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.