Patrick Gower: Metiria Turei is causing the Greens to self-destruct

David Clendon and Kennedy Graham quit the party on Monday evening, in reaction to Ms Turei's benefit fraud admission and the subsequent fallout.
David Clendon and Kennedy Graham quit the party on Monday evening, in reaction to Ms Turei's benefit fraud admission and the subsequent fallout. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: Metira Turei has switched the Green Party into a meltdown mode that it refuses to switch off.

The Greens seem to be in pathological denial about the damage that Turei's benefit fraud admission is doing.

If Monday's double resignation of two senior MPs isn't enough to send the message "enough is enough", then what is?

The Greens need to step back and ask themselves the most simple and important of questions - how does this look to voters? It obviously looks appalling, but the Greens can't see that.

The Greens are curled up in a collective "defensive crunch" of self-denial.

They need to realise Turei has not started a debate about poverty; she has started a debate about Metiria Turei's benefit fraud.

They need to realise the resignations of David Clendon and Kennedy Graham are not going to look to the wider public like clearing out of dead wood; rather, it will make the party look woefully unstable just seven weeks out from the election.

The Greens need to realise that all this is, in Lloyd Burr's words, looking like the "Welfare Party" rather than the "Green Party".

They need to realise very serious charges may yet come from the Ministry of Social Development - charges of fraud under the Crimes Act are possible.

They need to realise the story is now totally out of control and may not stop before Election Day.

The Greens need to realise it is not just a few "stale pale males who don't understand poverty" that are against the benefit fraud admission, but that it has caused widespread discontent in New Zealand, wider than anybody thought.

They need to realise a Newshub-Reid Research poll showed 74 percent of Kiwis think Turei was wrong, and 51 percent of Green voters also thought she was wrong.

The Greens need to realise Jacinda Ardern is going to come in for its votes and, to a lesser extent, so is Gareth Morgan.

They need to realise Turei ruling herself out of a ministerial role relieved, but did not stop the political pain.

The Greens need to realise they look hell-bent on self-destruction - and by self-destruction I mean slipping back to single-figure minor party status.

Whatever their beliefs of the rights and wrongs, the Greens have to just realise it hasn't worked.

The Greens also have to confront the most difficult of questions - if we want to stop this, does Turei have to go?

Patrick Gower is Newshub's political editor.

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