Monday, August 01, 2016

The Greens public infighting: my own observations

After watching the 7:30 Report, Lee Rhiannon has only herself to blame for the public attack by former leader Bob Brown on her including demanding her resignation.

I joined the Greens party 2000 and resigned 2006. Lee was the major reason why I resigned, as I became sure that the party has no vision and no agenda of socio-economic change as they claim by its charter and constitution. The party was talking about one issue: how to win more power. No discussion of how this power will be used to enforce 2 major parties to retreat and accept reforms that will achieve better equality in the society.

After joining the Greens party 2000, I quickly became friend of Lee.

Attending Greens events and meetings, there was one constant face I was seeing. And this person was always vocal on issues of social justice and equality. No matter the subject was, you cannot disagree with her. This was Lee Rhiannon, the MLC in NSW then.

She was very good organiser: she is everywhere, at all events, record details of everything and follows up on previous conversations. This is why she was successful in her empire-building inside the Greens and could sideline many of her rivals.

Contrary to what both Bob Brown and Lee Rhiannon claimed on 7:30 Report, it was very easy to notice the factionalism inside the party since Lee joined the party 1990. One of Lee’s strong supporters told me after 2001 Federal election that she voted and joined the Greens after Lee’s prominence in the party which “broadened the platform of the Greens from simply environmental party to inclusive party on wide-range of social-justice issues”. She in fact created factions inside the Greens to serve its agenda, as she has no credential or understanding of environmental movement and issues.

While I do not agree with Bob Brown’s conservative and pragmatic politics aimed at winning more votes only, but I do not agree that Lee is still Red Melon politician. She is using this rhetoric just to stay in politics. She had dream of becoming the leader of the Greens party, and this is why she stayed in parliament even after the resignation of party’s historical figures of Bob Brown, Christine Milne and Ian Cohen.

Bob Brown agreed with me that Lee is liability on the Greens in general, and in NSW in particular. Her style of breaking all rivals and enforce them to resign, had inherited her lot of enemies. Many of her enemies refused to help with her campaign in 2010 and this year. This is one reason of the low vote for Lee and her ticket.

But in addition to this reason, we believe that our repeated campaigns against her (and the Greens in general) had worked. Since 2007, the Greens popularity did not grow significantly in NSW. Despite the fact that the Greens grew significantly in ALL states, NSW is the only state that the Greens popularity had stalled.

I started to criticise Lee’s empire building and her vicious campaigns against all rivals since 2003. In 2003 state election, I resigned amid the NSW election as party spokesperson for Refugees and Immigration after she interfered with my portfolio. Since then, I became harsh critical of her style of destroying political rivals inside the Greens. In addition to her lack of commitment and vision on social justice issues.

Her undemocratic disgraceful attacks on her colleagues were documented by many of her rivals and activists on many issues.

The first colleague to suffer from her disloyalty was Ian Cohen, when she led vicious campaign to oust him by campaigning to enforce limited tenure principle. The same principle that she never respected.

She branded him with all bad names and descriptions: Zionist, regressive, dead-man walking and unGreen MLC.

In the process, she also opened fire on Inner-West Greens because the convenor of that group, Mersina Tonys-Soulos, did not accept to agree with her on many issues.

After conspiring against Inner-West Greens, Lee involved in bashing Blacktown newly formed group. Lee could not control that group as the convenor David Cunningham refused to back her attempts against Ian Cohen.

Then she conspired against me and group of progressive left members. This included many failed attempts to get rid of me and other progressive people. Most of us decided to leave as we lost the faith in the party and its lack of vision.

(I attach a letter of resignation of one of very respected activist because of her empire-building undemocratic practices to totally control the party)

Lee had shown no compromise in her bid to keep full control of the NSW Greens. Despite the fact that her rivals of other factions’ leaders agreement to play within the rules. She is the only one that crossed all red-lines in her cheap and personal attacks on rivals and her insistence to stay in politics as long as it takes until she could control Australian Greens.

I deeply believe that Lee has no chance to achieve her agenda. She thought that her support of young faces (who were never been Greenies too) will land her to the top job in the Greens. The other unGreen politicians (Adam Bandt, Di Natalie, Sarah Hanson-Young...) turned to be also careerists-opportunists that had their eyes on the leadership of the party.

I also disagree with Bob that Greens had made any significant gains in this election. The election was double dissolution election, where the Greens achieved no full quota in any state if it was normal election. No Greens party in any state got the 14.5% quota required in normal election.

I think that the in-fighting will intensify until Lee will be convinced that she has no chance to win leadership post. But this will have great impact on the Greens. The Greens is deeply lucky party that there is no strong minor left party that could attract significant voters who are currently voting for the Greens as protest against Labor and Liberals. But the big changes resulted in this election is promising that another left alternative is possible within the next 3 years until the next election (if we go to full term).