John Armstrong 's Opinion

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Greens' rebel on path to obscurity

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A classic case of the disenchanted maverick making the fatal mistake of thinking he is bigger than the party

David Hay's 15 minutes of fame will soon be exhausted. Photo / Greg Bowker
David Hay's 15 minutes of fame will soon be exhausted. Photo / Greg Bowker

If there is one thing about the Greens that grates with other politicians, it is that party's holier-than-thou attitude to almost everything.

So there will be much glee around Parliament that the Greens are just like other parties in having mavericks who, having failed to get their way within the party, go public with the party's dirty laundry.

The difference is that until now the Greens have largely been better at keeping such ructions in-house.

At least that was the case until last week and the announcement by David Hay, who was ranked at No16 on the party's candidate list, that he would challenge Russel Norman for the male co-leader role at the party's conference next year.

As the Imperator Fish blog noted, Hay has as much chance of ousting Norman as he would Steve Hansen were he to challenge the All Black coach for his job.

It subsequently became apparent the party hierarchy had "significant concerns" about Hay's suitability following his conduct as a candidate during the 2011 election campaign.

The party's executive has accepted a recommendation Hay be barred as a candidate for next year's election.

That prompted Hay to escalate his attack, claiming that under the party's current leadership, a "Left of Labour" faction, which maintained a pretence of consensus decision-making, but not the substance, controlled the party's key committees.

Hay is the classic disenchanted maverick who makes the fatal mistake of thinking he or she is bigger than the party. Such rebels are emboldened by unwarranted media attention to reveal more and more about the party's workings, only to discover the media has lost interest and moved on. By then, the rebel is isolated, having burned his or her bridges back to the party.

The Greens' hierarchy pointedly notes that the number of party members weighing in behind Hay is precisely zero. However, the party will not give him either the attention or the satisfaction of expelling him.

Hay's nuisance value now resides in him being a distraction for the Greens who want to focus attention on getting people to vote in the referendum on asset sales.

Hay's statements are fodder for National instead to embarrass the Greens in Parliament before the House rises for the Christmas-New Year break. By then, Hay's 15 minutes of fame will be well and truly exhausted.

- NZ Herald

John Armstrong

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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