It is voting season here in NZ. All the campaigns kicked off a couple of weeks ago and within days the rash of National (the right wing party currently running/ wrecking the country) billboards had been edited. One close to me used to have the Prime Minister saying “Working for New Zealand” now, with a little help, it reads “Twerking for New Zealand”. Excellent.
For the first time ever I have changed my vote. I have always been a Labour supporter. I could only ever see that my progressive, social justice loving vote would be most useful used for Labour.
This week however, I get to vote with full integrity and hope.
Thanks to New Zealand MMP system, our two votes count for far much more than in the UK. (My vote when I lived in central London counted for absolutely NOTHING. And the local Tory MP once sent our household THREE letters without stamps and I was charged postage – THE BLOODY CHEEK OF IT! Postage bandits!)
And I believe that if any country in the world could get a significant number of Green MP’s into parliament it is New Zealand. So that is it. The Greens have me hooked. I don’t want to sound like a party political broadcast but I feel the need to inspire conscientious non-voters, or the understandably apathetic about why they should use their vote for the Greens…
They are child friendly
They are, without a doubt, the most child-friendly party in the mix. It was Green MP Sue Bradford who bought in the bills that have changed the life of small kiwis more than any other bill. They banned smacking, they upped the youth minimum wage and they extended the amount of time female prisoners had with their new borns. And they have plans for so much more- their Number One principal in their policy document about kids states “Children and young people’s rights, needs and interests must be prioritised at all levels of political planning and policy-making to ensure positive outcomes for them.” They are a party that GET the fact that children are PEOPLE and deserve the accompanying human rights.
They are future friendly
Despite having been a profesional climate change campaigner for many years, I realise that I have this “odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia” that Naomi Klein spoke about in her beautiful (also long- get a cuppa) piece this weekend. I am in desperate need of people in government that are amnesia-proof. People that know how intrinsic the natural world is to our survival and our well being. I believe that the Greens are the only ones that are fundamentally committed to this. Some have slightly okay environmental ambitions and others- like National – seem completely opposed to the environment. Yesterday we all attended a protest at some extravagantly beautiful conservation land, the Karangahake Gorge, that National have just signed over to a big mining corp. They did it in the most underhand, corrupt way and it is just one of the many harbingers of the government’s contempt for this land and the people that live here. (I explained it to Ramona in terms of “pirates stealing gold” – which is basically is.)
They are fairness friendly
Everyone knows the Greens are hot on environmental justice- but not everyone knows quite how hot they are on social justice. They are consistently on to it- poverty, gender, inequality, indigenous rights- their policies are robust and FAIR. It’s not just theory either- they have a co-leader principle (the party will always be led by one male and one female) and they have strong Maori representation. If you care about fairness, please do explore the Greens – I think you will find their policies the perfect combination of radical and realistic.
A progressive alliance
I used to do a bit of work with a policy wonk- one of the smartest people I know- and we were discussing the Greens. She said that the only thing stopping the Greens really is lack of experience. That with a few MP’s under their belt they could go on to be a serious challenger. It is absurd not to vote for the Greens because they have little experience on the shop floor- we need to help them get that experience so they can keep taking things to the next level.
The current NZ circumstances make a progressive alliance- say Greens, Labour, Mana/ Internet- ENTIRELY possible on Saturday. A vote for those is a vote for a change in government- the thing we really, really need. (I read Hager’s Dirty Politics over the weekend. Oh. My. Days. National and Shonky John Key have slunk lower than you thought possible. Read it, get fired up, vote.) In the last NZ election the difference between a left alliance and the munters we were landed with was literally a matter of a few thousand votes. Your vote counts, it counts, it counts!!
Some further stuff
I’m sharing with you the things that swung my vote, but I really don’t want to tell you how to use yours. Vote Compass is a really fascinating tool to help you figure out which parties align more closely to your values. I found it really interesting. It will help you make a more informed decision on Saturday.
Martyn Bradbury and the Daily Blog’s Progressive Voter Guide
You want a progressive government? Use your vote wisely.
Tune in to Dotcom’s Moment of Truth tonight for a potential twist and to get amped about pushing National out. We’ll be streaming on a bus outside the local library, using their free wifi, and having a radical little party!)
What do we want? A change in government! When do we want it? On Saturday!