Coalition Partner in Waiting?

The Green Party have released their initial list for the September 20th election. This list, which was created by the votes of delegates, candidates and the Green Party national body at the Green national conference will now go out to Party members who will then vote on their preferred choices before the final list is crafted.

Therefore, this list is not final. However, it gives a very good indication of which candidates the Party hopes to be fielding this September, and I for one am disappointed by the results.

See the initial list here, as compared to the Green’s list for 2011 here. It might help to have both of these lists open in other tabs as you read through.

Following the last election, the Green Party were entitled to 14 MPs. They entered Parliament stronger than ever, determined to push that number up after the 2014 election. However, current polls show that Green aren’t polling much above 10%, meaning if an election were held today, they would get roughly ten members returning to Parliament. Because of this, there is no guarantee that anyone below number 10 on the list will be successful, and I don’t believe that this list reflects the candidates that should be guaranteed positions in Parliament after the election.

The biggest winner in this list is James Shaw, who has jumped from 15th to 10th, a 5 place leap that should see him in Parliament. Shaw has previously been the Green candidate for the high profile Wellington Central seat, which means the Party obviously trusts him to do a decent job of representing them, but he is a relatively obscure figure when compared to other non-MPs that he has been placed above, as well as some current MPs too.

This segues nicely into what I think is the biggest mistake in this list – that Marama Davidson has been put at 15th. Davidson represented Green in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election, and by all accounts was very impressive for someone who had not run before, and who wasn’t even on the Party list in 2011. She seems like a strong and exceptionally able candidate, who has fought for indigenous rights, women’s rights, and has worked with youth for years and campaigned on environmental and welfare issues. Basically,  she’s awesome. I strongly believe that Marama Davidson could be a very strong future leader of the Green Party, possibly even once Metiria Turei decides to move on. So why has she been put in a list position where there is no guarantee she will be successful while the relatively obscure James Shaw has been boosted up so much?? The line that will be used is that she is being rewarded for her good work in Ikaroa-Rawhiti, but the Green Party could be wasting a considerable amount of talent if they aren’t able to boost their polling numbers by 5% and bring Marama Davidson into Parliament.

With James Shaw as the obvious exception, the list is playing it safe by keeping most of their current MPs in a position where they will be returning after the election. Gareth Hughes has been moved up a place to 6th, reflecting his position as one of the most highly visible and enthusiastic Green MPs. Kevin Hague remains 3rd, and is still a very strong and outspoken MP who might also be looking to make his way to the top. Julie Ann Genter will also be very pleased, having jumped from 13, where she would have been feeling nervous, to 8th. I think that she is also a strong performer for the Greens and deserves this promotion. All of those MPs deserve to be in the top spots.

Then there are some who have been demoted that shouldn’t be, and some that are high up that shouldn’t be.

The shift of David Clendon from 8th to 12th is a mistake. Clendon is a consistently reliable MP who fills roughly the same position that David Parker fills for Labour. He’s not in the news all the time, he stirs no controversy, he just gets his job done and does it well. This is compared to Kennedy Graham and Catherine Delahunty who I don’t think have contributed much at all but still retain high list places. If the Green Party aren’t polling much above 10% they should be making sure that reliable people like David Clendon still have strong prospects to enter Parliament.

The bell has not tolled as much for Clendon as it has for Steffan Browning. At 16th he’s basically out, unless the Greens start performing dramatically better. He doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact, nor is he particularly active in terms of press releases, often used as an indicator of how effective MPs are. Denise Roche will also be nervous with her drop to 13th. Roche appears to say and do a lot, but none of it has made any major impact. She’s not thought of particularly well amongst others on the left (Labour), due to the fact that she sort of allowed Nikki Kaye to come through the middle of her and Jacinda Ardern to win Auckland Central in 2011. (Not even sort of, given that she distributed a flier explicitly asking for the candidate vote) However, she’s still ranked one place higher than Mojo Mathers who is one of the more honest currently sitting MPs, and who seems to put in a huge amount of work and is incredibly committed to the disability sector, as her recent high-profile trip to do an interview on a disability-related radio station demonstrates. If she doesn’t return to Parliament it’ll be disappointing.

The Green Party should bear in mind that this list is the list of potential Green government ministers and associate ministers if they and Labour are successful later this year. The Party already suffers from the perception that they are full of members who talk a lot but when push comes to shove will not be adequate government partners. Because of this, the candidates they produce for election year need to be very competent, very strong and very motivated. I don’t believe that much of this list does that. When Green Party members vote on the list over the coming days and weeks, they should vote on the strongest performers and those who show a lot of potential.

James Shaw looks good, but should he be at number 10 when people like Marama Davidson and David Clendon are lower down the list? Should there be so many sitting MPs staying on, or does the party need some renewal?

Do the Green Party look like a government-partner in waiting, and is this reflected in their initial list?

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