Flag symbol of class warfare

Not long ago Chris Trotter wrote hopefully that protest against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was symbol of an uprising of class warfare that would build into revolution.

The TPPA protest has fizzled away, so Trotter has turned his attention to the flag referendum, and more specifically to Sue Moroney’s snarky tweet that caused a bit of a fluff last week.

Trotter asks Was Class The Decisive Factor In Determining The Flag Referendum’s Outcome?

FOR THE BEST PART OF A WEEK, the Labour MP, Sue Moroney, has been on the receiving end of a vicious media caning. Her crime? Tweeting a photograph of a handsome Waihi Beach property flying the Silver Fern Flag, accompanied by the incendiary caption: “Just because you own a flash beach house doesn’t mean you get to decide our flag.”

He works his way to…

At the core of Ms Moroney’s tweet is the unmistakeable whiff of class warfare. Her generous parliamentary salary notwithstanding, she clearly reacted with visceral working-class fury to the visual cues of the Silver Fern Flag and a “flash beach house”.

Her ownership of four properties including a holiday home also withstanding – Moroney is an unlikely flag bearer for the working class.

Something in her personality (and in the personalities of tens-of-thousands of her fellow New Zealanders) linked together wealth, power, the proposal to change the flag, and the Prime Minister, in a causal chain of extraordinary emotive strength.

In a peculiar, largely unacknowledged way, voting to retain the flag became, for many Kiwis, a small but satisfying gesture of class defiance.

For many Kiwis? How does Trotter measure that? There’s a range of reasons that people voted against flag change, a prominent one being the colonial class who wanted to t=retain the Union Jack symbol of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps this explains why Ms Moroney’s tweet has elicited such an angry response from those who, in one way or another, contrived to carry the Prime Minister’s flag. Her bitter caption clearly stung them in ways many found difficult to explain. It implied that at least some members of the punditocracy had behaved discreditably; lined up with the wrong people; backed the wrong cause.

At the very least, Ms Moroney’s “class warfare” tweet has cast the indisputable class divide separating those who voted for the present flag from those who voted against it, in a new and disquieting light.

About the only disquieting thing about Moroney’s tweet was her lack of awareness about how a petty attack on some peoeple and their holiday home might be perceived. It was not a good look for an MP or for the Labour Party, as Andrew Little acknowledged.

But I think it’s extremely unlikely that Sue Moroney will become an inadvertent flag bearer for a Kiwi uprising into class warfare.

For most people the flag referendum faded quickly into Easter.

Trotter will have to look harder for his revolutionary leader, and hope for another divisive issue to tear New Zealand apart.

Maybe a few weeks after Helen Clark’s successful or failed bid for the lead position of the UN he will see some fissure in the fabric of our society in that.

In the meantime I guess he can continue scouring Twitter for hidden signs of his revolution.

Or maybe he could flag searching in futility for his Comrade Kiwi king.

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47 Comments

  1. Talking of class, what class does Trotter look like he belongs to? The comfy cardy class?

    Reply
  2. Pantsdownbrown

     /  5th April 2016

    Chris Trotter writes well & is always readable, but unfortunately for him the country has moved on to the point that Labour don’t represent the working class anymore but instead represent a myriad of special interest groups that have hijacked the party and continue to divide it.

    If people like Sue Moroney, Andrew Little & Grant Robertson are the answer then we are all asking the wrong question.

    Reply
  3. Joe Bloggs

     /  5th April 2016

    The only way that Moroney’s bitter caption stung me was by way of the rank hypocrisy and stupidity that she displayed in singling out others for owning a holiday home when she owns sevearl properties herself.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  5th April 2016

      The people who owned the house were right to be angry-it was clearly recognisable, and she had no business to use it for her own purposes without permission.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  5th April 2016

        Yeah that was very nasty and very stupid of her. She deserved all the criticism she got and now just looks a total hypocrite as well. I’d love to know whose place it was but whoever it is they have my sympathy. It’s bad enough their favourite flag got thankfully rejected without Moroney trying to belittle them.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  5th April 2016

          I imagine that had it been her house that had been used by someone, all Hell would have broken loose.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  5th April 2016

            You bet. Whoever did it would’ve been getting criticised in the media for it and her party and its leader would’ve been complaining about it loudly and stuff.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th April 2016

              Invasion of privacy-has nothing to do with party politics-it’s her own family beach house and it’s appalling to use it to make political points blah blah blah

  4. Pythagoras

     /  5th April 2016

    Poor flag design selected by the committee = wasted opportunity, end of story.

    There is no political mileage to be gained from revisiting this poisonous topic.

    Time to move on. Take a leaf from the PM’s book: go on a trip, and forget as fast as you can that the flag referendum ever happened.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  5th April 2016

      Puerile rubbish. The electorate analysis last week clearly proved the vote was political rather than stylistic. I love the way the Left are immune to facts that don’t suit their narrative.

      Reply
      • Kevin

         /  5th April 2016

        As someone who voted for the current flag I’m glad all the leftards voted to keep the current flag just to spite John Key. But I get your point – if the Left had voted for the flag they really wanted there’s a reasonable chance (50/50) that we would have new flag. And that’s not fair to those who wanted the flag to change.

        Reply
        • jamie

           /  5th April 2016

          “if the Left had voted for the flag they really wanted”

          And which flag was that? I don’t think there was one on the final ballot that “the left” got excited about. I think people chose to stick with the NZ flag because there was nothing better on offer.

          As far as political alignment goes, there is a near perfect correlation between the deep blue National voting electorates and support for John Key’s preferred flag.

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  5th April 2016

          “As far as political alignment goes, there is a near perfect correlation between the deep blue National voting electorates and support for John Key’s preferred flag”

          No, there is an excellent correlation in all electorates between the political support for the Government and support for flag change. Since of course political opposition to the Government is exactly inversely correlated with support, the same relationship holds between opposition to the Government and opposition to flag change.

          In fact there was less scatter at the least National voting electorates in opposition to flag change than there was in the most National electorates in support of flag change. This suggests that National voters were more inclined to waver from the “party line” than the opposition, which probably reflects National’s conservative wing opposing its entrepreneurial wing.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  5th April 2016

            The main thing is we didn’t replace a shit flag with an even more shit flag we’d be stuck with god knows how many decades. So it all worked out right in the end. 😎

            Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  5th April 2016

      Go on a trip-hardly, it was work-related, not a holiday, and only a trip in the most literal sense.

      Reply
  5. Kevin

     /  5th April 2016

    “In a peculiar, largely unacknowledged way, voting to retain the flag became, for many Kiwis, a small but satisfying gesture of class defiance.”

    Nah, just the Left illustrating their KDS.

    As for the tweet the reason why a lot of people got annoyed was the gross invasion of privacy.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  5th April 2016

      It was that-using someone’s house and making insulting comments and assumptions about them is not what one expects from an MP.

      Reply
      • jamie

         /  5th April 2016

        It was almost as bad as the PM going around the country saying that if you don’t like his design you’re not as bright as those who do.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  5th April 2016

          It would have been if he had done that, but he didn’t.

          Reply
  6. I think there was something to his argument. Unfortunately for Chris – the older he gets the more glaringly stark his positional omissions are. Failing to mention Moroney’s bach ownership/rental investments, considerable family wealth as the background to her tweet was a sign of weakness. His failure to point out hypocrisy gives a lie to his entire argument of:
    “Look, there’s a swanky beach house flying that damned flag! — John Key has a swanky beach house. — I bet his is flying an even bigger Silver Fern Flag. — Why does he even want to change our flag? — Just to show us that he can! — I’ve always felt this whole referendum thing is nothing more than the Prime Minister and his rich mates telling us what to do. — It must be why the National Party, the news media, and the rest of the political establishment is backing him so strongly. — Because, when a National Party Prime Minister wants something, it’s important that he gets it. — Well bugger them!

    I’ve historically enjoyed his writings but his lapses in judgement look increasingly unhinged and like he needs to get out more. While I am at it can I mention that hanging out with Martyn/Martin Bradbury is a very bad look for him.

    Reply
  7. Zedd

     /  5th April 2016

    The stats showed it did become a ‘class-political’ division in the end:
    1) 6 electorates only voted mostly ‘for change’.. & all ‘safe Nats’ seats
    2) The maori electorates, topped the opposed vote, supposedly seeing it as an attack on their soverignty/treaty agreement with British crown
    3) There was a clear division across the country in ‘safe Nats’ & ‘mainly opposition’ seats.. voting for or against the ‘Key-flag’ (more a symbol of Key’s real dream legacy…. ‘Planet-Key’ ?) :/ 😦

    Reply
    • What a pity the left wing hijacked an important debate. However it didn’t do them any good did it!

      Reply
      • jamie

         /  5th April 2016

        I don’t think many people consider John Key “left wing”.

        (Well maybe Redbaiter does, but I suspect he voted for the NZ flag.)

        Reply
        • Labour had clear policy for flag change, yet none for the wider argument of republicanism. When Key signalled and then campaigned for flag change, they invented their now very hackneyed “legacy” “vanity project” slogans. They gave the lie to their Progressive tag by getting all conservative and status quo. The “if Key’s for it then it’s all bad” began to gather momentum. They couldn’t make up their minds on why they objected. Scatter gun here drone strike there. Sniping at Key about design and process on the one hand then a lurch over to the draughty halls at the RSA and pimping the old soldiers who died for the Union Jack. Where was their progression then? Where was their statesmanship? Where was the bigger picture, the republic they talk of now? Are they still in thrall to Mother England? Do they really think we cannot stand on our own two feet?

          Nobody knows and the polls all say the same. A core of sub 30% despite the flag.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  5th April 2016

            Nobody with any brains gave a fuck what Little thought. Nobody with any brains gave a fuck what Key thought. Maybe a few dumbarses voted for what their political leader wanted but most voted for the flag they wanted out of the two on offer. And we ended up the current shit flag, not the other shittier flag.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th April 2016

              When 80% of the variability is explained by political allegiance we ended up with a political result, no question.

            • Lilly Franks

               /  5th April 2016

              Yeah right. The party that got 25.13% of the party vote called in their supporters and that’s why the flag got 56.6%. It’s not just political allegiance, it’s solid maths.

            • Gezza

               /  5th April 2016

              We ended up with more people voting for the current flag than the Lockwood Horror. If statistically it seems more National voters voted for the Lockwood Horror than others it really just means more National voters have bad taste in flag design than non-National voters.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th April 2016

              @Lilly, you manage to overlook the Greens and NZ First both of which opposed flag change? That’s not maths, it’s an agenda.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  5th April 2016

              @Gezza, agreed, that is the nonsense position you are forced into by the facts.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th April 2016

              Nobody dies for a flag, that’s nonsense. If they had done so, they couldn’t have been ‘pimped’ during the flag debate. they’d be dead. No soldier goes to war expecting to be killed, I suspect, they all hope that they won’t be. They fight for their country, not for a flag.

          • Gezza

             /  5th April 2016

            Umm…sorry KC who are you replying to? I never suggested anyone dies for a flag? I heard a lot of colonel blimps and old solder types go on about dying for the flag but took it that was just a turn of phrase that meant they fought for their country or the Monarchy. Frankly if anyone did dies for their flag these days I’d assume they were mentally retarded.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th April 2016

              Traveller said that someone lurched over to the RSA and ‘pimped’ all the old soldiers who HAD died for the flag-a bit late, one would think. I have heard a lot of people talking about soldiers died ‘for the flag’, usually people who were far too young to have been in any NZ war themselves. It’s drivel no matter who says it. WWII was fought against something, not for a flag.

            • Gezza

               /  5th April 2016

              Oh righto. Cheers. It was threaded off my comment & I couldn’t see where I or others had raised it. I agree with you.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th April 2016

              It would be nice if we could insert replies in the right place-sometimes this happens, sometimes not, and I can never see why this is.

      • Zedd

         /  5th April 2016

        @trav

        left hijacked it… ha ha

        I think you’ll find ‘team Key’ didn’t need any help.. they F@cked it up.. themselves !

        Reply
    • Lilly Franks

       /  5th April 2016

      If it was an old school first past the post election the lockwood flag only won 6 seats out of 70, best win 51.9% in Tamaki, which is less than the party vote on election night.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  5th April 2016

        Alan is pathologically unable to accept any explanation for the outcome of the flag referendum than his own.

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  5th April 2016

        Obviously National voters include some conservatives who don’t want change. That in combination with Lefty politics was why the referendum was lost – hardly rocket science.

        Reply

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