Sunday, 22 February 2009

Quick hit: Who could be the new co-leader of the Greens?

Update: I blogged this in good faith this morning based on an article on Stuff. However it appears that the reporter was way off the mark and Fitzsimons is not about to announce her retirement. See katy's comment in the thread below for the email from the Greens, and listen out for Jeanette's media conference at 11am tomorrow (Monday).

Further update: Ok, Fitzsimons is going to stand down from the co-leadership (but not as an MP) in June.

Jeanette Fitzsimons is expected to announce her retirement from the female co-leader position sometime soon, which inevitably leads to speculation about who could step into her sandals:
The main candidates for her job, which under Green Party rules must be held by a woman, are MPs Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei. The new leader is likely to be announced at the party annual conference in June.

Fitzsimons, who had earlier indicated she would probably retire at the next election, refused to comment yesterday. Co-leader Russel Norman also refused to discuss her future.

Fitzsimons' departure will leave a difficult problem for the party. She is a widely liked and admired politician, with appeal across the political spectrum.

Neither Bradford nor Turei has similar appeal. Bradford, once a fiery Marxist radical, has softened her image, but her sponsorship of the anti-smacking bill drew much flak.

Turei has the progressive appeal of being a Maori woman, but she may be seen as too radical to have wide appeal.

It is not known if Catherine Delahunty, elected to parliament at last year's general election, will be a candidate for the co-leadership. Her lack of parliamentary experience could count against her.

It is understood that veteran Green MP Sue Kedgley is not seeking the post.
Imho this points to a mistake that the Greens made in selecting their list at the last election. They didn't seek much in the way of new, younger, blood, and although they got their best result ever they haven't brought in any new exciting MPs that could step in when Fitzsimons goes.

I'd love to see Bradford or Turei in the role, but I wonder if the party will see them as too unpalatable to the general public (which I think is unfair, but true). Actually the Green co-leader doesn't have to appeal to the entire electorate (although Fitzsimons did have very wide appeal), surely? Unless they have suddenly changed strategy and expect to get 20% plus of the party vote next time? Act don't expect Rodney Hide to have broad support and appeal.

So will the Greens go outside their MPs, as they did when Russel Norman stepped up from the broader membership after Rod Donald died?


Anonymous said...

Yes Bradford in the role would be excellent.............for anyone who would like to see the Greens go below the 5% cut off

Psycho Milt said...

So will the Greens go outside their MPs...

I can only hope so. I haven't seen much of Metiria Turei, except when she talked a lot of sense relating to recreational drugs law - and talking sense about drugs puts a lot of people off. Sue Bradford comes across as a surly Bolshevik, which only the completely deranged would regard as an electoral asset. And Catherine Delahunty comes across as an extremely dippy hippy - which, while it would be incredibly funny to watch, also wouldn't be good news to those of us who'd like to see the Greens increase their market share.

I guess if they do take an MP, I'll be hoping it's Turei.

Alison said...

I have a huge amount of respect for Turei, and would love to see her advance into the role. I'm also a fan of Bradford in general, but feel she would be the wrong choice for leader, whether or not perceptions of her are entirely justified.

I think Turei and Norman have great potential as co-leaders. Turei has some of the same qualities as Fitzsimons - she comes across as trustworthy, rational, extremely switched-on, and as having the holistic approach that I think has characterised the Greens under Fitzsimons. While I personally think Bradford is a fantastic politician, I think she comes across as narrower in focus.

Anna said...

I'd be happy with either Bradford or Turei - but I can certainly see electoral pitfalls. Turei would likely be perceived as the more moderate of the two, but I wonder if this is partly because of circumstance - for all I know, Turei's politics could be as radical, but she hasn't had the same opportunities to express them as Sue B did during the bad old eighties and nineties. Those of us who came of age a bit later have had different political/politicising experiences.

It's also worth asking, is the appeal to moderation all it's cracked up to be? I see NZ politics at the moment as a battle for moderation. National are being so darn moderate (with some exceptions - and it won't last) that they will hopefully force Labour to the left to distinguish themselves. And this might, in turn, make space for some more radical politics.

Giovanni said...

I'm mostly relieved nobody's talking about Kedgley.

Alison said...

I don't think Turei is any less radical than Bradford. I just think she's very good at presenting knowledge about a wide range of topics in a thoughtful, thought-provoking way, without immediately rubbing people up the wrong way (I fully recognise that in Bradford's case her radical history plays a greater role in pissing people off than anything she actually says).

I think it's worth distinguishing between politics that are generally middle-of-the-road, to appeal to the widest group possible, and more radical politics which are presented in such a way as to make them understandable to the widest group possible. Fitzsimons and Donald did the latter well, Russel Norman is improving at it, and Turei seems to have the ability too.

backin15 said...

Fitzsimons departure is a major challenge. Bradford and Kedgley are the longest serving aren't they? I've read Kedgley's ruled out running? They seem to me to represent very different futures for the party. What little I've heard of Turei is impressive and I can also see how she'd appeal as a new and young face.

I don't vote Green but the apparent "taint" Bradford's inherited for her advocacy of the Crimes Amendment wouldn't discount her in my eyes. Though I don't agree her position on many issues, I greatly admire her integrity and her history of advocacy on mental health and family matters.

Giovanni said...

Word on Bradford. Plus being afraid of Marxsists at the very time when we should beware of putting, say, a currency trader in charge seems an oddly misplaced sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Dodgy bloody Sunday Star Times:

"From the Green Party of Aoteroa

Kia ora koutou,

There was an article in the Sunday Star Times this morning that Jeanette Fitzsimons will resign as Co-Leader of the Green Party.
This story did not come from any official announcement from Jeanette.

Jeanette will respond to this speculation at a press conference Monday morning at 11am.
She has made no comment on this so far and would be grateful if you would refrain from commenting too if contacted by the media.

We will do our best to keep you informed of further developments.
Thank you."

Should Jeanette resign, my vote would be for Sue Bradford.