A political pundit believes the Green Party needs to figure out what its identity is before this year’s election after MP Elizabeth Kerekere called Chlöe Swarbrick a “crybaby” in a group chat.
It was reported last week that Dr Kerekere accidentally sent a message calling Swarbrick a “crybaby” to a group chat with other MPs.
It was sent as Swarbrick spoke in the House on her Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill. The Bill ultimately failed to pass its first reading.
“Sucks that her bill goes through during list ranking! Please Universe, pick my bill tomorrow,” Dr Kerekere reportedly said.
“Omg what a crybaby,” she then added.
She later acknowledged she “wrote an inappropriate message” and sent it to the wrong group chat. She denied calling Swarbrick a crybaby when contacted by RNZ. She’s not responded to Newshub.
Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw say they are disappointed, the message appears to go against Green Party values, and are launching a full internal investigation.
“We are taking this matter very seriously,” they said.
In his weekly interview with AM Early on Thursday, political commentator Bryce Edwards told the show even though the text message is “quite a small thing” it opens up a question about the Greens’ ideology.
“We’ve got people like Elizabeth Kerekere, she’s been very impressive, especially the way she’s jumped high into the list rankings of the Greens, but she wants to take the Greens in a very different direction to what we’ve traditionally seen from the Greens,” Edwards told AM Early host Michael O’Keefe.
Edwards suggests Dr Kerekere wants the Greens to focus less on the environment and more on ethnicity, gender and rainbow issues.
“I think that is the big question for the Greens at the moment. Do they want to go down that track or more on the James Shaw track of being around the environment,” Edwards said.
“That’s the split that’s kind of opening up at the moment.”
When asked by O’Keefe if the Greens have an identity crisis, Edwards said he believes they do.
“The green brand is incredibly strong and that’s why I think most people vote for them, but increasingly they’ve got activists, MPs that are more I think, focused on those different issues around the rainbow issues, ethnicity, decolonisation issues and I’m not sure that’s why 10 percent of society wants to vote for the Greens,” he said.
“We will see if that’s the popular move, but they have lost their core sort of environmental branding if you like.”
The Greens have launched a full internal investigation into the text message, and even though Edwards believes Dr Kerekere has been a “star”, he thinks this could see her “pushed out” of the party.
“The Green Party have put out the interim draft list rankings, putting her at number four, which is a big jump, but now this has been quite embarrassing,” Edwards told AM Early.
“I think we’ll see a likely drop.”
Watch the full interview with Bryce Edwards in the video above..