Sue Kedgley's decision not to return to parliament at the end of the current parliamentary term is a major loss for the Greens.
The Greens may not realise this however they could on polling day next year .
In 1999 in our first MMP parliament the Greens were the most colourful of all the political parties . Although Labour M.P Georgina Beyer also shared this distinction. The Greens were not short of talent either .
They have been unlucky in being only the bridesmaid in our parliament never quite managing to get sufficient votes to be able to get to cabinet .
This was a loss, in cabinet Rod Donald, Jeanette Fitzsimmons,Sue Bradford and Sue Kedgley would have been capable ministers and all would have served New Zealand well .Particulary as the current National Act Maori party coalition has gone to sleep on sustainability. Sustainability is important for New Zealand for many reasons not the least economically. That the current leadership of the Green party,' Yes, more muscle with Russell' is one of their campaign slogans says much about their strength and capabilities. Who can imagine that happening and the governing coalition getting away with neglecting sustainable polices if Jeanette Fitzsimmons and Rod Donald had been leading the party?
Labour MP's David Parker and Charles Chauvel have been making the running on this issue in parliament .
This can be explained in part because the Green parliamentary party has suffered much with the death of Rod Donald ,the retirement of Jeanette and the subsequent bitter fight for the co leadership between Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei.Sue Bradford resignation was also a loss for the Greens. Bradford who was well respected in the union movement and among community activists did not have the charisma of Kedgley although was well respected, however her resignation does not have the same potential to damage the Green vote as Kedgley. Sue Kedgley decision will give the Greens a further renewal opportunity . Their choice of candidate may well be crucial for how well the Greens do in the next election .
Sue Kedgley was the Greens highest polling politician in electorate vote as their candidate in Wellington Central. Coincidentally Wellington central recorded the Greens highest polling in general votes. However this also translated to many votes for the Greens nationally . Sue's appeal is broadly the same as Helen Clarke and Hilary Clinton . Their appeal is to that generation of women who made real ground by their community activities, and campaigned for abortion rights ,who were the first generation to make careers and who felt that apartheid and the Vietnam war were morally wrong.
These women were largely white middle class.
Marsden educated Sue was of them , well articulate and shared their concerns and ambitions, Sue also was tough but possessed some charm too.
The Greens no longer have a candidate who this generation feel comfortable with. These votes are now up for grabs . Those who swing on a single issue (and their are many of them) may stay with the Greens particularity if food is an issue . Some of these food issue people are loopy but many have genuine concerns about what we eat and may stick with the Greens.
Others will return to their class base .A good example is the Gay vote. Wealthy Gays who are fiscally conservative shifted largely to Labour since homosexual law changes of the forth Labour government in the 1980's. This vote was Labours to the 2008 election then John Key danced with transvestites this vote shifted back to its class roots. After idealism has faded and since the victories have been largely achieved these vote will largely return to their class vote, this will also apply to the feminist vote too.
Will these go the Blue greens or to the Red greens ?
Party strategists in both Labour and National will be running the numbers on this.
I met Sue on many occasions over 30 years and we shared a mutual respect for and friendship with Sonja Davies a feminist who made real ground and broke frontiers for women. Sonja was a mentor, influence and inspiration to many women of Sues generation.
Sue Kedgley will leave parliament next year after serving twelve years in our parliament and having made a considerable impact. Sadly the National government caved into the flat earthers in the Act party and reneged on school tuck shops being mandated to sell healthy food . Sue's dissatisfaction with this decision is shared by 100,000s of people throughout New Zealand. Who knows, she may have the last laugh as if National is defeated in 2011 this may be one of the issues that have brought them down.