Sunday, October 25, 2009

Article on Sue Bradford in todays Herald on Sunday

Matt Nippert has written an article about Sue Bradford in todays Herald on Sunday that is rather predictable. The only interesting element from my point of view is the possibility of Sue running for the Auckland council. I had heard the rumour before, but thought it unlikely because of her comments about returning to grassroots politics. In the article Sue appears careful to say positive but non committal things about the possibility, so it looks like I may have been wrong. She would certainly be a great person to have on there and I sincerely hope she does get elected if she decides to stand.

I also make a brief appearance, when Matt has me commenting that the Greens internal structure and semantic peculiarities (calling the party whip a 'musterer') have led to a lack of cohesion. This is not actually what I said. In fact I do think that the Greens message has been somewhat incoherent for a number of years, but as a result of the inability (or unwillingness) to operate as a team not because of its structure. It has been more a question of leadership style IMO.

The section 59 campaign was a good example. Matt quotes an ex Green staffer calling it a propaganda disaster, and I agree. Sue won the legislative battle, but at significant cost to the Greens and Labour. Some may say that Green voters don't support baby bashing anyway but this misses the point - I met many people at the time who were potential Green voters who were confused and unsure about the legislation. Some of them were fiercely anti-smacking, but they were unsure about how the law would affect ordinary parents. Leaving it to police discretion was not a satisfactory answer - especially if they had personal experience of police prejudice or racism - and to make that answer just sounded reckless to them.

If the Greens had taken a collective approach to both strategising and delivering on that strategy, I think it would have been a far superiour campaign. Instead I recall being brushed off when I asked how to respond to some of the concerns that had been expressed to me - what might have been an opportunity to collectively think about messaging was seen, I suspect, as irksome negativity. MPs usually campaigned in isolation and Sue is particularly hard to shift once her mind is decided - this, of course, is part of her strength.

Matt is a good journalist, but I felt that he avoided getting into a deeper layer of Green politics and a more substantial discussion of where the tensions are in favour of reiterating the same superficial dualisms of Sue the radical and the Green drift rightwards. I for one am uncomfortable with purported media quotes from Russel saying that the role of the Greens is to save capitalism from itself, but rightwards is not the inevitable trajectory of the Greens. The green alternative to the materialism of socialism is not the materialism of capitalism, but something much more profound.


Matt said...

Fair comment Nandor. I'd have loved to have spent more time reaquainting myself with the innard of the Green Party and doing a more thorough augury.
That said, newspaper journalism tends to result in general pieces, written for general audiences, which inevitably contain some generalities.

Nandor Tanczos said...

Accepted Matt, and I don't think that the piece was worse than other articles published to date. I just thought that you in paricular might have gone further.

I think that in general the media does the public a disservice in claiming people can't handle complexity. I suspect its editors and the like who find it difficult ;)