Speaking of her failure to win the leadership position:
Sue Bradford: …There is no question that I have always been on the left of the Green Party and on the left of the Parliament. And of course there are people in the Green Party who I think will be very happy to see that I’m not there as an MP anymore, because it will make it easier for them in terms of their work within the Green Party….
Julian Robbins: Are you implying there really that you were too far to the left and the party wants to be more central or play up its ‘green’ credentials rather than its social justice side?
Sue Bradford: That tension is always there in our Green Party, as it is in green parties around the world… I think that some of the people on the more blue-green, or conservative side of the Green Party will be feeling probably quite relieved that I won’t be a Green MP anymore.
Julian Robbins: Is the Green Party losing its radical edge?.... Is it coming into a sort of comfortable middle age, a professional phase where it tries to be less risk-taking?
Sue Bradford: I think that’s absolutely true…. We did have a real radical cutting edge [in 1999]… I think that we have, to some extent we have begun to lose a little bit of that differentiation with the other parties in Parliament - in terms of being a little less willing to take risks; a little less willing to be radical and “out there”; and the sense that too many political parties – including perhaps our own – are focused on winning the middle ground voters and not seeing the voters out to the sides – in our case, out to the left, and to the environmental left, as being as important as the voters that are in the middle and to the right.
Julian Robbins: It’s a crowded marketplace – the middle – and everyone is trying to have a slice of the climate change pie or however you want to phrase it – trying to ‘green their parties’. Is there a risk that for the Greens in trying to be too conventional, that they might just be crowded out?
Sue Bradford: Absolutely. And certainly in my leadership campaign inside the Green Party I was arguing strongly that we had to do more to differentiate ourselves again; that we should become more risk-taking, that we should do more to re-capture that radical edge; and that we should do more to explain our policies and try to win voters through talking about things like climate change and economic solutions to the recession and so on in ways and in language that ordinary people can understand more. For example where I live at the moment – in South Auckland – how do you get across to working class Maori and pakeha and pacific island people on the streets of Mangere and Otara – how can we talk about our policies on climate change in a way that they can understand…
Julian Robbins: Is the party really ‘fine’? I would have thought that at a time when the Labour Party is at a lower ebb and climate change as an issue as an item is at the top of the agenda, that the Green Party should perhaps be doing much better than it is. Why isn’t it doing much better?
Sue Bradford: …I’ve just given some of the ideas that I have about that. I think that part of the reason for that [lack of political success is] is that we’ve lost the radical edge and we’ve lost some of the points of differentiation with the other parties…