Apologies, I haven’t written in a while. I must admit I’ve been pretty busy of late, but everytime I think about writing a blog entry, there’s something in me that made me pause and think ‘maybe another time’. It’s not that there wasn’t things to write about. It just seemed like it was the same things I could write about. It almost felt like I was in a boat going nowhere. Plenty to see, but the same things to see.
The source of this directionless feeling, I believe comes from my current view of the Niu Sila / New Zealand political arena. Despite plenty of things to see and plenty of things are happening in the political world, it all seems the same. I guess this is illustrated in the political polls (except the most recent ones), where despite all the hiccups, this National Government is still pulling in big numbers. Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English, is currently claiming ,000 a year from taxpayers to live in his own house, while he preaches to everyone else to tighten their belts. Yet not a dent in the Governments ratings.
Is society so apathetic? Or is the Left no doing it right? What is the Right doing so right? This feeling of futility has been an albatross around the necks of those on the Left. No matter what you do, everything stays the same.
This is further illustrated in the recent resignation of Green Party MP, Sue Bradford.
Sue Bradford was a tireless worker for the marginalised in society. Her background before entering politics was hard-edged, class-based, street-level activism. As a politician, she was one of the most well-liked, because she was able to work across party lines.
Sue Bradford is also one of the most successful MPs with the unique distinction of seeing three Members’ Bills passed into law in the last Parliament. Respectively, they lifted the youth minimum wage to adult rates, extended the length of time some mothers in prison can keep their babies with them, and amended s59 of the Crimes Act so that children receive the same legal protection from assault as adults
The Green Party launched into the MMP setting with a radical political brand that embraced, naturally, environmental issues, but also blends of eco-religious activism (rastafarian, Nandor Tanczos) and eco-socialism (Sue Bradford and Keith Locke). The new Green party was the new Left. It appealed to younger voters, such as myself, because it crossed so many more boundaries than the orthodox bigger political parties.
As a child of the 80’s, we all knew about the bombing of Greenpeace’s ship, Rainbow Warrior in Niu Sila, by French terrorists. Although, only the decade before, the effects of the anti-Springbok Tour, the Maori Land March etc, were still raw by the 1980s. We grew up being conscious of environmental and social issues, whether they were local or global. The early Greens appreciated this and work towards creating a political vehicle.
The former co-leader, the late Rod Donald, understood this dynamic and knew how important it was to politically manage all aspects of the new Green Party. Without the social background, the environmentalist would not have as strong/militant a movement. Without the environmentalism, the social activists would be a far fringe of the Labour Party. But unfortunately Rod Donald’s sudden death changed the direction of the Greens.
The Green Party constitution requires a male and a female co-leader. Replacing Rod Donald, was Russel Norman. Russel has been involved with politics all of his adult life, studying politics and working within the party heirarchy. Jeanette Fitzsimons was replaced by Metiria Turei, beating Sue Bradford. Metiria Turei is a bright young lawyer and former president of the Maori Lawyers Association. Replacing Sue Bradford is Dave Clendon, “a sustainable business advisor who is of Ngapuhi/Te Roroa and Pakeha heritage”.
And so it appears as though the Greens have clearly made a marker in the political landscape, going for the middle class environmental vote. Perhaps the replacements, young educated MPs are the products of the world people such as Sue Bradford and Keith Locke fought for back in the 1970s and 80s? Yet as a consequence, the new Greens by their very own make up, have changed the direction of the Party for the foreseeable future.
This leads me to the feeling that despite all the hard work that social activists, such as Sue Bradford, have done, everything stays the same. Of course it’s not that bad, but the loss of Sue Bradford, and others to come, signal a failure to recognise there was so much more that could yet to have been done.
Despite all the hard work that people on the left, social activists, Labour party individuals, community groups, at the end of the day, everything stays the same.
I know, I know, this is all defeatist talk, but the Left really needs to get it’s act together…