So here’s the thing, I voted for you. A fair number of us did. Perhaps not in relative terms, but enough to get you up over the 5%. Enough to make you relevant. And here’s what I hoped for when I voted for you, that you would use your influence in parliament to fight for the things you believe in. I liked your approach to climate change and implementing a carbon tax. I applaud your desire to make polluters pay. And I have a certain taste for your socially left leanings too (although any party that has signed up for NZ’s version of fiscal responsibility is surely centrist at best). Indeed, your determination to raise benefit levels and implement a no penalty policy for beneficiaries is righteous and humane and I would have supported you on that stance alone.
But here’s another thing. I didn’t vote for you because I hoped you would be zealous in your commitment to the tribalism of party politics. I did not vote for you to refuse to use your leverage on the grounds that it might force you to work with a political party you don’t wholly approve of (they don’t wholly approve of you either, grow up). Nor did I vote for you because I hoped you would bow to the whims of your party membership (yes, I know you have a constitution, but your leadership could at least have the courage to put up a fight).
This is a very very good time to be negotiating with National. They need you right now, for they otherwise have no prospect of a long term coalition partner and in this environment that is fatal. And so they will surely be prepared to contemplate some major concessions. The very concessions the people who voted for you wanted. If you are a Green party, dedicated to the principles of justice and sustainability, then please dear God use this gift that has befallen you to pursue exactly that goal. If however, you are more concerned with your own self-importance, and your thinking is yet to mature past the us and them mentality of the school playground, then your inability to make a positive contribution to New Zealand’s political environment will be clear for all to see. And a great many of us who voted for you because we liked your policies, and rather hoped that given the chance you would be inclined to fight to have them implemented, will not, I imagine, make the same mistake again.