Holly Walker is the future of the Green Party. She’s high on the Greens’ party list and is likely to be elected to Parliament, where no doubt she will quickly make an impression, and eventually succeed Metiria Turei as co-leader, and probably become a Minister in government at some stage. Already she’s got quite a political pedigree: graduate of the Politics Department at the University of Otago, Editor of Critic magazine, Rhodes scholar to Oxford University, Policy Analyst at the Office of Treaty Settlements, and currently a spin-doctor in Parliament for the Greens. Walker is clearly on the way up, and she appears to represent a new generation of Green politicians that is re-positioning the party for more mainstream success. Gone are the days of marginal, sandal-wearing, political ‘outsiders’, Walker and her new cohort appear to be bringing about a new-found seriousness, professionalism, and perhaps even ‘Establishment’ allure to what is now the only real solid ‘third party’ in New Zealand politics. I’m interviewing Holly Walker today at 1pm as part of University of Otago Vote Chat – which you can watch live-streamed at www.bit.ly/ruN37y But what would you like me to ask her? [Read more below]
So is Holly Walker part of the ‘Establishment’? And are the Greens turning mainstream and becoming just another part of the parliamentary political elite of this country?
I’m sure Walker doesn’t think so. But I’ll ask her about it anyhow. It’s certainly the case that the Greens and Walker aren’t in anyway like the ‘Old Establishment’ in the sense of being simply rich, white, old parts of the ‘old boys network’. But perhaps they’re part of the ‘New Establishment’ – the modern version in which liberalism prevails, women and Maori are invited, and pro-environmentalism is expected. The magazine, Vanity Fair, amongst others have analysed the changing of the guard amongst the Establishment, and it’d be interesting to talk to Walker about whether she’s a rebel – in the perception of the ‘old’ style Greens or a new moderate.
One of the central issues in this sense, for the Greens, is whether they could ever work in Government with the National Party. At this election – for the first time – the Greens say that they wouldn’t rule it out. Some Greens would, however, and MP Catherine Delahunty has already said that she’s outside of that Green consensus and would resign from Parliament should the Greens ever enter into any support agreement with National. I’m interested to get Walker’s take on this.
More generally it’d be interesting to talk about issues of economics and inequality. Walker wrote her masters degree in international development at Oxford on the consequences of social inequality, and in particular on the failed 'Closing the Gaps' Maori development policy in New Zealand 1999-2001. So she’s obviously got a lot of expertise in this area and, no doubt, some interesting things to say about how to change society.
I’ll be interested to hear from her about how the Green Party election campaign is going, and what the party needs to do to breach that as-yet-unobtainable 10% party vote support.
So I’ll be asking her all about those things above. As well as that, I’ll be asking some of the usual questions that I’ve been asking other MPs – about gay marriage, issues of ethnicity, drug reform, and alcohol use.
If anyone has additional topics and specific questions that they want put to Holly Walker, please let me know – or participate on the Twittersphere in realtime (see details below). Of course, I may not be able to use all the questions you suggest, but it’s helpful to get ideas from others and it’s useful to know what topics you find particularly interesting.
Also joining me in asking the questions today, will be Niki Lomax, who is currently carry out research on the Green Party, and is quickly becoming a leading expert on the party.
The University of Otago Vote Chat takes place every week until the general election. The interviews occur in front of a public audience at the University of Otago Media Production studios, where the conversation is filmed for livestreaming on the internet and as a podcast for iTunes.
The intention is to make these political meetings rather different from the usual stage-managed and bland affairs that can happen during election campaigns. So there’ll be lots of challenging and quirky questions, and the MP won’t be allowed to revert to simply giving the usual well-rehearsed campaigning speech. The audience can help by heckling, cheering, or merely tweeting their reaction and questions to the Twitter feed – using the hashtag #OUVoteChat2011 – which will be projected up on the lecture theatre screen.
If you’re in Dunedin there is still the ability to come along and participate and/or watch – but seating is limited to about 45 or so – so turn up early. The Media Production Studio is on the 2nd floor of the Owheo Building, 133 Union Street East (Cnr of Union Street East and Forth Streets). You can see a map here:
If you want to watch the live-stream of the interviews, go to:
Eventually all the interviews will be available as podcasts to download from iTunes, but in the meantime you can also watch them on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/OUVoteChat
To keep up with all the detail, there’s a Facebook “Vote Chat 2011” page here: