Are the Greens done for?

Marama ?C**t? Davidson, co-leader of the Greens

In the latest Colmar Brunton poll, published last Sunday, the Greens are polling at 5%, while NZ First is on 4%. At this stage, I am not going to speculate on the fortunes of NZ First, because they always do better at election times than earlier polling shows. 2020 may be different, of course, because Winston is not getting any younger, but we will wait and see about that.

The Greens, however, have a real problem. It is generally well known that the majority of Green supporters are not people at the bottom of the heap, but wealthy ?housewives’ from the leafy suburbs. The electorate that has the largest share of the Green vote is actually Wellington Central, where there are a lot of well-to-do people, and also a lot of intellectuals. The wealthier Auckland suburbs also have a large number of Green voters; these are people that you might not expect to vote Green… but they do.

These people vote Green for the environment. No other reason. So do all the expatriates who give the Greens a boost at every election when they cast their votes from overseas, who want to keep New Zealand the clean and green place that they remember.

But, as we all know, they are totally misguided and for those who live here, at least, this must now be very obvious.

The Green Party today is nothing more than an activist group. They do not even try to hide it any more. While their MPs have a history of life on the picket line (think Sue Bradford or Russel Norman), there was always at least a tinge of Green politics in their agendas. Now there appears to be none whatsoever. From passing laws to give victims of domestic violence extra paid leave, to campaigning to give prisoners the right to vote, the Green party is a fringe, activist party. The environment hardly gets a mention these days, and a Conservation Minister that sells our water to the Chinese would not have pleased Green voters, even if it were unavoidable.

Green voters are beginning to see that the age-old mantra is true – a political party can say anything in opposition, but put them in government and see how things change. The Greens, in their zealous campaigns to increase immigration and take control of our lives, have forgotten their principles and forgotten their voters. If those generous ladies of Remuera did in fact vote with the intention of helping those at the bottom of the heap, how do they feel, I wonder, about James Shaw’s proposed subsidies for electric cars, which can only be afforded by relatively well-heeled motorists?

I also wonder how the voters of Wellington Central feel about Marama Davidson, Green party co-leader, reclaiming the C-word and telling ?white bros? to ?delete themselves?? This doesn’t sound like the reasoned actions of a mainstream political party leader, does it?

All of this points to a collapsing Green vote, which is not unexpected for a small party supporting a government in an MMP environment; particularly as most of the heavy lifting in the environmental arena is done by the main political parties these days anyway.

Before we all start rejoicing, however, a word of warning.

Labour cannot govern without the Greens. A feature of the MMP system is that it is virtually impossible for any party to govern alone. As our system matures, many of the smaller parties have disappeared, which makes the possibility of one large party gaining an overall majority more likely, but it has not happened yet. On current polling, Labour is nowhere near that anyway. It needs the Greens to survive.

Winston Peters must be at least slightly worried about his party’s polling as well.

It is only a matter of time, therefore, before the current government introduces a bill into the house to lower the MMP threshold for parties in parliament from 5% to… what? 4% may not be enough. 3%?? Is that possible? I would say yes. The Greens may well fall below 4%, and on current polling, NZ First is there now. The threshold will have to be lower than that for either of these parties to be guaranteed survival after the next election.

Socialist governments do this sort of thing all the time, of course. Remember the Electoral Finance Act, designed to guarantee Helen Clark’s political survival forevermore? Socialist governments are anti-democratic. Theirs is a policy of win at all costs. They don’t care what devious methods they have to use to do it.

The trouble is that, even if National opposes this move, the government currently has the numbers to pass any such bill into law. As it would be a classic case of politicians voting entirely with self-interest, it would be passed without dissent.

So, any discussion about whether or not the Greens will pass the 5% threshold in the next election may be moot. They will probably only have to get 3% next time around. Even a bunch of fringe activists can probably achieve that.