It’s been deeply disappointing to read in the past week a mixture of unhelpful commentary and half-baked drivel about protest against the TPPA signing ceremony at Auckland’s Skycity next week.
The coalition group It’s Our Future has been hugely successful in mobilising public opinion to oppose the TPPA. It has done this with a determined, well-organised information campaign which has the majority of the country realising the TPPA is a charter of rights for US-based multinational companies to plunder what’s left of our economy while hamstringing the ability of future governments to act in the democratic interests of New Zealanders.
Part of this campaign has been the organising of large, highly effective public demonstrations against the TPPA which in turn have helped the public understand the nature of the agreement.
The coalition has been a stunning success but it will be making a serious mistake if it simply organises a protest march up Queen Street on February 4th while washing its hands of any protest outside the venue of the signing of the TPPA at Skycity.
The unsaid implication of such a position will be that “responsible protestors” will be on the march in Queen Street while an “irresponsible minority”, with whom they do not want to be associated, will be left to their own devices outside Skycity.
It may well be that Prime Minister John Key feels he would gain from trying to turn TPPA into a “law and order” issue. However there is now such wide and broad public understanding of the TPPA that such a strategy would fail – particularly since there are many months (possibly years) ahead before this issue plays out.
In any case if the movement to oppose the TPPA wants to avoid any possibility of a “law and order” issue around TPPA then it has a responsibility to ensure all groups are represented in decisions as to what form protest at the signing will take.
Under a policy of non-violent protest, which may include civil disobedience, the anti-TPPA movement as a whole should organise a colourful, loud, disciplined, creative, unified, political protest which ends outside Skycity.
Leaving a mainly younger crowd (who will be at Skycity anyway) un-included is irresponsible and unsustainable. It will divide the movement and risk the very worst political outcome the organisers seem to want to avoid.
It will take goodwill, good faith and common sense to come to a consensus about the February 4th protest but it can and must be done.
The first step is to meet face to face in the next few days.