.
In short, it’s time for the Greens to grow up, modernise and to be a party that can genuinely make a difference. They could be the 10 percent balance-of-power party every election - no matter who leads the Government.
Surely, if you’re a Greenie, that’s worth thinking about?
Duncan Garner hosts RadioLIVE Drives - weekdays from 3pm - political insight and news as it happens