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Babyboomer ideology scores spectacular Doha-2012 own goal

Babyboomer ideology results in spectacular Doha-2012 own goal

by Daniel Batten
December 16, 2012

Years from now, I suspect the day that New Zealand bowed out of the Doha climate change talks will be remembered as

• The day our already fragile “100% Pure New Zealand” brand snapped in two
• The day that New Zealand, lost part of its unique DNA – our unbroken tradition of doing what’s right before others (be it giving Women the vote or going Nuclear Free)
• The day that developing nations directed more anger at us than we have seen since our national sports teams toured apartheid-age South Africa
• The day where the National Party put the final nail in the coffin of its re-election chances.

Nail 1: Mining National Parks – Green party support rises
Nail 2: Happy-go-lucky awarding of contracts to deep sea oil drillers off our coastline – Green party support rises
Nail 3: Poor Rena-cleanup effort – Green party support rises
Final nail: Successfully redefine NZ as a nation of self-interested short term thinking on issues of global importance through Doha cowardice – (predicted) Green party support rise

Result: Green party sees its party vote rise from 5.3% in 2006 to 15.9% in 2014: forms simple two-party junior coalition partner agreement with Labour in 2014.

In 2006 – this would have seemed impossible. But they are almost there. How did it happen? The same way the English beat the All Blacks.

First – one team played very well. Second, the other team played badly.

Specifically, National played badly by committing the same mistake that the Green Party used to make until 2006: They assumed socialism and environmentalism were inseparable forces. National has yet to grasp that they, like Bob Jones NZ Party of the 80s, could be economically conservative yet embrace a 21st century approach to the environment.

It’s a generational thing – according to intergenerational analysts, baby-boomers are more likely to sit on one side of any ideological – between hippies and industrialists for example.

GenX are pragmatists that dislike ideology. GenX has decoupled environmentalism from socialism. National’s baby-boomer ‘environment’ ministers past and present have not. The only one who thought different? – former shadow environment minister, Simon Powell (GenX).

While those who lambasted The Greens publicly in 2005 for being Labour’s lapdog and insisting that a Green agenda must also be red (myself included) may like to believe we had some influence, the truth is simpler: the Green Party makeover occurred due to regeneration within the party, and the new pragmatism this has made possible: they became a pragmatic mainstream option in the post-2006, post-Russell Norman era, after their two most highly influential babyboomer MPs retired.

The Green’s pre-2006 couldn’t be Green without being socialist red. The National Party today can’t be blue without oil-slick black.

In each case, their ideology was their undoing.

For those who care about the environment from across the political spectrum enough to say “enough”, and who watch with concern as freak weather events become more and more common, and wonder why this Emperor's Clothes is not being commented on more in the media, the growing power of the Greens is a consolation prize.

We’d rather there was no need for a Green Party because parties of the left and right opened their eyes and did the right thing: by us, by the world, and by our children.

So a memo for our current government and their ‘environment’ ministers – “You have behaved foolishly, dangerously and given this family we call New Zealand a bad name. That’s why we’re throwing you out. Try again in 2017 once you’ve learnt to behave responsibly.

*************

Daniel Batten is an entrepreneur author, linguist, thought-leader on influence and former CEO of the high-tech company Biomatters. He wrote an open letter to the Green Party for the Herald on this subject in 2006.

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