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Is Green the new Red? by underground

An advertisement for the Green Party in today’s Herald (near a great story about an incredible woman!) highlighted the party’s efforts on behalf of workers. With Labour not representing the worker masses as well as they historically having as they fight to claim some of the middle ground, the Greens threaten to possibly claim much of Labour’s core vote. Sue Kedgely’s Flexible Working Arrangements bill, which was passed in Parliament last year, will come into effect tomorrow (Tuesday 1 July) and give workers the right to request hours that fit in with their commitments. This law will be massive for families and for workers who are constrained by their jobs, opening up the possibility that people can work to live, not work to live.

Sue Bradford warned Labour not to take the workers vote for granted in 2006. She pointed out that paid parental leave and four weeks annual leave, both important pieces of legislation for workers, were both forced onto Labour’s agenda by coalition partners. Green’s have long since added social concern to their environmental agenda, but with the Flexible Working Arrangements bill, have they now well and truly taken the labour title of Labour? Is Green the new Red?

Admittedly I am a fan of many of Labour’s policies and many of their politicians, in particular Helen Clark and Phil Goff. However it is distressing that the party has lost its roots. In the pursuit of becoming more centrist and with the fear of appearing communist (the ridiculous claim is of course still made), Labour has failed to ensure the core foundations of society are solid. From this I mean the essentials necessary for a society to flourish. Children are still being let down in the education system, waiting lists are still too long, public transport, although improving, is neglected, the police force is unaccountable and the court system is in desperate need of reform. Children are going to school without lunch, young people are feeling alienated and marginalized and there are not enough doctors/nurse/teachers/and on and on and on. Meanwhile Labour cannot fund Herceptin, but have funds for all sorts of luxury pet projects. I know the government is trying to fix a lot of these problems, and having great success in many areas, but it appears easily distracted by more glamorous issues. This has been an area National has got a lot of electoral mileage.

I’m not saying the Greens have all the answers, but to be fair most of what they say is reasonable and, to be honest, they have a habit about being right about most things in the past (give it a year and Sue Bradford’s controversial Bill will be vindicated, mark my words!). Environmental awareness is certainly becoming accepted in most circles, including business. Although there is concerted effort by the party’s detractors to discredit the party as fringe, many of their commitments are to ideals that surely the majority of New Zealanders hold dear. And the polls perhaps reflect this (although don’t always trust polls!). So can the Green Party position itself as an appealing party to voters that may have been scared off by the past overemphasis on marijuana law reform which (although Nandor was a great inspiration to me) was effectively toxic policy for many Kiwis? Can the party claim the Labour unionist base? Can the party obtain social and environmental conscience family orientated voters? I’m not going to endorse a party on my blog, this isn’t America, but Labour should be warned that as centrist voters seep over to National in pursuit of the mysterious tax cuts, Labour may lose its bread and butter to those who feel neglected. Oh, and then there is the Maori Party! Labour really is in the shit.

I have an overwhelming lack of solid examples in this post to back up my point, for that I apologise. I should really find some examples, but I think most readers will get my point, and I expect a few will share my sentiment. That doesn’t make me right though.

On a slight tangent…

Some who object to the Green Party believe that it should focus only on environmental issues and not social issues, but clearly anyone who says this has either not thought this through or does not have two brain cells to rub together. What would an environment only Green Party do when issues on anything other than the environment arose in parliament? Abstain? Why even be in parliament? It appears to me that such people are leveling their criticism at the wrong party. Usually claiming that they support environmentalism but not Greens’ economic or social policies, these people would best be objecting to the parties they align themselves more with that have insufficient green credentials. Unfortunately for those who object to the party for having non-environmental policy, visitors to their website will see they have more policy than John Key could ever dream of! Here’s a list of all the things the Greens are campaigning on:

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