National party activist Liam Hehir has a column on Stuff denouncing the evil left-wing conspiracy to undermine our Prime Minister by promoting the ‘Red Peak’ flag:
This all comes a bit late in the game. Until now, the principal position of the liberal punditry has been to ridicule, rather than engage in, the flag debate. Toby Manhire, the Left-wing columnist who started the belated campaign forRed Flag, justified his former apathy for the consultation procedure on the basis that it made him feel “… infantilised, herded into a nationwide social studies project”.
Manhire tends to mock all political parties in his column. But one of those is National, and to guys like Hehir any failure to meet Mike Hosking levels of sycophancy and obeisance to the government is proof of a radical left-wing agenda. But Manhire didn’t actually kick off the Red Peak campaign. That was Rowan Simpson, a software developer who worked at TradeMe and Xero, who might be a secret communist too, but realistically probably is not.
I’m not a huge Red Peak fan and neither were the members of the public who were surveyed by UMR. The reason people like it after the fact is, I think, because Simpson and the flag’s other advocates have successfully told the flag’s story. They’ve described how it works on a symbolic level. And many people seem to feel that’s important: the Union Jack symbolises the union of the United Kingdom, the US flag has thirteen stripes for the thirteen colonies and stars for the states, etc. Our current flag tells a story: the Union Jack and the Southern Cross. But none of the selected ones do. The Lockwood flags are a fern and the stars. But why? So what? I mean, there might be some deep symbolic reason behind the number of leaves on the fern and its relationship to the stars, but if there is no one’s ever explained it, and I’m pretty sure that’s because there ain’t.
I do actually agree that some of the Red Peak supporters are just making mischief for the government. But when you botch things really badly your opponents get to make mischief. That’s how politics works. Other Red Peak advocates like, say, David Seymour are probably not so diabolically motivated. And while some of the Red Peak activism is probably politically motivated, pretty much 100% of the anti Red Peak activism seems political and motivated by partisan dislike.