Rob Hosking looks at the four camps of flag supporters

Rob Hosking in the NBR looks at the four distinct camps of flag supporters.

[T]here is the whole question of how important the issue actually is.

One of Prime Minister John Key’s less-than-happy moments this year was when he suggested a new flag might be worth billions of dollars to the New Zealand economy.

As a piece of unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable hucksterism and hokum, it takes some beating. A flag might or might not be a good idea: it is not going to earn New Zealand a lot more money.

It wasn’t, in the end, a great choice. A possum’s backside, a vegetarian pirate ensign, a triangle thing which looks like a mix of the Adobe Software and Croxley Stationery logos; and two fern things which have been likened to Weetbix packets.

Partisans – and it has become very partisan – have devolved into four camps.

What are those four camps?

There is the pro-status quo group, which wants to keep the Union Jack on the flag.

It is possible this group didn’t vote at all. Certainly some partisans on various sides are assuming this.

I am not so sure. This is the older and more conservative group of the population, for whom voting is a civic duty.

I suspect many did vote, and either voted informally or plumped for one of the other options – and will switch back to the current flag during the final referendum in March.

A second group is the pro-ferns. It is as wrong to generalise too much about this group as it is about the Red Peak-ers. There is an assumption this is the John Key fan club  – and, probably, a substantial majority could be characterised in that way.

But there are Labour voters, even some activists, who ticked this option.

There is the Aro Valley/Grey Lynn-Pt Chevalier Restored Villa Socialist Collective, which has vigorously, and often venomously, pushed the “Red Peak” option.

The Red Peak flag did pick up some support outside this group of self-conscious rebels – it is a mistake to dismiss Red Peak, as this column did earlier in the year, as completely and utterly a proxy “**** John Key” campaign.

But it was about 80%, at least, driven by this sentiment, along with a kind of adolescent desire to be different.

And in the end, Red Peak got fewer votes than those who voted informally on the referendum ballot. (for the record, 149,747 voted informally: Red Peak received 122,152 votes.

Those informals are the key…and the death for a change.

New Zealand seems to have delivered a somewhat derisive verdict.

While the two fern options came top, that nearly 150,000 informal votes, plus the roughly half of voters who did not bother to vote, suggests to me people are a bit fed up with the whole thing.

And that is the final, fourth, group of partisans: those who want the government to focus on – as promised in 2014, “things that matter.”

And the flag does not matter. I am in group 1 and group 4. But I am not in group 1 because I want to retain the Union Jack, I am in group 1 because I am also in Group 4.

 

– NBR


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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