Red Alert

A response to Kennedy Graham

Posted by on June 21st, 2012

Sometimes in the past we in Labour have copped a bit of flak from those on the left for playing politics rather than focusing on the issues. It might have been deserved from time to time. Sometimes the criticism has been because we might have attacked our friends and allies in the Greens. Fair enough for people who don’t like this style of politics to draw attention to it. So, when the shoe is on the other foot, I think we need to call out misleading attacks on us.

I am very annoyed at Kennedy Graham’s misleading blog about Labour’s non-attendance at Rio+20. It is pure politics and just plain wrong. I presume I am the person he is referring to when he says he spoke to a ‘senior Labour person’ about this last week. It is simply not true to say as Ken does that the reason I was not in Rio was because “I could not get away”. What I actually said was that I could not afford the cost of going. There is a big difference between the two. (In fairness to Kennedy he has now apologised for any personal offence, though the blog remains unchanged)

I would love to be there. I was at Rio+10 in Johannesburg as a member of the New Zealand delegation. I had spent the previous two and half years at the UN working on the preparations for the event. It was a big deal to me. On that delegation Nick Smith was there as the opposition representative. Just as ten years before at the original Rio Summit there had been an opposition representative on the delegation. This year the government decided not to issue such an invitation. I did raise with Amy Adams the funding for other MPs going to Rio and she said it was not happening citing “budgetary constraints”.

Kennedy’s blog follows on from a highly misleading media release from the Greens on Friday questioning if Labour wanted TPPA talks to be “open” on the basis of a question asked in Parliament that had nothing to do with ‘secrecy’ of the talks at all.

I look forward to being in a Labour-led government after 2014, which may include the Greens. That’s good, we’ve got lots in common, there are good people there and we will be able to forge a strong progressive government together. But in the meantime, if we are to have a more ‘political’ approach from the Greens, its only fair that they should be held to account. But don’t be alarmed folks, we really do like each other, its just modern politics. ;-)

14 Responses to “A response to Kennedy Graham”

  1. James Caygill says:

    FYI – Opposition representative at Rio (the original) was David Caygill

  2. Quoth the Raven says:

    If you do go in the future I hope you have a critical enough mind to look upon whatever hyper-pessimistic sermonizing that inevitably arises from such events with a healthy dose of skepticism. Matt Ridley reminds us that the preamble to Agenda 21 document from the original Rio Earth Summit of 1992 included the following:

    “Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.”

    How they quite wrote that when global poverty, inequality and illiteracy (world illiteracy had declined from 32.5% in 1978 to 27% in 1990) had been declining for decades even then, I don’t know. Since that time thanks to globalization, trade liberalization (which to its credit Agenda 21 supported) and economic liberalization within nations like China and India, global poverty has been halved, global inequality has continued to decline, world life expectancy has continued to rise and illiteracy decline. No UN development programme is remotely capable of achieving what trade liberalization and globalization have.

    Undoubtedly from this latest summit the cliches will be rolled “the earth is at a cross roads”, “humanity stands at a defining moment in history”, “we face a tipping point”, dire predictions will be made. The predictions will be repeated uncritically by the world’s media. And just as undoubtedly the predictions will turn out to be false and the world will keep on getting better (and the optimists will be dismissed as almost demonic creatures who are part some global corporate conspiracy).

  3. SPC says:

    Some people overlook the fact that inequalitiy within nations is increasing and not just in the West, but also in the developing nations.

    The problem is not

    1. ensuring free trade included a carbon charging requirement to encourage carbon use efficiency.

    2. the profits from globalisation were not dispersed between nations for goals such as the 1% foreign aid target

  4. Pete George says:

    I think this is a fair call. The Greens are promoting themselves as major coalition partners, so they should be scrutinised and called to account (fairly) alongside the other major parties.

    That’s why it’s fair for the Herald to have questioned their use of parliamentary funds to promote their petition.

    It’s also fair to question the absurdity of (Russel Norman) asking for legislation to be put on hold until the outcome of a referendum is known, when we don’t even know if a referendum will be held yet.

    It’s fair to question exactly how our economy might fare with a Green leader as a minister or associate minister of finance.

    Greens have many fine ideals in policy, but it’s fair to ask how they could actually be put into practice, and if they are what would be the effects, known and unintended.

    And it’s fair to scrutinise how a Labour led government might deal with major Green input, when the Greens exhibit fine democratic practice within their party but due to Green bubbleitis (with more than just hints of political self lefteousness and arrogance) but are unproven at a coalition level of inter-party cooperation, compromise and pragmatism.

    Nearly a year ago Labour and United Future proposed ways of dealing with NZ Super, regarded as one of the most important issues facing us. Greens are (apparently) only just starting to discuss (internally) what their position might be. Super may not be core Green type policy, but a major coalition partner will have to deal with more than their favourite policies, with much greater urgency.

    Greens aspire to be a big party, so they need to start answering some big questions outside their comfort zone.

    Labour’s aspirations and fortunes appear to be closely associated with this scrutiny.

  5. Fortran says:

    Sadly the Greens, in their opinion, and the only one they will accept, is that they are always right.
    Like the King with no clothes.

  6. Samiuela says:

    Pete George, your views on the Green’s “fine ideals” and so on is pretty sad. You might remember, if you are old enough, that Labour once had fine ideals. Alas these were all dumped nearly 30 years ago.

    When you ponder amongst your remaining members what has gone wrong with Labour, and why you can no longer muster the support you once did, it might pay to re-evaluate your views on “compromise, pragmatism” etc. Just maybe what the electorate wants is a party with fine ideals that it sticks to?

  7. SPC says:

    Pete George sums up the United Party with his post, they on the one hand refuse to work in coalition with the Green Party then claim the Green Party lacks experience in coalition government. As for the United Party – apart from Peter Dunne, what experience does it have?

    The issue of the post however is more that the Red Green faction within Labour was not able to make funding this trip for an MP a priority. What does that say about Shearer’s words on green technology?

  8. Draco T Bastard says:

    Kennedy Graham’s Apology

  9. John W says:

    While the apology may be real even though less than gracious, the important point is what will be represented and achieved at Rio+ 20.

    This common prediction is based on past performance and current hedgemony:-

    Nothing substantial nor effective in avoiding continued demolition of the biosphere nor preventative in slowing the rate of degradation of resources that future humanity will depend upon.

    Business as usual which will diminish as the world is changing. Waste not talked about.

    Opportunity for constructive change is the outstanding waste we can expect to see along with hope.

    The market and global trade are destructive and wasteful with the main emphasis on profit for a small group which is all that some want to understand. The ultimate costs are borne by the majority and reduced ability of the biosphere to support life as we know it.

    The cost will be a very much reduced human population long term without much of what we let be squandered.

    The atmospheric CO2 is rising at an increasing rate. Methane release is accelerating alarmingly and is most likely beyond control now.

    Cornucopians be sure of your ground by having sustainable answers not conservative retoric.

  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    Given the importance of the Rio+20 conference as a truly international attempt to deal with the imminent global catastrophe that climate change will bring- attendance signified the level of concern from each participating country. National demonstrated their commitment to making a difference and influencing international consensus by sending a very junior minister (28th on 2011 Party list). Labour couldn’t afford to send anyone and the Greens sent Kennedy Graham, a senior and experienced MP (5th on list). Kennedy is a past diplomat, a university lecturer in International politics and he has also written books on global perspectives on climate change.

    Labour may not have had anyone with Kennedy’s experience and skill in this area but if our second largest party couldn’t afford to send a representative to this conference, what does it say about Labour’s financial health and its commitment to the environment?

  11. Sam Buchanan says:

    “It’s fair to question exactly how our economy might fare with a Green leader as a minister or associate minister of finance.”

    Labour’s saying it can’t afford the price of a plane ticket to Rio, and you question the Greens’ ability to do financial management?

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    Sam, if I was the environment spokesperson in the Labour Party I would have paid for the trip myself. It comes down to priorities and the value placed on trying to save the planet. Is there another international conference that is more environmentally important this year than Rio?

    Your President stated this recently:
    “Fairness, equality, social justice, diversity, respect. Labour is a values driven party…”

    All good stuff, but no mention of the environment or sustainability. Social justice means zilch if you haven’t got clean water, safe food, biodiversity and a sustainable economy.

  13. John W says:

    “The Economy ” that so many use as an excuse to avoid fronting ecoside, is a Just sideshow. a bunch of words used to attempt justification of business as usual.

    How many businesses could afford to ignore growing debt, loss of resource, damage to supply lines, mortgaging the future with crippling costs, yet smile and declare dividends.

    The Economists take little heed of diminishing resources, the degrading biosphere, increasing human inequity, global over population, loss of fertile land , the enormous damage to the oceans and species living within it, climate change and all its devastating implications.

    The Economy is a sop for the arguments of convenience by those who wish to justify their short term head in the sand discussions.

    Sustainable does not mean growth nor any other meaning of convenience we are massaged with.

    And many others who seldom appear in our press.

  14. Brent says:

    Who paid for Kennedy to go?