Battle Lines: Occasional Dispatches From the Class War



EARLIER THIS WEEK, Andrew Little was forced to reprimand the Labour MP, Sue Moroney, for her recent, highly controversial, posting on social media. Beneath a photograph of the Silver Fern flag flying above an expensive Waihi Beach property, Sue had written: “Just because you own a flash beach house doesn’t mean you get to decide our flag.”


Unquestionably, Sue’s post was politically ill-judged. But what’s also beyond dispute is that, in the manner of Paul Henry, she was only saying what an awful lot of people were thinking. Throughout the entire Flag Referendum process, public discourse was dominated by the overbearing accents of the comfortable classes. Middle New Zealand may not have initiated the debate, but once its champion, John Key, had raised his standard (or was it the All Blacks’?) they rallied to him in an impressive display of loyalty.

Nowhere was this “let’s all get behind the Prime Minister’s flag” response more clearly enunciated than in the New Zealand Listener. At every step of the process the magazine was at pains to guide its middle-class readers towards Key’s preferences. Even in defeat, the Listener’s editorialists made it snippily clear that the ignorant and ungrateful masses had got it wrong: even issuing a thinly-veiled threat that the entire exercise would be repeated as many times as it took for the electorate to get it right.

Sue Moroney’s posting erred dreadfully in terms of the political “optics” – hence Little’s reprimand. She also had no way of knowing the beach-house owners’ actual motivation for flying the Silver Fern flag, so they were perfectly justified in asking her to take it down. At the visceral level of class politics, however, Sue called it exactly right.

To a great many Kiwis it did feel as though the ruling elites, not content with selling off New Zealand’s prime assets to the highest bidders, were now attempting to award themselves their very own “Mission Accomplished” celebratory flag. Had Key’s preference emerged triumphant (and it came alarmingly close!) the reaction of the rest of the country would have resembled that of a defeated people on seeing the conquerors’ flag fluttering insolently above their occupied towns and cities.

Perhaps that’s why support for the present flag was strongest in the seven Maori seats? More than any other New Zealanders, Maori understand what a change of flag truly represents.

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  1. For goodness sake – the vote was for change of flag not for the prime minister.

    The left’s obsession with Key is blinding them to the position they’re building in the public eye. The ability particularly for Labour to be perceived as an electable govt in waiting is further away than ever.

    • Of course it was and it was a fantastic if not horrendously expensive distraction, and it is so Key. Rich men love to do “outrageous” stunts to fan their egos, hell of a laugh.

      Quite how Keys failed tea towel makes Labour less electable is hopeful if not laughable.

      And Key is the problem as he is the pin up boy for National , the so called blokey rags to riches relaxed guy, that masks the reality of why he is even the PM. His battle with the truth on all levels says he thinks we are all as vacant as your average National voter and sums up his contempt for New Zealanders. He leads by example, hence the constant question marks of corrupt behaviour of his government and of some of its MPs because the bar has been set so unacceptably low. No statistic that we get fed now from the NZ Government can be believed.

      He is a good example of how rotten modern democracies have become, a Prime Minister who didn’t even know there was a distructive lying smear campaign department running right out of his very prime ministerial offices. Yeah right John! It also makes me wonder why he is SO committed to the awful TPP, even to speak out against Trump, a man the American rich and powerful can’t control,

      He is all about the wealthiest 1% and cementing his place there and not much more. And the longer he remains the more damage he does to this country.

    • And the vote against was by those who don’t appreciate their democracy being shat on. For goodness sake.

    • Jongkeys intention was for a change of flag to his choice. Why else did he display it only (the existing flag wasn’t displayed) in his electorate office for the period between the two referenda?

    • @ AWANDERER ! I’m sorry but I have to say I don’t appreciate your language.
      ‘For Goodness sake’ should only be uttered in dens of bullshittery like churches, legal offices and other such like festering pits of High Wankery.

      Now, let me be clear as to where I’m coming from here. Politically, I’m not Left per se. I’m certainly not Right either. What I am is definitely not a yankee doodle psycho jonky=phile. That little shit represents the Dark Side of humanity. God only knows what a name for him/it could be but it defies political targeting by even dividers and confederates.
      What jonky is, is a whole other thing than political factions vying for who can do best by us, the people.

      I say Bravo to Sue Moroney and fuck jumpy little andy for forgetting where his balls are. He should stick by his rebels and defend their opinions with a sword. Fuck the fancy wankers in their swanky Mc Mansions! They brought this shit on themselves remember.

  2. Right on the money!
    The flag debacle had very little to do with making ‘N.Z inc.’ being more marketable by giving us a distinctive identity.
    Mind you, we are now a nation of service workers , dishwashers etc. , so a $2 dollar shop T-towel wouldn’t be far off the mark?
    No. This was purely and simply Key trying to go out with the legacy of being the Prime Minister who changed the flag. What a hero !!
    Having been told by the sychophants for so long how maaarrvellous he is , like a boxer surrounded by all the useless hangerons, he made the fatal mistake of believing his own press!!
    Despite the 20 or so people, who have an influence over what most of the country sees and reads in the media, pumping key’s ‘ego trip’ for all it was worth, they actually failed spectacularly.
    What the sychophants and their relentless propaganda hadn’t come up against before in their shallow, designer jeans, coiffured hair , bling wearing lives , was the steely determination of men and women who know how to dig it in, put their heads down and stand up for what they believed in.
    The R.S.A , with little to no broad public voice, showed the way!
    Considering the level of propaganda and bullshit that was being spouted and taking into account the dramatic rise of new immigrants over the past 8 years who would have no real deep affinity with our flag , 56.5% to 43.5% was a thrashing!!
    National received approx. 48% of the vote at the last election.
    Do the maths!!
    Wrongly estimated Northlands plight . Wrongly estimated the desire to change our beautiful flag.
    Key is no more a leader than the man on the moon …. 3 strikes and you’re out !!!

    • One would certainly like to think so, but NZers, on the whole, are disturbingly apathetic about anything that doesn’t involve sport…

  3. I will get one of Key’s $26 million dollar flags and burn it on ANZAC Parade.

    Chris I agree with you here as Sue is a straight shooter and very honest, I love her, she may be PM one day I hope.

    “Sue called it exactly right. To a great many Kiwis it did feel as though the ruling elites, not content with selling off New Zealand’s prime assets to the highest bidders, were now attempting to award themselves their very own “Mission Accomplished” celebratory flag.”

  4. Key himself politicised the flag referendum by being front and centre of it – i.e. it was Key himself who initiated the so-called “debate” in the first place and made his intentions to get a silver fern on the flag abundantly clear whenever the opportunity arose. The new flag and key were irrevocably linked, and, fortunately (for those like myself who hated the shit Kyle Lockwood design), Key wasn’t quite as popular as he thought he was – something he was relying on to push his agenda through. Hopefully we can put this very expensive narcissistic “legacy” project behind us for the foreseeable future.

  5. If you’d relied exclusively on the Listener for your knowledge of public opinion in the run-up to the Second Flag Referendum, then you would have assumed that the two options were pretty much neck and neck.

    Remarkable mendacity by the Editor (and her various proxies). She assiduously managed to avoid any mention of actual Poll stats on the issue, instead carefully weaving various rhetorical strategies to leave the strong impression that:
    (1) The current flag had started off just MILDLY ahead
    but that
    (2) The Lockwood alternative had been rapidly gaining ground over previous months
    so that
    (3) Now (in a series of Editorials a few weeks out from the Referendum) public opinion, according to the Polls, was essentially split down the middle.

    Whereas, of course, back on Planet Earth almost all Polls were suggesting a Current Flag lead of at least 30 points, if not 35 (and in one case, more than 40).

    • I’ve noticed that the Listener is frequently in the habit of printing what they believe should be true, not what is. They have become a new mouthpiece for the corporatocracy which tells you what to think.

  6. Chris: “To a great many Kiwis it did feel as though the ruling elites….”

    Have you done a survey to support this, or are you just interviewing your keyboard?

  7. The Listener used to be a progressive magazine in the 1980s and then went the way of monetarist culture and decided that rather than reflect the masses the media could tell the masses what to think. It even had its own campaign to change the flag which died miserably. These days The Spinoff is leaving it for dead in its analysis on media and popular culture in New Zealand.

  8. I strongly support the comments made by Sue Moroney, now there is a woman with the guts to say it how it really is.

    For this loser of a National Party flag to be flown around NZ is disrespectful.

    I trust that sports people who feel that it will be appropriate to drape themselves with this flag at Rio need to be reminded just what this flag represents – 26 million dollars plus for money wasted needlessly, when it could have been spent on alleviating child poverty or other important issues that are problematic in
    this great country of ours.

  9. I don’t believe the results at all – I don’t think it is reasonable to believe the new flag came so close… Would be interesting to see what the results would be if an independent recount was done…

  10. Given that Sue Moroney owns a posh little bach in the coromandel and earns well over the median wage doing – well bugger all on the back benches, she really has no place attacking her fellow rich power elites.

    What really annoys me is that Labour’s policy was and still is to change the flag, through exactly the same process as the recent attempt, which they opposed like Trotter out of base political spite and as a result we have the old colonial Union Jack as the peoples flag that wonderful symbol of British Imperial oppression – well done Andy, Sue and all the little politicised haters you’ve scored a real win over the reviled Key.

    • Here we go again. Yes Labour did have policy on changing the flag. They did say however they were opposed to a change of flag now BECAUSE THE TIMING WAS NOT RIGHT GIVEN THE ECONOMIC CLIMATE!
      $26 million could have been spent on anything else, health, education, housing and as we have now found out holiday pay.
      Health is in serious need of funding given the masses National have allowed to cross our borders.

  11. The Listener, with its spoiled brattish commentary, has now surely plummetted as a publication of balanced, intellectual thought; and now is just another propagandist POS alingned with the ridiculous Shonkey. As for Carter and McCaw – who was the phallus-head who gave you that poisoned advice to align yourseves with this loser? Too late now though.

  12. “Sue Moroney’s posting erred dreadfully in terms of the political “optics” – hence Little’s reprimand. She also had no way of knowing the beach-house owners’ actual motivation for flying the Silver Fern flag, so they were perfectly justified in asking her to take it down. At the visceral level of class politics, however, Sue called it exactly right.”

    While this is true, you’ve not covered the optic which mattered the most to those who were put on the defensive, and those whose ‘aspirations’ had them leaning in the same direction: Sue Moroney as serial landlord and holiday home owner. Quite how Labour are meant to spearhead an offensive on the rampant accumulation of assets by our growing rentier-oligarchy when so many of them match the identikit of well remunerated politician with half a dozen rentals in their ‘family trust’ is beyond me.

    As Bernard Hickey pointed out just days ago, ‘A quick perusal of the Parliamentary Register of Pecuniary interests shows most MPs own multiple houses, rental properties and baches. The most popular phrase in the document is “family trust”, followed quickly by “rental property”.’ So fast forward to an election campaign where Andrew Little or Phil Twyford makes an issue of declining home ownership, and watch as Cameron Slater grins a knowing grin and doxes the Labour caucus as the trustees of some lovely rental property portfolios making tidy little earners of themselves.

    If there’s a class war going on with property ownership and the accumulation of once-public assets by a private few, then Labour would do well to advise their MPs to divest themselves of such assets before attempting to cast themselves as being on the right side. I’m willing to bet there are more than a few former state houses in those MPs’ family trusts. In the words of Billy Bragg, “Which side are you on, boys (and girls), which side are you on?”

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