Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"It's not easy being Green" - with apologies to Kermit the Frog.

I just recently wrote this post at Catallaxy Files, relating to this newspaper article about the Australian Greens Party losing six of their leader's staff, and I feel it worthy of some enlargement. I began by quoting The Australian's article:

including chief of staff Ben Oquist, director of communications Georgie Klug and policy adviser Oliver Woldring, her climate change adviser, her economics adviser and campaign coordinator.
I commented that...
That’s pretty much the solid core of a minor party’s staff, especially relevant when one of them is the Climate Change adviser to a Greens party.
...because the Climate Change thing has been central to the Greens' raison d'etre and indeed their brief occupation of the nexus of Australian political power over the last three years. I will now enlarge a second quote from the original newspaper article:
Mr Oquist issued a statement saying he was leaving with good will but cited "fundamental differences of opinion about strategy".
I continued in this (admittedly flippant and VERY hypothetical) vein:
Possible translation: “We fucked up and lost the balance of power in the Senate; we did this because you didn’t listen to me; and now the idiots have gone and kept you on. You’ve made us irrelevant and got rewarded for it. I’m outta here.”
But what else could he do, regardless of the underlying reasons? With advice not being taken and a poor result to show for it, what more can the advisers do but hand in their notice? And what does that say about the person at the top (Milne) and all the people who, in the wake of the result, have elected to keep her there? 
As I said over at the Cat, this should be a very interesting space to watch. Sure, she was re-elected to her leadership unopposed and so was Bandt (deservedly so, if he increased his local stake1), but I think that was a reflex action so as not to leave them leaderless the way the ALP currently is (the Greenfilth2 are doing that one bit right in any case). However, to continue hypothesising, they’re still getting their heads around what a Coalition victory is actually going to mean – especially with the new Senate still not quite finalised and their supreme Lower House influence made irrelevant – and when they’ve finished doing that, we may see rumbles for change.
The advisers seem at least to have waited for the first torpedo (Bandt’s irrelevance in the Lower House) to hit before running for the lifeboats. The rest of the salvo is on its way. (It will arrive when the Senate changes in mid-2014, and Labor and the Greens combined become a relatively3 powerless minority.)
The following election (due 2016) constitutes yet another salvo, with a target-rich environment – the majority of what’s left of the Greens – up for reaping, and everybody knows that at least some of those torpedoes will hit4. At that point, what we will arguably see is infighting for the highest place on the Senate ticket in every state, somewhat akin to a struggle for the last seat in the lifeboats. If there’s going to be a leadership challenge, I suspect that’s when we’ll start to see the leadership knives come out.
If Abbott can set up (but not pull) a DD trigger before then, he might be able to start the panicked stampede early.

1. I despise Bandt, his party and everything they stand for, but at least in the context of intra-organisational performance, success requires rewarding. Failure, not so much. Some failures are of course beyond the control of those who did the trying, but the differences of opinion quoted above are at least suggestive that this may not be so in Milne's case.
2. A fairly common name for them in the comments at Catallaxy Files, and IMO rightly so. They at times seem resolutely opposed to everything that has made Western industrial civilisation the success story that it is, and their ideology is as blinkered, bloody-minded and ill-informed as they accuse their opponents' of being.
3. Not completely powerless because there may be specific issues regarding which the Minor Parties share their opposition to Government intentions, in which case those intentions might be modified or blocked, but the ability of Labor and the Greens to bloody-mindedly stonewall everything Tony Abbott wishes to do will be destroyed. They are in Opposition now, and cannot offer enticements to the Minors the way they could in Government.
4. The Greens' support fell at the 2013 election, and since the climate modelling on which the anthropogenic argument for climate change - and much of their core policy - rests is looking increasingly shaky (if not already thoroughly discredited), it may yet fall further. The majority of their Senators are up for re-election at that half-Senate ballot and they could suffer rather terribly, especially if hot-headed young guns such as Sarah Hanson-Young or extreme radicals like Lee Rhiannon make a spectacle of themselves.

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