The Politics of Green Coalitions – rethinking our strategy and positioning

There is a lot of talk in the media and in the public at the moment about the merits of a National / Green coalition. It is not a new idea but this post-election there seems to be a deliberate and concerted effort to push it.

National, of course, would love to have a second option strengthening their hand with New Zealand First. It is important to understand, though, that this is not just coming from the Nats. People are increasingly concerned about our looming social and environment crisis and some see it as a way to make progress even if we don’t get a change of government.

Let me state clearly at this stage that I do not think James Shaw should be ringing up Bill English to discuss coalition options. To support the National Party to become a 4th 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.

Note I did not say ‘because going into coalition with National kills small parties’. Coalitions are always dangerous for small parties but there are many lessons to be learned from the demise of the Alliance and the Māori Party, and from the zombie resurrection that is ACT.

Entering into a coalition with National right now would be a disaster for the Greens and one from which we might not recover. But as I first said in 2008, at some stage in the future we must be prepared to seriously consider the idea.

The tactical negotiating reason is compelling enough, in my view. Labour is currently the only option for the Greens but the same is not true in reverse. Labour doesn’t owe the Greens any favours, and the fact is that Labour will never respect the Greens until we recognise that truth. Rather than expecting a guaranteed relationship with a party that we aggressively target for votes and constantly criticise for not being enough like us, we need to recognise that Labour will give us just as much as they need to, to stay in power. Having an unconditional promise of support means that they don’t have to give us very much at all.

To put that another way, players only respect other players.

But even if the Greens are ourselves content in our current codependency, there is a more fundamental problem. If Greens cannot carve out a constituency beyond the ‘left of Labour’ cul de sac we are in, we will continue to play out the dynamic of this election over and over, soaring in the polls only as long as Labour is doing badly, but dropping back to 5% as soon as Labour turns left again. Or finds a charismatic leader. We may be mighty in opposition, but we will always be puny in coalition until we stop relying on discontented Labour voters for support.

This does not mean giving up our principles. Green politics is, and always has been, as much about social issues as environmental ones. I attended the first Global Greens conference in 2001 when the Global Charter was decided. What struck me was how the pillars of Green politics are essentially the same everywhere – ecological wisdom, social responsibility / economic justice, peace / non-violence, and local decision-making.

The idea that Green should “stick to the environment” is confused. It shows a deep misunderstanding about what Green politics is, what the environment is, and what human beings are. But does a commitment to social responsibility mean the Greens are left of Labour? Or a left-wing party at all? What does it even mean to be ‘left wing’ in Aotearoa New Zealand today?

Some people on the left think being left means you care about other people and being right means you are selfish. Some people on the right think being left means you are economically illiterate and being right means you are clever. It is sadly common in political debates for people to assume that their opponents are either stupid or morally deficient or both. My experience is that most people from either side are neither.

In fact, if you look at the fundamentals, there is very little genuine political difference between National and Labour. What we have now is more in the way of different political clans, held together by a sense of shared identity (often inherited) rather than by any coherent political core. It is in that way that the Greens have become tied to Labour. Not because our principles demand it, but because of a sense of kinship.

Because if you look at the most fundamental Green concerns: climate change, protection of waterways, child poverty, growing inequality, protecting civil and human rights, tāngata whenua rights, the last Labour government was barely more progressive than National. In fact the main argument used against ever forming a coalition with National – that their economic agenda is fundamentally at odds with a Green agenda – applies just as strongly to Labour.

It might be that Labour is more willing to address these fundamental issues than National, but that would require us to play hard-ball in our negotiations. You can’t do that when you have given your bargaining chips to the other side before you begin. Our current position on coalitions guarantees that we can never do more than greenwash a Labour government.

The problem is that we have bought into an inadequate conceptual model of politics that kind-of works in a First Past the Post political environment but which starkly reveals its flaws when confronted with the political diversity of MMP. This is the idea that political philosophy can be represented in one dimension on a straight line between left and right.

A left / right continuum is simply incapable of representing Green politics. Our most defining issues don’t figure on it at all and neither are the solutions to them a simple application of any one ideology, whether ecosocialism or green capitalism. Both the left and the right have valuable contributions to make to this discussion, but more important for the Greens is the opportunity to articulate uniquely Green solutions as the third point in a left / right / green triangle.

If we take ‘left’ to mean a collectivist orientation and ‘right’ to mean an individualist orientation (which is the only definition that seems to make sense) Green politics is not simply about adopting left social policies and applying left ideas to environmental problems. It is a fundamentally different way of understanding those problems, based on an ecological worldview. When we understand how human society operates as an ecology, when we see how ecological principles can be applied to foster a better education system, or health, or in addressing poverty and inequality, then we are able to offer real, green solutions. This is the approach some leading edge thinkers are already taking in economics, in industrial design and in community development and it has the potential to transform our politics as well.

To illustrate: in order to build a more robust support base and grow the vote for a progressive government, the Greens need to stop trying to poach Labour voters and identify new constituencies. There are around 450,000 small businesses in Aotearoa employing 5 people or less. Self employment speaks to core Green ideals of supporting local economies, building self-reliance and personal autonomy, helping people lift themselves out of poverty and fostering stronger linkages between businesses and the social ecological communities in which they are located. I know a great many small business owners who support the ideals of the Greens but who don’t connect with us a party because we are not speaking to them.

There are actually lots of Greens who are small business owners – probably a disproportionate number compared to either National or Labour. Both National and Labour tend to focus on large corporate bureaucracies and play little attention to how their policies impact on small businesses – who as we know are New Zealand’s biggest employer. For years the Greens put loads of effort into trying to woo the unions. It would be worth putting the same effort into understanding how to support a sustainable, resilient and regenerative business ecology. Certainly no one else is doing much in that space.

Escaping our ‘left of Labour’ trap is not about ‘moving to the centre’. The very notion of a centre sitting half-way between Labour and National is irrelevant when we locate ourself on a triangle. Neither is it about ‘abandoning our principles’. Rather it is about embodying them in their entirety. What they cannot mean, though, is relegating ourselves to the periphery of power just because we are committed to giving Labour a free run.

I expect that Labour will always be a preferred coalition partner for the Greens. We share more values with them than we do with National. And I think it will be a while before the Greens are self confident enough to even find out what might be on the table in a coalition discussion with National. Maybe what is on the table would never be enough, but I think that just asking could make all the difference.

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39 thoughts on “The Politics of Green Coalitions – rethinking our strategy and positioning

  1. Tom Parsons says:

    Well said, well explained!

    I hope that these issues can remain at the forefront all the way to the next election, as they are foundational. I would still be a contributing Green, as I was from even before Alliance days, if their political top dogs hadn’t started to go with the pack, barking familiar and expedient notes. After they alienated or otherwise lost some key people, including you, their unnecessary and never-explained go-along vote on the terminally distressing Kaipara rates validation bill was the painful bite in my rear that drove me out. Only if they start talking and acting as if they understand and are dedicated to the fundamentals you have explained so well could they ever get me back.

    I know that there are still many, many good and admirable people in the Party, and I’m glad to hear that they are also attracting many young people who know how important the professed Green policies are. But as you say, the web of causation these policies connect with must be understood more deeply than it has been in the past. This understanding must include the leadership, who are the only ones in a position to explain your triangle image to the public and share the understanding that political decisions are not just one-dimensional.

  2. kmccready says:

    Bloody well said. If you had social media share buttons, including re-blog, I could share it more easily. I had thoughts of Vernon Tava reading this. I’m not sure where he would sit?

    • Thanks for the comments. I’ll have a look at how to add them

    • Strypey says:

      Kmccready, you don’t need “social media buttons” (bugs that track visitors to websites on behalf of multinational media corporations). Just select and copy the web address of this page (click in the address bar > CTRL-A for ‘select all’ > CTRL-C for ‘copy’), go to your “social media” site of choice (I’m, paste the address into it (CTRL-V for ‘paste’), and post. Easy!

  3. Great post Nandor. To be honest as a TOP supporter I read through your piece and found myself automatically superimposing ‘TOP’ where ever ‘Greens’ was written. I think that if TOP gets it’s act together for 2020, no dumb moves like this election, and the Greens do not make more of an effort to move into that space as you’ve suggest TOP probably naturally will.

    • IMO it is almost impossible to start a political party from scratch and get elected into Parliament, with no sitting MPs. I doubt TOP will do better in 2020 than they did this year. I think the energy would be better spent building a cross party constituency for the kinds of changes TOP advocates for.

      • Geoff Vause says:

        Indeed. And the exception almost proving the rule – under MMP, the 1975 election would have put ‘Green’ MPs into parliament when the Values Party achieved 5.3% of the vote. First past the post gave them nothing, of course. They campaigned on their ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ manifesto which helped map the way for Greens across the world. Look at what you’re polling today. Look to your roots. And then go forward in a way you never have before. Kia kaha.

  4. Nandor – Nicely written and well-reasoned! Funny how these Green principles ring true all across the planet. I’ve shared this with our GPUS FB discussion group with over 20,000 subscribed….

    • Thanks Mike.
      IMO we badly need some deep Green thinking to scope out what a distinctly Green politics actually looks like. I have been thinking about how we could support some kind of think tank in NZ, but maybe we need to work internationally.

      • Niki Harre says:

        I would be interested in a think tank, or even just an intensive weekend or two to further develop the concept of ‘Green politics’ – what it means, and how it sits within the current system.

  5. ishmael says:

    Thank you! There is so much frustration with the party and I think much comes from the fact that many people recognise that NZ badly needs to work on the issues it raises. Many more than the number that actually voted for them. I don’t think they communicated the interconnected nature of social and environmental issues. Hard to do in a sound bite but internally they need to be on the same page with this and it felt, from the outside, that they weren’t quite there. The climate issues are existential and that pushes them in front, yet in this election they barely came up. The debate moderators mostly didn’t think to ask them. Hurricanes, floods, fires and an immolation on parliament steps all passed by with barely a mention. It’s hard to clearly describe this thing we’re so intently focused on.

  6. Greenie says:

    I will suggest an alternative to “If we take ‘left’ to mean a collectivist orientation and ‘right’ to mean an individualist orientation (which is the only definition that seems to make sense)” is that ‘left’ is about decentralisation of power, while ‘right’ supports the centralisation of power. This would fit with other notions of left and right. Collectivism you could argue is about cooperation, which implies a sharing of power. An individual orientation, in a highly unequal society (a capitalist economic system) means a few individuals have the rights to make decisions because of their ownership of capital, the centralisation of power. This also fits with the notion of the ‘right’ being conservative, the preservation of existing systems of power. While perhaps its possible to have an individualist orientation and a more equal society, how would you get their? It would require cooperation to agree to establish a society on a more equal basis. Perhaps this is a more compelling reason for the alliance between Labour and Greens, as they have supposedly at the core of their philosophies (at least historically) some notion of decentralisation of power and equality. While it’s true that Labour and the ‘left’ have betrayed this project it was supposed to be at the core of their pursuits (‘the withering of the state’), such as Engels stated: “The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong—into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax.”

    • I think it is a stretch to conclude from some fairly perfunctory remarks by Engels on the withering of the state that decentralised decision-making is a defining characteristic of left politics. Especially when the left has historically been the antithesis of that. In fact wasn’t that the essence of Bakhunin’s critique of Marxism?
      Things are made even more confusing by the way the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ have shifted in meaning so much over the years. For example, the left became a force for conservatism during the neo-liberal revolution that was Rogernomics – a revolution bizarrely spearheaded by Labour. Today what we call ‘left’ is more economically right than the National Government under Muldoon.
      Also collectivism does not imply decentralisation of power at all. Stalinist Russia was highly collectivist.
      So I cannot agree with your definition.
      I do agree that decentralisation of power is an important goal – and one explicitly characteristic of Green politics

      • Niki Harre says:

        Isn’t this a question of ‘strategy’ versus ‘values’. I often feel people are too hard on the 1984 Labour government. I am not trying to defend their actions, but I think it is plausible that they felt the structural changes they made were necessary for their ‘values’ (i.e. a concern for the welfare of all) to be expressed. I am not saying they made a good call, or they were sufficiently diligent in their process, but this is different from assuming that they were deliberately after a society that celebrated individual success at the cost of well being for all. This is also a dilemma the NZ Green Party seems to grapple with. As a (fairly inactive) party member, it seems to me that there is a lot of thought for strategy – i.e. what is politically palatable, possibly at the expense of values. I struggle, for example, with the idea of a ‘smart’ economy – which seems archetypal neo-liberalism to me. And I find it hard to believe that people who hold ‘Green politics’ in their hearts, really do feel some kind of computer-based, intellectually-focused society in which we sell our brains instead of our milk is the goal. So why is that pushed? Again, because of the separation of ‘strategy’ from ‘values’.

      • Green Blue says:

        A well thought out response.
        Often we are too militant in our responses and end up rejecting ideas just because of the person they come from.

        As a thought experiment, it seems in every country that a percentage of the population want everyone to live by values X and another by values Y so on and so on with an almost limiteless supply of values frameworks that minorities want to impose on the majority.

        I’ve often thought that it would make an interesting thought experiment to divide up the world or even parts of a country by values. Then everyone in that country could live by the same values and be happy. If you didn’t like it, instead of trying to impose your values on everyone else, you just moved to a place that more suited your thinking.

        Initially, that would work really well and everyone would be happy.
        But then cracks would likely start to form.
        The entirely capitalist country would see that people are much happier in more collectivist countries. But then the collectivist countries would have very few resources and would start to want the big screen TV’s and flash cars that all the capitalists were driving.

        Eventually, all the countries would probably just end up moving back to a mix of both, because there is value in both systems and moving entirely to one way or the other doesn’t really work.

  7. Brian Boru says:

    Using the analogy of The Lord of the Rings:
    A National-NZ First arrangement is like a union of the two towers,
    A Labour-Greens-NZ First coalition is like the dynamic that exists between Frodo, Sam and Gollum as they travel towards Mordor,
    A National-Greens coalition is like Sam taking the Ring to Mount Doom on his own,
    A National-Labour coalition is like the Mouth of Sauron and Frodo sharing power, when only one person can wield the Ring at any one time,
    Anything involving Act would require being nice to Grima Wormtongue after a break-up of either the NZ First or the Green caucuses in a coalition with National. This would require National creating a cobble made up of itself, Act, plus the MPs who are thrown out of either the NZ First or Green caucuses who refuse to resign from parliament.

  8. Brian Boru says:

    The centre is a demographic of voters that swing between National and Labour of about 7% that stayed with Labour in 2005 after Clark said that the Maori party were the last cab on the rank which then went over to National after Key cuddled up with the Maori party. It seems that they prefer National to deal with Maori land settlements et al rather than Labour. I suspect they were the 7% in the opinion polls that showed Labour on 45% and National on 38% one week and then Labour on 38% and National on 45% the following week. It seems they prefer National to deal with tax matters rather than Labour until National messes it up.

  9. passportnz says:

    A thought provoking analysis from a former embedded Green that begs the question, why has this view not been promoted prior.
    As a small business structured around the family and our 10 employees we operate very closely to the needs of all in a large environmental and his fiscal economy.
    We have no so singular ideological colour that we all follow only how that external juggernaut affects us in choosing the Government that will best deliver social and economic benefits, now and in the future.
    It is interesting that National have a very strong Blue/Green caucus and identify as that but not Labour and certainly not NZ1st.
    All parties should have no predetermined view of the others if they really do want to make changes to the status quo but consider new ideas of making policy that will work towards their goals.
    Could the Greens and National pull it off? Yes, only if both dump any previous bottom lines including never working with each other.
    MMP has come of age now 21, so let’s make it work the way it was intended.

  10. Geoff Vause says:

    I would be a Tory if I could find any. Vested self-interest is invariably the purest motivation any politician will apply to funding social issues, or interrupting the perpetual growth cycle. I recall the ideology of 1972’s Values Party advocates. They were world leaders in the way Mickey Savage was. Savage’s ideals had to wait 10 years for the banker Sid Holland and his ‘Humanitarian Capitalism’ (and his betrayal of the unions). You’ve dipped your toe in the water, Nandor. This could be one of the most powerful contributions you have made to the political landscape of this nation. Guys like Stephan Browning need their exhaustive work on glyphosate carried into the heart of the National caucus like a subversive canary at Tunnel 19. They need their powerfully balanced argument on the use of the Sounds by aquaculture washed onto a Cabinet table. Shaw needs to take another look at 1975’s Beyond Tomorrow, and plant a tree in the heart of National’s wasteland. He can tell English he wants to own the narrative so he can lead and heal the Green factions left over from its early environment/social rifts, and also win a heap of support from the many thousands of closet Greens voting blue today by putting Winston out to pasture. Shaw can advance the Green cause like never before, and do the nation a big, fat favour. It won’t happen with Labour. Man up, Mr Shaw.

    • Peter Rose says:

      If you abandon your principles for a short term gain you end up having neither (there is a better quote …)

  11. Andrew R says:

    What is missing is the role of neoliberalism in the Fourth and Fifth Labour and National governments – our failed 30 year experiment. This provides a better explanation than left and right politics – it is neoliberal or not neoliberal instead.

    Green Party needs to be explicitlyadvocating a replacement of neoliberalism. Some in the current Labour Party will give this currency. Hard to see National doing that.

    Like the idea of working with small business.

  12. Sachin says:

    A well reasoned article. One thing I wonder though, is it 12 years too late? You were there in 2005 in exactly same predicament. I wonder if collective greens had held their breath for these 12 years without thinking through this triangle theory? In another 12 years are we going to see same article again? To a potential green voter like me all it tells is a very immature leadership if the lessons of 2005 were not baked in to 2017 campaign and post election negotiation positions.

  13. Anthony Wanhalla says:

    A coalition with National is what I would see as an offence.
    The Maori party did he same claiming they could do more from within the Government and they allowed billions of dollars to be slashed out of Education, Health and the environment. It costs them darely.
    If the Greens did this I think it could destroy there standing in parliament.
    I don’t like National partly due to there arrongant “holier than tho” attitude and the recent similar stance by the Greens it what has cost them in this election. What would it say if the part joined them now.
    National has led a corrupt charge with complete disregard to our rivers and lakes.
    I know how it would affect my opinion.

  14. Doris Symmons says:

    As a founding member of the Greens I find it very frustrating that the Greens at this moment find it so hard to go into negotiations with the National Party. Because of this stance I haven’t supported them for the last two elections.
    With MMP, parties need to work together, compromise, give and take. Just like in real life we need all kinds of people and opinions to make a “whole” society.
    I think the Greens are too scared to go the obvious step. It seems to me that the “brand” of the Greens is more important than what could be achieved by being part of government? Climate scientists are pulling their hair out and we deliberate: “maybe in 3 years time”.
    I don’t agree with the argument that the Maori Party has lost and died. Look what they have achieved in the 9 years they were part of government: Whanau Ora (Maori social development), they got the smoking reduction and tobacco tax and more deeply embedding the treaty in our legislation.
    You can’t loose negotiating and you actually gain a much stronger negotiating position with Labour.
    Imagine James Shaw as the Climate Change or Environment Minister and Marama Davidson as Undersecretary for Maori Development with a focus on Child poverty. You only really can achieve things by being in government.

    • kanuka says:

      “With MMP, parties need to work together, compromise, give and take.”

      Doris you appear to have missed one very salient point: National take, and everyone else, and the environment, gives. The MP and ACT were excellent examples of lap-poodles who got the occasional scrap from the table, were paraded in front of the media and other visitors who wanted to see cooperatives and cultural credentials, and let off their leashes for a run-around in election year, but who made next to no progress towards their objectives. In the case of the MP, the overall situation Maori find themselves in is largely worse for the MP’s participation in govt.

  15. Green Blue says:

    As a long time National supporter, I have been hanging out for the Greens to get there act together. I have strong environmental beliefs but have always seen a green vote as a wasted vote. A small party that will only work with one other party will always get shafted in any negotiations and won’t get any real traction. The Greens need to be able to play both sides so that you can get some meaningful things done.

    Our environment can’t wait for the perfect political circumstances to occur before the Greens take action. The Greens have been granted the balance of power in a number of elections now but have refused to take it up due to refusing to work with National.

    Arguably this refusal to act has done more damage to the environment than anyone else!!!!

    Standing on the sidelines as a bystander when you have the power to act is in many ways worse than committing the crimes against our environment that are occuring.

    Get on with it!
    Use the power the voters have granted you to get some meaningful environmental and social policy across the line.

    No more excuses. If the Greens carry on this way into the future they will continue to be irrelevant and fewer and fewer people will vote for you. This could well be the last chance you get given and our Environment is in critical need now!!!

    I want to vote for you so give me a reason to make my vote count.

    • kanuka says:

      I assume this is a joke from some strain of National stooge.

      This long-time National supporter expects the Greens to save the environment from this voter’s enduring support of National and the resultant toxic nightmare that NZ’s environment is becoming.

    • Stop being blind says:

      You only have yourself to blame for ‘wasting’ your vote on National, while complaining how bad the environment is getting.

      If you want change, you vote for the change you want.

      • kanuka says:

        Or…you get the change you voted for…voting for National all this time, like all the other people voting for National, has given them the power and resources to do what they want while all the time pretending to do good things. In other words, a dangerous hoax that impacts us all.

  16. David Riddell says:

    Excellent article Nandor. I’ve long held the view that the three factors of production in economic theory – namely land, labour and capital – correlate with the spheres of interest of the environmentalist, socialist and capitalist parties respectively. All three factors are necessary for a successful economy. We need to utilise resources sustainably while ensuring the wellbeing of the people who do the actual work, and maintain an environment in which businesses can create the wealth a society needs to run. Environmentalist parties in this view are, as you say, one corner of a triangle, not necessarily closer to either the socialists or the capitalists. I agree entirely that the Greens’ current positioning, well to the left of Labour on a Left-Right continuum, is not where they should be. Until the party can free itself of this binary left-right thinking they will always struggle.

  17. kanuka says:

    If National is to become a potential coalition partner for parties, whoever they are, they need to split into better-defined constituent parties, for example traditional right-wing, and progressive centrist parties.

    Of course the Greens, or NZF, or whoever could, assuming form a coalition government with a centrist party.

    Otherwise, their electoral prospects will always be the binary options of large, dictating party or strategically-outmanoeuvered walking dead.

  18. Lisa says:

    Really great and insightful analysis, thanks.

    Although I agree with your reasoning, it seems like a shame to me that the Green’s aren’t open to negotiating both sides this time around (2017). My view on the current National party – and you may have better knowledge – is that they are probably more open than any Government we’ve had in a long time to doing things differently, and that with a National Green coalition our Government might come up with some really insightful, innovative solutions to solve some of the issues they both know matter to the country.

    Labour right now has experienced a resurgence but I can’t see much commitment from them to thinking originally, they tend to offer up more of the same old solutions – whereas the current National government adopt more of a ‘whatever works’ approach that might sit well with the Greens if they think purely in terms of objectives rather than policy platforms. I’d be interested in your thoughts on that.

    • kanuka says:

      Lisa, seriously, you have no idea how much a waste of everyone’s time a Green-National coalition would be. The Greens would lose their core support base and likely not enter parliament in 2020, while National would continue to set the agenda and use all the power they have to kneecap any substantive moves to improve things. It would collapse, with the Greens wearing the majority of the fallout.

  19. Stop being blind says:

    A well reasoned post, and I can see some benefits in opening up the Greens to stronger negotiating power by saying they will work with National.

    However all these “blue” green folks are not going to suddenly jump ship to support the party because as seen even on the comments on this article, they will make all the excuses in the world why they voted for another party.

    So let’s get a discussion in the Green party about how both National and Labour are two sides of the same centre-right coin, and work out a sustainable negotiating strategy that is explicitly not the ridiculous “memorandum of understanding” the leadership keep signing up too.

    You don’t put all your cards on the table before the dealing is done.

    • kanuka says:

      Let’s start the discussion of why the progressive National MPs in National who are just treading water in that party, don’t simply leave and form their own centrist party that are capable of working with anyone from Labour to the Greens to NZFirst, leaving the right-wingers in National to work with ACT.

      In other words, why does everyone have to come to National?

      Answer: they don’t.

  20. Hearing Bolger this evening, the National party’s most senior member come out in favour of the National Party forming a coalition with the Greens tells us something. This is an invitation to the Greens an invitation which I hope is treated seriously. Going with Labour will mean more of the same. Being patronised, the kid who can be relied upon to pass around the savs at the barbie and clean up. Take a risk Greens. The Nats know that changes have to be made, that New Zealand is changing so contribute to that change. Don’t stand by and let the opportunity go. Just do it

  21. Murray kilpatrick says:

    I consider that all law and legislation should be about protecting the weaker from the stronger. That is why we have rules and sometimes officials to ensure that the rules are kept in almost every sport. I think that the weaker can be seen as a group of people, animals, plants, the environment whatever? I see all left wing philosophy as about protecting the weaker from the stronger. It’s just that inside that continuum there are a range of people who prioritise the needs as they see them differently.Yes I do see right wing as I’m okay, fuck anybody else, however people like to try to dress it up, or justify it to others,or even themselves. Also of course there is a continuum and very few people are purely, at the extreme of either persuasion. Left and right wing parties have morphed into the Center wherever that is and has moved to in order to pick up the votes of the only people who will in the end decide the result of an election. I’ve never been a member of any party. I do find it very interesting reading what you write. Keep going.

  22. Katimana says:

    Your left/right/green triangle is a similar idea to the two axis graph known as the Nolan Chart, which is integrally associated with ‘The World’s Smallest Political Quiz’. While it is not without its criticisms, I think it is a more useful way to look at the political spectrum than the traditional one-axis left/right political spectrum most media often refer to.

  23. In response to “Green Blue”, above, who describes him/herself as a ” long time National supporter”, my one question to you and your colleagues is simple:

    What has stopped National from addressing the environmental and social problems over the last nine years?

    It has had ample time and opportunity to do so. Nothing has prevented it from taking onboard Green policies (such policies are not copyright) and implementing them? The answer is self-evident.

    Is National willing to turn it’s back on capital to address environmental problems? Will National put rivers first and dairying expansion second? Will it address the housing crisis we’ve found ourselves in, after 30+ years of free-market dogma? Will it confront climate change when it won’t even purchase EVs for the next ministerial limos?

    And will it widen the scope of the “marketplace” to take into account the costs of growth to the environment?

    When the Nats plow billions into roads and massive irrigation systems, at tax-payer’s and environmental expense – then we have a duty to question their motivation at wanting to acquire our Green brand.

    Because make no mistake, the Nats want the Green brand which has considerable political value.

    So, I repeat my first question: what has stopped the Nats from “going Green” in the last nine years?

    What were the Blue-Greens doing all this time?

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