If the Greens are intent on becoming a mainstream political party with sufficient cachet to be a credible Government partner they should persuade Metiria Turei to join Russel Norman in resigning. Norman's resignation - announced with a great deal of dignity yesterday - has switched the focus to Turei.
Norman is by far the stronger of the two co-leaders. He is the one who publicly pulled the Greens back from the brink of being marginalised by running a far Left economic agenda instead of leveraging their valuable green political brand.
Norman led the change away from some of the more disruptive policies that neither the party's main prospective political partner Labour, nor National would really have a bar of. At the 2014 election the Greens did roll out some interesting policies particularly with innovation: 1000 new tertiary places for students of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and the physical sciences; $1 billion of new funding for R&D. They got it that innovation was "one of the best ways to add value to our exports, raise wages, and better protect the natural world we love".
And frankly this is an area where New Zealand still needs a great deal more focus and urgency. Unfortunately for Norman - and Turei - the policy changes came too late to build a groundswell of support. The Greens didn't achieve a strong enough focus on their own brand, instead wandering too much away from the centre line they need to occupy if they want to have an influence on a future government by getting into bed with either of the two main parties.
And there just hasn't been enough policy consistency in place for long enough for a new image to bed down.
If Turei remains the senior co-captain of the Greens it will be harder to get that image change embedded.
At the recent Ratana meeting, she launched a stinging attack on John Key who was at Davos, claiming his view of New Zealand's history was "warped, outrageous and deeply offensive" and that he was a prime example of what the "ignorant, uneducated Pakeha" economist Gareth Morgan had talked about.
Ratana was not the place for deeply gratuitous point-scoring.
Neither did her witterings enhance the Green brand.
Nor did she do her party any good at all with her savaging of Key in Parliament over lending support to the fight against Isis, claiming that through intelligence gathering NZ was part of the American war effort.
Turei's view is the Green party stands for peace and freedom.
But she doesn't seem to understand that sometimes other nations' militaries do have to come to the defence of other threatened peoples to ensure that peace and freedom is secured.
Turei's personal brand is associated with oppositional politics.
Many centrist voters would vote for a true Greens platform if they were sure it wasn't going to be accompanied by the resurfacing of Alliance-style policies. Arguably that won't happen until the Greens elect a modern politician whose focus is square in the mainstream - like Julie Ann Genter - to a leadership role.
Genter has built a strong constituency in Auckland which is starting to transcend party lines. She's a credible commentator on transport and could easily take a ministerial role in a future government if the Greens get serious about getting into power.
Turei yesterday claimed that Norman's resignation was a vote of confidence in her as co-leader.
Certainly his resignation letter, which he read to yesterday's meeting of the Greens' caucus, contained the obligatory nod to Turei: "Together we have built a true political force that serves New Zealanders well and offers genuine choice and leadership on the issues that matter. I know that you will carry this work on with a new male co-leader."
Norman has the demands of a young family to contend with. It makes sense for him to step down at the party's meeting in May. A test of the Greens' seriousness in pursuing power will be if Turei follows him out the door.
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