Turei should be considering her future as Green Party co-leader

EDITORIAL

The dramatic defection of two Green MPs has cast the party into disarray and will harm its chances in the coming election, just when the party was looking so buoyant.

Long-serving MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon last night threatened to quit if Metiria Turei did not stand down as co-leader. They said her ongoing defence of benefit fraud and lying to a public agency was incompatible with the standards of leadership of the Green Party.

The party’s male co-leader James Shaw responded quickly, backing Turei, accepting the pair’s resignations last night and this morning moving to throw them out of the party.

He rightly says the two have placed the party’s campaign at risk, and tried to mitigate that in media interviews today by describing it as a blip and saying “other parties have been through a great deal more than this”.

The two MPs did harm their own credibility by breaking party rules, in making their announcement just two hours after giving notice to their colleagues — rather than the period of 48 hours stipulated.

They have been described as lazy and disloyal in some stinging attacks by party supporters, but most neutral observers credit Graham in particular with a strong work ethic. There have also been suggestions the pair were angry at being asked last year to stand down at the election, to make way for new members, and being demoted down the list — although Graham would likely get back into Parliament on his ranking of 8th, while Clendon’s position was at risk with his 16th ranking.

Whatever the motivations of the two, there is no doubt they have seriously hurt the party.

The Greens have been virtually free of serious inter-party conflict throughout their existence, in contrast to the two main parties.

Every election is said to produce an August surprise, and this is one of the biggest in recent memory.

While she has strong support among party members and some in the general public, Turei’s actions have undoubtedly harmed and polarised the party. If she stays, she is likely to be a liability. It may be time to do what is best.

The dramatic defection of two Green MPs has cast the party into disarray and will harm its chances in the coming election, just when the party was looking so buoyant.

Long-serving MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon last night threatened to quit if Metiria Turei did not stand down as co-leader. They said her ongoing defence of benefit fraud and lying to a public agency was incompatible with the standards of leadership of the Green Party.

The party’s male co-leader James Shaw responded quickly, backing Turei, accepting the pair’s resignations last night and this morning moving to throw them out of the party.

He rightly says the two have placed the party’s campaign at risk, and tried to mitigate that in media interviews today by describing it as a blip and saying “other parties have been through a great deal more than this”.

The two MPs did harm their own credibility by breaking party rules, in making their announcement just two hours after giving notice to their colleagues — rather than the period of 48 hours stipulated.

They have been described as lazy and disloyal in some stinging attacks by party supporters, but most neutral observers credit Graham in particular with a strong work ethic. There have also been suggestions the pair were angry at being asked last year to stand down at the election, to make way for new members, and being demoted down the list — although Graham would likely get back into Parliament on his ranking of 8th, while Clendon’s position was at risk with his 16th ranking.

Whatever the motivations of the two, there is no doubt they have seriously hurt the party.

The Greens have been virtually free of serious inter-party conflict throughout their existence, in contrast to the two main parties.

Every election is said to produce an August surprise, and this is one of the biggest in recent memory.

While she has strong support among party members and some in the general public, Turei’s actions have undoubtedly harmed and polarised the party. If she stays, she is likely to be a liability. It may be time to do what is best.

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