I understand the anger that drove some leftie activists to confront John Key in Mana yesterday (though I think that anything that looks like direct aggression against a politician is always a tactical mistake). But Key’s response triggered one of my pet peeves:
Prime Minister confronted by ‘rent a crowd’ in Mana
Prime Minister John Key has been forced to make a strategic retreat from a Porirua shopping mall after being mobbed by a group of trade union and labour activists.
He was out campaigning for National in the Mana by-election, and dismissed his opponents as a “rent a crowd”.
“Rent a crowd” is a deliberate attempt to denigrate the motives of the protesters. The goal is to distract from the fact that Left wing political protests are grass roots events. They consist of people. People who care enough to get up off the sofa and do something to try and change the world. No one pays people to turn up at such protests (well no one has ever paid me!). “Rent a crowd”? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ironically, it is the right wing that needs to literally pay for its “crowds”. When it comes to activists the right is supported by far more money and far fewer warm bodies. It’s supporters would rather write a cheque to an anonymous trust than actually get involved. So if they do try and fake a mass protest, they need to pay well. Like the 2008 “March for Democracy”, $450,000 in advertising costs to get a turnout of 4 to 5,000 people. Let’s call it $100 a head. Now that’s what I call “rent a crowd”.