the left goes for the mortgage (french def. “death-grip”) on the green party…

casual observors of the green party male co-leadership struggle could well be asking themselves just who is this russell norman..?…he who has appeared as a contendor for this crucial role…and what does it all mean…?

the first question dosen’t really matter….it’s the second that is the rub in this story…

a victory for norman..(which is looking likely/possible)…will mean the left wing of the party will have achieved one of their major goals….control of the green party..(just the mopping-up will need to be done..)

and here’s who..?..why..?…and how…?

some history first…
the greens were once part of the alliance party…which made sense in first past the post days…
the advent of m.m.p. saw the move from within the party to hive off from the alliance..a move that was opposed by some of the greens..those who preferred to stay under the left-wing umbrella of anderton/alliance..

interestingly enough..current contendor russell norman was one of those who opposed that breakaway from the alliance by the greens….
and nandor was one of those who headed that drive to split…nandor ably articulating/arguing the case for an independant green party…one not tainted by the stains of the old ideologies..a party that could independantly argue the conservation case…and could appeal to those of all ideological stripes…

so that is a question i would like to hear russell norman answer…
“just why was it you opposed the greens leaving the alliance..?…and how can this fact not effect/worry those who are concerned about the greens being in that ideological straightjacket…in that ongoing self-constraining role of labours’ handmaiden…?..”
(these concerns can only be heightened by the awareness norman is a former member of the communist party..?…and has as his mentor within the party one keith locke..’nuff said..?.)

another interesting fact about norman is that high on his c.v. is his role in the big anti-ge march up queen st some years ago..
now the rub with this one is that norman..along with locke..and party leftie catherine delahunty(number nine on the green party list..one ahead of norman..)..all argued vehemently against the idea of a march….they lost that one..and then argued vehemently against the ultimate timing of that march..noon on saturday…they wanted it to be at the usual time the left held marches….5.15pm on a friday night…
how do i know all this..?…i know because i was the one who presented/called for the idea of “hitting the streets”…and argued vehemently against the 5.30 fri nite timing..pointing out that all that would guarantee was a low turnout..and a whole lot of pissed off/at the end of their week/workers…
an overwhelming voice vote on both issues won the day…(so..expedient political opportunism at the fore..that left triumvirate then took over the organising…with norman as titular head…go figure..eh..?)

so..another question for russell norman….”could you tell us why you voted/argued against the idea of the march..and the timing of said march…and could you tell us how now in good conciencse you can claim kudos for an idea that was not yours…?..”

now the green party is..like the labour party..a broad church…there are the deep green vegan/veggies/animal rights crew…there is the old-school values party people…there are those who only came on board over the g.e. issue..there are the cannabis reform people..and there is the left…

the other components of the arguments/concerns against/around norman/the left winning this male leadership are around the female co-leadership succession question…
jeanette fitzsimons is the public face of the greens….but she will not be there forever…
(i would suspect that shortly after the next election she will retire..and many thanks to her in advance of that decision..her role for the greens has been crucial..her and rod de-demonised the party in the eyes of many…)

and the current front-runner for that role is…sue bradford….(which camp within the greens do you think she comes from..eh..?…)

so..do you get my point….?….a norman/bradford leadership cabal would irrevocably lock the green party into that far-left role…and would..in my opinion..doom the greens to irrelevancy..and electoral oblivion….
this reason..and this reason alone should be enough impetus for the green party membership not of the leftwing camp to block normans’ run for that position…eh..?

the female succession question only emphasises the rationale for electing a free-thinker such as nandor into that role…to provide balance..
(tanczos is a solution-driven individual..with a healthy disregard for the minutae that drives the procedure-wonks/junkies..)

having warned of the impending leftwing coup within the greens i would now like to look at the other reasons tanczos out-classes norman…

the media…

if norman was elected…(a leader outside parliament..?..what idiocy is that..?..)..the media would briefly look at him..(an appearance on campbell/close-up..a puff-piece on the back page of the saturday new zealand herald/holmes etc…would be about it)…
they would then resolutely ignore him…

whereas nandor now has a good relationship with most of the media…plus has the platform of parliament in which to build the party profile…
(those who complain that tanczos has only spoken about pot should do a search on the nzherald website….that will turn up a wealth of op-ed pieces on a wide variety of subjects..that will give you an idea of the merits of the man..and of course him being in that co-leadership role would mean a multi-facet man of vision would do well at promoting the green vision/solution..
and as for norman…?..as in the writings of norman..?…um..not much….actually…

in the dvd promoting his bid for the leadership role norman bangs on with some old flannel about the greens being a bloody river..!.made up of rivulets…!..(give us a bloody break here..eh..?..where is your vision/plan for the future of the greens..?…if you have one/any why didn’t you use that opportunity to articulate that vision..?)

( and those who call for tanczos to get a haircut..(to ‘improve’ his image)..only cause me to hang my head and go “good grief..has it come to this..?..”..)

the maori party…
now..like it or not..the political reality is that the maori party are a new power on the political scene..and are not going to go away soon..
those..such as myself..who are cheered by this development..see that driving concern/love for the land/environment articulated by many in that party as being synonomous with many of the green party concerns/beliefs…and make them a natural power-bloc against the two ‘old parties’

which brings us to the male co-leadership question again…..tanczos has a strong relationship with many in the maori party..this strength of this relationship was perhaps best demonstrated on the occaison of tanczos’ return to parliament after the death of rod donald…the heartfelt karakia from the maori party mps..(and others)..was humbling and emotion-laden..

which brings us again to russell norman…and his relationship potential with the maori party..
now norman is an aussie….(which..transtasman gladhanding to oneside…is an issue in itself..eh..?..especially so for maori you’d think…?..eh..?)

and somehow i can’t see him getting a karakia..can you…?

’nuff said..?

which brings us to those who put the green mps into the parliament in the first place…those who vote green..and those who will vote green in the future..

there is the core..old farts like me..who will always vote for them because (to our minds) there is nobody else..

but growth for the green party can only follow past voting patterns…namely the high number of young people/first-time voters..
which once again brings us to the contendors..
tanczos in person is like a magnet for the young ….i have seen this mini-phenomenom on many occaisons..
the first was early on in his parliamentary career when we were both in a van that stopped at that big petrol station in waioru…on the desert road…
it was just on dusk..and there were a few vehicles there..and quite a few people..
those young people mobbed tanczos…(i have seen the same phenomenom around personal appearances by rock stars..and people like nelson mandela..)
tanczos touches people….he has that rare gift…..a gift the green party would squander at their peril…
which brings us to russell norman….now..even his boosters admit he is pretty much a charisma-free zone…(one of them told me norman would “learn those skills”..
that assertion left me gobsmacked..and evinced an automatic “yeah..right..!..”..)
whaddayareckon the chances are of learnt charisma..?….would you like to buy a bridge from me..?

rightwing/national party blogger david farrar is known for (apart from the odd lapse) treating the greens in a fairly evenhanded manner…
he went to the post election de-briefing held at victoria university..
farrar reported that part of the reason he went to this de-brief was to check out this green party’contendor’ that was being whispered about in wellington circles..
(yeah that’s right..normans’ most recent efforts was campaign manager for what is generally seen as a lame-arsed/unfocused green party campaign effort…(those bloody rivers again..eh..?..)..
i mean..what’s to like about that..?

anyway..during normans’ presentation to this debrief farrar reported he was looking keenly for any outward signs of leadership potential in the man….
he reported that he saw little/none…

i’d like to finsh with what i think is a telling anecdote…i was present when sue bradford and catherine delahunty made their first appearance at a green party meeting….
this after both being hounded out of the alliance part of the alliance by jim anderton…it is at his feet they learnt their organisational ‘chops’..(and it shows..)..

the left are very ‘top-down’..bordering on control freaks..eh..?

the green party at that time was a very low-key affair..meetings held in the low-roofed attic of a bookshop on k’ road…
at this meeting bradford said to me out of the corner of her mouth…(i had known her for some years)..that “this party is ripe for taking over..”..and she wasn’t wrong…

later in that same evening i approached the then leader of the auckland greens..(a lovely lady but lacking that political killer-will..)..and told her that “that woman over there is going to take your job”…
this duely came to pass..

and i would submit that the candidature of russell norman for the role of green party male co-leader is yet another manifestation of that attempt for the mortgage..(the death-grip)..on the green party of aotearoa…

and if this should come to pass….?..it will sound the death-knell for the party..how could it not..?

so those deeply conservative green party members who will decide this contest would do well to think on just who votes for the greens…as in the young..and how to grow that vote…?..and who can best do that..?

they must also make the call if they want the party to be irrevocably yoked to/controlled by the left wing of that multi-ideological soup that is the green party…
do they only want the greens to be ghettoised as being just a spine-stiffener for labour..?and little else….?

and do they want to be responsible for the electoral oblivion a norman/bradford co-leadership would bring….?…

but…if the worst comes to the worst…and the greens do crash and burn under that leftwing cabal..from those ashes will rise a new green party…shed of that authoritarian leftwing malaise…

so….think on green party members/delegates to the agm on queens birthday weekend..

in your hands rests nothing less than the future life or death of the green party…

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16 Responses to the left goes for the mortgage (french def. “death-grip”) on the green party…

  1. Anonymouse says:

    Phil, I disagree with you on most things. Its more than my political carreer is worth than to publicly agree with you on this one. But you are SO RIGHT!! I just wish the Greens could see whats so obviously staring them in their face. Norman would be/is a disaster. He is not a leader. I can only pray that people will see him for what he is.

  2. Red Green says:

    Good analysis here.

    Which raises the point – if the hard-left take over where do I go? Hmmm Labour’s red dominates anything green. Nat’s Nick Smith is making encouraging noises but gawd – who’d want the Nats in charge of the environment – they’d sell it in a flash. Sigh.

    The hard left need to MOVE ON in the words of an infamous leader. I only wish she would tell the hard left of the Labour Party to MOVE ON as well.

  3. Mr G says:

    I’m somewhat disturbed that you are supporting Nandor. after all he started out as an extreme left wing anarchist. Did you not know this, or are you confident that nandor is no longer a radical leftist?
    I don’t know what to think. I’m hoping he still is, but I fear not.

  4. Christiaan says:

    Actually I see the Greens going the way of the Labour Party if this so-called non-left faction wins out, i.e. power hungry, in control, ineffectual with regard to their founding goals, and beholden to monetary interests.

    Nandor, and many other Greens, argue that the Greens are not a left wing party; that this conception hinders the party in its goal of achieving environmental sustainability.

    But the Greens were never conceived as a enviromental-only party. They were conceived as a party for human sustainability, which is reflected in the Charter:
    http://www.greens.org.nz/about/charter.htm

    I notice that the Charter is not even directly linked from the front page of the website any more.

    One of the main attractions for me to the Greens early on was, in fact, their Charter, especially the importance placed on the environment (if we don’t have an environment nothing else matters right?) and the fact that they’re the only political party that codifies their own expiry and the expiry of the charade that is “representative democracy”:

    For the implementation of ecological wisdom and social responsibility, decisions will be made directly at the appropriate level by those affected.

    i.e. people will have a say in decisions proportionate to the degree they’re affected by them.

    This says to me that were the Greens ever to become the goverment, and hold to their principles, parliament would be largely dismantled, with a particpatory democracy taking its place.

    To me the argument that the Greens are not a left-wing party is just an admission that such people don’t have the gumption to win the arguments. Instead they would rather, like Labour, become a party of following the votes by ursurping the policies of their opposition.

    It’s just more confirmation for me that parliament is a mechanism for channelling real struggles into a safe dead end.

  5. Christiaan says:

    I note further that Daniel Quinn makes this same argument:
    http://www.ishmael.com/Education/Parables/SinkingShip.shtml

    What Quinn’s parable fails to take into account is that in the real world, with real people who have real histories, you can’t mobilise everyone for something that
    is oblivious to what is making them miserable and undignified now – thus,
    what is needed is a multi issue movement attentive enough to each to
    inspire and empower each needed constituency.

  6. Christiaan says:

    Sorry, furthermore, I wrote:

    To me the argument that the Greens are not a left-wing party is just an admission that such people don’t have the gumption to win the arguments. Instead they would rather, like Labour, become a party of following the votes by ursurping the policies of their opposition.

    I don’t see how the Charter can remain left untouched in such a process.

  7. hiding behind a pseudonym says:

    spot on as usual Phil – could it be that MSM have annointed Russel as leader-elect because they realise that either the Greens will fail to make the threshold or if they survive he’s a safe pair of hands for the political establishment. Nandor on the other hand is a dangerous radical who could cause a sea change in NZ politics.

    I say … More radical behaviour from the Greens!

  8. secretlyanothername says:

    I’m worried too… although Nandor and Russel are both lovely people, I’ve got no confidence in Norman to lead the Greens, or to provide strong and innovative ideas – I spoke to him after the election and was rather underwhelmed, while I’ve been quietly impressed with Nandor in the last few months – he’s developed as a MP and as a person, still retaining the willingness to challenge authority and bring in ideas.

    I await the outcome of the Greens AGM nervously

  9. Nan says:

    This article is almost impossible to read. I suppose the absence of capitals is in accordance with good socialist principles: all letters must be equal. The spelling is appalling and the grammar just plain illiterate, normans’ instead of Norman’s would be just one example. It sums up the left really, champions of ignorance and abysmally low standards for all.

  10. admin says:

    it sums up the right really..eh..?…anal-retentive to the extreme…and still yoked to the tyranny of the capital letter…!

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