Green MP Marama Davidson says she is running for her party’s co-leadership position because she wants t it to maintain its independence even though it is part of the Government.
She says that around the world smaller parties in multi-party Governments run the risk of becoming invisible.
“We will not exist without our base being assured that we will continue to be the party that we always have been,” she told POLITIK.
But Labour’s inner circle will be likely to see any strong assertion of Green independence as a threat to the status quo of the Government.
She even goes as far as to say would be willing as co-leader to join demonstrations against the Government as Green MP Golriz Gharhraman did at the Waihopai GCSB base last week.
“I’ve been very clear to the members that my role would be to maintain those engagements open the streets, with the communities, with grass roots driven campaigns that we have always maintained.”
She believes very strongly that environmental and social and economic issues are all linked.
“Those who try and say the Greens should stick to our knitting and only focus on environmental issues, misunderstand our Party and our history,” she said when she launched her bid.
“They also ignore the inescapable truth that the environmental crises we face are caused primarily by economic and social factors.”
“Together, we can do so much more.
“It is the role of the Green Party to continue to be a loud and active voice on behalf of our communities, to push for this to be a fundamentally transformative Government.
“Our Confidence and Supply Agreement gives us the right to agree to both work with and disagree with the Government, and we have already shown that we will use that when we need to. “
This strong advocacy of an independent position for the Greens is not likely to be received that warmly in the Beehive.
There are already worries that Ghahraman and another new MP, Chloe Swarbrick are too ready to adopt positions that differ from those of the coalition.
But Davidson is making it clear that she believes her first responsibility is to the Greens membership.
“My campaign is going to be based on ensuring our independent voice, and the reason the members finally agreed to our supply and confidence agreement is because of our agree-to-disagree clause, and that was primarily to maintain our Green Party independent voice.
“I know that I have a role to play being outside fo the executive; a really important role, to continue to uphold the story of the Greens’ independent voice.
“We are not strictly in Government, but we are a part of the Government through our supply and confidence agreement.”
She understands that being part of the Government makes it difficult to campaign on the kind of issues and campaign the way she did when the Greens were in Opposition.
“As co-leader, I would be best placed to uphold and negotiate through the difficulties that will be the Greens trying to maintain their independence and a pro-active progressive independent voice for the very communities, networks and values that we have always stood up for.”
She says the former co-leader Metiria Turei has always inspired her.
“I was also inspired by the political leadership of Metiria Turei, who had not just made the Greens relevant in Māori communities and championed honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, but who by that time had already put inequality and child deprivation on this country’s political agenda.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her unflinching courage and leadership in the face of adversity.”
Davidson has put a very clear marker in the sand for her campaign; in essence, she is following in Turei’s footsteps and aiming at getting the support of the Greens’ base who are are generally more radical than the party’s MPs.
Her commitment to activism would make a strong contrast with co-leader James Shaw’s more cerebral approach to politics.
And POLITIK understands there is not much enthusiasm for her bid from within Labour’s inner circles.
In short, her bid is a challenge to the status quo within the Government, and though she won’t say so, it is a challenge to the status quo within the Greens as well.