Metiria Turei: Green Wrecker

It’s not easy being Green. Kermit the frog

What was she thinking?

By Roger Childs

Poor political judgement

We can all look back to youthful indiscretions.

However what happened back then can stay in the past, unless it was criminal.  Metiria Turia was a key element in the rise of the Green Party and along with James Shaw, they looked Great Together.

Now those election billboards, and many are still standing, have a hollow ring.

Turei has gone down and taken the Green Party with her. Her resignation came too late, after her revelations of cheating the benefit system and then stubbornly refusing to budge from the co-leadership.

The public has punished the Greens in the polls, and the sad thing is that it could have been avoided.

Political dishonesty not uncommon

Not always honest Bill English

This is sadly very true. The recent Todd Barclay scandal is a case in point. The MP was involved in illegal activities when he tapped into the communications of electorate staff. Then his boss and predecessor, Bill English, lied over what he knew and had said.  And who told the Police to back off when Barclay wouldn’t talk to them about his criminal acts?

English himself was involved in corruption earlier, when he defrauded the taxpayers in Key’s time. The Finance Minister claimed the Wellington accommodation allowance while living at the flash Karori house owned by his wife. He eventually paid the money back.

His indiscretion however has brought the wonderful phrase double Dipton into political parlance.

Sadly, Metiria Turei seemed to view her benefit fraud as justifiable and even laudable.

Why she decided to announce it with the election looming is beyond belief. If she wanted to get it off her chest, fair enough, but the nation was never going to accept her staying on as a party co-leader.

The changing political landscape

Whereas Metiria Turei has taken the Greens down, Jacinda Ardern has worked magic for Labour. The new leader has brought the party up from the mid to low 20s in the polls to 37% in the latest 1News Colmar Brunton poll.

The public never warmed to Andrew Little, decent and principled as he might be. He had a good grasp of current issues and was capable of giving impassioned speeches to the party faithful. However, he lacked the popular appeal that party leaders need if they are going to succeed.

However, Little showed the wisdom that Turei lacked, when he stepped aside to allow the charismatic Ardern to take over the leadership.

National is now running scared and is shocked to see that the new Labour leader is level pegging with Bill English as preferred prime minister.

Implications

For the Left, it has been very unfortunate that while Ardern has lifted them in the polls to levels they wouldn’t have believed possible is such a short time, it has seen their Green allies sliding down the greasy political slope.

The latest poll had the Green Party below the magic 5% in popularity, but this was a reaction to the messy leadership debacle. The Greens are more than one person, but will need to work hard to rebuild public confidence.

Game changer

Regardless, one senses that the public mood about the election prospects is shifting to the time for a change scenario. The National government is tired and has few ideas. Lollies from budget decisions are being thrown around for housing, health, education and infrastructure, but most recognise these as the classic election bribes. And promised future tax cuts are not a panacea.

Labour has come up with interesting policies for initiatives in housing health and education, and their proposed levy on bottled water has huge public approval. And they won’t get caught by the old John Key challenge show me the money as a Labour-led government won’t entertain tax cuts.

Jacinda Ardern has been the game changer, and put life into what was a flagging election campaign. The next few weeks will be very interesting.

All the while Winston, the potential Kingmaker, will flit in and out of the wings, both from stage left and stage right.