Former Green Party MP Mike Ward has prevented co-leader Russel Norman getting into Parliament, replacing the exiting Nandor Tanczos.
The plan - cooked up by Norman and the parliamentary MPs - was for Tanczos to resign and for both Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward (above Norman on the party list) to refuse to be an MP.
Ward though has cut Norman off at the pass. He won't play ball with Norman and so Norman won't be passing 'Go' and picking up a fat salary and free air travel.
Ward offered to take the place of Tanczos but that was rejected by the party leadership.
The media though has largely portrayed this disagreement as a bitter and contrary Ward getting his own back at Norman, who denied him the co-leadership spot. Also, the party hierarchy dropped Ward down to number 14 (from 8) party list despite the fact that he is very popular among the party membership.
Both the TV1 and TV3 news stories last night portrayed Ward as some old green eccentric - sewing his own clothes (gasp) and failed to explore Ward's comment that he was refusing to co-operate with Norman for the sake of the party.
I don't know a lot about Mike Ward but I do know he is a green campaigner of many years standing. He joined of the Green Party's forerunner, the Values Party, back in 1975.
Ward isn't a socialist but he is also no fan of free market capitalism and he has consistently tried to trace out an alternative - if somewhat idiosyncratic- vision for New Zealand. It's more or less a liberal left wing view I think, but it puts him at odds with a Green Party that has embraced the free market.
Co-leader Jeanette Fitzmaurice has said that the party is neither 'left wing' or 'right wing'. Apparently these are old labels that don't apply to the modern Green Party. This is just meaningless piffle and the fact that Fitmaurice sees no problem in working with a National-led Government just shows how theoretically and politically bankrupt the Greens are.
And what of the business-suited Russel Norman? Why, he has spoken of using the 'power' of 'the market' to address environmental concerns.
Norman has moved a long way right from his days in Australia when he described himself as a socialist (although he fails mention any of this in his ‘official’ biography on the Green Party website).
And then there's Nandor Tanczos. Well, this man wants his cake and eat it too. On one hand he says that the environmental movement has to be 'more radical' while the Green Party in parliament has to act conservatively and work with all the political parties - ie don't rock the boat.
Is it little wonder then that Mike Ward doesn't feel inclined to play ball with these people?
The Green Party is offering no alternative vision to the free market orthodoxy and, not surprisingly, is stagnating in the polls.
Under Fitzmaurice and Norman - backed by the parliamentary MPs -its a party going nowhere and in danger of being wiped out in November.