Green members considering political positioning

Green Party members are thinking about the Party’s political positioning ahead of the November election.

A draft remit is making its way out to branches for feedback and potential revision. Ultimately, the remit will go to the Party’s June AGM for a vote where it may be confirmed, rejected or amended.

The draft remit – prepared by a volunteer committee and shaped by a round of meetings with members across the country — looks at options to advance a green agenda after the election.

Essentially, it says that if the Greens were to give confidence and supply to a government we’d need genuine progress on key Green policies and this is obviously more likely with Labour than National (– even though we have reservations about some Labour policy as well).

The draft remit expresses a preference for supporting a Labour-led Government and says of National:

“it is extremely unlikely that we could support a National-led government on confidence and supply.”

The proposal also says the Greens could work with a National-led government through a Memorandum of Understanding as it does currently.

The full text is included below.

It is worth stressing that there is no decision yet. It’s a collective decision that’ll be finalised in June after every member has had a chance to have a say.

In the meantime, discuss among yourselves…

The full text of the draft remit:

“That this AGM:

Pre-election political positioning

1.         Agrees that the Greens will campaign on the basis of the following political positioning in 2011:

(i)    The Greens are an independent party which, in order to urgently advance green policy goals, will attempt to work constructively with, and challenge, whichever party leads the government after the 2011 election;

(ii)   To support any government, we would need significant progress on key Green environmental, economic and social policies such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing poverty and inequality, cleaning up waterways and retaining public assets for future generations;

(iii)  Based on current Labour Party policy positions, the Greens have a preference to consider supporting a Labour-led government in the right circumstances, ahead of a National-led government;

(iv) The Greens could work with a National-led government to progress particular Green policies as we have over the last three years; but based on current National Party policy positions it is extremely unlikely that we could support a National-led government on confidence and supply.

Post-election process

2.         Agrees that the following process will apply to post-election negotiations by the Green Party after a general election:

(i)    a Negotiating Team, jointly chosen by the Parliamentary Caucus and the National Executive, may enter into post-election negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement on policies and processes that will advance the Green agenda;

(ii)   in addition to the negotiating team there will be a Negotiating Consultation Group consisting of five members nominated by Caucus and five members nominated by National Executive. The Negotiation Consultation Group does not directly participate in the negotiations but is to receive daily briefings from the Negotiating Team during the course of the negotiations;

(iii)  all decisions concerning the negotiations (including what agreement, if any, would potentially be taken to a Special General Meeting (SGM)) are taken by the combined Negotiating Team and Negotiation Consultation Group;

(iv) any agreement with one or more political parties that includes confidence and supply votes will be referred to an SGM, unless in the opinion of the National Executive an SGM is not warranted;

(v)  the National Executive will start the process of forming the Negotiating Team and Negotiating Consultation group following the AGM in election year and will tentatively schedule an SGM once the election date is known.”

169 thoughts on “Green members considering political positioning

  1. This is sensible strategic stuff for the Greens. To become a more popular and powerful party, ultimately a shift has to be made to the centre of the political spectrum. And of course the party has been solidly on that trajectory for a few years now. Getting rid of Sue Bradford etc, favouring market-based policies, and deemphasizing past radical economic policies was simply a necessary part of that realignment of values, ideology and political marketing. Intrinsically there is nothing leftwing about environmentalism, and so there is there is some logic about the party being more of an ‘independent’ force in the party system that can do deals with either Labour or National. And because the Greens are making the shift from radicalism to the mainstream/middle in a subtle, slow but certain fashion, it is not too disruptive for party members and activists. In the long-term it means that the party won’t be faced with their current difficulties of having to traverse both “social justice” and environmentalism. What’s more, by giving up any pretence of being leftwing, this shift opens up a space on the left for a proper new left party.

  2. Well, Greens think there is something intrinsically left-wing about environmentalism, particularly in how we deal fairly with resource depletion and the effects of climate change. Only a real old-style lefty with serious blinders on could claim otherwise. And some of the strongest advocates of an independent Green Party are from the left-wing of the Party. Fortunately most people don’t buy into this silly meme of yours.

  3. Hi Valis – I think a number of environmentalists would disagree with you. And certainly within the Greens there is a strong tendency to downplay any kind of leftism. Take Russel Norman, he is particularly notable for pushing the non-left version of environmentalism within the Greens. He is much more keen on market-based solutions. He also favours all sorts of anti-poor taxes, including increasing GST to 15%. He might not be a raving neoliberal, but he seems a lot more sympathetic to using the market to solve environmental problems. And you must have seen all his talk on economic matters in the last year in which he attempts to position himself as mainstream – in fact recently he’s been trying to critique Bill English and National’s management of the economy – and in particularly it’s increased borrowing – with right-wing language about them being ‘fiscally irresponsible’! Nonetheless where I agree with you is the normative idea that leftwing solutions for environmental problems are vastly preferable to those of the status quo and right. But the Greens are opting for the latter.

  4. “To become a more popular and powerful party, ultimately a shift has to be made to the centre of the political spectrum.”

    This does seem to be the strategy of at least some in the Green party, with the advocacy of market solutions being on the rise.

    Trouble is, the aim of the Green party should not be to try and be popular and powerful, but to advocate for a green and socially responsible society. That means the party shouldn’t shift towards the centre of the political spectrum, but should try and shift the political spectrum towards being green and socially responsible.

    Political parties aren’t particularly good instruments for this though. The shift to a green and socially responsible society will be a result of grassroots efforts and movements, not the Green Party.

  5. he’s been trying to critique Bill English and National’s management of the economy – and in particularly it’s increased borrowing – with right-wing language about them being ‘fiscally irresponsible’

    It IS fiscally responsible to borrow when you could simply raise taxes or impose a levy, which is what Russel has been suggesting. There is nothing right-wing about increasing taxes.

    For someone who speaks with such confidence about the Greens, Bryce doesn’t know much.

  6. Rima – you seemed to have failed to read the 2010 Mind the Gap document that the Greens put out, which adopted the policy of GST at 15%. Meteria Turei has since then explicitly stated that the Greens don’t favour reducing GST from 15%. And indeed on various posts right here on Frogblog, Greens have defended keeping GST at 15% and explained why the party has other priorities to reducing consumption taxes. So, yes, the Greens have made numerous critiques of GST, but as with the CEERA legislation, often the Greens go against their apparently/previous principles in favour of something more conventional. Also for some analysis of the Greens’ 15% GST policy see here:
    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2010/05/greens-now-favour-15-gst.html

  7. Rima – to attack the increased borrowing by governments during recessions is generally regarded as right-wing and normally associated with neoliberalism. You can’t simply provide a cover for this rightwing critique of the Government by then tacking on the advocacy of increased taxes. It’s one thing to advocate for increased taxation – even though the Greens seem to be moving away from pushing progressive taxation, or even for a comprehensive capital gains tax – but to go for all the neoliberal “fiscal irresponsibility” stuff you’re really displaying your Green wash spin going into overdrive!

  8. Rimu: “For someone who speaks with such confidence about the Greens, Bryce doesn’t know much.”

    That was my feeling too, I generally assume Bryce to be a NZ political analyst who at least projects an understanding of what he’s talking about, but the comments here are a little, well, green.

    You can argue there’s nothing intrinsically left wing about environmentalism, but pretty soon you come up against cold hard capitalism and its lack of concern for the environment or its communities.

    Russel Norman’s sustainable economics are simplistically regarded as left wing because they oppose the failed dogma of the far right that is again on the rise.

    Slowly the political centre moves towards Green policy, not the other way around. And if sustainable economics are currently deemed to be left wing, so be it.

  9. I’ve always been surprised that the Greens didn’t move in this direction earlier – surely environmental protection is more important to a lot of people than the whole left-right divide. No point worrying about how we live our lives if we’ve permanently ruined the place while we weren’t paying attention.

  10. @Bryce 2:52 PM

    – even though the Greens seem to be moving away from pushing progressive taxation, or even for a comprehensive capital gains tax –

    Bryce, the very Mind the Gap package you referred to in you previous post strongly advocated introducing a capital gains tax. Sure, it assumed 15% GST, which was a certaintly by the time Mind the Gap was developed. That does’nt mean the Greens supported 15% GST. They didn’t, and voted against it. All it means is that introducing a capital gains tax and a tax-free first $10,000 is a higher priority for the Greens in making the tax system more progressive than reducing GST is.

  11. Especially when Russel is talking about higher taxes for those on higher incomes which I thought was a cornerstone of progressive taxation.

    @Bryce you are being a bit cheeky with your reference to Metiria’s Mind the Gap policy package. The Green New Deal and Mind the Gap policy packages are self contained solutions to give an idea of what the Green Party would do if we had the reigns. They are not a complete policy platform – see http://www.greens.org.nz/policy for that. It seems the green party can’t win. They put together a comprehensive policy platform and get criticised for being out of touch with reality. In response they put together small packages that it is realistic a minor coalition partner could achieve and get citicised for not providing a complete policy package.

  12. Toad – actually the capital gains tax that the Greens advocate is the sort of “capital gains tax you have when you’re not having a capital gains tax”! The Greens have deliberately decided to water down their proposal and take out the central and generally-considered most important part of a CGT – housing! By making the family home exempt – and therefore providing loopholes to make the vast amount of housing exempt – you make the CGT almost useless. By international standards the Greens proposal is incredibly conservative.

  13. Also, Toad, when a political party decides to advocate to retain a particular policy – such as 15% GST – then they now *own* that policy, and any previous critiques of it become redundant. Only the disingenuous politicians would try to argue otherwise. In fact your argument becomes the same as Bill English’s line of “such and such is Nice to Have, but not affordable”. So the Greens say “Lower GST would be Nice to Have, but we wouldn’t budget for it because we’d like to spend the proceeds of the higher GST on something else”! So sure, make the argument that you’re rather spend the billions on a $10,000 tax threshold, but don’t try to pretend that you’re also against 15% GST. It’s dishonest.

  14. RimU – Bryce – Rimu – though conquering the language may not matter if you’re talking rot – it’s simple respect – wouldn’t want you to lose that too.

  15. Bryce, they didn’t “advocate to retain” the GST rise, they simply chose not to actively try and reverse it. This does not in any way mean they like it.

  16. Whoops – apologies to Rimu for the misspelling of the name (or pseudonym).

    Mark – a part from that misspelling, what have I said that is incorrect about the Greens?

  17. Golly Bryce really hates the Greens! He is a responsible academic, but he resorts to making things up!

    “capital gains tax you have when you’re not having a capital gains tax”! The Greens have deliberately decided to water down their proposal and take out the central and generally-considered most important part of a CGT – housing! By making the family home exempt – and therefore providing loopholes to make the vast amount of housing exempt – you make the CGT almost useless. By international standards the Greens proposal is incredibly conservative.

    Who’s quote is that Bryce? The only exemption is the family home. Whilst I agree that it makes sense not to exempt the family home the Greens actually do want votes! As for a loophole, well that depends. It can or can not be one depending on the nature of financial regulations. The regulatory regime is simpler by not exempting the family home, but with the exemption it is not impossible.

    As for the Greens proposal is incredibly conservative. what on Earth is that statement based on? Making more stuff up!

    to attack the increased borrowing by governments during recessions is generally regarded as right-wing and normally associated with neoliberalism

    Since Bryce is a political scientist, that statement makes him a liar! Just because the argument is “generally” associated with one group does not give that group a mortgage on the argument. Bryce knows that cutting taxes for the rich whilst increasing borrowing to cover the resulting deficit is *not* Keynesian, it is a program designed to bankrupt the state to facilitate the cutting back of more Government programs, which in turn will lead to lower taxes, more deficits, borrowing and cuts. There is not much rational thought behind the program, it just aids lowering taxes and increasing the profits as government services have to be sold.

    Toad dealt nicely with Bryce’s BS about the Greens and GST.

    …by giving up any pretence of being leftwing, this shift opens up a space on the left for a proper new left party.

    “Leftwing” is a label placed on the Greens. The Greens are not a left wing party. And since there are a few people in the Greens who would rather be in a dedicated left wing party a viable left wing party would be a good thing. Yes it would cost us some votes, but not many (most of those voters voting Labour IMO)

    But this “New Left” party will not fly when the people promoting it are such “Old Left” dinosaurs. I have seen Bomber Bradbury’s reaction to any criticism, ad hominem attacks on any one who dares criticise his vision. Now here is Bryce making stuff up to attack the Greens.

    peace
    W

  18. Dunno Bryce – once I saw it was just one persons opinion – it sorta got downgraded (didn’t persevere) – do I detect a non-Green Voting attitude in your testimonials?
    Or is it just me?
    I try to unbury the facts mostly – is it true that GST at 12.5% was supposed to be temporary only – that the promise was to return it to 10% asap?
    Is it true that the National Party were so ashamed of themselves after the Great Depression of the 30’s they changed their name from the Liberal Party?
    I’m always interested in the mischievous and their motivations – they stand (after all) in the way of a Perfect World.

    It might be shorter if I commented on what you got right.

    aha!

  19. @Bryce – Politics, particularly Green Politics is about finding a consensus that everyone can agree to. While this is not necessary in academia it is if you want to work together with other people. Just because we have better ways of reducing inequality than removing/reducing GST doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t support reducing/removing GST if it was on the table and our better solutions were not. I honestly find your analysis of our position a bit shallow at times, and constrained by old school left-right vision. By your measure above a policy of increasing company taxes and tax on the rich would be seen as right wing if done instead of borrowing in a recession – but if done outside of a recession to boost services then it is left wing? I’m confuzzled!!

  20. The Greens were proposing a levy as an alternative to cutting government spending … hardly taking a right wing approach to it bryce.

  21. I apologise and withdraw – the material on offer is gossipy, defamatory and generally symptomatic of ‘the Great Tall Poppy Syndrome’ which is of course – one of the Great Nations big shortcomings (self-destructive).

  22. Is it true that the National Party were so ashamed of themselves after the Great Depression of the 30′s they changed their name from the Liberal Party?

    Mark, the Liberal and Reform parties merged in 1936 to form National – the name change was a result of a merger, not shame.

  23. GST is an interesting issue – it speaks to priorities. While regressive the revenue can be used to mitigate this – such as funding a tax free threshold at $10,000. It can also be split rated (common elsewhere) – with a 20% rate on discretionary spending and a lower rate 10% on necessities such as food (some exempt food entirely), power (placing a carbon tax on some power generation instead), health and education spending necessities. This would maintain GST revenue at circa the 15% level but reduce the impost on those on lower incomes (ans they have little money for discretionary spending items).

    bryce affording an $10,000 income tax free threshold from 15% GST revenue requires reversing the top rate tax cuts and bringing a CGT on rental property – it’s hardly a centrist policy. Though the centre might well support it.

    You under-estimate the part building a sustainable (equitable) society is part of the Green programme and after the recent GFC why this is becoming something that the centre is ready to accept.

  24. common elsewhere

    Yes, but do you really want a situation where people are charged GST because they are having their Burger King inside instead of outside, or where the courts have to decide whether a Jafa Cake is a cake or a biscuit? The issues around GST can be solved by either a zero tax threshold for low income earners, and/or improvements to welfare.

  25. I wonder whether a new left wing party that is not inclusive of the sustainable economy influence of the Greens is realistic. It seems to be the dream of those disenchanted with Labour since the 1980’s, but maybe old labour was pre modern society liberalism and pre environment consiousness and cannot be refounded just because of the compromised nature of the Labour Party since they accepted co-existence with free market regimes and the global trade system of neo-liberalism.

  26. john-ston, the $10,000 income tax free threshold applies to all people not just those on low incomes. I’m simply saying GST does not have to be regressive as we have it – we apply the most regressive version of it in the world. And if all food was treated the same (wherever eaten or bought) there would be no complications.

  27. (apologies for double-posting..but..y’know..!..)

    and it’s coming from the top…

    “..Norman and Turei stressed that the remit was only a proposal at this stage, and that it would be up to the party’s conference whether to adopt it…”

    if you do this..you had better start wooing that (much-heralded/mythic) blue-green vote…quick smart..

    ‘cos you sure as hell will be shedding a heap of red-green votes..

    ..and i’m tellng ya…

    ..you leave that option open…

    ..and i won’t vote for you..

    ..there is no way i wd vote for a party that threatens to support a far-right/asset-stripping/fuck the poor/fuck the environment key-led government..

    ..and i’ll tell you one thing for free..

    ..i wouldn’t be alone…

    ..(would a ministerial-bmw sway either of you..?…

    ..that you are so open for business with them..

    ..is both gag-inducing…

    ..and is really a defining moment for you..eh..?

    ..and for those who have formerly supported you..

    ..eh..?

    ..labour will be really pleased at this news…

    ..and so will hone…

    ..he will now take votes from labour..the maori party…and the greens..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  28. no it’s not…in 2008 the greens said they would not support a national govt..

    ..given what national is promising should they win govt again..

    ..it is imperative the green leadership again give that message..

    ..if they don’t..

    ..it will cost them many votes..

    ..and if hone..as expected…copy/pastes much green policy…

    ..and also promises not to go with key…

    ..he will get votes the greens wd otherwise get..

    ..esp. from unhappy labour voters…

    ..you do the math…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  29. I think the math will equate to the Greens holding a pivotal role in forming the next government. I wished it equated to the Greens holding the balance of power as they seem to be the only party with a plan to make New Zealand better.

    Unfortunately I think Hone’s new party will be somewhat irrelevant in terms of the next election because they are a bit slow off the mark and National’s media has done a good job at back stabbing Hone. Likewise Winston is failing to capture mainstream awareness. Do I even need to mention Act?

    Labour will pick up most of the votes from the Maori party with a swing from middle class voters because of Nationals war on society towards Labour and Greens. However it is going to be close.

    If National offers to retain state assets, rebuild welfare, alleviate poverty, implement renewable infrastructure, reform the tax system etc while Labour shows a continuance of pre 2008 policies, who should the Greens form a Government with? While the Greens need to make a deal with the devil, it doesn’t matter much if it’s a blue or red devil in terms of furthering its policies… It’s all about compromise.

  30. and it’s coming from the top…

    “..Norman and Turei stressed that the remit was only a proposal at this stage, and that it would be up to the party’s conference whether to adopt it…”

    So the Party’s main spokespeople were the ones to explain party process to the media. How is that a conspiracy?

    Your post at 8:06pm is an entirely reasonable one and exactly what Greens are grappling with, co-leaders included. Your post at 7:27pm from which I quoted above is just an ad hom smear based on nothing, and why many of us don’t give you the time of day.

    You think you’ll influence people by impugning their motives when you have no fucking clue what’s going on or why. You should leave that sort of stuff to Bryce, since in the end, you at least claim to be on our side.

  31. and valis..if you think i care what animal-torturing/eating pretend-greens think about me…

    ..you have really got that one wrong..eh..?

    ..to me..you/they are part of the problem…

    ..and as such to be fought against..

    …end of story..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  32. and valis..if you think i care what animal-torturing/eating pretend-greens think about me…

    If that’s honestly what you took from what I said, then I give up once again.

  33. john-ston, the $10,000 income tax free threshold applies to all people not just those on low incomes.

    Of course, and that is what I intended to say.

    I’m simply saying GST does not have to be regressive as we have it – we apply the most regressive version of it in the world.

    But it is the most efficient version of it in the world. One doesn’t have to look up lists and lists of exemptions and go to court in order to determine whether a product is exempted or not exempted.

    And if all food was treated the same (wherever eaten or bought) there would be no complications.

    As stupid as this is going to sound, the question of what is food needs to be asked. Remember, the minute you start adding exemptions (particularly around a particular type of product or service), you have firms that are going to argue that their product is exempted. Heck, even in New Zealand, there was a case around exemptions involving the Bank of New Zealand.

  34. The difference between the “efficiency” of economic rationalism and sustainable society is one of the various reasons why I vote for the Green Party. I prefer a mechanism that works for people rather than a GST system that is the most regressive version of consumption tax in the world.

    Ideally regressive GST is mitigated via tax free thresholds and the welfare system – but around the world cuts in welfare are occuring for the sake of lower debt levels and balanced budgets – under the directives of the IMF and credit agencies etc.

    At the moment we have child poverty in beneficiary families and part of the reason is the regressive nature of GST on their necessities.

    So taking the two options a change to GST or compensating for it via an income tax free threshold is one way of explaining – the latter is not an unaffordable luxury, it is a necessity while we have a regressive GST in place.

  35. Trouble is, the aim of the Green party should not be to try and be popular and powerful, but to advocate for a green and socially responsible society.

    Expressing this as though it is a binary choice is a mistake I think.

    However the larger mistake is to assert that a political party should “advocate for” something.

    Our job is to “influence government policy” regarding something. The subtle difference between the two statements is that the latter entails wielding actual power to change things.

    Advocating things is what you do by marching in the streets and getting signatures on petitions that the government is free to ignore.

    BJ

  36. “..Advocating things is what you do by marching in the streets ..”

    you mean like how we stopped their mining plans …(for the moment..)..?

    ..and that little g.e contretemps of a few years back..?

    just those two example of the advocacy you deride..outweighs most of what the green party has achieved in twelve years of government..

    ..you are an incrementalist bj…creeping us towards extinction…

    ‘influencing’ governments..

    how has that gone for you so far..?..that ‘influencing’…?

    gotta list of achievements to date for us to peruse..?

    ..the time is past for your way of thinking…

    ..things are kinda urgent now…eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  37. I prefer a mechanism that works for people rather than a GST system that is the most regressive version of consumption tax in the world.

    SPC, such a mechanism does not work for the people though – it works for the Lawyers and Accountants who earn juicy fees from trying to interpret whether an item is to be charged GST or not to be charged GST.

    In the case of New Zealand, it is almost certain that food prices would not fall if GST were removed – firms would realise that people are willing to pay the old with GST amount, and so would keep their prices higher. Again, that would not work for the people, it would just ensure that the owners of supermarkets and diaries would be able to line their pockets (pockets of course that would be plundered by the Lawyers and Accountants who would charge a fortune in order to interpret whether an item should have GST included or not).

    So taking the two options a change to GST or compensating for it via an income tax free threshold is one way of explaining – the latter is not an unaffordable luxury, it is a necessity while we have a regressive GST in place.

    I would agree with you there, and would go so far as to suggest that we should have a $20,000 income tax free threshold.

  38. Phil

    I don’t deride advocacy, I simply observe that it is different from the actions of a political party.

    That the government is free to ignore the petitions is demonstrable fact. You may be able to think of an example of it.

    Moreover, I don’t recollect that the Green Party stood back with respect to GE… or Mining.

    .the time is past for your way of thinking…

    ..things are kinda urgent now…eh..?

    If there is a revolution Phil, then you have a point. A competent revolutionary notes when and whether conditions support the cause.

    Like with GE, like with mining. Incompetent revolutionaries are perpetually building barricades that the common folk tear down so they can get to work. They get marginalized.

    So far we have done better than that. With our numbers, as well as can be expected.

    respectfully
    BJ

  39. It’s all about leverage for me. The past strategies of the Greenz have resulted in many years in parliament, none in government. By showing off your left wing underpants in the seductive dance of election time you get this…
    National.. I can ignore that maiden, she’ll never sleep with me
    labour.. I can ignore that maiden, she’s ‘in the sack’
    Result? MORE years NOT in government.
    I’m assuming here that the Green party was formed to get into Government? Or was it just to get into parliament? If it’s the latter then, well done, you are advocates as per BJ’s comment above. If the former…then you are spectacular failures.
    Which do you want and how to get to the bargaining table for places in cabinet with a powerful position.
    Our children’s environment NEEDS a powerful advocate IN GOVERNMENT are you up to the task?
    (BTW the RimU misspelling above is the best laugh I’ve had in a while! The mind boggles ;^)

  40. Don’t indicate your preference for any party. You’re supposed to be independent and surely should work equally as hard, with either party, to get your policies implemented. Both main parties are as corrupt as each other (and most other parties) and have no long term realistic vision for this nation. At least the Greens have a more realistic vision and are more down to earth.

    Work with any party that can help you implement your core policies (which must be green policies – i.e. environmental – or those that will help further green policies). But don’t announce a preference during the campaign, even if you have one as that will undoubtedly turn off some potential supporters. Greenness isn’t left or right, it is green. Period.

  41. What do the Greens stand for? well for some people it’s about political leverage and compromise but for me it’s about values and integrity.

    Greens have gotten into parliament by promoting the value of the environment but the Holy Grail of power seems at this time to be elusive!!

    In order to win the grail the two leaders are contemplating the political game of doing deals with a party in government that has proven to be untrustworthy.

    The Greens are moraly in the right and need not compromise, the party should carry on promoting environmental and social values.

    With all these climatic disasters, earthquakes and economic inequality things are comming to a head and the voter will see that voting for greed and self interest will only result in Armageddon (a bit strong?)

    At some point there is going to be a dialectical shift to the left regardless of whether it’s in the house or out.

    I don’t agree with all that Phil says but he has recognized this phenomina and I have tosupport his position!!!!!

  42. I’m not arguing with your position on the matter. But repeating my question from the general debate thread, why do you persist in blaming the co-leaders for the debate the Party is having when it is membership feedback that has led directly to the proposed remit?

  43. Everyone seems to forget that Labour has screwed us in the past! Even if we did enter into a supply and confidence agreement with them they’ll just claim continue to claim credit for our policies that work, and point the finger of blame when things go wrong. So what if our policies more closely align with them. They have proven themselves in the past to be as much a pack of mongrels as the Tories.

  44. Dobbie

    Good point about Labour, even though we get along with them better than with Nactional and we are likely to continue to do so. Overall I don’t think we’re doing that badly, and the remit does not make us one thing or the other…. but….

    I think Drakula has the better idea.

    Don’t pre-position the party at all, play those cards AFTER they are dealt by the electorate and simply make our policy points as strongly as possible.

    I have to say that I like his idea better than the current remit and I am changing my mind as a result and I will have a go at the remit taking that position in my electorate. The country needs to know what we stand for, not who we stand with.

    Thanks Drak

    BJ

  45. I agree, BJ. I never understood that declaration prior to the last election. The Greens should try to work with whichever party gets the chance to govern, as dictated by the voters. The suggestion this time isn’t as strong but the Greens shouldn’t indicate a preference. After all, what is the point of favouring one party with bankrupt policies over another party with bankrupt policies? There is no point, so the Greens shouldn’t do it.

  46. Bryce certainly managed to stir up quite a bit of comment. Is this not what a good blog is for?

    Now as to his assertion that the Green Party is moving towards the centre; this is how it appears to me as well. Now this is not a bad thing. It’s up to the Green Party’s members to decide the direction their party takes; I’m not a member and therefore should rightly not have any say in the matter (although I will not vote for the Greens in this upcoming election because of this shift to the right, despite having voted for them in the past two elections).

    The Greens need not shift to the centre; it is quite possible to stay on the left (even far left) and have very good environmental policies. Have a look at these Australian web sites for examples:

    http://www.greenleft.org.au/
    http://www.socialist-alliance.org/

    and this site comparing the environmental policies of political parties (including New Zealand parties – click on the “Past Elections” link):

    http://voteclimate.org.au/index.html

    Whilst the New Zealand Green Party scored best on climate policies amongst the New Zealand parties, the Australian Green party did not score best in Australia.

  47. “Greenness isn’t left or right, it is green. Period.”

    Sorry to be blunt, but that’s rubbish.

    “left’ and ‘right’ are clumsy terms, but if they mean anything at all, ‘left’ indicates a collective approach and ‘right’ an individualistic one.

    There is simply no way you can build a genuinely green society without collective action, an understanding that environmental benefits are shared and a recognition that we sink or swim together.

    The ‘us Greens are neither left nor right’ thinking is just silly new age happy-clappy sloganeering. It seems to mean nothing but “Oh aren’t we special!”.

  48. Yes, samiuela, discussion is great. My concern about Bryce is that he presents himself as just an academic commenting on things, when he really seems to have an axe to grind with the Greens and doesn’t miss an opportunity to paint us in the worst possible light even when other explanations are at least if not more plausible.

    I don’t know his real motivations, but it reminds me of that affliction of left factionalism where left groups in broad agreement will eat each other over comparatively minor points of difference. One of the large reasons the right has been so successful is that they know there’s a time to argue and a time to pull together so the cause can actually move forward sometimes. The result is that they’ve largely implemented their programme, while the left continues to flounder. This is not an argument for endless compromise either; none of us wants to end up like Labour.

    So I prefer someone like Matt McCarten – clearly from the left and not one who is afraid to criticise the Greens on policy points or tactics – but also one who knows that unceasing in-fighting is deadly to the broader left cause. Matt says he’s voted Green the last two elections as we clearly have the best programme in Parliament and it deserves support. And even if he formed a new left party, he acknowledges that it would work closely with the Greens, rather than try to paint us as some wolf in sheep’s clothing like Bryce does.

    No, we’re not as left as the Workers Party, but people who try to paint us as right-wing are either seriously deluded or actively disingenuous.

  49. Sam,

    “Sorry to be blunt, but that’s rubbish.”

    I’m sorry that reality is so hard to bear. Maybe a green society does need some things that might be considered “left”, or even “right”, but that doesn’t mean we should label green policies as left or right. Truly green policies are ones that get us onto a sustainable footing. In this case, they are the correct policies irrespective of political leanings. Consequently, labelling those policies as “left” or “right” is pointless and makes them liable to rejection simply because of the label.

  50. “There is simply no way you can build a genuinely green society without collective action, an understanding that environmental benefits are shared and a recognition that we sink or swim together”

    Exactly. It shows how far, to the mean spirited right, dialogue has shifted that Green policy is considered radical left.
    Mind you the current Neo-liberal rulers make Muldoon look like an extreme socialist.

    I would be extremely disappointed if the Green party used their balance of power to allow National to govern, no matter what they offer.
    Three more years of the rape of NZ by the RLNJ’s may well be irretrievable..

  51. I’m always amazed at how badly Greens react to my opinions and analysis! Especially the Green leadership and all their parliamentary staffers on Frogblog. The ad hominid attacks on me seem to be the only way that they can deal with my analysis – especially Valis and Russel Norman. By all means ignore my analysis, but why you go out of your way to try to run me down personally is a bit of a mystery. I wish for once, the Greens here would just argue against my analysis instead of resorting to cheap shots. Much like Chris Trotter – who is also hated and demonised by Greens – I just “say it how I see it” – I’ve definitely got no axe to grind with the Greens. In fact, I’ve written much more analysis about other parties than the Greens – Labour, National, Act and the Alliance. Thankfully, those parties don’t seem to respond in such a vituperous manner. But what’s interesting about these latest attacks on me is they come after I actually said this latest move by the Greens is “sensible” and explained why this centrist strategy is actually logical. There’s certainly no “infighting” on my part or even attempts to use any “academic credentials” to bolster my argument – quite the opposite actually, as I make no reference to such things in my comments here or on my blog.

  52. This post is an attack on Greens, so I suppose those who raised questions about your attitude have been validated, whereas I just dealt with what errors you were making.

    Don’t you mean the way Chris Trotter is seen by others on the left who support Labour or Greens, but it’s not hatred just disappointment from time to time (given he comments regularly in the media no great surprise, the left is not united and he can no more speak for it all of the time than anyone else not moderated by a caucus/party position).

    Your analaysis of the Greens should be that with experience in parliament and coalition government practice they are adopting more realistic and appropriate political tactics. Some people confuse this moving to the centre, but it’s not Green policies that have changed. Those who imply that they have, when they have not, are seen as misrepresenting the party. There is no greater offence to the committed change activist idealist than to say that they will move to the centre just to get more support in the electoral process.

  53. SPC – how was what I wrote an attack on the Greens? I said that the Greens were being “sensible”. I explained how it was all very logical. I genuinely believe that. I certainly didn’t make judgments about the shift of the Greens by saying it was a “bad thing”. I suggest you go back and re-read what I read. It seems to me that the Greens are becoming adverse to any analysis of them at all and that this prevents you from being able to fairly understand analysis made by outsiders. Furthermore, it seems that these Frogblog “discussions” are sinking into sewer-like forums, in which case I’m better off to just go and write a blog post. Anyone interested, will therefore be able to read my full analysis of the Greens later at: http://www.liberation.org.nz

  54. I’m always amazed at how badly Greens react to my opinions and analysis!…I just “say it how I see it” – I’ve definitely got no axe to grind with the Greens.

    That is a bit deluded!

    Let’s take some of Bryce’s greates hits on this page:

    Take Russel Norman, …He also favours all sorts of anti-poor taxes, including increasing GST to 15%.

    Where did Bryce see that? Bryce is an academic so should produce a source. He knows how.

    in particularly it’s increased borrowing – with right-wing language about them being ‘fiscally irresponsible’!

    I’ll give Bryce that one. A ‘C’ for perception though. It may well be his opinion that calling bankrupting the country “fiscally irresponsible” is “right-wing” language, but it is an odd opinion!

    the 2010 Mind the Gap document that the Greens put out, which adopted the policy of GST at 15%

    No it did not. I am speaking from memory, but if i am wrong I am sure Bryce can produce a source.

    Meteria Turei has since then explicitly stated that the Greens don’t favour reducing GST from 15%.

    Not true. A source Bryce!

    various posts right here on Frogblog, Greens have defended keeping GST at 15% and

    Perhaps some cementers have, but I missed it. A source wouldbe good. But given the public and uncontrolled nature of Frog Blog comments I am on shaky ground denying it!

    even though the Greens seem to be moving away from pushing progressive taxation, or even for a comprehensive capital gains tax

    Considering that the Greens are the only political party in Parliament advocating a CGT that is a truly bizarre statement. I guess exempting the family home could be considered “un-comprehensive”, but that is a real stretch for some one who “says it as I sees it”.

    Sticking with CGT…

    By international standards the Greens proposal is incredibly conservative.

    What standards are those? I know a little about other countres CGT regimes and I disagree. It is possible, I would have said probable, that Bryce knows better/more. So I challenge Bryce: What standards? I am a grown up and will no cry if I am proved wrong!

    when a political party decides to advocate to retain a particular policy – such as 15% GST

    Now I am getting a bit repetitive! Where do the Greens advocate 15% GST?

    So that is a comprehensive challenge to Bryce based solely on what he has written here. I expect he is a sensible guy. So I assert he is not saying it as he sees it but he has a personal problem with the Greens. I can be wrong, and I would like Bryce to show me where I went wrong in my analysis of his comments.

    peace
    W

  55. Samiuela, what is this shift to the right, of which you speak? I’m always a bit mystified by this talk. None of our policies have changed in any ways that could be construed in that way, and in fact we have probably increased the amount that we say to advocate those policies. Do you just mean that the draft political positioning remit doesn’t absolutely close the door on National (provided that we were able to secure significant progress on key policy priorities, including – surprise – our social policy)?

  56. Bryce, I was referring only to the post I was responding to (and disagreement with you or Trotter is not “hatred or demonising” by Greens) and otherwise offering a way of assessing Green tactics of late that I and maybe they would accept as valid.

  57. Bryce

    I think in the end it is just that there are some mistakes you are making in your attributions of things.

    For instance:

    He also favours all sorts of anti-poor taxes, including increasing GST to 15%.

    Having talked with Dr Norman I know this isn’t true. You state it as fact and that has the ability to upset me.

    This is not the only instance of such not-quite-the-truth analysis that you provide… just the first one I hit reading from the top again. Chris Trotter has a fair attachment to favoring his own opinion of what we think rather than asking us about it as well.

    “It is not the things you don’t know that hurt you, it is the things you “know” that just ain’t so” – (someone else)

    Except you don’t hurt “you” you hurt US when you post these things.

    I think you’d be a bit better received here if you checked with Greens about what we think before telling us what you think we think.

    I don’t for instance, think we’ve “moved to the center”. We are still seriously left of center and the reason for it has to do with that famous liberal bias that reality has.

    The only way to address climate change and the protection of the environment is collectively. Market mechanisms can work, and are more flexible than pure regulation, but they cannot exist without collective government intervention to create them.

    We haven’t changed here. Not as I see it. What is happening, if anything, is that the media is losing the ability to portray us as being as hard left as they always have portrayed us. Our current contingent of MPs is less easily misrepresented. WE have not (I think) changed, but our image may well have changed.

    respectfully
    BJ

  58. Kevin – no, there was no sarcasm on my part. If you can point to any such ambiguous statements by me above, please do so and I will clarify. I think my part in the discussion above has been polite, and the only venom seems to be from people like Russel Norman. In fact if anyone has an axe to grind, it’s definitely him….

    Bliss – yes, I’ll refute all your points and answer your questions on a blog post about the Greens on liberation blog (when I get some time). I hope that you’ll rise to the challenge to read it and accept my answers.

  59. Thank you Johnston; – someone who remembers those days insists it was because we remained a huge primary producer who let their own people starve – but then he is a Labour Supporter – if I’m in doubt I’ll canvas opinion – instead of insisting on being right all the time – which IS boring among other things.

  60. @Bryce 12:20 PM

    Much like Chris Trotter – who is also hated and demonised by Greens – I just “say it how I see it”

    For me, Bryce, I perceive you and Chris Trotter very differently. My concerns with what you write is that it frequently misrepresents the Green position. Don’t think I need to go any more into that – bliss has done an excellent jobs of demonstrating how a few comments up the thread.

    With Trotter, it is not that he misrepresents the Green position but that he refuses to accept it as valid. He dismisses the struggles of women against patriarchy, Maori against racism, and identity politics in general as “unimportant” – things that should be subservient to the great working class struggle against capitalism and will be sorted out in a jiffy once the workers seize power. Witness his latest “just wait a few more years girls” post on abortion law reform (and the wonderful QoT’s response).

  61. Bliss

    I am quite sure you are correct.

    I read almost every post and comment here. I do not recall a single Green commenter expressing support for the 15% GST. At any time… and I am pretty sure I would have noticed it if I had seen it.

    Thanks
    BJ

  62. “Truly green policies are ones that get us onto a sustainable footing. In this case, they are the correct policies irrespective of political leanings. Consequently, labelling those policies as “left” or “right” is pointless and makes them liable to rejection simply because of the label.”

    Tony, I’m not sure if you are saying that policies that get us onto a sustainable footing might reject collective action and an understanding of the inherently collective benefits of a functional environment, so cannot be described as ‘left’, or that they are ‘left’ policies, but the Greens shouldn’t be honest enough to call them that because it might put some people off.

  63. Sam

    I do not think you quite get the point. Clearly there will have to be collective action, benefit and pain to make our economy and society more resilient. Sustainable of you like. So the Greens cannot be a right wing party.

    But beyond that there is plenty of scope for capitalism to survive. We cannot continue to have rampant self interest to rule the roost (which is the traditional view of capitalism) but that does not preclude an economy based on private ownership of most of it. So that concept precludes being an “old left” party.

    But none of that is really the point. It is mere details. The Green project involves a rethink of human relations from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. Left, right, out in front or in outer space, I really do not care what label you want to place on it. With respect, I know yu care deeply about the “left”. But to me it is Green.

    Does that make sense?

    peace
    W

    PS Makes me think that Bryce’s analysis of us moving to the centre, whilst bizarre and full of errors, does not really bother me.

  64. “The Green project involves a rethink of human relations from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top.”

    Sounds good, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. Where is this complete re-think happening?

    “Left, right, out in front or in outer space, I really do not care what label you want to place on it. With respect, I know yu care deeply about the “left”. But to me it is Green.”

    It’s not a matter of ‘labeling’ it’s a matter of using words to mean what they mean. In an environmental context, the pursuit of individual gain, or a strategy of individual choice of actions makes no sense. The environment will not cooperate with strategies that depend on the rewards pertaining to the individual, nor will it maintain its integrity if parts of it are maintained and other parts destroyed. A ‘green’ society that maintains private property could only happen if private property rights are so significantly reduced as to be barely ‘private’ – a collective agreement as to how ‘private’ property is used and not used will be necessary. This makes it accurate to describe green politics ‘left’ politics, regardless of whether you like the label or not.

    And nobody ever suggested the term ‘old left’ was appropriate.

    Matter of fact – I really don’t give a toss about ‘the left’. I don’t feel much empathy with most of the people who identify as such, and I find the term too imprecise to be of much value – ‘collective action’ can be anything from Stalinism to a Nietschean ‘union of egoists’.

  65. Didn’t David Suzuki say, “Green politics is neither left nor right. Every party should be Green’ (or words to that effect) in keynote at our recent summit? Why are we expressing a preference at all? I don’t think the environment gives a stuff who our policies are best aligned with. I reckon the environment just wants to be treated better.

  66. Bj.chip I am glad that you see that standing for what is right will win out in the long run and what I have said above I have just mentioned directly to Russel Norman and Metiria through the Green Party internal e-mail.

    So Valis I am not backbiting OK?

    It’s all about losing a few battles to win a war. even though I am a pacifist.

  67. Bliss, we may scrap some about other stuff, but you got it well in hand here. Well said.

    respectfully
    BJ

  68. Sam,

    I’m saying that I don’t care whether someone describes a particular policy as “left” or “right”. The leftness or the rightness of a policy is irrelevant; the important point is whether the policy is the correct policy for a sustainable society to be achieved. Which side of some arbitrary central line a policy sits does not matter one iota to me but I know that some people would never vote for “left” policies, just as others would never vote for “right” policies, so let’s not label the policy and let’s not argue about which side the policy is on; let’s discuss the policy itself.

  69. “The leftness or the rightness of a policy is irrelevant; the important point is whether the policy is the correct policy for a sustainable society to be achieved. ”

    You seem to be missing the point – which is that ‘left’ policies create sustainable outcomes and ‘right’ ones do not (and this is a matter of taxonomy, not a simplistic spectrum).

    Doesn’t matter that you don’t like the terms, or would rather not use them as they may be bad PR, and discussing the policy itself is going to be difficult if you are going to abandon political definitions.

    Of course, the Green party is welcome to deny that it’s a ‘left’ party. But green policies are left policies, like it or not.

  70. Perhaps we could summarise that Green policy is easier for the left to understand and support …

  71. Sam,

    ‘left’ policies create sustainable outcomes

    I doubt that’s an inviolable rule. If it is, such policies should be labelled “sustainable” not “left”.

    discussing the policy itself is going to be difficult if you are going to abandon political definitions

    Why should not labelling it “left” or “right” make it difficult to discuss? The policy should stand on its own merits not on the arbitrary political labelling that someone decides to put on it.

    Of course, the Green party is welcome to deny that it’s a ‘left’ party. But green policies are left policies, like it or not.

    I’m not a Green party member and not always a Green party supporter but you’re entitled to label it whichever way you like. However, as far as I’m concerned, such labelling is pointless, unhelpful and may even be counter productive, in some cases.

    For example, Labour is regarded as “left” but I can’t think of one policy they have that would lead to a “sustainable outcome”.

  72. Bryce, suppose there was someone that, rare if not unique among commentators on the left, actually did purposely seek in their commentary to present the Greens as negatively as possible, stating supposition as fact, misrepresenting our policy, implying if not stating outright that we are a right-wing party, etc. It should not seem odd that people would question that person’s motives. It is not an ad hominem attack when there is evidence that this is the case.

    You appear to us as such a person. Perhaps we are wrong, but though I would not accuse someone of this lightly, I have not been able to reach another conclusion. Perhaps there is another explanation. Perhaps your life experience is so vastly different from mine, that even though I’ve spent my life advocating policies abhorrent to those that call themselves “right”, you can say I support the “right” and be sincere when you say it.

    I can’t see this as likely, but I don’t know, I’m just “saying it how I see it”. I certainly can say there is no comparison at all between you and Chris Trotter in this regard. While I think Chris’ analysis is frequently bonkers, I can’t remember ever thinking he personally had it out for the Greens. I haven’t read anyone else prominent on the left I’d say that of.

    And you can’t expect that your saying we’re being “sensible” and “logical” in this thread will be read in total isolation from your past writings, but rather be interpreted precisely in light of them.

    It also doesn’t help that you say things like “I wish for once, the Greens here would just argue against my analysis instead of resorting to cheap shots” when there are numerous threads on this blog where various people have done just that.

    So, sorry, but simple honest analysis is just not what we see and nothing you’ve said here has helped to change that.

    I’ll grant you one thing, you are indeed polite. Unfortunately, given all the above baggage, projecting as calm and reasonable only appears as insincere too.

    I don’t enjoy my cynicism at all, but thought I should give a clear explanation. It’s all I plan to say, so you can have the last word.

  73. Russel – both you and I know that you have a sad personal vedetta against me, but you shouldn’t let it come into these debates. And I’m certainly not going to stoop down to your level on this. I’m going to stick to the issues, even if you can’t, and I’ll do so over on my blog (www.liberation.org.nz). You’re welcome to come and debate in a grown up way, but if you once again start posting obscene and highly-abusive comments they will be deleted.

  74. I think SPC has the best one-line summary of the situation.

    Green policies, which aim at sustainable economics, sustainable social systems and a sustainable environment, are easier for the left to accept.

    SPC nails it.

    BJ

  75. Bryce

    Russel hasn’t posted here to answer you. Hasn’t posted here at all? I don’t see it at any rate. So, like some other things you’ve said about Greens, there appears to be no evidence of it. Which isn’t to say I won’t have a look at your website now and again. Overall it seems to be fairly reasonable analysis… but where DO you get information about Greens? I suspect that your source(s) of information aren’t serving you as well as they ought.

    I don’t ascribe malice in this – I simply suspect flawed input data. This party ain’t perfect… but it doesn’t seem to ME to be doing the things you are saying it is doing, and I am paying pretty close attention.

    respectfully
    BJ

  76. “The Green project involves a rethink of human relations from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top.”

    Sounds good, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. Where is this complete re-think happening?

    A bit of woolly thinking on my part. I was in the context of the dog eat dog, “law of the jungle”, majority rule paradigms I was raised on.

    Obviously you have the ESP function on your IPad turned low so you could not read my mind!

    peace
    W

  77. “arbitrary political labelling”

    If you consider the labels arbitrary, then obviously there’s no point using them. But they aren’t arbitrary – the labels actually mean something.

    “Green policies, which aim at sustainable economics, sustainable social systems and a sustainable environment, are easier for the left to accept.”

    For some of ‘the left’ – other bits of ‘the left’ are obsessed with economic progress at all costs.

    But this is shifting the argument entirely, from the nature of the policies to the nature of the constituency. It doesn’t address the point under discussion – that pro-environment policies are necessarily collective.

  78. “Left, right, out in front or in outer space, I really do not care what label you want to place on it. With respect, I know yu care deeply about the “left”. But to me it is Green.”

    It’s not a matter of ‘labeling’ it’s a matter of using words to mean what they mean. In an environmental context, the pursuit of individual gain, or a strategy of individual choice of actions makes no sense. The environment will not cooperate with strategies that depend on the rewards pertaining to the individual, nor will it maintain its integrity if parts of it are maintained and other parts destroyed. A ‘green’ society that maintains private property could only happen if private property rights are so significantly reduced as to be barely ‘private’ – a collective agreement as to how ‘private’ property is used and not used will be necessary. This makes it accurate to describe green politics ‘left’ politics, regardless of whether you like the label or not.

    I disagree that a Green society can only be possible if private property rights are so reduced. There is no limit to what you can own under our current system and clearly given our economic power and size (as a species) this is not compatible witrh Green economics. But a mixed economy is compatible. Where there is a large section of the economy (such as health, education, social housing provision and other things I have forgotten) where the ownership and control is collective (state control under our current arrangements but it does not have to be the state). Running sectors like this for a profit is plain silly.

    But that leaves large parts of the economy that can be run for a profit, and is open for private enterprise and extensive private ownership. That is not incompatible with Green social, economic, personal or environmental goals (the Green party is much more than an environment party, and the crises we face is as much social and economic as environmental)

    Yes a Green society would require a collective agreement to move to these sorts of arrangements. So it is to the left of the current dominant paradigm, but that is not very left!

    Hence I do not see the situation as clearly as you do.

    peace
    W

  79. “in the context of the dog eat dog, “law of the jungle”, majority rule paradigms I was raised on.”

    Going out on a limb here, I would, with no firm evidence, have a gut feeling that most of the influences that took you away from ‘law of the jungle’ (no offense meant to Kropotkin) thinking were products of ‘the left’.

    The Green Party also seems largely influenced by the left, notwithstanding the more recent neo-liberal influence. There’s a reason why the Green Party was established by leftists, as was the Values party, as were most environmental activist groups. The rare right-wing greenies are odd anomalies in their political milieu. What was the name of that free-market greenie party that contested an election once before dissolving?

  80. And nobody ever suggested the term ‘old left’ was appropriate.

    Ha ha ha!! Has anybody told Bomber Bradbury? Chriss Trotter? They are such dinosaurs I feel an empathy for the “creation science” nutters! I try questioning them and they make Bryce’s attacks on the Greens look balanced and well researched!

    The old left is alive and spitting (it is a bit small to be kicking!)

    Matter of fact – I really don’t give a toss about ‘the left’. I don’t feel much empathy with most of the people who identify as such, and I find the term too imprecise to be of much value – ‘collective action’ can be anything from Stalinism to a Nietschean ‘union of egoists’.

    Fair enough. I should not make assumptions about what you care about.

    this is fun, and I have work to do!

    peace
    W

  81. “But that leaves large parts of the economy that can be run for a profit, and is open for private enterprise and extensive private ownership.”

    Sure, but only if properties and businesses are constrained by collective requirements not to pollute, or otherwise damage, the environmental commons, including the land, water and airspace that is privately owned, but still a part of the environment that cannot be divided up into private lots for human convenience. That’s what I mean by a significant reduction in private property rights.

  82. Agree with you on Trotter, don’t really read Bradbury and don’t know what he thinks. It was describing the Green party as ‘old left’ that I was saying hadn’t been suggested.

    “this is fun, and I have work to do!”

    Me too.

  83. Going out on a limb here, I would, with no firm evidence, have a gut feeling that most of the influences that took you away from ‘law of the jungle’ (no offense meant to Kropotkin) thinking were products of ‘the left’.

    I did not think so.

    It is the “eat or be eaten” rule, and it was presented as the reason the “west” was so successful and the “civilised” world one out over the “savages”. Competition is the best and only way to get progress.

    What has Kropotkin got to do with it?

    But I have been known to be wrong! I may be lefter than I think!

    peace
    W

  84. Sam,

    other bits of ‘the left’ are obsessed with economic progress at all costs

    You see? Not all “left” policies can lead to “sustainable outcomes”. So why use the label? To me, it is meaningless. Look at the policy and discuss its merits. Saying it’s left or right doesn’t add anything to the discussion, at all.

    pro-environment policies are necessarily collective

    I can’t really disagree with that; to keep this planet habitable for humans (and, by implication, an abundance of other species), actions will have to be taken by the bulk of the humans living here; individual action, alone, will not help but is absolutely vital, nonetheless.

  85. bliss,

    But that leaves large parts of the economy that can be run for a profit, and is open for private enterprise and extensive private ownership.

    How is a profit motive compatible with a sustainable society? I genuinely have not seen a good answer to that question. If you try to get more than you need, you end up with growth. Growth is unsustainable.

    I tend to think that private ownership of anything is incompatible with a sustainable society but that’s not a solid opinion I hold. It’s just that when I start to extrapolate private ownership of parts of nature, I always seem to end up in unsustainable territory.

  86. So the way I read it doing a deal with the blue devil would be in abomination, but with the red devil OK. That would be seen as going right wing and inexcusable. I see it differently. I see it as The Greenz gaining sufficient votes to go into negotiations a THE major player. Taking those votes and dragging red or blue kicking and screaming towards real sustainability. If your leverage can wipe out any notion of selling off our energy assets then I say go for it. If it can force real water purity and conservation rules then job well done. etc.
    By showing your left leaning all the time you have caused any number of people I have spoken to to vote elsewhere, as they see you as ineffectual. They want to vote for an environmental party, just not this lot.
    It’s a shame as a large voting block is waiting out there.
    Use the force!

  87. That’d be advice similar to that taken by the Maori Party Samiam and we know how they’re thriving from their close relationship with National – if by thriving we read ‘suffering’. I believe the Maori party is facing extinction because they have been twisted into a shape their supporters find abhorent and that twisting came from their tuakana, National.
    Like to see the Greens similarly twisted?

  88. “You see? Not all “left” policies can lead to “sustainable outcomes”. So why use the label? To me, it is meaningless.”

    I didn’t say all ‘left’ policies were green, but I do say all green policies are ‘left’.

    If you think the word is meaningless (and I defined it further up), we can’t really debate the issue.

    “By showing your left leaning all the time you have caused any number of people I have spoken to to vote elsewhere, as they see you as ineffectual.”

    If ‘left’ politics are considered ineffectual, that misconception needs to change. Likewise, if people believe you can be ‘right’ and green at the same time, they haven’t understood the social changes needed to create a sustainable society. And they won’t come to understand this if people prefer to talk about policies in an ad hoc fashion, as if each stood alone, and don’t want to discuss social models.

    Or to put it another way, we won’t create a green society unless we articulate a vision of collectivism to challenge ‘the right’s’ vision of individualism.

    “What has Kropotkin got to do with it?”

    He critiqued the Darwinian ‘red in tooth and claw’ view of nature, saying species that succeeded were often cooperative rather than competitive. (see Stephen Jay Gould’s essay Kropotkin was no Crackpot – http://www.marxists.org/subject/science/essays/kropotkin.htm)

    ““pro-environment policies are necessarily collective”

    I can’t really disagree with that;”

    Good – so we are agreed? Green policies are left policies?

  89. While the left has numerous failings, and I find large parts of the left completely distasteful, the left managed to develop a robust program of opposition to capitalism – which included economic analyses, modes of organisation, social analyses, political programmes etc. This gave the left a political strength that kept them going for a long time, despite the state and capital ganging up to destroy the organised left.

    I haven’t seen the green movement, broadly speaking, develop anything like the same coherence around sustainability. Which I fear, makes a party based on sustainability a much easier target for the right to manipulate, twist, trick and buy out.

    For example I have heard a number of environmentalists embrace market models which claim to produce more sustainable use of resources with little thought and fairly weak and short-term analysis.

    The lack of robustness around sustainability worries me – I don’t think the any movement based on sustainability has the ability to resist capture or compromise by the right unless they sort out a political programme that is much more robust. The organised left was captured and broken, they had pillars of class, marx et al., humanity, gender and race etc. on their side. How long will sustainability hold out?

  90. Well Mother Nature will be coming in on our side.

    She has a big reality stick with which to beat the bejeezus out of right wing unsustainable policies and their idiot denialist supporters. A bigger stick than they’ve ever dreamed exists.

    Unfortunately it is a REALLY big stick and I don’t think she’s going to be sorting out who actually deserves the beating. We’re all gonna get pasted.

    I can hope that some of the current crop live long enough for the mob to punish them, but what punishment is adequate for being a traitor to your species… for money? So no, I am not so “worried” about the lack of robustness in the long term, the long term result does not depend on humans and WILL by definition, be sustainable. The only question is (to misquote from the goon squad) … are we going to come quietly or will she have to use earplugs.

    As for the sustainability if we want to do it ourselves, it HAS TO BE BASED ON ECONOMIC CHANGE. We can’t save the environment if the economy remains based on debt-money and the fractional-reserve banking requirement for exponential growth. Change that and the entire faux-capitalism castle of cards will melt away like butter on a hot griddle.

    That has to be done, and done first, if we are to make a lasting change in our future.

    BJ

  91. Good – so we are agreed?

    Only on the probably collective nature of green policies.

    Green policies are left policies?

    Not relevant so the question is not worth answering.

  92. “Unfortunately it is a REALLY big stick and I don’t think she’s going to be sorting out who actually deserves the beating. We’re all gonna get pasted.”

    …if so, weak thinking by the green movement is still going to be an issue. As you say, mother nature isn’t going to slam ‘right’ policies. Just all of them. The right will still be telling us their policies are greener than the hills of Ireland.

  93. ““Green policies are left policies?” Not relevant so the question is not worth answering.”

    So you’re just playing games with words – “I agree they are left policies, but I’m not going to use the term”. Silly waste of time.

  94. The difference Sam, is that in the process of getting pasted, the masses will suddenly recognize who was left, who was wrong and who they want to blame…. I think the “right” will be distancing themselves from their current policies just as fast as they can… too late by half but that will be the end game.

    BJ

  95. “the masses will suddenly recognize who was left, who was wrong and who they want to blame”

    I’m less sanguine about people’s ability to think clearly in a crisis. Perhaps in the end the truth will out, but it will be a long and bloody process. A Pyrrhic victory at best.

  96. Sam,

    So you’re just playing games with words – “I agree they are left policies, but I’m not going to use the term”. Silly waste of time.

    What is silly is ascribing words to me that I didn’t use. I think the use of terms like left and right are silly because they don’t tell us anything useful about the policies. The policy should speak for itself.

    Suppose someone is described some policies of party X. He’s told they are left wing policies and that party X is left wing. He doesn’t like the policies and decides to reject or be very wary of anything regarded as “left wing”. Then he comes across Green party policies. He’s told they are left wing and that the party is a left wing party. He might decide not to vote for the Greens because though the policies sound reasonable, he might not understand their full implications, because he doesn’t like other left wing policies of other left wing parties, or because he fears that a left wing party might introduce left wing policies that he can’t possibly agree with.

    Describing the policies as “left” really doesn’t add anything to the understanding of those policies. Nada. Zip. SFA. So it’s not just words. Why label them at all if that labelling might alter the acceptance of the policy? It just seems madness to me.

  97. Tony – what else can I take form your agreement that green policies are collective ones, but your claim that the question of whether they are ‘left’, ie. collective, is not relevant?

    If you think its bad PR to use the term, fine. You can say “green politics are left, but I don’t think the term is particularly useful”. But when you have people saying “we aren’t left” this isn’t a matter of rejecting the term, it’s rejecting the politics.

  98. Sam,

    You can’t seem to get past your need to position policies either side of some central divide, and label them “left” or “right”. That’s sad, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to convince you to give it up, so let’s call it quits.

  99. Aaaargh! ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not a simplistic spectrum – as I’ve already said.

    I already gave a definition of ‘left’ and nobody’s disagreed with it.

    There is no ‘central divide’.

    It’s not about ‘labeling’.

    It’s the denial that matters. When Greens say “we’re not left” it indicates that either (a) they don’t understand basic political terminology or (b) they don’t understand the fact that pro-environment policies must be collective (because the environment can’t be divided up according to human whims, and the impacts of environmental damage are inherently felt collectively), or (c) they are lying for PR reasons.

    Neither of these possibilities are comforting, and this just opens up space for individualist (‘right’) policies and thinking to either enter the green movement, and weaken it, or compete with it.

  100. Just thought I’d state for the record that I am not Russel, nor have I discussed this or any other blog comments I’ve written with him.

  101. Sam

    I agree with almost every thing you say. It is just I think you have cherry picked aspects of the Green policy and said “that requires collective decision making so the Greens are a left wing party”. But just as easily you could take other aspects and say the opposite.

    For instance:

    The Green Party believes that putting a price on greenhouse gases is desirable to reduce emissions, as well as to incentivise energy efficiency and renewables.

    This is a market based policy.

    It is harder to find examples of policies that cast us in a “right wing” light than a left wing one. So perhaps we are lefter than righter. But this is why we think the left/right dichotomy is unhelpful for us.

    Which is also why we say it is a matter of labels. Yes “left wing” has a real meaning, but it does not fully describe us. If you describe the Greens as a “left” party it is less wrong than describing us as a “right” party but it is only describing part of us.

    is that clear?

    peace
    W

  102. bliss, could you give an example of a left wing party, other than from North Korea, that has no policies that utilise market mechanisms?

  103. Gerrit, the North Korean government is not green. What is your point?

    And who said that they wanted an economy like that of North Korea?

  104. solkta,

    That even left wing governments have faults.

    The Green party members expressing their desire for a “left” government of some sort need to explain how far “left” they wish to travel.

  105. That Green policy is in a sense premised on action to realise a sustainable society and economy for the collective good is where there is something in common with the left. However anything that is associated with the left (even if it is simply idealism to realise the common good) will be used to launch an attack. Thus anyone in the Greens whose idealism led them to be associated with left wing groups in the past will have that held against them and the Greens.

    Those assoiating the left with economic failure are of course seeking to mitigate a threat to placing the interest of private sector business first in economic policy formulation.

  106. This brings the election leaflet, the feeble spineless “green times” into sharp focus. The bland leading the bland. Sad to see the Green party go into meltdown just before Rogernomics part2 destroys what is left of our economy. Turkeys voting for an early Christmas.

  107. I feel sick.

    Well, you just sound silly. I suppose there’s a possibility that half our supporters won’t have the capacity to think things through sensibly, but I trust that most are mature enough to know where the Greens stand.

  108. http://whoar.co.nz/2011/nick-clegg-you-chose-to-be-coalition-arm-candy-so-accept-being-a-punchbag/

    “…Instead of bewailing his lot, Nick Clegg should sniff the daffodils and be grateful he missed the golden era of political venom

    Oh dear. Nick Clegg has had another Shylock moment, bewailing his lot to the New Statesman. Has a Lib Dem not hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? “If you prick us,” he wails, “do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?”

    The short answer is no, not if you are a minority leader in a coalition. Then you are lower than a cur. You are a fence-sitter, a turncoat, a scapegoat, a liar, a pledge-breaker, a class traitor, probably a scumbag into the bargain. You are a stock-in-trade figure of fun and/or hate. Little old ladies quake at your name. When children won’t go to bed and are threatened with a “right Clegging”, they scream in terror.

    His latest howl of pain breaks the number one rule of being on top: never show it hurts. Never say, as he did: “I’m a human being, I’m not a punchbag.” You are not a human, you are a government minister.

    You lie for your country and are therefore a punchbag. Above all, never mention the children’s question: “Daddy, why does everyone hate you?” It suggests that everyone does hate you, that the playground mafia is on message, and that you probably should have stuck to market gardening.

    Watching the hormonal onset of Clegg’s political puberty has been difficult for us all, but it was easy to predict…” (cont..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  109. Sustainability looks to be left-of-center, but left-of-center does not mean sustainable.

    Greens are going to always APPEAR to be left-of-center as a result but it is a serious mistake to mistake the causal relationship that exists.

    Sustainability is not on the POLITICAL spectrum.

    It is on the ENVIRONMENTAL spectrum and we should publish that map as part of our election strategy, pointing out the positions of the other parties in that regard.

    In the meantime, we are supposed to provide feedback for the AGM about this remit and I am going with Drakula’s earlier position.

    The party should not take any public pre-position about WHO it will
    dance with. It advertises and talks about what it stands FOR, but we
    wait until we know what they look like and who has won what in the
    popularity contests to decide and announce what it will do with those
    results.

  110. “It is just I think you have cherry picked aspects of the Green policy and said “that requires collective decision making so the Greens are a left wing party”. But just as easily you could take other aspects and say the opposite.”

    First, I’ve been talking about green policies, not Green Party policies.

    Secondly, for about the fifth time, the issue is that individual human impact on the environment affects the whole of it, and the damage done adversely impacts on humans collectively. It is our relationship with the environment that is inherently collective. Green party decision making has nothing to do with it.

    As I already said, the Green Party has had a tendency to move to the right, as you note with your mention of using market policies to reduce greenhouse gases, or in other words, offering incentives to those with the capital to invest in ‘green’ technology and penalising those who don’t, and allowing those with economic power to make those without pay for the cost of sustainability.

    It stuns me how many people can casually talk about using ‘the market’ as if it was a neutral force, rather than an abominable, unfair and destructive institution maintained for the benefit of a wealthy few. Voltaire’s dictum about laws that prevent both rich and poor from sleeping under bridges and stealing bread comes to mind.

  111. “Which is also why we say it is a matter of labels. Yes “left wing” has a real meaning, but it does not fully describe us. If you describe the Greens as a “left” party it is less wrong than describing us as a “right” party but it is only describing part of us.

    is that clear?”

    Unfortunately, yes.

    You could also say “if you describe the Greens as a “pro-environment” party it is less wrong than describing us as a “anti-environment” party but it is only describing part of us”.

    I simply don’t agree that a policy that says you can make money by activities that produce greenhouse gases, providing you make enough money to pay a levy and still profit, is a pro-environment policy.

  112. “even left wing governments have faults.”

    Thanks. Always good to have somebody who specialises in telling people incredibly obvious things that they are already well aware of.

  113. Sam

    I think the problem here is that you are imagining the current “market” where the invisible hand is guided only by considerations of wealth and greed, as the way any market has to be.

    This is not the market of Adam Smith and it is not the market as we can or would use it. The difference being of course, that there are NO prices put on the destruction of the commons in this market, and to use the market, those price signals must exist.

    The reasoning behind using the market rather than decree, is that we do not, any of us, have perfect knowledge of all the ways to save and produce energy, or to avoid production of CO2. The limitations we suffer lead directly to debacles like the US corn-to-ethanol subsidies while Brazilian product languishes under a massive tariff burden.

    The market itself is imperfect. It wants and needs government restrictions to keep it functioning efficiently. It is merely more reliably efficient than government decree (which CAN exceed it over a short period, during the lifetimes of exceptional individuals and governments, but which often falls short in the longer term.

    Government can put a price on CO2. The market will not do so until the Bull and Bear are sleeping with the fishes. It has no foresight at all, but given a price to work with it WILL seek out the most effective ways of making things happen without producing CO2.

    I am trying to wrap my head around the “market is evil” meme here. It is a power tool. It can be misused to do a lot of damage. It can be used to do a lot of good. The TOOL is not a problem. The ignorant use of that tool can be.

    respectfully
    BJ

  114. I simply don’t agree that a policy that says you can make money by activities that produce greenhouse gases, providing you make enough money to pay a levy and still profit, is a pro-environment policy.

    If you make enough money to pay for someone who arranges that those greenhouse gases are absorbed. It is not money trading, it is carbon trading.

    It has always been second best for us, as a straight CO2 levy seems ever so much easier to understand and manage. The current government has arranged that the polluter does NOT need to make enough money to pay for the CO2 to be absorbed, that instead the taxpayer fronts the dough.

    Which is basically criminal fraud in my view. Government or no.

    BJ

  115. First, I’ve been talking about green policies, not Green Party policies.

    Ok. We have been at cross purposes. But I still disagree, just not so vehemently.

    Secondly, for about the fifth time, the issue is that individual human impact on the environment affects the whole of it, and the damage done adversely impacts on humans collectively. It is our relationship with the environment that is inherently collective. Green party decision making has nothing to do with it.

    You are making the naive assumption that green==environment and environment==”non-human nature”. I am less sure of the second clause but you definitely make the first assumption.

    Green philosophy, in the 21st. century is about “ecology” not environment. The environment, the economy and all human material activity is part of the ecology. (I am not sure where non-material human endeavour, such as poetry, fit in that picture)

    So you must deal with people and their relationships. Whilst collective action is imperative to protect the environment. We need to ensure that the resource frlows from the sources stop over loading the capacity of both ends. That is a simple economic fact. It stuns me that there are educated people who cannot see that.

    One way of doing that is to use “Stalin’s pistol”. Measure the capacities of sources and sinks and use force to enforce the limits.

    One way is to price sources and sinks and let market forces rule.

    Both are solutions, properly done both would work. Neither involve collective action. But more to the point they would both smash society as we know it, bad for the ecology. That is the essence of the Green project. To find a way out of this mess that takes everybody along with it and is good for the ecology. The whole ecology.

    t stuns me how many people can casually talk about using ‘the market’ as if it was a neutral force, rather than an abominable, unfair and destructive institution maintained for the benefit of a wealthy few. Voltaire’s dictum about laws that prevent both rich and poor from sleeping under bridges and stealing bread comes to mind.

    I am over being stunned by people’s naivety about markets. I have spent 11 years now studying economics and there are quite a few economists who cannot see past the simple mathematics, the elegant equations and see the avoidable damage that can acrue through so called “free markets”. They often have no power analysis. They know of economic power, but discount political power and I have met hardly any that consider social power (it is the men running things for their benefit – the old exploiting the young – the colonisers the colonised and so on)

    But your statement is naive too. It is an ideological position not one that comes from studying markets. abominable, unfair and destructive institution maintained for the benefit of a wealthy few. is way too strong. Does that apply to the market for second hand records? How come the duopoly food stores are trying to destroy the food markets? Because the wealthy few benefit by the *absence* of markets if they have a dominant position.

    Markets work well when both supplier and consumer have choice. When they can turn down the transaction. Food markets do not work in a famine. But they work brilliantly in normal conditions. So Progressive Enterprises and Woolworths want to do away with them so they can control prices.

    peace
    W

  116. How do you price sources and sinks without using collective action (albeit in a flawed way through the state or similar)? Isn’t the essence of the problem that a completely free market does not in itself put a price on pollution – or most negative ecological or social effects – and the price must be enforced by some sort of collective action?

    Markets work well when both supplier and consumer have a choice. Well, maybe, but any player in the market will avidly work to reduce that choice (even the secondhand record market – at least in Wellington – has become dominated by a single major player who can, up to a point – dictate market conditions in its favour). Just maintaining a choice requires continuous collective action. Which is what politics is about.

    As BJ points out, a straight carbon levy would be preferable. But because of politics a market aligned trading system was introduced. And that was easy for the Nats to make ineffective. All these are political issues that any movement seeking sustainability has to grapple with. Can anyone show how a market solution can be made robust against the forces of the right who are going to try and undermine it?

  117. There is a Joe Buchanan AND a Sam Buchanan. Never noticed that there were two…

    ____________________

    The answer I think, is that in this case there has to be continuing government activity to maintain the Carbon “price” that the market sees.

    That has to happen and for it to be stable one has to actually undermine the forces of the right. My answer to that is to attack them at their weakest point, as their notion of what money “is” is a distortion.

    The economic system sits ON TOP of the environment. The popular picture (which I was very annoyed with at the sustainable economics conference) is that the environment is between us and the economy. This is a very misleading inversion of the truth.

    We ask the ECONOMIC system to get and distribute things for us and the economy responds by mining and milking the Environment. Those are economic activities.

    As a result, if the ECONOMIC system is not changed, there is no chance of reliable and lasting change to the way the Environment is mined and milked. At best we can force regulatory fences into the ground to slow the changes but this is like insulating one wall of a house. The energy (money) flows around that barrier…. which makes that approach ultimately ineffectual.

    respectfully
    BJ

  118. “I think the problem here is that you are imagining the current “market” where the invisible hand is guided only by considerations of wealth and greed, as the way any market has to be. ”

    Nope.

    “But your statement is naive too. It is an ideological position…”

    Nope.

    “You are making the naive assumption that green==environment and environment==”non-human nature”. I am less sure of the second clause but you definitely make the first assumption.”

    Nope. Perhaps my terminology was loose, I was using ‘green’ for ‘policies that lead to sustainable outcomes’, but my conception of ‘the environment’ included humans. I think it was much the same concept as you are calling ‘ecology’. BJ seems to be doing the same.

    “Does that apply to the market for second hand records?”

    No, but that’s a bit like arguing that there was facets of Stalinism that were harmless, so we can’t condemn it.

    “How come the duopoly food stores are trying to destroy the food markets?

    I’d say dominating the market isn’t the same as destroying the market. There’s still a market, just not a competitive one.

  119. Green philosophy, in the 21st. century is about “ecology” not environment.

    That’s a shame, bliss, especially as you oddly define ecology as including the economy. Green should definitely equal environment. The environment sustains us and we have to ensure it can continue to do so. This means the environment is placed above everything else, including the economy. I’ve never seen a definition of ecology that includes the economy.

    So, I sincerely hope you are wrong in this since we are so screwed if even the green movement can’t place environment above all else.

  120. No environment, no economy, as Russel says, not the other way around as the Nats would have it. But if you think we can save the environment without serious changes to the economy, you’re dreaming. They are inextricably linked. That’s what bliss means.

  121. Bryce thinks you are, Valis.
    This indicates a lack of nous on his part.

    I’d take it as a compliment from anyone else, Robert :-)

  122. Kevin Hague asked me what I mean by the “shift to the right” of the Greens (which is the reason I will not be voting for them).

    Perhaps “shift to the right” was not quite what I meant. Shift rightwards would be more appropriate. I don’t think the Greens are a right wing party, just that there has been a gradual rightwards shift towards the centre of the political spectrum.

    While on the topic of left and right, there is an important thing to consider. How are left and right defined? Are parties left wing if they have policies which are considered to be “left” of the average or median position of the various political parties (i.e. is it a relative concept), or does it refer to an absolute concept; a left wing party will support this, this and this? I believe that most people now days believe that “left” is a relative concept, because how else would anyone consider a party such as Labour to be “centre-left”? Labour, (and the Greens to a lesser extent) do not seem to be advocating rolling back the neo-liberal political and economic changes of the last thirty years, at best they are considering tinkering with the details (a bit like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).

    On an issue like GST, does the Green party consider it too hard to wind back such a regressive tax once it has been adopted (even if they opposed its adoption in the first place)? If so, then is this not a rightward shift by default?

  123. @samiuela 5:15 PM

    But the Greens want to introduce a capital gains tax and make the forst $10K of income tax-free.

    That is far more progressive taxation than is winding back GST to 12.5%, or even to its original 10%. It catches the people who orchestrate their financial arrangements to avoid tax.

    Sure, a roll-back of GST would be “nice to have”, as it would help low-income people. But given that the most substantial components of expenditure by people on low incomes are residential rents and/or financial services, both of which are GST-exempt, I don’t think it is the highest priority – not ahead of making the wealthy pay taxes on their property investments and reducing income tax for those who earn the least.

  124. Fair enough Toad. But why is it so hard to roll back (or even better, repeal) GST? Why not repeal GST, adjust income tax rates as required to make up for the loss of GST while ensuring a fairer deal for those on low incomes and introduce your CGT all at once? Those are the sort of changes I’d personally expect to see (as a minimum) from a left wing party. Just because the current government makes certain changes, it doesn’t mean you have to live with them for ever after, nor does it mean you have to water down you own policies out of fear that they will be seen as too radical.

  125. @samiuela 6:53 PM

    Fair enough Toad. But why is it so hard to roll back (or even better, repeal) GST?

    I would say one step at a time. And keep the electorate informed about progress on the policy programme, and the reasons for it.

    The last thing a Party that believes in democratic participation wants to do is repeat Roger Douglas’ TINA strategy of doing it all so fast that no-one who questions it has any effective opportunity to respond.

    I’m confident that if the Greens were in Government, and promoted a fair tax agenda, we could both get SMEs onside through out policies and democratically demolish big business opposition from those who rort the tax system.

    And it is not that easy to do it all at once. People panic, or are prompted by the interests of capital to panic, and then a Party gets booted out of Government before achieving most of its programme.

    This may not go down all that well with some of my fellow Greens. But realpolitik necessitates that while on policy I am a radical, in speed of implementation of programme I am a (note small-c) conservative.

    Scare the bears too much, and they bite back – hard!

  126. Valis,

    But if you think we can save the environment without serious changes to the economy, you’re dreaming. They are inextricably linked. That’s what bliss means.

    I’m not sure how you can think that I think that no changes need to be made to the economy, Valis. They are inextricably linked only insofar as the economy needs a workable environment in which to operate and that an economy that ignores its impact on the environment will degrade the environment.

    But the environment is the top priority. Period. The economy can be compromised to protect the environment but not the other way round. Green policies need to be about the environment and impinge on the economy only insofar as it affects the environment. The three main drivers of green politics should be environment, environment and environment. I’m saddened that some greens would think anything else.

  127. I’m not sure how you can think that I think that no changes need to be made to the economy, Valis.

    We were discussing the meaning of the term “ecology” that’s all, and you seemed to be arguing that the economy didn’t need to be included.

    They are inextricably linked only insofar as the economy needs a workable environment in which to operate and that an economy that ignores its impact on the environment will degrade the environment.

    A good definition of what this ecology is about. That line could have come from bliss.

    But the environment is the top priority. Period.

    Some greens do think that, but most Greens dont’.

    The economy can be compromised to protect the environment but not the other way round.

    And most people don’t agree with that. If you go about protecting the environment in a way that cares little for the economy, i.e. people’s livelihoods, you will make very little progress protecting the environment because they will take your power away. So taken as an ecology we ignore either aspect at our peril.

  128. Valis,

    This environment is the only one we know that can sustain humans. Consequently, compromising on the environment is compromising on the ability of future generations to be sustained. That should be a no-no for greens.

    You talk about people’s livelihoods as though this economy is the only one that is possible. Of course, people need to be able to live satisfying lives (otherwise we might as well top ourselves), but another economy and new living arrangements are needed in order to reach a sustainable society. Those new arrangements need to start from a base of not degrading our habitat, the environment that sustains us. How people live and “work” (if that’s the right term for a new future) should be based around the principle of not degrading the environment. We shouldn’t be doing it the other way round; that we need to protect people’s livelihoods and so can allow this or that bit of the environment to degrade. No compromise on the environment should be the greens’ rallying cry.

  129. But the environment is the top priority. Period. The economy can be compromised to protect the environment but not the other way round.

    Tony, you are missing the point. You can’t even TOUCH the environment without going through the economy, much less protect it or fix it. The environment may well dictate what we need to do to the economy, but economic change is the only tool that will actually make a difference in the long run.

    BJ

  130. if national were a ‘green’ social democrat/not focussed on fucking the poor/not selling state assets….

    ..little different from labour..(yes..yes..!..i know..!..)

    ..the possibility could be considered…

    ..but as they are the opposite of most that matters….

    ..your considering supporting them as they pillage in their second term…

    …is uncomprehensible madness…

    ..and shold it come about…

    …will see norman/turei become our clegg…

    ..and will render the green party into some kind of sick-joke…

    ..please..tell me how this will/could not be…?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  131. What bj said.

    This environment is the only one we know that can sustain humans. Consequently, compromising on the environment is compromising on the ability of future generations to be sustained. That should be a no-no for greens.

    It is. The issue is whether we harp about it from the sidelines, or develop practical strategies that will have an effect and that society will implement.

    You talk about people’s livelihoods as though this economy is the only one that is possible.

    I do no such thing. I’m making the opposite point, hence why bliss’s inclusion of economy in the ecology that effects the environment is correct. Not to mention that we discuss the huge changes that are needed here all the time.

    No compromise on the environment should be the greens’ rallying cry.

    Lovely as a slogan, but making change on the ground will take more.

  132. How much can the Greens compromise while still ensuring that the environment is protected? Moralistically there should be no compromise as any such will impact negatively and inhibit our ability to rectify climate change.

    The critical question is then should we compromise to an extent that will only delay effects instead of holding out for a longer period of time to ensure proper policies are implemented? There are disadvantages in both paths, in that one leads to measures that will help but not totally rectify while the other will rectify but delay, perhaps irreparably.

    Be assured that the right wing will wake up, whether this is in time is the question?

  133. Greens Compromise?
    Not in this paradigm.
    Everything is linked to everything else.
    First we’ll have to save our own lives (economy) from the christian robber barons.
    Is there any point in the advice to ‘get real’
    Maybe that’s why we venerate sport so highly.
    Straight Talk? – No Way7!

  134. How much can Greens compromise is the wrong question. The environment is mostly compromised now, climate change being the best example. The question is how do we start to reverse this? All I’m saying is that our answer has to also ensure society doesn’t collapse in the attempt to transform it or we’ll never even get the chance to try.

  135. if national were a ‘green’ social democrat/not focussed on fucking the poor/not selling state assets….

    Phil… you are almost understanding this here.

    IFF Nactional morphed into this “not quite entirely evil” thing (resembling labour), we might be able to cut a deal.

    We aren’t going to rule out the unlikely possibility of that happening (per this remit).

    However, I am more supportive of Drakula’s positioning, which is that we do not discuss WHO we will support, only WHAT we support.

    You can then draw your own conclusions about what will happen based on what you know of what the any other party’s positions.

    WE aren’t the ones who will compromise for this to happen.

    BJ

  136. I haven’t missed any point, BJ, and I agree with you but that doesn’t take away from green policy being about the environment, not about the economy. Any green policy on the economy will be with the sole aim of protecting or correcting (as far as is possible) the environment. I think that is the point that you and bliss are missing. Consequently, green policy is about the environment, not about some made up definition of ecology. If the Green party are not about the environment, then they are not green. I don’t want to see anyone claim that a policy that compromises on the environment to suit the economy is green.

  137. what’s to ‘understand’..?

    it’s as clear as the nose on yr face…

    ..this model of national government would poison/kill the green party…

    ..once again…how could it not..?

    ..so..why this fucking remit in the first place…?

    …when what it will do is drive away wavering/dissatisfied labour voters…

    ..and for what..?

    ..what don’t you ‘understand’ about that..?

    ..pointless…and guaranteed negative-outcome … about sums up this lamest of ideas…

    what the fuck don’t you ‘understand’ about that simple equation..?

    ..braindead-idea-of-the-year…

    ..displaying a gobsmacking ignorance of political science..basic logic even..

    ..bah…!

    ..and extremely disturbing that the party leadership even considered this…

    …let alone pushing it…

    (wd careerist-politicians..and their personal ambitions .. be the explanation for this most un-green of plans..?..)

    ..and keith locke must be pleased..eh..?..that the person he sponsered/mentored thru the party..norman…

    ..plans/aspires to be a tory turncoat/supplicant..?

    ..who’d have thought..?

    ..eh keith…?

    ..any regrets there..?…keith..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  138. Valis,

    I do no such thing.

    OK, my apologies. I took your comment to mean that protecting the livelihoods that people have now needs to be taken into consideration. If you’re not saying that, fine. Note that I’m not saying that we need to consider the least painful route to sustainability, provided we’re always focussed on, and aiming for, that target.

    Lovely as a slogan, but making change on the ground will take more.

    Of course, but it should be more than a slogan; it should be part of, even the whole of, the greens’ raison d’etre.

  139. our answer has to also ensure society doesn’t collapse in the attempt to transform it or we’ll never even get the chance to try

    This might be the area between a rock and a hard place. Collapse is assured, technically speaking, since society and civilisation, as we know it, will have to end. The best we can hope for is an orderly collapse. There could be very little time available to change minds and start on the transition, before it really doesn’t matter any more. I guess that the only real hope is that the environment doesn’t reach some tipping point before the world (of humans) understands that there are limits (probably due to shortages and no real economic growth for many years) and starts to change its ways.

  140. Tony

    We may have policy about the environment but THAT MEANS NOTHING if it is not implemented through the economic system. That’s what both Bliss and I have been trying to say. You persist in this insistence on an emphasis we already take on board, as though we somehow ignored it. We didn’t. We simply know better than to focus on it solely, because it cannot be changed in isolation from the economic system.

    We can rattle on about the environment all we wish but we cannot accomplish even the simplest thing about the environment without interacting with and changing the economic system. The interaction is the ecology.

    I don’t want to see anyone claim that a policy that compromises on the environment to suit the economy is green.

    That’s fair enough. I agree. The point we are making is that policy that is directed at changing environmental results without addressing the economic problems that create them, is futile. I think we were talking past each other in this regard.

    Collapse is assured, technically speaking, since society and civilisation, as we know it, will have to end.

    This is not a “have to”. Nor is it desirable. Things “have to” change, but civilization and society aren’t to be given up so easily. The economic system needs a hell of a kicking into touch, but we can get where we need to go without giving up society and civilization.

    BJ

  141. ..this model of national government would poison/kill the green party…

    Of course it would Phil… and we have all pointed out that IFF ( that is the “If and ONLY If” construct from logic ) Nactional basically changes into Labour, something might be done with them, and that the likelihood of that is very small.

    The point to having the remit was to get the opinion of the party about whether to acknowledge that Nactional could (in spite of the extreme unlikelihood of it happening) join us in preserving the environment and championing social justice and that we could in that case work with them.

    In other words, play the ball, not the party and tell everyone.

    Drakula’s take on this was better. Play the ball, not the party, and don’t even TALK about the party.

    … and you got very close to saying this yourself above..

    if national were a ‘green’ social democrat/not focussed on fucking the poor/not selling state assets….

    ..little different from labour..(yes..yes..!..i know..!..)

    ..the possibility could be considered…

    Since that is all we are really saying, you should not (I think) be so distraught over this so extremely unlikely possibility…

    respectfully
    BJ

  142. For about the 5th time, the remit was written by a committee after nation-wide consultation with the membership and is based on their feedback, so is not a result of the co-leader’s desires. It is not even “to get the opinion of the party” as bj states, but part of the process of the party expressing its opinion, though that process is far from over. It is not a hijack of the Party’s principles, but the Party grappling with a difficult issue via a defined process.

    Further, should the Party be in a position to negotiate with anyone after the election, any proposal to form a coalition would have to be agreed by a special general meeting of the Party, which any member can attend and which the decision to support or not will be made by delegates from across the country.

  143. BJ,

    Fine. If bliss didn’t mean “Green philosophy, in the 21st. century is about “ecology” not environment. The environment, the economy and all human material activity is part of the ecology.” when he or she used those words, then we’re all sweet and green philosophy most assuredly is about the environment, whether it is the 21st century or any other century.

    That you have to go through the economy to effect change in our environmental impact does not change the priority of the environment.

    we can get where we need to go without giving up society and civilization.

    No way. This society and civilisation will have to change, utterly, to get to where we need to go. I realise that you and I have different goals, so it’s not surprising that you want much of this society and civilisation to stay intact, to attain those goals but I think that is just not possible. All prior civilisations and societies have ended, through collapse. The only kind of society that has a chance of not collapsing is a sustainable society in a sustainable civilisation. Both look like remote possibilities, at this stage but both would certainly not be much like what we have now. Consequently, what we have now must end.

  144. This society and civilisation will have to change, utterly, to get to where we need to go.

    You keep saying “END” Tony.

    It does need to change. We agree on that much.

    Changing this society and civilization into a sustainable one is fundamentally about changing the economic system.

    I simply do not care to waste time discussing any retreat into the caves to await the answer to Frost’s question about fire or ice.

    If that’s the choice you are advocating, the species might as well drink the kool-aid together.

    If that is NOT the choice you are advocating then the more of our civilization and society we manage to preserve as we transition to sustainability (to the extent possible), the better off we are going to be.

    The economic system however, has to change for the environment to EVER be sustainably managed.

    BJ

  145. I’m sorry you see it as pedantic, Valis. To me, it’s about keeping the environment centre stage. It’s so easy, in this society, to lose sight of that.

    BJ, it’s a shame you had to stoop to the old “caves” non-argument. You seem to call an end to the society and civilization that we currently know as a non-end, somehow. The rationale escapes me. If we wind up with a different society and civilisation, those we currently have will certainly cease to exist. That means they will end. Collapse is the usual way that end is documented though I accept that it is hypothetically possible for the end to come through an orderly transition. However, I’m lost by your reasoning that the more of our civilisation and society that we manage to preserve, the better. I can’t see how that makes any sense at all. Note that I’m not saying that the opposite is true or desirable. We only need to preserve what we need for a sustainable society, and that might be very little. There might be some aspects on top of that that might be desirable to preserve but what those are is most surely up for serious debate and might not amount to very much.

    I also accept that the economic system has to change (that is implicit in all I’ve said, though I’ve sometimes also stated it explicitly). The reason for the change is to stop wrecking our environment. Getting our impact on our environment right should be the main focus of these changes.

  146. Tony

    “End” means loss of continuity, loss of collective knowledge, loss of arts and humanities, loss of medical capabilities, loss of MEMORY of what we were.

    “Change” means retention of those things in a revised economic and social framework.

    Maybe I am the one being pedantic here, but I keep getting

    “We only need to preserve what we need for a sustainable society, and that might be very little. There might be some aspects on top of that that might be desirable to preserve but what those are is most surely up for serious debate and might not amount to very much.”

    …and I don’t agree.

    What we need for a sustainable society depends directly on the population we try to support. On current levels of population what we “need” for that sustainable society is a pretty massive infusion of renewable energy… Terawatts of it. EVEN IF WE CUT DEMAND IN HALF!

    As to the desirable aspects of civilization, I doubt that we’d even come close to agreement. Medicine, Research & Development, Education, Engineering, Sciences, The Arts, Space Exploration. We COULD do without war… but won’t.

    We CAN do without the rapid exchange of money, germs and disease. We can do without cheap air travel. We CAN do with fewer foreign products and more locally built hardware.

    That is not however, the end of civilization. Not being able to get fresh Mangoes from Peru is not going to break us.

    respectfully
    BJ

  147. BJ,

    I think you have a very distorted view of what is needed for sustainability, even with 7 billion people. I’m sure that what is needed is far less than you think it is. What you would like is a different matter. I’m sure there are almost 7 billion opinions on what people would like to see in a future sustainable society but what is needed is very different.

    You don’t think we can decimate the non-food energy we can manage on. That’s your prerogative but I think we absolutely must think in those terms if we are to achieve a sustainable way of living. Remember that renewable energy has impacts too.

    We’ve been through some of this before and, no doubt, we’ll go through it again.

    As for end and change. Well, I guess it’s like the half-full, half-empty thing. If a future sustainable society looks drastically different from our current one, there is no way I can say that our current society has continued. It will be a different society and our current one will have ended, even if we manage the impossible and transition to that new society in a way that makes it very difficult to discern that end point.

  148. I think you have a very distorted view of what is needed for sustainability, even with 7 billion people.

    I know you think that. I make allowances :-)

    Decimating the non-food energy is not sufficient (it means reducing it by one part in 10, or more usually, killing one of every ten people in a population).

    That is not going to cut it… though I suspect you meant cutting it to a tenth of what it currently is… which might do it but which would (I think) cause something worse than a decimation of the global population.

    My definitions of end and change have to do with the continuity and memory of the societies accumulated knowledge and arts.

    We must NOT lose the last recording of Beethoven’s symphonies, or the last images of the Bolshoi’s performance of Swan Lake, and we must NOT lose the ability to HAVE a Bolshoi, or a CalTech, or research into Fusion power or Space Exploration. Without those things the human species is a dead issue… all that would be left is for the body to die, as the mind and the dreams and the future would be already gone.

    BJ

  149. BJ,

    There were 18 countries, in 2003, that used a tenth, per capita, of the energy New Zealand did. If you look at the US, the number of countries using a tenth of their energy per capita goes up to 45. Of course, some of those countries don’t have anywhere near the consumer lifestyles that we have but it shows that it may be possible to live reasonably on a tenth of our power use. So you’re too conservative when looking for only 50% savings.

    We must NOT lose …

    Well, of course, that is a matter of opinion. It would be nice not to lose those things (apart from the exotic energy research), but I’d never go along with saying that we “must” not lose them.

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