Friday, March 25, 2016

The glad flag

So a bit of good political news for a change...(see here for media analysis).

The costly pet project of our fern-friendly PM to change our national flag to a recognisable sporting brand, neither Maori nor British, has failed.

What I like best about this failure of John Key's is that he has been hoist by his own petard.

Right-wingers are invariably conservative creatures, most of them being rich white men who want to hold on to the system that made them rich. Key is a quintessential right-winger in this respect. The only change conservative men like him can envisage is to the marketing of things, which generally means the trivial and largely cynical re-branding of the same thing to look like a different thing in order to con people into spending more money. This is what Key's fern flag was to be, a costly attempt to re-brand New Zealand to con people into thinking real change had actually happened.

Populist conservative politicians like Key might support more substantial changes like marriage equality because it would be bad marketing not to -- as his people no doubt tell him -- but they could never initiate such a substantial and progressive reform themselves. They wouldn't think of it, they couldn't be bothered, because it's not about money, and then they wouldn't dare.

But real changes needed to challenge the deep, getting deeper, social, racial and economic divisions between people in societies like ours, these rich white conservative men (and some women) not only won't implement, but invariably exist to reinforce, as the Key government has systematically demonstrated.

His first move in government was to abolish healthy foods in schools, a recently introduced Labour party initiative to combat childhood obesity and other poor-health issues that are far more prevalent in lower decile schools than upper decile schools. His second was to increase the national flat tax on all goods and services while drastically reducing the income taxes paid by the wealthy.

But back to the flag...

The only socially progressive reason for NZ to change its flag is to recognise the indigenous Maori as the first people of this land and thereby distinguish our nation from other British colonies. To this end I think this Maori take on the Union Jack is promising, with the Union cross cleverly spelling out 'NZ'. And with a bit of colour tweaking to incorporate some British blue, more cross-cultural red, and a little less black, could suggest a viable alternative to the current flag.

But for now it's enough good news that John Key is taught the vital lesson that a country is not a business, or a sports team, to be re-branded on a personal whim, as if the past and its peoples never happened and we're all one big fern-friendly family now. We're not. But we might be, given time and consistent and sustained real change.



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