The Greens conference was over the weekend and it highlighted a party for whom confusion is always their middle name.
The Greens: two leaders, two strands. A party is split between the social justice side of things and the environmental side of things, with the two leaders standing for the different halves of the party.
So moderate James Shaw used his Saturday address to get stuck into Simon Bridges and National. He called Mr Bridges a climate change denier. He said calling climate change an emergency or a crisis is not an exaggeration but an accurate description about the situation.
And then he announced the climate change policy for the Government which is to adopt 43 of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations which include reforming the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme rather than replace it with a carbon tax.
So far, so green.
Then Social Justice Warrior Marama Davidson spoke on Sunday and announced a proposal for a state run rent to own scheme. Which is a lovely idea if the state owned enough homes to rent out to buyers but they obviously don’t. And I guess housing is about the environment since it is the environment humans live in, but it’s this sort of thing that muddys the Greens waters.
Rent to own schemes doesn’t save kauris or endangered snails.
James Shaw seems more green that many of the greens. Yet many of the Greens don't think so.
Some bloke called Jack MacDonald, a man I’ve barely heard of but someone who is a big cheese in the party, comes out and stands down because James Shaw is too centrist for him. Mr MacDonald describes himself as an indigenous eco-socialist. Yikes. He says because of the impending climate catastrophe in 12 years time, we simply don't have time for centrism, moderation or fiscal austerity.
So in reply he’s just not going to stand for parliament anymore or do anything. This is very similar to a petulant toddler who sits in the corner, refuses to move and cries until he gets his way. I just don’t get his attitude at all. When the going gets tough, Jack, the tough stand up and get going, they don’t run away complaining and grizzling.
Meanwhile every time the Greens actually do something like increase the DOC budget or ban plastic bags former members like Russell Norman and Kevin Hague jump into the media and diss them. With friends like those, who need enemies.
But there is a point here. The Greens could write themselves a long term pass to parliament if they ditched the preaching, the moralistic high ground taking and the ideological bump they often spout.
The biggest ecological crisis this country faced this year was the Fox River dump disaster. A disaster that Eugenie Sage appeared to ignore for months. Then there’s all the imported coal to keep the power networks and Fonterra going. They're great on theory but not on concrete steps to help the ecology.
It’s almost as if the Greens are not green enough. It’s not James Shaw’s moderatism that’s taking the party off focus. It’s the social justice division that has taken their focus away.