Isaac Davison: Andrew Little's appearance at Green Party AGM might silence doubters

Days after Andrew Little and Metiria Turei announced a Labour and Greens coalition, Andrew Little received a warm response at the Green Party AGM. Photo / Facebook/Labour Party
Days after Andrew Little and Metiria Turei announced a Labour and Greens coalition, Andrew Little received a warm response at the Green Party AGM. Photo / Facebook/Labour Party

Any lingering doubts about whether Labour and the Greens can get along are likely to have diminished, if not disappeared, after Andrew Little's appearance at the Green Party AGM.

The two parties' new Memorandum of Understanding, signed off this week, raised questions about how Labour and Greens will reconcile policy differences - especially on the environment - and banish memories of 2005, when the Greens were cruelly shut out of power at Winston Peters' insistence.

National MPs raised their up-and-down history in Parliament this week, mocking the slightest disagreements between the two left-wing parties. But the overwhelmingly positive response today for Mr Little, the first Labour leader to attend a Green Party AGM, indicated that those stumbling blocks were small compared to their ultimate goal of unseating National from power.

After a reception which included standing ovations, feet thumping the ground, and long rounds of applause, some Greens sheepishly wondered out loud whether they had been more enthusiastic about the Labour leader than their own.

Mr Little pandered to his audience, making bold commitments to combat climate change, eliminate homelessness and fix the housing crisis, without providing much detail on how each would be achieved. It was a speech which was high on rhetoric and low on content, but the Green delegates lapped it up, sensing an optimism in the two parties' union which has been absent among the Opposition for some time.

Many large obstacles remain, not least the issue of whether New Zealand First can be convinced to join a coalition which includes the Greens. But for today, the two parties sent an early sign to voters that there will be a united, if not credible alternative to National next year.

Mr Little stopped short of talking about a Labour-Greens Government after the election, leaving open the possibility that the formal agreement will end on election day. But he was clearly affected by the warmth shown by the Green Party - so much so that he had to clarify his own party allegiance after his speech.

"Nothing's better than a Labour Party conference," he said.

"It was a very warm reception, there's absolutely no question about that.

"But I feel genuinely embraced to the bosom of Labour's heart when I speak to Labour audiences."

- NZ Herald

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