What the flag vote means

Written By: - Date published: 8:21 am, March 25th, 2016 - 105 comments
Categories: identity, john key - Tags: , , ,

Here are some reckons, for what they’re worth.

(1) It was all about Key

The instant media reaction last night was telling. It wasn’t reflections on nationhood, history, identity, vexillology, the mood of the nation or whatever. It was all about protecting Key. From the usual suspects of course:
Patrick Gower Flag fail won’t break ‘Brand Key’
Audrey Young John Key a loser but not a failure
Tracy Watkins Flag vote – defeated, but not humiliated
Smooth work from the well practiced Team Key, but kinda proving the point that this was all about him all the time, and everyone knows it.

(2) Conservatives are conservative

Despite all the attempts to blame Labour – “Labour Derangement Syndrome” (LDS) if you like – the main reason that Key lost is that he didn’t take his own people with him. In his own electorate of Helensville electorate the vote was an exact match for the national vote, 56.6% for the current flag. Conservatives are conservative and they don’t like change (unless you believe the LDS nonsense that Labour won over John Key’s electorate).

(3) Key’s hubris blew it for him

With the RSA against change it was obvious that there was going to be a big conservative vote for the status quo. Key had half his own people against him and he needed broad support from across the spectrum. He had his chance when (as Andrew Little puts it) there was a clear consensus and request from other parties to have a yes/no vote first. Key should have taken the opportunity to build a genuine cross-party process. Instead he went off on his usual ego-trip, alienated the other parties, ran a flawed and partisan process, and sealed his own fate. (The international media reaction has been pretty harsh in this respect.)

In short Key’s hubris blew it for him. He thought he could force change through by his usual methods, control of the media / celebrity narrative and the force of his “popularity”. Well, control of the narrative wasn’t enough, and his “popularity” is a busted flush. With very personal losses now in Northland and the flag referendum, it’s clear that there is a difference between ticking “preferred PM” and actual popularity.

(4) Change will come

While this was a flawed process I think it’s clear that change will come, probably as part of NZ becoming a republic. Key’s lesson in how not to do it at least leaves us with some guidelines on how to do it right next time:

(a) It must be a genuine, cross-party process with no individual trying to dominate.
(b) It must include Māori, who voted overwhelmingly (and for obvious reasons) for the current flag.
(c) It must reach out to the RSA and conservatives to be respectful of their views.
(d) The process must be independent, fair, and also competent (include relevant expertise!)

Having said that, the future depends on the young, and there were various indications in the whole process that young voters were among the strongest supporters of the current flag. Is this because the young are becoming more conservative generally, because they were more inclined to exercise a protest vote, because they (in this media age) have a better design / aesthetic taste, or some other reason completely? Someone really should take the trouble to find out before we go through this whole process again.


PS – funniest comment from last night:

105 comments on “What the flag vote means”

  1. gsays 1

    basically, in the words of michael cullen;
    “we won, they lost, let’s do lunch”

  2. In my opinion there is undoubted mood for change. An initial referendum would have “softened” people to that outcome. And then, it needs to be a commissioning of skilled people to work on a design, not a competition of whoever wants to draw. I can’t!😄

    • weka 2.1

      If we had had a yes no referendum at start we still would have had the problem that this was being run by people wanting to corporatise NZ. It’s not about hating Key, it’s about rejecting his core values. The flag means something and I don’t think NZers want that meaning to be as shallow as a corporate brand. So yes people want change, but this govt is incapable if facilitating that. Everything they do, including all their attacks on democracy, demonstrate this. Hollow men have no feel for what being a country means, and Key’s empty post-flag rhetoric can be seen in his forced smile and soulless eyes.

      • BM 2.1.1

        Good display of KDS there, weka.

        • AB 2.1.1.1

          Your Key Devotion Syndrome is showing BM. Even makes you love an ugly, shallow, ahistorical piece of sh*te like the tea towel

        • weka 2.1.1.2

          weka – “It’s not about hating Key, it’s about rejecting his core values.”

          BM – “Good display of KDS there, weka.”

          Thanks for demonstrating that (a) the KDS thing is a nonsense and bullshit and (b) that it’s being used in deceitful ways. Perfect fit for the very thing I was talking about. We reject your core values, utterly.

          • Macro 2.1.1.2.1

            Hear Hear!

          • BM 2.1.1.2.2

            Funny, you don’t even realise it when you’re doing it.

            shallow as a corporate brand

            attacks on democracy

            Hollow men have no feel for what being a country means

            Key’s empty post-flag rhetoric

            his forced smile and soulless eyes.

            • weka 2.1.1.2.2.1

              Funny, you don’t seem to realise that political gaslighting doesn’t work on people who have brains and know how to use them.

              That, or you simply can’t understand the point I am making. When you want to have a real political debate instead of trying to malign people you disagree with, get back to me.

            • Psycho Milt 2.1.1.2.2.2

              Do I hear “Key Accurate-Assessment-of-Character Syndrome?”

        • left for dead 2.1.1.3

          Piss off Bloody Minded, if their is KDs he, the current Prime Minster has it.

          As that old saying goes “the higher the Donkey climbs up the flagpole, the more his ass shows”
          leaving him too slide down that greasy pole, may even go before the next Election.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      `

      An initial referendum would have “softened” people to that outcome.

      I’m pretty sure that the initial referendum actually did do that – as it was designed to. It was obvious from the start that National had designed the process to try and manipulate the people into choosing their preferred design. They’re probably pissed off with their manipulation not working. I’m pretty sure that in some locales you’ll hear them complaining about the punters out in punterland not doing as they’re told.

      And then, it needs to be a commissioning of skilled people to work on a design, not a competition of whoever wants to draw.

      The problem wasn’t that it had submissions from whoever wants to draw but that it was actually a competition. On a process like this you don’t want competition as it drives people apart rather then bringing them together.

    • mosa 2.3

      Maori have great artistic talent , there must be someone out there that can articulate something kiwi and is not the silver fern and black and does not cost the interest acruing on John Keys blind trust to undetake it,and asks you and me first ,whats so difficuilt about that !
      In the future when this Lockwood design is shown anywhere in public its always going to remind many kiwis about Keys legacy allright ,its failure !

  3. David 3

    I think it is best to not to crow about the result. For National supporters, it was 50/50 whether they support a change the flag. The referendum result will not change their support for National.
    For Labour, the reaction to the result may affect perception amongst those who supported a flag change,

    Labour has a authenticity problem, party policy was for flag referendum. They have made arguments against the current one: cost, distraction, vanity project, lack of public support.

    The next thing you know Andrew Little is talking about a being a Republic, despite all those arguments against a flag change. It just undercuts Labours image. It will appear to ‘middle NZers’ as either lacking principles or is incompetent.
    Best to keep quiet and be humble in “victory” and not alienate those 43% from all parties that voted for a flag change.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Labour has a authenticity problem, party policy was for flag referendum.

      No it wasn’t. It was for a review of the flag. There’s a major difference between the two. A review may, and considering the result, probably wouldn’t have got to the point of having a referendum.

      The next thing you know Andrew Little is talking about a being a Republic,

      Labour’s been talking about becoming a republic for quite some time. Was probably discussed as part of the founding of the Party in 1916.

      It will appear to ‘middle NZers’ as either lacking principles or is incompetent.

      Only if they’re as stupid and ill-informed as you appear to be.

      • arkie 3.1.1

        hear hear

      • david 3.1.2

        Trevor Mallard before the last election: Labour would also review the design of the New Zealand flag, with the party saying “the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public” http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/policies/10451013/Labour-backs-national-flag-review
        Four years before that, Labour MP Charles Chauvel introduced a member’s bill proposing a flag review process very similar in essential respects to the one New Zealand has just been through, right down to the appointment of a commission to oversee the process and a competition for new designs.

        It seem that you like to rewrite the past, not surprised. Or one interpretation, Labours way of putting to the public is, we will tell you what the flag will be, no choice, and not a referendum. I was being charitable that Labour believed in democracy. Naive maybe.

        Talking about a Republic for sometime… and not a flag? But don’t we have more important things to talk about? Cost, distraction. So we are told.
        Dumb, Dumb Dumb to talk about a
        Republic after the Flag debate, it undercuts your message. Being a Republic is off the table until we eliminate poverty/world peace etc… which is never.

        Stupid and ill-informed? most definitely, next time just look at Labour policy announcements please.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1

          Trevor Mallard before the last election: Labour would also review the design of the New Zealand flag, with the party saying “the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public”

          You still seem to misunderstanding the difference between a review and a referendum. Particularly one that bypassed the simple question: Do you want to change the flag?

          As for Chauvel’s review?

          “The Bill will create a commission, which must spend 18 months seeking wide public input into the question of whether we should adopt a new national flag,” Charles Chauvel says.

          It starts with asking if we want to change the flag rather than asking what flag we want to change to.

          Talking about a Republic for sometime… and not a flag?

          Well, according to a FB page I just read Norm Kirk mentioned it back in 1962.

          There’s nothing wrong with asking if we want to change the flag. There is something wrong with simply assuming we do as National just did.

          • alwyn 3.1.2.1.1

            Chauvel? Why bring him up. He resigned from Parliament in March 2013.
            He had a private members bill on the subject, certainly but it was long before Mallard declared rather more as being Labour Party policy for the 2014 election.

            However I wonder what sort of fiasco we would have had if we had followed Little’s rather hare-brained approach.
            He says he wanted a referendum on whether we wanted to change the flag. Not having any alternative in view I suspect a majority of people would have said yes. After all everyone could imagine that their favourite was going to be the choice.
            Therefore we would be committed to change.

            Then we would have had a selection of flags to choose from. The panel to do this was selected by a group which included a representative from every party except Winston’s lot. It is hard to see that the panel would have been any different.
            The panel would probably have chosen exactly the same set of options.
            We would probably have had a referendum like the first one. They would probably have finished in the same order.

            That would have been it. After all we would have chosen to change the flag and then picked the Lockwood one as the preferred alternative. Do you think we could have gone back and held the final referendum to negate the one that said we want change?

            • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1.1.1

              Actually, I don’t think we would have voted for change. And the panel may have looked the same but I think the process of choosing the new flag, if we had voted for a change, would have been better.

              Labour were talking 18 months minimum while National did the whole thing in less than 12. And this is most definitely a process that improves with more time taken.

              Yes, I think that the last referendum could still have been the same as the one we just had. Keep the old or go with the new. The difference is really in how we get there or even if we get there.

              • alwyn

                But there wouldn’t have been any referendum like the one we just had. That is the whole point.

                The practical effect of the two referendums we have had was.
                (1). Which flag do you prefer of possible new options.
                (2) Do you want it more than the one we have?

                Under Little’s scenario we would have had
                (1) would you like a new, undefined, flag.
                If that was yes we would then have had
                (2) Which flag do you prefer of the possible new options.

                That would have been that. There would never have been a chance to change our minds if we thought the winning design here was crappy. We would already have had a binding vote for change. You can’t just keep having votes until you get the result you want.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Under Little’s scenario we would have had
                  (1) would you like a new, undefined, flag.
                  If that was yes we would then have had
                  (2) Which flag do you prefer of the possible new options.

                  What a load of bollocks.

                  The scenario would have been more like:

                  1. Check to see if there’s any desire to change (polls, not referendum)
                  2. If there’s a generalised desire to change we ask in a referendum
                  3. If yes to that then we have a long discussion about what flag we would like to change to
                  3a. If no the process finishes
                  4. We have a referendum on which of the new flag designs we like
                  5. We have a referendum on switching to the new flag or keeping the old one

                  You’ll note that there’s a lot of places to stop the process before we start deciding on new flags and we can still decide not to change at the last referendum. Those are the critical bits that National missed in their rush to get a new flag.

                  Their process was more: Well, if we present a new razzle, dazzle flag everyone will want to change to it. No build up, no discussion just BAM!, have a new flag.

    • Stuart Munro 3.2

      I think the opportunity to humble the disgusting autocrat Key should be exploited vigorously. We didn’t want his stupid flag, we didn’t want him wasting our money and if he had remembered who he is sworn to serve he would never have done it.
      Key was wrong and was put in his place – though of course the real place for white collar crims is jail.

    • swordfish 3.3

      “not alienate those 43% from all parties that voted for a flag change.”

      Opinion Polls would suggest that the 43% were overwhelmingly National supporters.

  4. upnorth 4

    I really struggle that labour did not get the flag referendum n=because it was our policy. I still think Andrew Little address this properly.

    I want Andrew Little to say right now ‘ Labour is going to push for flag referendum because based on the votes and MPs I will have a majority in Parliament.

    This will be a true test of his leadership

    • repateet 4.1

      How about a true test of leadership being that of Mr Key and his attempt to get the flag changed?

      Key “thought he could force change through by his usual methods, control of the media / celebrity narrative and the force of his “popularity”.

      Yet Key’s “leadership” works for him and worse for most citizens. Does Little have to be capable of a ‘real’ leadership?

      • Gangnam Style 4.1.1

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11611452

        “Personally, I would like a new flag, if it was part of a national conversation about our constitution and our relationship with the Crown, and if there were designers at the table. And I know many of you felt the same way.

        But I know it is not the right of any politician to try to impose that change on New Zealanders. It is your government, your flag, your constitution – not mine, and not Mr Key’s. If the public want to look at these issues in the future, as Prime Minister I will lead the discussion. But I will not force it on New Zealand.” – Andrew Little

    • Thom Pietersen 5.1

      Hahahaha – sums it up really – we do look like international douchbags and simpletons – monumental fail, monumental lost opportunity.

      (But, remember, JK is good with the numbers and keeps my house price safe)

  5. Stuart Munro 6

    It means brand Key is losing its snap, and that in yet another field this government has cost us a truckload of money for nothing.

    It means Key’s poll driven bullshit is losing its mass appeal.

    It means “Laser Kiwi says “Nah!” has become a thing.

  6. Olwyn 7

    He has achieved what Labour failed to achieve over seven years of equivocation and infighting – he has inadvertently enfranchised many of the missing millions, who have come out vote against his flag. Since his reputation as a moderate has depended upon their nonexistence, he possibly forgot about them himself. In coming out as they have, they have shown him up as divisive rather than unifying. He has also shown up the conservative-liberal division within this own party. His scrum-screwing tactics are now out in the open, rendering them less effective. And his partisan media can no longer piggy-back so freely on the authority of the fourth estate they have replaced. All good for the left, but only if the cracks revealed in his armour are used wisely – nothing will come of standing back laughing and waiting for him to fall over.

    • Brigid 7.1

      “he has inadvertently enfranchised many of the missing millions” Yesssss. And now they know they do have the power to make change. I hope they don’t forget this.

    • peterlepaysan 7.2

      You are so on the button. The missing voters is what Labour has neglected for so long that is responsible for the Key alleged “popularity” and Labour’s languishing.

      The LP caucus egos need to walk the streets a bit more and meet real people.

      Pollsters can only talk to people who care and willing and available to talk.

    • Mike S 7.3

      “..he has inadvertently enfranchised many of the missing millions, who have come out vote against his flag..”

      Do you mean people who didn’t vote at the last election?

      If so, then I would say doubtful. Turnout at the general election was higher than this flag referendum (as you would expect), so what makes you think all those non-voters turned out and voted in the referendum? More likely that the vast majority of those who voted in the referendum also voted in the general election and the missing are still missing.

      • Olwyn 7.3.1

        I might be being a bit over-optimistic, but the turnout was high for a postal vote. At the very least, non-voters will have learned from this that he can be beaten, and that his scrum screwing is not guaranteed to work for him every time.

  7. cogito 8

    Right from the start it was clear that there was not a strong mood for change.

    Key thought he could deploy all his spin doctoring manipulative tactics and Goebbelian propaganda trickery and change that.

    Thank the Lord that enough kiwis saw through his machinations and voted him down.

    May this be a warning to all of us to be vigilant, always vigilant. We are a small country and we need to actively treasure our land, our history/institutions and our values against those who would try and erode them for their own purposes.

    Happy Easter to all.

    • mosa 8.1

      Too late COGITO its already started with BRASH in 2004 and now under this bunch of criminals

  8. Grey Area 9

    Very good summary Anthony. Much better done than the alternate universe dribble coming from Young, Watkins and Gower. I wondered for a moment what planet they are on before remembering they live on Planet Key where everything looks and runs differently than it does for the rest of us.

    Got a good laugh from Key’s “legacy”.

    • Graeme 9.1

      “Got a good laugh from Key’s “legacy”.”

      Me too, wish they’d come up with one of the same model but in today’s condition.

      There’s a prime example in the vacant section next to Warren Cooper’s house, the one the freedom camper’s got kicked out off last week. The car’s been sitting there for a year or so, no one seems to want it. They probably exist all ’round the country. Annotating them accordingly could become an art form….

  9. pat 10

    Although the turnout was high for a postal referendum at 67%, that still demonstrates a large proportion of the electorate were disinterested/disengaged for whatever reason….I would suggest they are unlikely to be supporters of Key…at best perhaps ambivalent….so not a great result for him all round.

    • Anne 10.1

      Agree pat. I’m not sure too many of ‘the missing million’ are represented among the voting tally. Once disenfranchised, I think it is an herculean task to get them to show interest in anything apart from struggling to survive.

      A UBI (or something similar) might move then sufficiently to vote but nothing less. That is why Key and cohorts are going to break or previous dirty political records in their efforts to discredit any such policy undertaking by Labour.

      • Olwyn 10.1.1

        I don’t wholly agree, as I say in my earlier comment. The response was high for a postal vote, which makes me think that at least some of the missing millions will have voted. I also think that the win for the current flag will give them greater confidence to vote in future.

        • Bill 10.1.1.1

          If I’d been of the mind, how difficult would it have been to rummage up a few people and trawl (say) the student area of town for voting envelopes from letter boxes? I’d pick there were many, many voting papers ‘going begging’.

          How difficult to replicate trawls in a number of centers? Just not difficult at all. Were there any safeguards in place (bar the unlikely event of being sprung stealing mail) that I’m unaware of?

          • Olwyn 10.1.1.1.1

            I think that for such a tactic to be effective, it would need to be widespread enough to attract attention, and would include a few slip-ups – taking papers from voters who actually wanted them, for example. And it still stands that people can take confidence from the result that voting can make a difference if the numbers voting are great enough and there is something to vote for.

            • weka 10.1.1.1.1.1

              In which case we need to know if the Electoral Commission (or whoever) follows up on missing voting papers. eg if someone phones them and says that their papers never arrived in the mail and can they have a replacement, does that barcode on the missing paper get highlighted so that if someone else uses the papers they (a) don’t get counted and (b) it flags an alert as a double vote and a vote on a missing/stolen paper? You would hope so…

              • Graeme

                Since the Electoral Office was able to do a breakdown by electorate, I’d say that code would have the potential to get to the individual elector. Same as how they know which vote to diss-allow in the event of double voting in a normal election.

                • Andre

                  What do you reckon the “elector not identifiable” means down the bottom of this page?

                  http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/2016_flag_referendum2/result-by-electorate.html

                  • Graeme

                    I’d say the code wouldn’t scan, but it’d be very interesting to get a definition of that. Don’t think I’ve seen that before.

                    They’d need to have very robust checks to prevent voter fraud, say copying of papers or generating new ones. So the QR code would be unique to each voting paper and matched to voter. Presumably the system would be designed so two way matching was quite difficult. That wouldn’t be hard.

                  • Graeme

                    As an aside from the results link, the high turnouts in electorates with strong National Party organisations stands out. Someone working the phones in the heartlands? And they still got hammered

                    • Anne

                      Someone working the phones in the heartlands? And they still got hammered.

                      You bet they did and no-one was working harder than David Farrar (I live in a true blue seat and was called by Curia about 3 weeks ago) yet he still had the gall to claim Labour has instructed its members to vote for the current flag.

                      Labour did nothing of the sort because:

                      a) they have more respect for their supporters and
                      b) someone would have leaked the info. to the media and can you imagine the uproar.

                • weka

                  ok, there is a clear statement in Andre’s link that papers are cancelled when replacements are reissued. Tracking use of cancelled papers to electorates presumably would show patterns eg a high number of double votes occured in x electorate. If they can match papers to individuals I guess they can then manually check addresses on the roll.

                  It does raise issues of the privacy of voting too.

                  • Graeme

                    Not really any different to the block numbers from the voting paper that are called out and written down when you collect your voting paper in a paper election.

                    As I said above it comes down to the system’s design, which I trust is robust. But these are the criticisms of postal or on-line voting systems and why we still have, and will for a long time yet, have walk in paper voting system.

                    • lprent

                      I find that postal vote systems are fundamentally flawed. You only have to look at the turnouts and their distribution across the country to see that.

                      As someone who spends a lot of time actually working on network security systems, both professionally and privately like this blog site, I would adamantly oppose online voting. It doesn’t matter what system it is – I figure that if I could spoof it, then so could millions of others. I haven’t seen any designs for online electoral systems that aren’t easy to attack.

                      Quite frankly any enthusiasm for that kind of online voting system belongs with technical illiterates – David Farrar comes to mind.

                      While walk in voting can be diddled, it is hard to affect in a sufficient quantity to affect results – unless a lot of people in the electoral authority are corrupt. That is a whole lot harder than corrupting computers.

                      And if sufficient polling places are provided, the turnouts for walk in voting tend to directly represent the relevance of the vote.

                    • Graeme

                      Yeah, totally agree with that. Any alternative to walk in gets really hard, really expensive and really insecure, really fast.

                      I’m a bit more cynical about those that promote them. The opportunities to “data mine” and manipulate would be prominent to some.

                      And we’ve had no issues with turn out in elections in New Zealand. Most western democracies would die for some of our turn outs.

                    • alwyn

                      @lprent
                      Perhaps you could have a word with the Labour Party candidate for Mayor here in Wellington. He is a real fan. I guess that also makes him a technical illiterate.
                      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/78246737/online-voting-for-council-elections-looking-unlikely-to-go-ahead
                      I am on your side. I think they could very easily be broken.

              • GregJ

                @Weka re cancelled voting papers

                This time my wife’s papers didn’t turn up to our overseas address (first time this has happened – normally they turn up together or within one day or so). She contacted the Electoral Commission – they emailed her replacement papers and said they had cancelled the QR number on the old papers (which they think may have been mistakenly sent to our old NZ electorate address) so it can not be used.

                Credit to the Electoral Commission – voting in the last 3 referendums and the last 2 general elections is really easy from overseas now and they respond quickly to email queries.

        • Anne 10.1.1.2

          Here’s hoping you’re right Olwyn @9.1.1. It would be in the Left’s interest if they started voting again. It’s now up to Labour and the Greens to make them feel it’s worth their while.

          • mosa 10.1.1.2.1

            Yeah if only the MSM could recover from supporting brand KEY and refrain from bashing anyone who doesnt agree or takes a stand against this rabble come hell or high water then i might be optimistic Anne @10.1.1.2
            The left somehow has to get passed the blockade and appeal directly to their
            consituency and the ignorant and misguided.

      • Chuck 10.1.2

        The “missing million” will have their own reasons why they don’t vote, from they just don’t care, to what ever is at the opposite end of the “why I don’t vote scale”.

        The UBI could be used as a bribe to get them to vote yes. But I would like to point out its the duty of any political party to put under the microscope polices of its competition. What Labour needs to do, if its serious about a UBI, is to present a water tight case of how it will be funded and how it will work. And do that to a degree that no matter what National (or any other party) say, it stands the test of being put under a microscope.

        My view is a UBI (anywhere near the level it would need to be) is not affordable unless there is a massive change in tax policy…which for the foreseeable future will make it unworkable, and hence a vote killer.

        • Anne 10.1.2.1

          What Labour needs to do, if its serious about a UBI, is to present a water tight case of how it will be funded and how it will work.

          Absolutely agree. They have to do a much better job than they did with the CGT policy in 2014.

  10. Bill 11

    What the flag vote ‘meant’ from my perspective was that NZ showed itself up to be fairly shallow, when dealing with what should have been, a fairly comprehensive and wide ranging discussion on identity, history etc.

    I didn’t catch too much of this since I don’t watch TV, but there seemed to be a parade of NZ B graders – the sporting personality, the minor TV celebrity – all whoring themselves in the interests of swaying fairly disinterested public opinion.

    Depressingly, it looks like it might have had an impact, if the Prime Minister of New Zealand was speaking truthfully about polling numbers over the past few weeks; the ‘me too’ aspect of “Richie says…” bumping the numbers for the fern design.

    On the other side (if we’re going to do a left/right thing on this), the utter vacuousness on display when a fucking twitter campaign can translate into headline news and parliamentary shenanigans to get a fifth option on the table.

    Anyway. Thank fuck it’s over. On to the next soap…

  11. Bill 12

    Last word on this from me.

    Given the odd way that NZ marks Easter, could we say that the Prime Minister of New Zealand made like a Central Otago rabbit over this one?

  12. mosa 13

    The flag change for me was a serious issue ,it was about changing one of the most important symbols of our country and one of the most recognisable to a design reflective of our people and nation
    I have long wanted a more diverse design and something that kiwis love and look at with PRIDE
    That being said this whole disgrace was pushed by someone who is supposed to be leading our country and did not have the maturity to know what it really means to acknowledge and understand nationhood and realise that this is something you dont use your position and influence to try to subvert
    Key started off by wanting the All Black flag because the team is popular and thought all kiwiis would jump on board and he could get change that way but then it all went wrong from there
    The rest of the shonKEY process was based around that flag
    Its no wonder we ended up with black and a silver fern on the design thats what HE wanted all along
    What spoke volumes to me whas KEY wearing a badge with the alternative design on it
    He should have stayed nuetral just like his new GG when asked about her vote for the flag and asked me and everyone else first DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE NZ FLAG
    If so this is the projected cost
    That would have shown mature leadership and public support.

  13. kenny 14

    Key made the mistake of making this referendum about HIS choice of flag, setting things up for the choice to be between the current flag and one that he wanted, irrespective of what the people may have wanted. He nearly succeeded.

    Make no mistake, this was a deliberate Campaign To Change The Flag with the encouragement and support of all his usual supporters (probably unwittingly), TVNZ which quite coincindentally happened to run the KIWIMeter section with the choice of the fern/All Blacks = Good Kiwi and Union Jack/Queen = Bad Kiwi, the usual media lickspittles Hoskings, Henry, Farrar etc. and all the rest of them. I don’t remember anyone, other than guests on shows, supporting the current flag.

    They nearly pulled it off; if Key had not wanted his flag to win and put his wishes before those of the people (how shameful is he?) he may have succeeded in changing the flag. Serves him right; I suppose this is an indication of his sense of entitlement and greed that seems to drive him.

    • Hanswurst 14.1

      He nearly succeeded.

      He didn’t, really. 57% – 43% is quite a margin to shift. Convincing a further 7% to change their vote just to achieve parity – especially since he’d basically pulled out all the stops already – would have required quite an effort.

  14. red-blooded 15

    One thing I’d like to know is how many of the ballots that were returned had been defaced with both options crossed out, or a message like “neither”, or “none of the above”? I know some people who were very anti the Lockwood design and the process and political manipulations of Key and Co., but who didn’t feel they could support the Union Jack based flag. They entered a protest vote. I was close to this, too; I do want a change in flag, but like Andrew Little I want it to be linked to meaningful constitutional change and I want a decent design. I only voted for the current flag because I knew that if we changed now we wouldn’t get a chance to do so again in my lifetime, and I was pretty sure that at some point in the not-too-distant future we will consider this again (and hopefully in a more considered way).

    Anyway, my point is the the proportion of those voting against the Lockwood flag may well be higher, if the spoiled votes were factored in. It’s a reasonably minor point, but given all the spin about things being closer than expected, and “tight” (a bit rich from a government with a 1 seat majority), it’s worth considering.

    • the pigman 15.1

      Red-blooded, there were just 4,942 informal votes, representing 0.2% of the votes cast. So they wouldn’t have materially affected the outcome.

      (Informal votes are those where the voter has not clearly indicated the option they wish to vote for. This can be because the voter leaves the paper blank, the voter takes deliberate action to spoil the paper, or an error by the voter means that their intention is not clear.)

      Of course, a million registered voters++ didn’t vote, and it would be fair to say, many of those (on the basis of polls) expected it to be a landslide in favour of the status quo.

    • weka 15.2

      Invalid votes are ones where people vote incorrectly outside of their electorate or their vote is late etc.

      Informal votes are the ones that people spoil.

      First referendum,

      3,372 invalid votes (0.22%)

      149,747 informal votes (9.7%)

      Second referendum (final results not in yet),

      4,554 invalid votes

      4,942 informal votes

      From memory, the first referendum informal vote rate was very high compared to other referenda.

      http://electionresults.govt.nz/2015_flag_referendum1/

      http://electionresults.govt.nz/2016_flag_referendum2/

      ooops, just seen the pigman’s comment.

      • GregJ 15.2.1

        As an aside I think the number of informal votes in the 1st referendum should be something to celebrate within our democracy.

        It is rare that New Zealanders show any active political dissent on that scale and I know quite a few of my family, friends and acquaintances that were sufficiently energised (outraged?) to go out of their way to cast informal ballots as a protest – people not just complaining but acting which is something I’ve rarely seen before on the political stage.

        Of course it would be great to get them as energised on the serious issues facing the country at election time.

  15. weka 16

    “After $17 Million, Ponytail-Pulling New Zealand Prime Minister Loses Flag Referendum”

    Headline from http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/24/after-17-million-ponytail-pulling-new-zealand-prime-minister-loses-flag-referendum/

  16. Macro 17

    The top comments to Ms Young apologetic column in the Herald say it all
    I like this one in particular

    No you are wrong. He is a loser and a failure. The country is 80 billion in debt. Kids are living in cars. He has sold our best assets to his rich mates. He sold us out with the tppa. Our farmers are about to go to the wall. But wait now he’s on holiday

    • weka 17.1

      STACS (Speaking truth about corruption syndrome)

      Wow, she is getting trashed.

    • Tony Veitch (not the partner-bashing 3rd rate broadcaster) 17.2

      Great reading the comments – brings a warm feeling! There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  17. whateva next? 18

    Anthony Robbins, you have expressed my thoughts in an erudite and precise manner -thankyou very much, breathing out a huge sigh of relief that he didn’t get away with this which would have been devastating. I had no strong feelings either way about the actual flag, and I hope the process of considering “nationhood” can now begin and followed through with Labour, in a respectful and mature manner.

  18. linda 19

    what we also seen from the keyster is when he loses he does the bolt typical of a psychopath refusal to accept responsibility hes a member of the white feather brigade we have our brave service people serving under a yellow stripped coward a national embarrassment.key should find the nearest bridge and jump off it

  19. This “we should have voted yes/no first” meme is so silly. Voting yes/no without a solid alternative severely disadvantages changing the flag, as there is a tendancy for people to imagine the worst alternative flag possible for the “yes” option. It’s basically a way to make sure you have to have a supermajority to change the flag.

    I won’t deny that the process was overly expensive and could have been done a lot better- of course it could. But for a party that nominally supports changing the flag, Labour has been out to sabotage this referendum by making it more partial and less democratic throughout the whole process, which is completely unacceptable. Those are things Labour normally can be relied to stand against.

    • Thom Pietersen 20.1

      Because the process was stupid and contrived – and the ex pat Kyle ‘doughebag/.suckballs’ Lockwood design was sh*t… simples.

      Oh and to shut out the maaori nig nogs upptey sh*te with one nation BS.

    • red-blooded 20.2

      Three things:
      1) When we changed the electoral system we used the “do you want to change from the status quo” question first, and only went on to research and select alternatives for the second referendum after the idea of change had been endorsed. There was genuine desire for change (the party in government had had fewer votes cast for it than the main opposition party more than once; people were quite rightly aggrieved and voted for change). When the options were presented in the second referendum, the status quo (FPP) was one of them. There’s no reason this process couldn’t have been used again. Personally, I may well have voted yes in the first referendum, so that alternatives could be explored. If the 5 final choices of the panel had been put up against the current flag, I possibly would have voted for Red Peak. If it was clear that there was going to be a big push for the Lockwood design, I may have voted tactically for the status quo. My point is that this isn’t a “meme”; it’s a perfectly valid criticism of what was a flawed and expensive process.
      2) Again, using a comparison with the electoral referenda; if the panel that considered other voting systems had come back and put unacceptable alternatives (like the silly “primary” system used to elect the president of the US) up against what was then the status quo, then I and other Labour supporters may well have ended up voting to stick with FPP. We would also have been critical of the panel and their choices. So what? What would you expect?
      3) There’s nothing undemocratic about individuals and politicians expressing their opinions about current issues. Were John Key and his All Black buddies “sabotaging” the process? He certainly spent plenty of time and energy on promoting his preference and trying to influence people’s thinking. Personally, I think he did himself and his cause a disservice; because he politicised things so much, there was push-back from people who didn’t like being manipulated. I think the “anti-JK” effect was a factor for some people (and that’s fine; people have the right to use a voting opportunity to express themselves). It wasn’t the deciding factor, though. The alternative flags were uninspiring and lacked variety. People didn’t endorse them because they didn’t respond to them.

      • mosa 20.2.1

        Yeah i felt aggrieved when in the last MMP referendum asked would we retain that system with changes or vote for another system like the pretend proportinal supplementary system Key was supporting i voted to retain MMP with changes thinking that was what we would get if MMP was the winner
        MMP won of course with people believing that the promised changes would be made
        Key and Collins had no intention of implementing any reforms where MMP was concerned and shelved all the recomendations
        This was a major deception but of course it was all swept under the rug
        This criminal administration uses referenda when it suits like for this ridiculous escapade and would have abided by the decision if it had carried in their favour but will ignore other decisions they do not like that are a hell of a lot more important like the our democratic rights.

    • Lanthanide 20.3

      It’s entirely possible to have 2 questions in a referendum. The MMP referendum being the perfect example:

      Question 1: do you want to change the flag (change away from MMP)

      Question 2: Which flag would you prefer if we did change (what voting system would you prefer if we changed)

      You can then go a step further and say if 66% of the public vote not to change the flag in Question 1, that the 2nd referendum will be cancelled and the money saved.

      Easy.

      Edit: ah, I see red-blooded made the same point, although their point is a wall-of-text. Also I suggested this method over a week ago.

  20. Keith 21

    If the Herald want to get subscribers back then get rid of Audrey Young. Having a National Party PR spin doctor as your “political editor” writing the absolute shit she has written about this flag campaign is playing no small role in the demise your paper.

    To quote an absolute gem from her on this matter:
    “.. because Key did not campaign heavily for change” says Audrey. Doh! No, at very best he spent a couple of months out of the limelight whilst in vacation in Hawaii and on the advice of his good friend David Farrar to shut the hell up because you are killing it Johnny boy!

    It goes without saying that bullshit is the leading policy of the National Party but this article backing her man really takes the grande award. Clearly during the near 2 years this fiasco has gone on and the $26 million spent Audrey must have been on Planet Key and missed all the action.

  21. ScottGN 22

    The Herald have finally put the comments in reply to Audrey Young’s piece up online.
    She’s getting her arse totally kicked there.

  22. Muttonbird 23

    Poor old Lewis Holden appears to be at sixes and sevens. Scarcely pausing for breath he launched an attack on the victor, the New Zealand flag, not 24 hours after it had kicked that ghastly dish cloth he was promoting to the curb.

    Then more muddled than ever, having pleaded with Kiwis to abandon links and ties to Britain he signs off, presumably as a source for hope and inspiration, with a quote from the highest profile British leader in modern history.

    How ironic.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/299907/this-flag-debate-has-only-just-begun

  23. maui 24

    -(In reply to Muttonbird above)-

    At least I’ll no longer have to suffer Holden’s free spot in my community newspaper about the flag change. The same newspaper got a new editor too, who instantly had a strong desire to change the flag. These men are doing National’s dirty work and I don’t trust them one bit.

    It’s clear that a substantial proportion of votes for the status quo had nothing to do with the relevance of its symbols to contemporary New Zealand.

    Well of course not Lewis, our flag was designed c. 1902, how would they have known how to make it have relevant symbols for 100 years down the track! Contemporary NZ can get f.. if they don’t understand it’s value.

  24. pat 25

    The flag vote is over and we retain the status quo until such time as we have a genuine reason to revisit it…..to continue to debate the whys and wherefores spurred on by complicit members of the MSM simply continues Key;s original goal of distracting the public from more important matters… he may have lost the referendum battle but won the war.

  25. Thinkerr 26

    In my opinion, one important outcome is that a significant number of National supporters must have turned out to vote against what many believe to have been a personal ‘pet’ idea. Surely, that’s got to have tarnished ‘Brand Key’ a bit.

    Kind of like when you’ve got on with your neighbours for many years, then they have a party and you have to call noise control. Things aren’t quite the same between you after that.

  26. Philj 27

    Key wasted $26M on his whim. Such are the privileges of power.

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