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The All Powerful Labour Party

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, March 7th, 2016 - 66 comments
Categories: history, identity, spin - Tags:

The flag change campaign has reached truly epic levels of shrill hysteria. It’s hard to move without tripping over a celebrity or journalist ranting about the flag.

Apparently we need a new flag to represent who we are, it’s the last chance for a generation, we shouldn’t let the opportunity go by, we shouldn’t waste the money spent, we should sever our links to our colonial past (while retaining Honours and the Queen as head of state) and so on and so on. Also it seems that it’s all Labour’s fault. Apparently Labour has politicised the process and those who want to keep the current flag are being led by Labour’s petty partisan politics, they just hate John Key, they are desperate, unreasonable, snobby, elitist, mean and cynical, and so on an so on.

So there we have it – apparently the Labour Party is so all powerful and persuasive that roughly 2/3 of the electorate is under its spell. That bodes well for the next election!

Or, alternatively, maybe most people just don’t want to change the flag, and never have.

Here’s a quick timeline of (most of?) the relevant polls:

September 6, ONE News Colmar Brunton: ” 66 per cent want to keep the current flag, up 2 per cent from 18 months ago”.

September 15, Aardwolf Research Consulting: 60.3 want to keep the current flag.

September 21, 3 News Reid Research: “almost” 70% want to keep the current flag.

October 23, Auckland University: 61% want to keep the current flag. “There was not a single group bar one, which is male university-educated high-earners where it’s touch and go, that’s in favour of a flag change,” Dr Milne said.

February 1, Newshub/Reid Research: 61% want to keep the current flag, 30% want the new one.

February 26, One News Colmar Brunton: ” 63 per cent want to keep the current flag, only 26 per cent – barely more than a quarter – favour the alternative Kyle Lockwood Silver Fern design”

March 5, UMR: “59 percent of people wanted to keep the current flag, 32 percent wanted to change it and 9 percent were unsure.”

Personally, I wouldn’t mind changing the flag, preferably as part of becoming a republic. I liked Red Peak, advocated for it, and voted for it in the first referendum. But I don’t like the proposed flag at all, and have voted for the current flag in the second. That’s my preference, and I don’t take kindly to all the shrill hacks telling me what a fool I am. Having said all that, so intense is the propaganda barrage that I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be successful and the proposed flag does get over the line.

66 comments on “The All Powerful Labour Party ”

  1. Sabine 1

    let people vote and what ever happens happens. I have no issue with people voting for either flag, democracy n stuff, I have an issue whith those that opt out of voting because they have become so jaded that they still believe that absteining is an option.

    Good grief, i am at the point that maybe Nuzilund needs the fishbone flag, after all when this current National government and its cronies are done, that would be all that is left of this country. Bare bones. And the country would have voted for it. Democracy does allow for itself to be voted away.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    What really annoys me is people saying Labour can’t complain about this process because they had it as one of their election pledges as well.

    But Labour never even hinted that they would have used this embarrassing process that National concocted.

    • Sabine 2.1

      i think that we can state that this current National led government is the “Labour did it too Government”.

      Not an original thought from the National MPs and cronies, all stolen from Labour 🙂

    • Enough is Enough 2.2

      I don’t have too many issues with the process to be honest.

      We have been given a choice. Everyone gets a say, and whatever happens happens. Then we all move on with life.

      For what its worth I am voting for change because I don’t like the Union Jack and what it represents.

      • The lost sheep 2.2.1

        You’ll move on with your life Enough, but the KDS sufferers will move on to the next significant issue they can project their petty JK obsession onto….

        • fender

          Thought you received a lengthy ban fisiani.

          • The lost sheep

            What would you all do here all day without someone to stir you up?
            Have constructive, positive and polite conversations about genuine LW issues?

            • greywarshark

              Yes and no. The conversations aren’t always polite, but they are more interesting than those you provoke. You don’t need to come here as a kindness to TS – it is we what keep you amused and patronise you in your time-filling activities suitable to someone of your mentality and age.

              • The lost sheep

                Agreed mate. It’s all great entertainment.
                As long as no one is kidding themselves about what commenters on this blog are really here for.
                Comments over the last 3 days are running at approx….
                60% JK/NAT hate.
                10% troll hate.
                10% inter left hate.
                10% USA hate.
                10% basically positive discussion of LW issues.
                looking at that, and taking note of Weka’s comments that it is not an environment that groups such as Feminists or Māori feel welcome in…

                It’s very difficult not to see it as a White alpha male attack blog eh?

                • McFlock

                  Nah, you’re looking for slater’s mob.

                  80% political discussion on a political blogsite? Amazing.

                  Your endearing little tabulation also seems to find no middle ground between “positive” and “hate”. I suspect that this is where many of the comments from leftwingers about the status quo with a right-wing government of the day would fall into. Try a five or seven point lykert scale (1 very positive, 5 or 7 very negative, and the midpoint being neutral), rather than a simple false dichotomy.

                  But then, where would sick parrots be without the ability to find no semantic difference between “moderate” and “extreme”?

      • Sabine 2.2.2

        we were not given a choice.

        Choice would have looked something like this.

        a. the costing for the complete flag change would have been made available to all.
        b the question do you want to change the flag would have been asked first.
        c. what design would you choose, – hold a design competition, or better even employ someone who specialises in designing flags and wait for their proposals.
        d. give it the time it takes, instead of raming it through despite the many many polls that said that peeps are not too happy about it.

        that would have been choice,

        having three near identical designs (same frock three different colours) and one so outrageously tacky that it could never win in the first place is not a choice, it is a mockery of good taste, manners, common decency and the democratic process,.

        but it is done, people have voted, will voted and what ever happens happend. But a choice we were never given.

        • Liberal Realist

          You nailed one part of the debate that everyone has ignored…

          “a. the costing for the complete flag change would have been made available to all.”

          If NZ did in fact vote to change, how many millions would it cost to change the flag at all of our diplomatic missions around the world, every government department, crown entity and so on. Methinks the cost would be at least 10x the cost of the referendum, if not more.

          • alwyn

            “the cost would be at least 10x the cost of the referendum”.
            And just how did you come up with this incredible figure. That is $260 million you realise?
            You say you are looking at “all of our diplomatic missions around the world, every government department, crown entity and so on”
            Even the Herald only managed to get $660,000 for the cost of this change

            • Janice

              Plus the cost of changing every coat of arms on buildings, stationery, etc. Some of these are cast in bronze and will cost a huge amount to take down and re-cast.

              • alwyn

                I wonder if they changed representations of the Coat of Arms in 1956 when it was updated? Somehow I doubt it, and I certainly wouldn’t see it as being necessary to change historical relics.
                Stationery isn’t a problem. You just reprint it when you run out.
                I admit I had overlooked the fact that the flag is on the Coat of Arms though. I wonder how many people know that, or at least thought about it.

        • Wayne

          I appreciate that there will be discussion about the appropriate order for the referenda. For me the current order makes more sense than an open question, “do you want to change the flag”. In any event the current question is effectively that question.

          As for what went wrong. Well it probably was the role of the Flag Consideration Panel. Now these were all worthy people, and none of them can be seriously accused of being partisan. They obviously thought a wide open public submission process was best, which in fact got 10,000 submissions which were then whittled down to the 28 most popular. But was this the best process?

          I think the absence of any professional design stage, either in whittling down the 10,000 or being specifically invited to make submissions, separate from the general public submissions, was a major flaw. But at least one professional design, ‘Red Peak” had at best only minority appeal to the general public, as proven in the first referenda.

          I would note that many people I have spoken to would have voted for change if the choice was between the current flag and the red/blue Kyle Lockwood design as opposed to the black/blue choice we actually have. But that is one of the problem of preferential voting. Often the ultimate winner is the second or third choice when going by first preferences.

          And there is no doubt the whole thing has been politicized both at a party level, and an anti-John Key level, which has been pretty evident on this site over the last several months.

          So where to from here. I suspect the current flag will prevail. No politician will pursue this issue for at least the next ten years, probably longer than that. Would a future politician try and change the flag without a referenda? Highly unlikely, but it would clearly be a different referenda process from the current round. But it could also be politicized (a precedent has been set) and it could also fail.

          As for tying a flag change to becoming a republic. Well, while I personally prefer New Zealand to be a republic, I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. Support for a republic has never been more than 25 to 30%. The Royal Family looks like it is building a popular renewal, and King William, who will probably be the monarch out till 2060, is unlikely to be displaced, well not until after 2050, when he might seem to be an old fogy. This assumes King Charles will also be the monarch from, say 2020 (ish) to 2030 or so.

          • gristle

            Obviously Wayne never got the memo. (Note Maggie to include him in the next pro flag change Nat MP support group meeting.) John Key, yes the John Key, said on RNZ Morning report that National ‘ internal polls showed support for the current flag at LESS THAN 50%. He was pulled up in the interview about the discrepancy between the his poll and every other pole. John must be congratulated on keeping with the lie because he repeated it.

            • Draco T Bastard

              It’s entirely possible that support for the current flag is less than 50% while support for changing the flag is also less than 50%. JK is just confusing the former for the latter (which, considering his litany of lies, he may be doing on purpose).

              I don’t like the present flag but won’t vote to change it until we become a republic. It would only be at that point that NZ would have changed enough to warrant changing the flag.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              He’s counting people who said they would change the flag at some point in the future.

          • Stuart Munro

            $26 million pissed away on Key’s vanity – there was never sufficient mandate for a change. Stupid and corrupt – the defining characteristics of National.

          • lprent

            I think that you overlook the most basic political issue with the flag.

            That there was no popular groundswell to change the flag.

            The explanation that it was John Key driving it for egotistical reasons was the obvious explanation. This was enhanced by the decision to hold it as two postal referendums with their low turnouts and a flawed order of questioning. That was viewed as an obvious attempt to bias the result.

            This forced extra voting which voters detest and a massive waste of taxes which they detest even more, for what appeared to be a vanity project by the PM. Basically whoever came up with this wankfest as a strategy had clearly been self stroking their ego for too long and it had distorted their political judgement.

            The only real chance of recovery would have been to have convinced large numbers of the population that there were a valid reason to change the flag. Something that the pro lobby spectacularly failed to even approach doing.

            Trying tell them that the money already committed would wasted (as Claire Trevett did this morning) is just guaranteed to add votes to the anti campaign. And that was the pro new flags best argument.

            The course for changing the flag is simple. Get 100k signatures to start a referendum. Do a general election referendum if we should do so. If yes, do a procedure to pick a reasonable selection of flags. Put those up for referendum at the following general election.


            • Anne

              Well, it might have been “obvious” but where was the personal kudos in doing it that way? OK the NAct government might have garnered across the board respect for doing the job properly but that was never the aim of the exercise. 😈

          • Lanthanide

            I agree that asking if people wanted to change the flag, without having an alternative in place, also would be a poor way to conduct the referenda.

            However there’s no rule that says referendums can only have 1 question, as we saw with the MMP referenda.

            It would have been quite easy to have this:

            First Referendum:
            1. Do you want to change the flag?
            2. Irrespective of your answer above, rate the following flags from most preferred to least preferred (include the current flag in the ranking options as well)

            Second Referendum:
            1. Do you want to keep the flag, or change to the new one?

            The results from question 1 in the first referendum could then be used to decide if we even continue with the second. For example if 66%+ voted no to change the flag, the second referendum could be cancelled, thus saving taxpayers money.

            • Bob

              “Irrespective of your answer above, rate the following flags from most preferred to least preferred (include the current flag in the ranking options as well)”

              This means going through the entire selection process that we went through and means you MIGHT save about $7M on the second referendum.
              Although, I would suspect that you would have even more of an uproar because the first referendum would be seen as tainting the pool by offering lots of shiny flags as alternatives that some people may love (see Anthony Robins and Red Peak above), but once they realise their option lost out they no longer want to change the flag (again see Anthony Robins above).

              The process laid out was the best process for the referendum, not many people here would care to agree with that statement due to John Key being Prime Minister at the time, then they wonder why people are becoming disillusioned with democracy…

              • Lanthanide

                “This means going through the entire selection process that we went through”

                No it doesn’t. That part of the process could be (and should have been) different. I’m only talking about the referenda specifically.

                “and means you MIGHT save about $7M on the second referendum.”

                Better than locking in $7M in costs, as we now have done.

                “Although, I would suspect that you would have even more of an uproar because the first referendum would be seen as tainting the pool by offering lots of shiny flags as alternatives that some people may love (see Anthony Robins and Red Peak above), but once they realise their option lost out they no longer want to change the flag (again see Anthony Robins above).”

                Unless there was a 66%+ (or whatever threshold) that voted against it, in which case it wouldn’t matter what the most preferred flag was. Similarly if the NZ flag was the most preferred, that could be another reason not to change the flag. Eg, people are happy *in principal* to change the flag, and so they say Yes to the first question, but overall because the options available were crap, the 2nd question could result in the current flag being preferred.

                “The process laid out was the best process for the referendum, ”

                Nope, my process, which would have gathered more information for the same (or less) cost, would have been better than what we got.

          • Ovid

            As for tying a flag change to becoming a republic. Well, while I personally prefer New Zealand to be a republic, I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. Support for a republic has never been more than 25 to 30%.

            I want NZ to become a republic, but only if we had the right constitutional measures in place – a supreme Bill of Rights or an upper chamber to act as a check on Parliament’s power and real executive authority vested in a directly elected president who holds the reserve powers the G-G currently possesses: i.e. can appoint and dismiss ministers, heads the armed forces, institute fresh elections and can withhold assent to bills passed by Parliament. Let alone the unique considerations around the Treaty.

            I don’t see that happening – Parliament is extremely reluctant to surrender any power and the public at large won’t have a sophisticated conversation around constitutional minutiae.

          • Psycho Milt

            And there is no doubt the whole thing has been politicized…

            Er, the whole thing arose from a politician deciding he wanted us to have a referendum on changing the flag. Is there some sense in which the government imposing its policy on the country isn’t a political process? Claiming that a political process has been “politicised” just makes you look silly – it’s like claiming that a biological process has been biologised.

    • shorts 2.3

      at no point have we actually been asked if we want to change the flag

      labour can happily and honestly say they advocated for this change in the first referendum, which would have at the last made this entire cluster__k of a process slightly clearer

  3. Olwyn 3

    I have voted for the existing flag. I am not opposed to a flag change per se, but think that there should be a reason for it, and that the public should be very clear about what that reason is. I also thought it absurd and embarrassing to pick a handful of main contenders without consulting flag experts. And since it is a issue involving the nation as a whole, I have dislike Key’s hard-sell of his favoured alternative. Finally, I think the contender is too much like a business logo.

    Team Key’s finger remains on the scales, even in the voting papers, with the contender being placed ahead of the existing flag, despite its being a contender. Moreover, as someone pointed out to me last night, even the explanatory pamphlet contains subtle visual cues edging the eye toward the contender: (1) The contender is shown looking symmetrical, while the existing flag, buffeted a little by the breeze, is comparatively asymmetrical. (2) The “new” flag outside the house at the bottom is robust and densely coloured, while you can see the house’s guttering through the current flag. (3) The girl with the flags painted on her cheeks is in a more flattering pose in the “new” flag shot, with her head a little more to the side, making her smile that bit more inviting. Even if you think these observations are hair-splitting, there is no reason whatsoever for the two presentations not to be identical. I am sick to death of this bad faith way of operating.

    • Gangnam Style 3.1

      & there is an arrow directing a tick to the Lockwood flag too, it’s nearly punching you in the face to choose “this one!”.

      I voted for the present flag, I like it until something better comes along & get rid of the Brit Royal bit (but do like having an independent Head Of State, so a lot to think about before change!).

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Of actually prefer to have a head of state

        • Draco T Bastard

          That was supposed to say that I’d prefer to have a head of state that was answerable to the NZ public.

  4. greywarshark 4

    Just repeating part of a comment I put on Open Mike about the ‘flag’.

    This morning I listened for a while [to Radionz] and then this strange little story came up from the USA. Some chap over there, entirely off his own bat, spoke to RadioNZ as to how his son Daniel on the way to school bowled him over with his enquiring and far ranging little mind, as said son asked Dad, about his opinion of the NZ flag and whether he would vote on it or something.

    That is spreading our insignificant little flag story far and wide don’t you think. I don’t know whether it was a kiwi living in USA – couldn’t pick up the accent. But trivia rules okay.

    My preference would have been the Hundertwasser koru. If Maori agreed with using the symbol and the word it would be good. White background for clouds, light, clarity, purity, and green koru to represent our country, our native ferns, our unfolding little nation.

    Hundertwasser was an Austrian who came here and brought more of the foreign influence that has fed into our nation and made it richer. He designed the flag, and I like the modern version, and it is a gift to us that comes from a better Austrian than led the charge that was WW2 and that inflamed the world with wounds it still is recovering from or constantly renewing with no end in sight. So it is a worthy design, and a worthy designer. I’d go for it’s simplicity.

    • Wayne 4.1


      Well, you might like the Hundertwasser flag, but it would never survive a popular vote.

      And this is always going to be a problem, as was shown by Red Peak. The designs preferred by designers tend not to be popular with voters.

      So would you just impose a new design, “this is your new flag, that’s that”. If a govt did that, an opposition would use it as powerful tool to bash the govt with; “elitist, arrogant, dictatorial, anti-democratic.” The headlines would write themselves.

      A govt would have to very popular indeed (say a sustained 60% in the election and in the polls) before they could get away with that and survive the next election.

      • KJT 4.1.1

        Funny the sudden concern for Democracy when it is something that doesn’t affect stealing wealth from New Zealanders.

        Where is the concern for “Democracy’ with?
        Asset sales.
        Vandalising and privatising health and education.
        350 thousand children in third world poverty.
        Corporate takeover of democracy with the TPPA.
        Carbon taxes.



        All those things that will seriously affect our lives for generations to come.

        • Draco T Bastard


        • Paul

          This government does not care about democracy.
          It ignored what people voted for in the asset sale referendum.
          And you already know that.
          Calling your position disingenuous would be generous.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2

        So would you just impose a new design, “this is your new flag, that’s that”. If a govt did that, an opposition would use it as powerful tool to bash the govt with; “elitist, arrogant, dictatorial, anti-democratic.” The headlines would write themselves.

        And yet, every time this government does something like that (which is really quite often) those headlines don’t get written.

      • greywarshark 4.1.3

        It was a thought Wayne. I thought that there could have been more interesting ways of choosing a flag design than the Gnats chosen one.

        However I am voting for keeping what we have. It is a bit of nostalgia for the great but flawed NZ we had. Now we have, a flawed NZ. So why would I vote for an expensive toy when I know real people are really hurting. Don’t try and waste my time with idle chatter about flags and what would be done, and how, and whether it would be popular. Time enough wasted already. So I’ll stop now.

    • alwyn 4.2

      “My preference would have been the Hundertwasser koru” you suggest.

      That flag was originally in the long list of 40.
      However it was removed from the list because of
      “Please note that the ‘Modern Hundertwasser’ design has been removed from the long list following a copyright claim by the Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation”
      This is from the Panel’s own statements in

      Thus that option was never available unless you simply wanted to start of with a Court case or a theft of Intellectual Property by the State passing a law to appropriate it.

      • Stuart Munro 4.2.1

        A competent government could have negotiated with the Hundertwasser foundation and bought the rights if it were chosen.

        • alwyn

          “A competent government could have negotiated ……”
          So you would have printed up all the ballot papers to include a flag design that you had no rights to and then possibly put it into the final ballot where if it was chosen you would have been left with only three options?
          (1) Pay them whatever they asked. $1 billion dollars perhaps? or $2 billion?
          (2) Tell the public. Sorry but we have to start again.
          (3) Steal their intellectual property.
          Pick one.
          You really do live in a dream world don’t you? Still you showed that last week with your nutty claims about suicide statistics.

          • Stuart Munro

            Hunterwasser’s foundation might not be as greedy, stupid or loathsome as you Alwyn – but to find out they’d have had to ask.

            I suppose the gimps who ‘negotiated’ the TPP would find that much too difficult. They just took dictation.

          • McFlock

            4) at least ask them what they’d like. Hell, maybe they’re not a bunch of sociopaths who think that the only way to honour the guy’s memory is to demand a billion dollars.

            Hell, maybe the price would have been an art centre – hell of a lot cheaper in the long run than 500 pokies, and something good would have come out of key’s vanity project.

            • alwyn

              You do that BEFORE you try and put it in a selection set though. You don’t put it into the set to be chosen from, have a binding referendum and then start negotiations to get access to it do you?
              Or perhaps you would. Sometimes people really are that silly.
              They said, according to the panel, that they held copyright over the design and that it wasn’t therefore available as an option.
              As for “Hell, maybe the price would have been an art centre”.
              I could offer the alternative, which it would appear they did.
              It is ours. We hold the copyright. It isn’t available.

              • McFlock

                “it would appear they did”

                Well, we’re agreed that the process sucked.
                Maybe they put as much thought into approaching the charity as they did the rest of the process, and got an appropriate response. But I haven’t seen any evidence that an approach was made at all – just that the flag was put on the list without asking.

              • Stuart Munro

                It’s kind of hard to believe that the Gnats have never heard of optioning something – I think the truth is they didn’t want the Hundertwasser flag under any circumstances. It’d go something like this:

                Key: Some kind of greenie wasn’t he?
                Alwynminion: Yeah, even his toilets are a tourist attraction.
                Key: Well bugger that – the Greens are enough trouble already.

                A smart government could have optioned the flag. The thing to offer the foundation would be a chair in environmental art and architecture – a public benefit – not a cost at all. If Hundertwasser were alive he’d build things like water parks that decowpooised rivers – just what the Gnats need – but of course they’re too stupid to understand that kind of thing. Too stupid to live really.

                • alwyn

                  I think I can sum up your opinion by using your own words.

                  “God you’re stupid”.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Almost: I think we’ve established pretty conclusively that this government is lazy, corrupt, inept, stupid, disloyal and malicious.

                    It’s surprising that even you can support them.

                    And backward – mustn’t forget backward.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    I think the new flag is fugly. But I am voting for it anyway: because it isn’t the existing one.

    My rational is, for all its flaws, it at least brands and differentiates us better than the existing flag does.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Your rationale is irrational.

      But I suppose that we shouldn’t be surprised by that as you are a RWNJ.

    • Paul 5.2

      NZ a brand.
      Glad our ancestors sacrificed themselves for a corporate logo.
      Just do it, ANZAC. It’s the real thing.
      Not everything can be reduced to money.

  6. weka 6

    Apparently we need a new flag to represent who we are, it’s the last chance for a generation, we shouldn’t let the opportunity go by, we shouldn’t waste the money spent, we should sever our links to our colonial past (while retaining Honours and the Queen as head of state) and so on and so on. Also it seems that it’s all Labour’s fault. Apparently Labour has politicised the process and those who want to keep the current flag are being led by Labour’s petty partisan politics, they just hate John Key, they are desperate, unreasonable, snobby, elitist, mean and cynical, and so on an so on.

    The CT memos were reasonably successful then.

  7. swordfish 7

    Agree, Anthony. Made a similar comment in reply to BM yesterday …

    Open mike 06/03/2016

  8. doug stuart 8

    Labours flag plan- page 5 nz herald 1-3-16. Andrew Little says the party could offer another referendum to change the flag in 10 to 15 years.What another 25 million dollars for Andrews ego.

  9. John Shears 9

    Looks very much as though there will not be a flag design change based on the various poll results so far.

    If John Key wants to have another go at changing flags perhaps he could discuss the idea with Pres.Obama , after all the Stars & Stripes is pretty old and a bit boring plus it is Red White & Blue like the Union Jack.
    Just an idea.

  10. Jenny 10

    John Key has claimed that the flag change will be worth billions to the economy.


    Obviously, this is a wildly exaggerated claim.

    What are we to think then, when John Key has made exactly the same claim for the TPPA


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