Whenever I have time and I am near a television, I will occasionally look in on the proceedings in Parliament. Yes, I know I should get out more.
Over recent times Sue Bradford’s performances in Parliament have been desultory. She sparked into life recently when she berated Paula Bennett for releasing the personal financial details of two beneficiaries but largely her trademark passion - one of the things that makes Sue Bradford so likeable - has been missing in action.
Bradford referred to that in interviews yesterday. Her heart wasn't in her job anymore she confided. And, she said, she didn't want to become one of those MP's simply serving out their time while they picked up the big money.
Her failure to get elected as co-leader of the Green Party obviously upset her. It must have rankled even more when she knew she was clearly the best candidate for the job. She’s intelligent, hardworking and experienced. She also has excellent organisational skills and the knack of getting people enthused about a specific project or campaign.
But there were other forces at work within the Green’s. Her personal credentials were never going to secure her the job. Both Jeanette Fitzsimons and Russel Norman wanted Metiria Turei.
Bradford’s fate was really sealed when former socialist Russel Norman took over from the late Rod Donald.
While Donald himself had begun to move the Green Party to the right, that process was accelerated by Norman and Fitzsimons.
Norman, in particular, has welded on to the Green Party an unpleasant market environmentalism. He has completely shut any accommodation to eco-socialism.
Bradford's rejection of socialist politics means there has always been a certain ambivalence about her politics and she was quick to distance herself from her more progressive views when she entered Parliament.
Even so, the accommodation of the Green Party to neoliberalism certainly would not have left Bradford in a happy place and she would have been at odds with the views of the leadership and the essentially conservative and middle class party membership. At the risk of resorting to caricature, this is a membership that sees Green politics as a personal 'lifestyle' choice. They want to create a 'kinder and gentler' capitalism much in their own image.
So the Green Party chose Metiria Turei - a rather bland and conservative politician from the Russel Norman 'Don't Frighten the Horses' School of Politics.
Sue Bradford’s replacement just about sums up the state of play in the Green Party. He's Dave Clendon a business advisor with the Sustainable Business Network in Auckland. His wife runs a PR firm.
Says Clendon “Clearly the Green party is evolving. We’ve been in Parliament for 10 years now, and I’ll be able to bring in some new energy, some new ideas, some new networks, some new relationships.””
What Clendon doesn’t say is that the Green Party has 'evolved' into just another neoliberal party and the ‘new ideas’ he speaks of are the same tired 'market solutions' that we have all heard a thousand times before.