Dr Liz Gordon: Old political forces form Freedom coalition

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I have really enjoyed reading Martyn’s various posts describing the anti-everything protests as an unstable grouping of strange forces.  And I agree that many paths lead to the decisions that people have made, whether they are out protesting or not.

But, increasingly, I have been thinking about these people as being a political movement, however disparate. Some of these people have been on the edge of politics for many years. There is nothing new about them or their politics. This is a political reformation, not a revolution.

The most obvious of these is the Brian and Hannah Tamaki show. It might be said that they are gaining much more traction as the ‘Freedom and Rights Coalition’ than as Vision NZ, their political vehicle which gained just 4,236 votes in the 2020 election. Loosely modelled on the ‘Faith and Freedom Coalition’ in the United States, I suspect the Tamaki whanau intend to ride this new wave all the way to Parliament.

The second blast from the past is Bob McCroskie. Bob, as long term leader of the group Family First, was against getting rid of the ability of parents to hit their children, same sex marriage and supporting transgender students. He is anti-abortion and pro Conversion Therapy. You get the message.  We know the Bobs of the world. They are opposed to most of the stuff that most of us agree with.

And now, it appears he has turned his attention to the vaccine rollout. He has launched a campaign called ‘Don’t divide us’. The conservative pro-family lobby has never attracted much support in New Zealand (except for one extraordinary three year period when Peter Dunne’s claim to be the spokesperson for ‘common sense’ brought a bunch of Future NZ MPs into parliament, much to everyone’s discomfort, especially Dunne’s).  The aspirations of the Family First lot were blighted by Christian Heritage leader Graham Capill’s imprisonment for sex crimes against children, and have never recovered.

The third romp down memory lane was, I admit, something of a surprise, appearing in the print media over the breakfast cereal on Monday.  A full page ad by the Social Credit Party (now led by Chris Leitch) calls for ‘home based tests and early treatment’ to counter Covid.  It opposes the vaccine mandate and compulsory certificates.

At the bottom of the ad, a Social Credit ‘principle’ notes: “Communism, fascism and political authoritarianism in any form should be opposed”.  For a party that wants complete control over the monetary system, this is a surprising principle! They got 1520 votes in 2020.

Then there is the old Billy Te Kahika movement, still tootling away on Facebook despite him being prosecuted for electoral fraud. Billy has a strong track record as a fringe politician peddling conspiracy theories tinged with more than a touch of misogyny. He failed to get together a coalition with Vision NZ or the NZ Outdoors Party. Together with Jami-Lee Ross, a disgraced MP, he formed Advance NZ which performed surprisingly well in 2020, gaining 1% of the party vote, but no MPs.

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Add in those who are not politically aligned but just don’t want to be told to get vaccinated or lose their jobs and those who have ‘ethical’ concerns (but these translate quickly into political issues), there is quite a fascinating coalition of disparate people.

I do think that many of those who oppose compulsory vaccination now feel backed into a corner.  There will be some, quite a few I suspect, who are on the verge of losing their jobs who wish they had not proclaimed far and wide that they will ‘never’ get the jab.

My message to these ordinary people is: do not get involved with this emergent political movement. Because while it may seem to reflect concerns you have, these people has as much chance of holding together a coherent political movement as taking a trip to Mars. Get your jabs, for heaven’s sake. Or go get a different job, preferably working from home. Unemployment is very low.

It is also interesting that Act, which has been focused recently on pinching votes from National, is now dipping its toes in the politics of the vaccine mandate.  It is echoing Bob McCroskie and Alvin Poole’s calls for non-vaxxed people to be given the option of frequent rapid tests to avoid them losing their jobs.

It must be galling for Act, which has always promoted itself as the party of ‘freedom’, to be forced to tread so carefully on this issue.  But the reality is that in the political numbers game, the Freedom Coalition is a loser, containing a maximum of ten percent of the popular vote, and probably much less in practice (I reckon about 2% in practice).  

Act is looking for a much higher vote than this. And attempting to lead this rag-tag group of fundamentalists, family extremists, conspiracy theorists, misogynists and crooks is surely a recipe for disaster for a party aspiring to extend its parliamentary participation.

Just to be clear, the call for frequent rapid testing is a political cul-de-sac.  As Covid spreads around the country, it will zero in on non-vaccinated people like a heat-seeking missile.  And, inevitably, that community will get sick and many will die, and they will infect the vaccinated community too, with less dire results but still significant sickness and some deaths.

As the ‘freedom’ of the Freedom and Rights Coalition becomes increasingly perceived as a freedom to incubate and spread Covid 19, with all the dangers that entails, the gap between rhetoric and reality will grow. All the government has to do is survive the summer, watching as the virus spreads relatively slowly through the whole country.

In winter, as numbers start to spike, as booster shots are given (perhaps every four months), as the flu starts to circulate, I think that all but the extremes will be calling for protection, not freedom to spread the vorus. And if a worse variant emerges (as everyone seems to expect), another chapter in the Covid-19 pandemic may be written.

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.

34 COMMENTS

  1. I’m looking forward to the AV mob being silenced when Delta comes to town and rips into them. Some hard lessons are coming for the AV gurus, and all of us actually because nobody is immune jabbed or not.

  2. In winter, as numbers start to spike, as booster shots are given (perhaps every four months), as the flu starts to circulate, I think that all but the extremes will be calling for protection, not freedom to spread the vorus.

    – lol, try to get people to have three boosters in a year. And if that is the case can we then also stop pretending that this ‘vaccine’ is successful. something that needs a booster every three month is not ‘working’ it is somewhat working, or we need to find a different word to call it, cause i don’t know of a single vaccine that comes in two doses that would need to be followed by 2 – 3 -4 boosters in the year following and the year following and the year following.

    There is optimism, and then there is wishful thinking.
    In the meantime our hospitals are still understaffed, underfunded, under resourced and Andrew Little is still the most useless Minister in this Parliament of good words and arrogance and pretense.

  3. It may be right that the electoral consequences of mass sackings of non-vaccinated workers will be slight. But the social consequences of letting loose into the community a few thousand unemployed and aggrieved former teachers, health workers, police, fire fighters and people from other occupations should not be underestimated. Particularly when there is no public health rationale to the sackings. “No jab, no job” is a replay of Section 162 of the Education Act 1964: an effort to enforce obedience and to teach the mass of the public, particularly the younger generation, that any sign of political dissent will have calamitous consequences for the individual concerned. There will be a reaction, however, and this will not end well for the colonial regime.

    • Not to mention the resentment of the vaxed toward the unvaxed and the social distancing that will likely ensue. I find it ironic that educators are among the holdouts. Essentially all antivaxers are uneducated, miseducated or deeducated.

  4. “At the bottom of the ad, a Social Credit ‘principle’ notes: “Communism, fascism and political authoritarianism in any form should be opposed”. For a party that wants complete control over the monetary system, this is a surprising principle!”

    It is the privately owned banks that want complete control of the monetary system.
    the Social Crediters don’t want complete control, they want the government to be able to spend without borrowing, and to able to prevent the privately owned banks from doing so. Money is a public utility and should be controlled by a democratically elected government.

  5. Nope Dr Gordon — most of the protestors are average Kiwis…and, those protestor numbers will increase, unless the Government end the lockdowns

    • Correction – they are below-average Kiwis, too dim to understand that burning petrol pointlessly (and forcing us others to also burn more petrol than we would have) is a pretty dumb way to try to impress us on a planet that is rapidly overheating.

  6. No, Nathan Kerr most average kiwis were at work paying taxes and most average Kiwis have been vaccinated and lockdowns have been protecting many average Kiwis.

    • Not in Auckland…40% of the nation’s population…many are NOT working despite being double jabbed, so protesting is the only way to show the Government our displeasure before the 2023 election.

        • Only 70%! There is a significant chunk of Kiwis who are either not for these mandates or are about to be hammered by them! 70% in a 90% vaccinated country. That is interesting.

        • Er, that poll is a month old…and is a very small sample size…let’s see a more recent poll, with a bigger sample size…
          Why do you think the Government sat on this poll for a month? Could it be their own polling shows a big problem for Labour???

  7. Well, lets try this again. The very same powers behind neo-liberalism are behind this Covid crisis also as evidenced by who has benefited the most from this crisis and whom will further benefit from the ID-centric, societal-divisive measures being enacted now. Who benefits, who has benefited from this crisis. This is a question we really should be asking….

  8. The best way to show displeasure is to vote but who for when the two main parties both support mandatory vaccinating. And if we open up too early without enough risk management in place the same group being disadvantaged the most from the lockdown measures won’t just get sick they will die. Societal divisive measures aren’t new they are an implicit part of colonisation.

    • Those who dislike divisive measures, speak out against them. Those who support such measures find excuses for them. Otherwise you are right, Labour and National agree on all Covid measures, differing only around the edges, not unlike how they behave towards neoliberal economic policy….

  9. ok ok ok..’anti-vax’ is a myth they are now PRO-COVID and should be referred to as such.

    the wellie pollies are beefing up security(more detacment from the hoi polloi suits them to the ground) this level of american style stupidity comes with american money.. can’t the SIS find out who the funders are….or are they too busy spying on the harmless and ineffective greenpeace hippies….in terms of ‘threat to the nation’ these numpties are more danger than any ‘bolshie’ ever was.

  10. Er, that poll is a month old…and is a very small sample size…let’s see a more recent poll, with a bigger sample size…
    Why do you think the Government sat on this poll for a month? Could it be their own polling shows a big problem for Labour???

  11. Best comment I heard was from Hone Harawira on morning report. He referred to the rabble as “freedumb” ( not the pop group) supporters.

  12. What appears to be a slight concern will turn into nothing because there are so many different splinter groups. Anyone who votes for someone like Tamaki likely never voted for Labour, National, Act or the Greens previously. They either didn’t vote or voted for the Mad Hatter Party. Ban Fake Boobs Party, Legalize MDMA Party, Pro Abortion Party, Anti Abortion Party etc etc etc. Delusional protestors may assist several different eggplant party’s get 400 more votes than they may otherwise have done but it will amount to zip, nada, nil, zero, nothing and naught.

    My prediction looks like this. Fraudulent vaccination documentation will be enormous this summer. New ways of trying to beat vaccination authenticity checks will be developed on a weekly basis. Eggplants will hate seeing their “freedoms” restricted while the vaccinated just get on with life and a beautiful NZ summer. Many will hear more bad news about the unvaccinated getting very sick and having zero clue about the drugs hospitals put in their bodies to help save them. People who lost their jobs due to the stand they took will learn the dole gives them even less options. They will eventually decide to finally get vaccinated and be done with it. There will be two groups. The overwhelming majority will be pleased with their choices while the Flat Earth Society will be seen for what they are, Expert-Novices, Conspiracy Theorists, Tamaki Supporters and others including gang members that don’t fit anywhere.

    The lockdown restrictions have been long and challenging but when normality returns, most will better understand why they were necessary until vaccination levels reached a high level. Ardern’s popularity will return and National’s popularity will increase after they dump Judith and replace her with whoever. Will ACT still enjoy it’s current rating? Who knows but National’s increase in numbers has got to come from somewhere. The Greens appear a long term fixture but are they little more than Chocolate Teapots and supporters of a Harbour Bridge Cycle Lane? Climate Change is becoming more of an issue every month while the Greens look less equipped to make a meaningful difference about it. Remarkably, it appears Winston and his NZF baby may slide back in as nobody knows how to better tap into a confused and undecided electorate like he does.

    • You should be a regular commentator here, Thinker.
      It is again, ironic, that antivaxers will commit fraud and pretend to be with the majority whom they deplore, to enable their own freedom. In other words, bludge. Just as they will bludge off the herd immunity established by the majority who are fully vaxed which in turn reduces the risk to themselves, the unvaxed.
      Gobsmacked?
      Understatement!

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