Green Party: A Tale Of Two Leaders With Two Directions

The Green Party’s co-leadership structure provides the most accurate metaphor for the party itself. The Party has two leaders, Metiria Turei and James Shaw, each representative of two directions the party is taking going forward: The petty, outdated, overly-stringent projection of a moral high ground onto every aspect of political life versus the new, forward-thinking optimism of progressive thought in a changing world. 

The internal conflict the party faces has reached a point where the choice has to be made between progress for purpose or stagnation for principle. 

Now I have to declare I write this with only an outsider’s perspective. I have talked to James Shaw frequently and I know a few people who work or have worked for the Greens. However, my opinion is mainly derived from how the Green Party operates publicly rather than privately. 

That being said, I think I have a fairly good understanding of how the Greens caucus works —amenable being the key word. 

I generally think of Green Party caucus meetings as being dominated by a lot of back-patting, where ideas are entertained for their principle rather than their merit. The lack of conflict understandably being attributed to the relatively narrow scope of political ideology the Greens appeal to, evidenced by bad reactionary policies such as female cabinet quotas (fucking lol). 

Looking back at the last few weeks provides a useful cross section of what I see as the Party’s leadership problem. Last Sunday on TVNZ’s Q+A, James Shaw announced a $100 million capital injection into Kiwibank that will allow cheaper interest rates on mortgages which will increase competition with Australian banks currently dominating the market. The day earlier on TV3’s The Nation Metiria Turei condemned John Key’s lack of specificity over New Zealand ‘jihadi brides’ travelling to the Middle East. You can see the difference in value provided by each co-leader.

I will acknowledge that I understand the roles of each co-leader are purposefully defined and distinguishable. Simply put, Turei focuses on social issues while Shaw focuses on economic policy. 

However, there is an obvious mismatch between the proposition and the reality. What Metiria Turei does is nit-pick at the government’s social policy. Shaw, on the other hand, is rolling out a substantive fiscal agenda in the lead up to 2017. 

The problem isn’t with the strategy, it’s with Metiria Turei. The ‘jihadi brides’ scandal is frivolous side-line waste-of-space bullshit that no one cares about. According to Turei, John Key lied to the public by omission for not clarifying that the New Zealand women who went to the Middle East to join ISIS left from Australia rather than New Zealand. The argument is pedantic and pointless.

The distinction between James Shaw and Metiria Turei works to highlight the difference between a quality leader who offers a firm direction for the future of the party and someone who thinks knocking someone down-a-peg is the same thing as moral righteousness.

It is my honest opinion is that Metiria Turei and the internal Green Party culture that allows her prominence is the greatest detriment to an otherwise election-winning political party.

This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2016.
Posted 10:40am Sunday 17th April 2016 by Henry Napier.