Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Party Positioning Shuffle
One step to the left, one step the right....it's the Party Positioning Shuffle.
Isn't it amazing how a few similar meaning words or phrases can hold so much power and significance. The difference between "definitely not", "extremely unlikely" and "highly unlikely" has caused passions to be unleashed, friendships to crack and the blogosphere to buzz. The meaning of "right" and "left" has been debated at length, the change in the leadership and political philosophies have been analysed in depth and some people have even contemplated if this means the end of the world as they have always perceived it.
The Green Party believes in honesty and transparency and it follows that to declare before hand the likely partnerships we would be prepared enter into, post election, is to provide a degree of comfort to the voter. The anguish caused by both New Zealand First and the Maori Party through an unexpected shift along the political continuum, into what was considered by many to be unholy alliances with National, resulted in huge losses of credibility. Leaving possibilities wide open makes predicting outcomes hugely frustrating for voters and causes many to revert to FPP thinking. It is important to create clear options and some certainties for the voting process to do justice to MMP.
The Green Party began its life largely regarded as a protest vote for those on the idealistic fringe and for supporters it was like a small life raft, alone on the tempestuous sea of politics. The Party's lifeline was its main point of difference, its idealism and consistency of message, especially when the main parties chased popular votes before supporting good policy and long term solutions. While some felt that the Green Party's principled stand against GE was a foolish luxury, that would exclude it from ever being considered a main player, it only served to strengthen its core support.
The Green Party has now come of age (it turned twenty one years old in May) and after the next election the last of the MPs from the 90s will have retired. We are now into a second generation of Green parliamentarians who have been mentored well and brought up under the Green charter (one of our list candidates wasn't even born when the Party was first formed). 16 different Green MPs have now sat on the seats of Parliament and the collective wisdom of those who came before have strengthened those who have followed.
The Green Party has witnessed first hand the traps and negative consequences of of being a minor party in a coalition government. The Party has proven itself as an independent operator that can advance policy and its own legislation through collaboration with any other party while never actually being in Government. Being a smaller party and independent isn't the kiss of death and as other minor parties based on single personalities and individual egos come and go, we Greens find ourselves the third most powerful political force and with an infrastructure and membership that is beginning to challenge the big guys.
We have moved beyond the enthusiastic naivety of our early years and, with nine MPs and the possibility of several more in November, we have confidence in who we are and a strong awareness of who we represent. Whether we say we are "extremely unlikely" or "highly unlikely" to provide National with confidence and supply is less an indication of a shift to the "right", but more the confidence to say to any party we are open to a coalition if you shift your policies considerably to match ours. Of course, when looking at National that scenario is "highly unlikely" to happen.