The Greens' five-cylinder car

Last updated 14:09 07/06/2011

Motoring enthusiasts will remember the promises made when manufacturers introduced the five cylinder car.

It would have the economy of a four and the power of a six, they promised. Buyers discovered the power of a four and the thirst of a six, which is why we're not all driving five cylinder cars.

With their attention to economical motoring and aversion to power, the Greens on the weekend announced a political five cylinder car: They wouldn't rule out joining a National-led government, but the combination would be "highly unlikely". (Notice how the emphasiser somehow weakens the unlikeliness?)

Their aim is to reassure two opposite groups of voters:

- Anti-National Green voters must understand their vote for the Greens will not help Gerry Brownlee start open cast mining in National parks, or help Paula Bennet throw a few solo mums to snarling Rottweilers.

- National voters who are interested in recycling can be assured that Greens are not anti-National at all, as long as National stops butchering sea lions, decriminalises weed and takes strong action against sugary breakfast cereals.

The Greens are trying to have it both ways, and in doing so they risk having neither.

If I were a Labour candidate hunting Greens, I would get up on the hustings and say 'I agree with the Greens that we need action on climate change, but the Greens are refusing to rule out supporting a National Government.'

If someone wants to be sure of changing the Government they have one less reason to vote Green, even though the Greens' stance is targeting the 'change' vote.

And if I were a National candidate I would still try to marginalise the Greens with lime-tinged flatulence: "The environment is a mainstream concern for us all, but the Greens are not mainstream."

The Greens' problem is twice-over of their own making.

They have tried to resolve a hard choice by pretending no hard choice needs to be made.

They have a difficult and crucial strategic choice - either they can support a National Government or they can't. Either option carries risks of losing votes, and of reassuring voters. But you have to make a choice, not close your eyes and pretend it doesn't exist.

Their other self-confected problem is talking government-formation tactics at all. The Greens successfully, and a little cynically, constructed an appealing ''beyond politics" identity, trying to stay above the messy and self-serving politics of deals and horse trading.

Their government-formation options are an opportunity to highlight their reason for exiting. They should say, "We will work however we can to prevent climate change and ban cars. We will support the government that best promotes these crucial outcomes."

Then let the consequences fall where they will, with the other parties collecting all the backlash of playing politics.

That would take a hard decision: More power? More economical motoring? They need to decide if they want four cylinders or six.

Post a comment
El Jorge   #1   05:28 pm Jun 08 2011

Whoa, this is like deja-vu.

I'm sure i have read this elsewhere.............

Oh, where is the dis-claimer at the bottom stating JP's affiliations?

Arthur   #2   03:12 pm Jun 09 2011

The Green communists are wallowing in political irrelevancy and have realised they cannot just rely on flatulent thinking liberals and the psychotic fringe dwellers on the edge of society for enough votes. that and the realisation that most varsity students grow up and stop protest voting.

David   #3   03:43 pm Jun 09 2011

Is this the same John Pagani who worked in Goffs office until recently, the from the left guy from national radio, any relation to Josie Pagani. Not good Stuff having no disclosure.

Leo   #4   11:32 pm Jun 09 2011

Um, why would a "radical" green voter have any concern about which "mainstream" party the Greens ally themselves too? Surely from a position sooo far left field the labour-national policy gap is imperceptible. Neither national nor labour have the cojones to change give us back any liberty, economic or social. The "radical" parties like Act and the Greens should just go with whoever compromises the most to them. MMP for the win.

pseudopanax   #5   01:36 pm Jun 10 2011

That has got to be the most uninformed, uninspired piece of drivel I've read in a long time. The very first paragraphs in the Green's positioning remit affirms their existence as an independent party, and the requirement to make massive gains before considering a coalition with any party. Setting aside for a moment that the Greens practically invented the alternatives to a coalition agreement while still working with all parties, this positioning doesn't in anyway attempt to be all things to all people, as you insinuate. They are simply telling Labour not to take them for granted, solidifying their political independence, and stating that they're pragmatic enough to rise above the silly political tribalism you seem so rooted in, in that whoever can offer them policy wins and not expect them to compromise will be worth forming some sort of agreement with. If that's Labour; great. If that's National, why is that any less great? The Greens are not going to commit to a coalition that marginalises their policies. As such, it's highly unlikely that they'll form a coalition with National.

Your contribution, John, is unhelpful, uninformed, and misleading.

Alan Wilkinson   #6   03:13 pm Jun 10 2011

"or help Paula Bennet throw a few solo mums to snarling Rottweilers'

Sadly the snarling Rottweilers (and pitbulls) mostly already hang out with the solo mums. Throwing them to Remuera pekes and poodles doesn't have nearly the same ring, does it?

mike skinner   #7   11:18 am Jun 26 2011

political twaddle aside..... perhaps the writer might like to inform himself as to the reality of 5 cylinder engines....perhaps he may like to start with Audi....

if your going to try and be all trite and clever with the headline and low rent "hook" for your article then at least have a bit of a "google" about that which you obviously know nothing about!!!

Mikem   #8   10:24 am Jul 15 2011

Surely the green's engine has no cylinders at all, and is in fact a bicycle pedalled by a tofu-fed vegan?

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