- Date published:
10:16 am, September 18th, 2015 - 50 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, john key, journalism, labour, making shit up, national - Tags: flag distraction, flag referendum, red peak
I try to stay away from the flag debate because I think it is a distraction from important issues but …
This morning’s Herald editorial contains that many mistakes that I felt the urge to respond. Here is a brief non comprehensive list of some fairly basic mistakes made by the anonymous editorial writer.
Labour’s leader has done himself no good this week with his refusal to back legislation putting “Red Peak” into the flag referendum.
Er no. Little attempted to introduce a bill that would have added Red Peak into the shortlist of flags to be voted on. It did require the vote to change to occur at the same time as the vote for the preferred choice. National could have allowed it to be introduced and then sought to amend it but decided instead to veto its introduction. Clearly the only party who could be accused of refusing to back legislation is National. And Andrew Little offered to meet with John Key to discuss matters without any preconditions. Key’s response that his willingness to meet “was predicated on my consistent position that the other elements of the flag consideration process remain unchanged” suggests that the one with the lack of flexibility is John Key himself.
The Prime Minister has not covered himself in glory, either, with his needless bid to rope Labour into his project. But at least John Key had a twinkle in his eye when he did an about-face on Red Peak, offering to add it to the options if all other parties (except New Zealand First) agreed. Andrew Little, caught by surprise, resorted to a counter-offer he knew could not be accepted.
Key actually did not offer to add Red Peak to the process. He said only that “it could be an option” and used the phrases “not my intention” and “[y]ou’d be asking me to jump in front of a process”. Clearly no offer was made.
Labour would agree, [Little] said, if the first referendum included the question: “Do you want to change the flag, yes or no?”. This proposition became tiresome long ago. People cannot sensibly consider a change of this kind without knowing what the alternative would be. We probably would not have adopted MMP if the 1992 referendum had asked, do you want to change the electoral system? Several different systems were under public discussion at that time and all had their advocates.
But many who voted for MMP, or another new system, might have voted for the status quo in fear of a change to one of the systems they did not like. A referendum without a known alternative is biased to the status quo and those who call for one know it.
The flag change is not going well for Mr Key. The four options chosen by his Flag Consideration Panel for the first referendum do not appear to satisfy enough people and one of its rejected designs, Red Peak, has attracted a belated social media bandwagon. Mr Key, who wants a silver fern on the flag, was too quick last week to rule out a late inclusion of Red Peak in the referendum.
On this we can agree.
By Monday [John Key] had changed his mind, and made his offer to “other parties”. If Labour and the Greens wanted Red Peak he was happy to oblige.
No he did not. See above.
With or without other parties’ support, Red Peak should be in the first ballot. The only question is whether it replaces one of the panel’s four or becomes a fifth option, requiring legislation. Two of the existing four appear to have no hope and the other two are almost the same. A fifth would be fun. Mr Little should lighten up and enjoy the political games.
Of course the bleedingly obvious comment is that National do not depend on Labour’s support to change the referendum and Red Peak could be included by simply amending the order in council.
Dear Herald can you blame Key for the fiasco the Flag referendum is becoming? Labour has nothing to do with it.