Green Party Members
Green Party Members - Credit Getty

OPINION: Green MPs will be kicked out of government by Green Party members

Opinion 29/10/2020

This op-ed is written by Taxpayers’ Union Analyst Neil Miller

OPINION: The Green Party says it is “getting near the end” of negotiations – sorry, ‘conversations’ – with Labour about the form of a new Government.

Here is what is going to happen – the Greens and Labour will sign an agreement which sees three Green Ministers outside of Cabinet. Then, within a fortnight, the agreement will spectacularly fail to reach the 75% threshold of approval from Green Party members that is required for such an agreement. It will be null and void before we get halfway through November.

It is understandable that James Shaw wants to be the Minister for Climate Change again. It is understandable that Marama Davidson wants to be Associate Minister for Social Development. It is inevitable that Chloe Swarbrick believes she should be Minister of Youth Affairs.

The issue is that the grassroots Green Party members will not agree. While the Taxpayers’ Union frequently disagrees with Green polices such as the wealth tax, we have always admired the idealism and genuineness of their party members. They truly model internal democracy within the party. No other political party has such a requirement for membership support of governance agreements. In an increasingly cynical political environment, Green Party members touchingly, and perhaps naively, believe in their 52-page policy manifesto and their greater cause.

They are also politically astute enough to realise that there is no real upside of being in Government given their small size and, brutally, their Parliamentary irrelevance to the majority Labour Party. Any small political wins will be credited to the Government, while the Green MPs’ ability to advance policies outside their narrow portfolios will be negligible, and their ability to criticise the Government will be effectively curtailed.

Having come closer than they would have liked to dropping out of Parliament entirely, the Green Party may be wise to go back to their roots. They can spend some time in opposition and get some headlines for hits on the Government when Labour inevitably fails to live up to its impossible environmental and social promises.

Under this scenario, Labour will have no other party to blame or cast as a policy handbrake. They have the numbers in the House and therefore all responsibility rests with them. All opposition parties, including a wounded National and triumphant Act, and probably the deflated Green MPs, must fight to hold them to account.

And one positive of senior Green MPs missing out on minor ministerial posts is maybe, just maybe, they will start to talk about environmental issues again.

This op-ed is written by Taxpayers’ Union Analyst Neil Miller