i managed to meet 2 party political leaders in the last week. today phil goff was in town, and the party faithful got to meet up with him in the evening at the hamilton gardens. he's been doing various visits around town, except that he wasn't allowed to visit the firefighters. yup, that's right. mr worth decided that the leader of the opposition is not allowed to meet hamilton firefighters until mr worth has met them first. pretty bizarre.
anyway, i personally didn't get a chance to say much more than a quick hi to mr goff. which is about as much time as i got with jeannette fitzsimmons, when she happened to be on my flight from wellington last week. (nick smith happened to be on the flight as well, but i didn't manage to converse with him.) at the time, of course i had no idea that she was planning to step down, so it was a couple of pleasantries and we were on our way.
the first time i met her was about three days before rod donald died. i met them both at a friends house, at some green party thing. not that i was or ever have been a member, but i think my friends would have liked me to join. it was too late, as i was already involved with the labour party.
so when rod donald died a few days later, it really hit me. i guess because i had just been sitting next to him on a couch so recently. but also because i admired who he was and how he dealt with the whole political environment. the one thing you can say about both mr donald and ms fitzsimmons is that they had/have strong principles and stick with them. they've shown us that you don't have to be nasty and underhand to succeed in politics; that you can make a difference without selling your soul.
so i'm pretty sad that ms fitzsimmons is standing down. she brought something good to our political scene, and i don't think the other green MPs come anywhere close. not to say that they aren't principled, but they don't have the same ability to articulate a position. they just don't have the same mana that their first two leaders exuded.
i hope we never have a parliament without the green party, especially because i think it will do no good to this country to go back to the 2-party politics of our pre-MMP history. minor parties are a vital check on the ruling party, and to lose a party of the left would be a disaster.
so here's hoping the new co-leader settles quickly into the position and keeps the party performing well, both in parliament and in the polls.