I’m sure you’re all aware of the smear leaflet (if not, check out frog)
I must congratulate Jeanette on her handling of this one. The Green reaction definitely shows a political maturing. In 1999 and 2002 there were a number of leaflets distributed about the Greens. My personal favourite was the leaflet distributed in Ohariu-Blemont about how the Greens would make kids smoke pot at school! But we have learnt our lessons.
The first thing about dealing with attacks is learning from other experiences. The Greens are by nature a threat to the dominant system so whenever we run for office, we should expect attacks. The Greens are also a global movement so we can learn from the experiences of other Green Party campaigns. Bob Brown was here this week talking about the experiences with the propaganda the Australian Greens had distributed about them before the last election, which was very damaging, and so close to the election there wasn’t time to deal with the effects. The outcome in the Australian case was a victory at the Press Council, but too late for the election.
What we learn from this is that attacks are inevitable. Attacks need to be dealt with promptly. And if attacks are dealt with successfully, they can have positive results.
The other big lesson the Greens here have learnt is to pre-empt attacks. And this is what we have been doing, particularly with the drug policy. The biggest lesson we learnt after the last election is that we must front foot this issue, if we don’t, we let our opposition tell the public what our policy is. If members of the public have heard what our policy is from us first, they are less likely to believe the spin about our policy when they hear it. The other part of front footing policy is educating members. I will not try and pretend that the drug policy is not a contentious one within the party, but it’s not because people don’t agree with it, it’s that they don’t feel confident responding to all the arguments. So we have been supporting our members to learn how to deal with these arguments. And I must say 10 and a half points to the effort that has been made.
Now when Peter Dunne and others say things like “the Greens want kids to smoke drugs”, he just looks the fool (as he did last week). And we have an easier time explaining the policy to people because the debate has moved on from whether or not drug policy will stop drug use to will it actually help reduce drug harm?
And according to today’s SST poll it’s working. 34% supporting change to the current drug policy is a very high number. And I would put money on the fact that the 55% who didn’t want a change in the law would be a smaller number once the arguments for change are explained to them in a rational way. For starters that the law as it stands simply doesn’t work.
Aah this election is fun.