As expedient political decisions go, the Green Party cannot be faulted for rejecting Sue Bradford’s bid for leadership. She is divisive and probably lost the Greens some supporters with her parental discipline bill. She also has the annoying habit, shared by Phil Goff and many other politicians, of being impervious to the eye-roll capacity of listeners. She drives on and on and on with her point as though the message must get through at all costs. Even if the cost is a switched off audience.
In contrast Jeanette Fitzsimmons, though a little wooden in her delivery, wins our attention when she speaks. Partly because she is immensely knowledgeable but also because she appears to listen as well as talk. So the message apparently is not as important as carrying the audience.
I sat down for a chat with Sue Bradford a few years ago. I found, as I am sure many others have found, that in person she is gentle, patient, understanding. She is a listener. Not at all the blustering politician we have so often heard on the platform. But it’s on the platform that politicians are judged and where the ‘good look’ is paramount. There are no points awarded for being genuine, honest, tireless and effective.
Despite her record for effectiveness, Sue Bradford had no chance against her opponent, a younger, prettier, smiley, inclusive Maori woman.
But Sue Bradford can do what comparatively few have done before her; leave parliament knowing she personally made a difference.