Protests then and now

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, July 24th, 2012 - 19 comments
Categories: activism, labour, national - Tags: ,

The usual National Party cheerleaders in the media are trying to make out the modest size of the protests at the Nat’s conference in the weekend means that opposition to National is weak. John Armstrong writes:

National’s annual conference was not short of protests. But the protests were embarrassingly short of protesters.

Contrary to the impression given by some accounts, the 400 or so party faithful did not spend their weekend cowering inside Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre behind a not-so-thin blue line of police.

Is that right John? According to TVNZ:

Protesters swarm National Party conference

Hundreds of protesters swarmed the SkyCity Convention in Auckland yesterday afternoon, in an attempt to interrupt the National Party annual conference. … Around 300 people took part in the protest, which included a group from the Auckland-based student movement Blockade The Budget.

Here’s an image from the video – looks like a long yellow line with a decent crowd outside to me:

Just by way of contrast, let’s cast our minds back to 2008, the last conference of the then Labour government. At the height of the media’s anti EFA hysteria the total protest on that issue consisted of “John Boscawen and a dozen or so supporters”. There were a few leftie groups protesting at the conference too, but the protests tended to look like this:

Compare with the National party conference above!

Looks like we should conclude that opposition to National in 2012 is much stronger and more vociferous than opposition to Labour in 2008. Doesn’t bode well for the Nats! Alternatively of course, we could conclude that trying to judge opposition to governments by the size and nature of the protests at their respective conferences is daft.

[The best measure of opposition to asset sales is surely the referendum petition. The Greens alone are collecting nearly 2,000 signatures a day. Eddie]

19 comments on “Protests then and now”

  1. Dave 1

    “The best measure of opposition to asset sales is surely the referendum petition”

    Indeed, but that will go the same way as the anti smacking referendum – ignored by government, but costing millions to run a referendum (and had more protestors at protest marches). Unfortunately petition-based opposition doesn’t mean much these days, does it. #normwithers

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Unfortunately petition-based opposition doesn’t mean much these days, does it. #normwithers

      Yes it does. Your one example helped bring about the fall of a Government, did it not?

  2. marsman 2

    John Key’s little poodle Tracy Watkins had a similar dismissive and fabricated bit of bullshit in the National Party’s DomPost yesterday.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    “Looks like we should conclude that opposition to National in 2012 is much stronger and more vociferous than opposition to Labour in 2008. ”

    Or, just that the people who oppose Labour are much less likely to get out and physically protest than the people who oppose National.

    • gareth 3.1

      Which to be honest is completely correct, I would say that the left has far more activists that are willing to go and physically protest on the street. I couldn’t name any activists from the right but I can name several from the left just through watching the news, reading blogs etc.
      I guess it’s to do with ideology and perhaps demographics.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        The people who oppose Labour meet in Auckland board rooms and Oriental Bay mansions.

        • Lanthanide

          Yup. Their protests and machinations don’t get much publicity, but are a lot more effective.

  4. bad12 4

    Referendum are a Clayton’s democratic tool, unless they are made binding upon the Government of the day referendum are simply a waste of time,

    The best impetus to asset sales opposition would be if both Labour and the Greens actually stood up for something like returning the stolen assets to public ownership via taxing those who buy them to the extent that a Government buy back is possible…

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      “unless they are made binding upon the Government of the day referendum are simply a waste of time,”

      Disagree. Once held, they show the true public position on a particular topic that no other mechanism is capable of.

      In this case, the petition is designed to embarrass the government and put paid to their touted “mandate”. It won’t change what they’re doing at all, but it might make their vote drop at the next election.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    The torys like to play the numbers game in these situations, but look at numbers in a different way. The right usually lord it over the wider community with small numbers. An unelected CCO here, a board chair or bent bankster there. Hardly the will of the people.

    Collin Craig’s kid beaters march was a flop because it actually needed numbers of ‘real’ people on it to succeed and attracted paltry numbers, conversely the No Mining 50,000 march was a great success.
    The last big event the right organised was the “Tania Harris” anti union rally in Queen St Auckland some 30 years ago.

    Right wingers typically do not like marches or collective methods. They prefer bitching and moaning behind their twitching curtains or tinted glass.

  6. xtasy 6

    Is the most notable difference between “protest then and now” not rather the now hugely increased number of police called out to “guard” any protests against the NatACT government and the not so honest PM John Key?

    That is what I have noticed, more than anything else.

    The police appear to be getting marching orders to turn out in not just dozens, it seemed from the National Party Conference that at one stage there must have been a hundred or more of them there, close to matching the number of protestors on Saturday 23 July 2012.

    Only due to the poor weather, and I presume some feeling they did their “protest duty” on Saturday, was the turnout much lower on Sunday, numbering around a hundred protestors.

    My impression is increasingly, that the “modern NZ” is starting to resemble more the common kind of society and “security policies” that are used in NZ’s 2nd largest trading partner’s country. That is Mainland China, if I am correct.

    When political and trade delegations from there come visiting, NZ politicians and officials do ensure, they keep Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama and other “controversial” figures away, do not associate with them, and also shield the visitors from “nasty” protestors, all for “security” reasons.

    Democracy is a valuable asset, but it appears to be “for sale” now, like so much in Aotearoa NZ.

  7. Anne 7

    Didn’t some mentally challenged fool with a lot of money spend $500,000 on advertising a protest march up Queen St. against the S59 bill? He reckoned there was going to be close to 50,000 on the march? From memory there was about 500.

    It was just before the election – loads and loads of MSM attention of course. The poor turnout was played down.

    Oops Tiger Mountain beat me to it.

    • xtasy 7.1

      You’re not talking of that peculiar Colin Craig, the prayer business man from the North Shore, who is rather rich and thinks he stands for morals and true, “conservative” democracy?

      He was the one who highly promoted (for months, advertised in large ads in daily papers, on TV and radio, same via a website) that ‘March for Democracy’ in Nov. 2009.

      The turnout was estimated to be between two and a half to four thousand then.

      Half the attendees were kind of bizarre characters, many of whom wanted the right to smack or hit children for disciplining them.

      Yes, all that was quite talked down afterwards, all kinds of excuses for the low turnout used. Still now though many comment about the “referendum” held before, and criticising Labour and the Greens for not listening to the non binding referendum.

      Strange all that?!

      • Anne 7.1.1

        Hi xtasy
        No, this was a different fellow. He had links to the ‘Family First’ crowd.

        Re- the March for Democracy… that was spearheaded by John Boscawen although I think Craig was also involved.

        That’s my recollection anyway.

  8. PunditX 8

    The strongest and most vociferous protest actually took place outside the Labour conference that followed the Urewera raid. With many of the same people there… We’re on a hiding to nothing if we gauge protest against the government with hastily convened rallies that will inevitably lead to a poor attendance. When is wise counsel going to intrude on the left..

  9. i suppose “enough is enough” (destiny church) is a rally cry best forgotten?
    not NZ’s finest hour

  10. Murray Olsen 10

    Christian Heritage, Family First, ACT, and the Nonsensical Sentencing trust could always have a combined march. They have several issues in common.

  11. captain hook 11

    has the left got alzheimers?
    kweewee and his henchmen won the last two elections because rAdio skawkback and all the empty headed hair and teeth jobs on TV1 and TV3 maintained a constant barrage of crap that it was Nationals turn.
    hahahahahaha f*cking ha.
    the only way Labour and the left can counter this nonstop media assault is to establish their own micropulse radio stations and even the score.

  12. Georgecom 12

    On the matter of protest I can report this. On the recent Saturday of action groups of people collected about 1000 signatures on the asset sale petition around Hamilton. Despite what John Armstrong may wish to spin, people are pissed off.

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