Rant: Social justice warriors, the environment, and Green parties

There have been blog posts about centre-Green parties (on TVHE here, here, here), I’m a bit fatigued with politics right now and want to focus on my research so I don’t want to get into that.

One thing I keep hearing, repeatedly, about a centre-Green party is that it doesn’t make sense because it involves hating people.  I hear the same thing about anything people don’t agree with, repeatedly.  Emails, phone calls, on twitter – for some reason people want to tell me how much other people hate people, and so they hate people or me or something.  I don’t know, whenever I hear blind hate it never makes much sense to me – but certain comments have pushed me into a rant.  It is a blog, these things happen sometimes, sorry.

The short version of my post is that the people saying this are disrespectful individuals who have no respect for other people and the difficulty of issues of social justice.  But if you want the full rant click below (and it is a furious rant with more colourful language).  For those who dislike rants (as do I), you could read this old post where I lay out a neat discussion of why social justice issues are core to all parts of the political spectrum, the focuses on “types” of injustice is what differs.

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Quote of the Day: Garner on the Greens

Duncan Garner is a bit of a stirrer, but he pulled out some interesting numbers in his article yesterday arguing the Greens should move to the centre:

The Greens talk poverty and social justice, but the poor aren’t listening – and they’re certainly not voting for them. Look at these telling statistics from the poorest electorates in the country:

In Manurewa, in the crucial party vote, just 868 people voted for the Greens; in Manukau, East it was just 744; in Mangere, it was just 865.

Now look at the two most wealthy suburbs in NZ:

In Epsom, the Greens got 3415 votes; in Wellington Central, they got 8627 party votes, more than Labour’s 7351; in Auckland Central the Greens got 4584 votes, compared to Labour’s 4758.

I would really want to see some more numbers around this, but if this is a general trend, then it would suggest either:

  1. The Greens’ support is from the relatively well-off who care about the poor, rather than the poor themselves; or
  2. People who care about the environment tend to be relatively well-off.

Now I’m sure the make up of the Green support base isn’t that stark. But in the context of our discussion (e.g here, & here) about a centrist Green party, if the Greens moved to the centre they would likely lose group 1 but keep group 2.

The interesting question therefore is what proportion of their support base falls into both camps (i.e. care about social justice and the environment) and what weighting they place on both issues. This then follows on to the question of what is the untapped support base of people who care about the environment but generally vote National?

“Sustainability” and flavours of Green parties

There is an excellent post about the Green party, and considering how to frame itself over here – I recommend reading it.  Within the post, a lot was made about the term “sustainability” and the inappropriate nature of the “left-right” divide.

However, there is something I’d like to add. Read more

Blue Green party: background reading

Stoked to see Gareth Morgan’s post yesterday calling for a Blue-Green party. He sums it up well in this passage

A Bluegreen party would emphatically express New Zealanders’ preference for clever and clean as the way we want our dollars earned, while leaving National and Labour to fight over how social justice is best promoted – via National’s preference for capacity building through education and training, delivering more flexible employment and wage-setting practices; or via Labour’s penchant for widening and lifting of social assistance, greater progressivity of income tax, widening the tax base on income from capital, and greater protection of labour in the workplace.

Matt and I have been talking about this since 2008 when all the TVHE authors took a political compass test as a gimmick to provide content for the blog. Due to a combination of laziness, a lack of money and no desire to get involved in politics, we haven’t done anything about our great idea. That was 6 years ago and a lot has changed since, but we still think there is room for a centrist Green party and so are stoked to see Gareth using his profile to have a serious conversation about it.

Matt did a good post on this about a year ago (There is some pretty robust discussion in the comments section).  When discussing the failed Progressive Greens party at the 1996 (which David Farrar mentions in his post on Gareth’s post) he noted: Read more

Uninformed political conjecture on “the left”

As someone who is very interested in economics, but with a hefty distaste for tribal politics, elections and political parties are strange times for me.  I have little to no knowledge of politics, but I have some idea of policy trade-offs and political economy.  In this way, I see any comments I make about politics as relatively uninformed.  Keep that in mind.

However, I’ve seen a couple of good pieces today that have made me think about, of all things, the Alliance party.  Given what I remember about the Alliance, I feel like writing something myself.

If you were wondering what the pieces were, there was this from the Dim Post – which in passing gave me this point:

In terms of the party’s direction, if I was them I’d be looking at the seventy or eighty thousand voters they lost to New Zealand First during the last nine months and trying to win them back. That means a more socially conservative Labour Party

And this from Steve Maharey, which states that the Labour party needs to “shift centre”.

The punchline to what I’m going to say is that socially conservative (who are economically left) elements seem to hold sway over the Labour party, something Helen Clark was able to manage (and Jim Anderton managed in the Alliance until their first term in power).  These elements are not represented by most of the caucus, and are not accepted by the vast majority of the public, undermining Labour’s ability to get votes.  As a result, the more liberal and economically central members of the party should split off and form a new party (eg if you can’t manage them, drop them).  Furthermore, the Green party faces the same tensions – with their decision of how to deal with this type of split actually pretty important.

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Election day

After everything going haywire for a while it has all gone quiet, and generally we are supposed to remain mute on party preference and party politics until 7pm tonight.  That has lead Imperator Fish to go on a journey of arbitrary things (one, two, three, four).

I’m going to stick to election related points that are irrelevant instead:

  1. There was lots of advanced voting this time.  And yet this is the first time I haven’t advanced voted.  I’m pretending this is due to pure chance, rather than it being a statement about how cool my choices are.
  2. This is my first time in “Wellington Central”.  I quite like this electorate to be honest 🙂
  3. Does anyone else get a bit nervous that the ink from the orange pen will stain another part of the voting form, and your vote will be thrown out?
  4. On that note, the orange mark shows up on the back of the paper – I don’t really like that either.
  5. Why can people yell out you outside of advance voting booths, but not outside of voting booths on the day?
  6. Do I have to wear my “Yes I have voted” sticker all day to stop people yelling at me?

So if you haven’t go vote.  Preferably, wear orange: