The Green Party are no longer a political party, but a branding exercise and a marketing strategy. Welcome to the 'New Greens' of 2017.
IN 2008 political commentator Bryce Edwards observed that the Green Party's election campaign was one "one of the most vacuous we’ve seen in New Zealand politics, and a sign that in this year’s campaign the Greens have given up all pretence of being anything other than an empty electoral-professional party of office-seeking politicians. The party used to abhor the commodification of politics, and its MPs used to criticise other parties for their use of marketers to sell party votes as if they are just another product like a box of soap powder on the supermarket shelf. But the new business-like marketing management-driven advertising campaign of the Greens suggests that the party has not merely lost its soul, but is actively selling off its soul."
I don't imagine that this withering - but accurate - analysis went down well with Green supporters. But, some nine years later, Edwards observations remain as valid as they ever did - if not more so. The Green Party has become not so much a political party guided democratically by its membership but a branding exercise and marketing strategy, controlled 'on high' by the Green Party leadership. It is pitched fairly and squarely at the extremism of the centre- where all the parliamentary parties think electoral success lies.
Along the way, the Green Party has ditched anything that even vaguely resembles radicalism. Now, having enthusiastically signed up to Labour's 'Budget Responsibility Rules', the leadership want the business sector to know that the Green Party in 2017 represent no threat to the status quo. The party's whole raison etre is to claim that it can bolt on environmentally friendly policies to an hostile economic system that is destroying our environment. While one of the largest Green parties in the world , the US Green Party, has recognised that radical change is required and has formally embraced eco-socialism, our Green Party continues to worship at the altar of 'the god that failed' - green capitalism.
With next to nothing to differentiate itself from the other market-friendly parliamentary parties, we've been sold the line that the Green's in 2017 will be vigorous and YOUTHFUL. According to Fairfax journalist Stacey Kirk, the Green's are in the process of undergoing "... a facelift - opting for a youth-boosted infusion to include political firebrand Chloe Swarbrick and Green upstart Jack McDonald among the top names it plans to take forward to the election. "
It's as well that Kirk should have alluded to cosmetic surgery because the Green's dalliance with youth is little more than skin deep and all plastic.
Nothing I have read about Swarbrick and McDonald indicates that they are in any way different from the more senior Green Party parliamentarians. They are certainly not socialists. If they are elected, both Swarbrick and McDonald can be expected to loyally follow the Green Party leadership of James Shaw and Metiria Turei.
When asked on Morning Report whether he thought he would be constrained by the 'Budgetary Responsibility Rules' Jack McDonald claimed that there was still 'wiggle room'. Yeah, right. Rather than sounding like a 'political upstart' - which would of been refreshing - McDonald just sounded like any aspiring politician with their eye on the main chance. On Facebook, I challenged McDonald to publicly oppose the 'Budgetary Responsibility Rules'. He never responded.
Meanwhile the "New Greens" have made it to the cover of North and South magazine. Looking like refugees from TV soap Dynasty, it features leaders Shaw and Turei and "firebrand" Chloe Swarbrick. Oh,and well known political activist Hayley Holt. Asks the magazine: "Is the once "Loony Left" ready to rule (and should we be afraid)?"
No place for young Jack McDonald in the North and South cover photo, you will notice. Obviously not beautiful enough.