Monday, March 20, 2023

Alistair Boyce: Myths, Demons & Legacy; Requiem of the Occupation Protest

History will be reworked and rewritten in the eye of the beholder.

I bare witness to the entirety of the protest and from its epicentre.

The following testimony attempts a distillation refuting myths, exposing demons and offering immediate legacy.

Jacinda Ardern had stood in parliament advocating the right to protest and appointed a police commissioner to ‘police by consent’.  This necessarily requires inclusive public policy and reactive force to protest.

The Labour government’s arguably unnecessary mandates pushed a peaceful populace over the edge in a growing combustion of angry disgust as the ‘kind’ leader cast her own people out of the team. Jacinda Ardern stated there would be no consequences if you were not vaccinated. The unvaccinated, kiwis stuck out in the world and unnecessary extended lockdowns with all the petty rules spread a cancer of division and false self-righteousness. The unvaccinated lost jobs, livelihoods and socio-economic status.

Platform-curia poll

The protest at its height was…

Provincial 60%, Female 55%, Māori 27%, Age 41-60 46%, Labour/Greens voters 46%, Minor protest parties were over-represented, ‘Do not vote’ 19%, Unvaccinated 77%, overwhelmingly anti-mandate and pro-freedom.

The ideological Labour government with a new totalitarianism had undermined itself. The control algorithms failed, while absolute power had produced authoritarian governance.  Jacinda Ardern ordered parliament to be silent, to effectively act as compliant, ignorant children in the face of a sea of discontent. The protest extended all the way from Kapiti to Wellington city and at its height controlled all of the Thorndon and parliamentary precincts. Police intelligence was reactive but also failed as organisation of the protest was ‘off the grid’. In the absence of central government political leadership to get good faith dialogue and communication the police and local government were hamstrung. Mallard and Robertson reacted forcing a police push out from parliament rather than squeeze the protest in. This failed miserably, solidifying and multiplying the protest numbers. Loudspeakers, a minor cyclone and sprinklers cemented the resolve. The disaffected occupation donors set up a full free community infrastructure (food, shelter, medical tent and entertainment) to keep the pressure on as long as possible, to hammer home the message of disaffection.

Some politicians were brave enough to come in.

David Seymour and Nicole McKee broke the deadlock and met some protest intermediaries after another failed Government reaction - this time to bring in the army under the guise of towing vehicles. The Backbencher dock way had a queue of people telling their stories of alienation. Word spread and tension eased. These politicians broke ranks and did the right thing.

Andy Coster was often the adult in the room and cooled the furious storm. The police had been hung out to dry. The government while saying on one hand it was a police matter acted with the other with naïve power to undermine any process of genuine de-escalation or dialogue.

Nicola Willis attended a meeting to listen to and support local affected small businesses. In the absence of a police presence the protest was the security, represented by a leader who spoke with conviction and passion to the hurting Thorndon locals. All views were heard and listened to.

The protest had produced its own volunteer security force with liaison through to the police. There were significant social problems in the outer areas of the occupation.  

The parliamentary lawn ‘Freedom Village’ was self-policed no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster entered the fray, but negotiations became a committee of divergent interests and power points. There would never be a unified leadership with such a fluid protest as people came and left at will. Power dynamics constantly changed. The only real control was by virtue of the crucial infrastructure and wider support network. Protest power existed because the actual physical occupation was devolved.

If central government had done the right thing from the start and entered dialogue with respect and empathy the protest would have dissipated.

Winston Peters, Rodney Hide and some past politicians eased tension on visits in as the protest at large revelled in its newfound power that emanated from the lapse of NZ’s 2022 Labour leadership, that was hopelessly out of its depth.

“The media went along for the ride”.

Throughout the mainstream media followed the government line and lie and consequently never got to grips with the reality of the protest. Media were reduced to self-righteous vitriol that cancelled the truth, decried genuine dialogue and ridiculed the protest, concentrating on conspiracy theories and anti-social fringe elements. Trying to define the protest as a single entity is an impossibility. The Platform-curia poll was the closest and only scientific attempt and should form the basis of any historical analysis.

The ongoing legacy for Wellington is that the ‘terror’ of the occupation protest on the back of lockdowns and restrictive mandates cemented in ‘work from home’ and the division of a disconnected and unproductive state sector from most of NZ.

The state sector now operates in isolated vacuums.

“Boiling Point’ reveals the truth of the final day. The riot was dominated by the influx of gangs and quasi militants as the police allowed the dwindling and peaceful rump of the protest to leave. Over the course of the morning Molesworth Street and the tents on the lawn had emptied themselves.

‘Fire and Fury’ is an awful non-factual propaganda piece based on deception that sows the politics of hate and division. In response Meng Foon was missing in action demonstrating he is another exemplar of being trapped in the myopia of an introverted governmental malaise.

Ironically the best, incisive commentary on the protest comes from traditional Labour stalwarts and true social democrats, Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury.

Inevitably most media commentary becomes an umbrella of protection for themselves and their institutionalised masters of the privileged and bloated State sector and government echo chamber. Mainstream media are now entrenched and institutionalised in the self-perpetuation of the radical, newly created ‘in its own image’, ‘ethno state’. While telling the populace what to believe, what they are allowed to say and how they should live their lives our academic and bureaucratic elites have become a law unto themselves and disconnected from the people they are supposed to serve.

The anti-mandate pro-freedom messages fell on deaf ears(?)

The all powerful new ‘transformative’(?), ‘ethno state’ was fomented by the Ardern-Robertson government. Now Robertson has conveniently side stepped, keeping power and allowing the new ‘bread and butter’ PM to back track some of the idiocy in an intelligently constructed coup. Chris Hipkins is a vital architect of the very policies he is appearing to deconstruct. Hipkins, Robertson and the Labour ‘think tank’ have had a power epiphany, are certainly hypocritical and opportunistic and appear purely after the continuance of governance. ‘Bloke’ has out flanked ‘woke’ in rhetoric and strategy but surely not substance. It’s the narrative and appearance that counts in the absence of independent media. NZ needs strong, forthright, and incisive opposition.

Jacinda Ardern, Trevor Mallard and Grant Robertson are culpable of appalling governance.

Their combined actions and inactions caused, inflamed, exacerbated and extended the protest into a fluid beast with a sting in its tail that will not now rest. Direct democracy met the force of the State and the 6th Labour government with absolute power firmly in its grasp. Governance lost to the will of the banished tribes, and they were many and they were angry.

The Ardern resignation has taken the heat out of the acrimonious aftermath. On this score the protest won. It was the catalyst for the Ardern demise and forced Labour to fight another way and another day.

Whether the U-turning (U-turns usually cops a media scrutiny?) 6th Labour government can succeed in the 2023 election will depend on the strength of the opposition and true and objective media and wider public analysis.

In the meantime, large segments of our population are still unrecognised and alienated from the urban government sector. Do not discount direct democracy and the residue of the protest and its anti-mandate pro-freedom messages.

NZ politicians need to get better at the politics of inclusivity, for this fight with all its fractious elements is far from over.

The winter of recession is here. Economic reality is biting. Elevate one societal faction above another at your peril. The politics of unnecessary division is foolish.

Government over-reach has serious consequences. The occupation protest is graphic illustration of what the politics of division cause. The lessons of the springbok tour were not learned by the Ardern government. FPP was replaced by MMP.

Absolute government was meant to be condemned to history. It was not.

 ‘Chippie’ and the Labour think tank certainly learned a lesson but is he telling the whole truth or is it smoke and mirrors, more fatuous ‘fire and fury’? A propaganda piece fed to the people by state funded media. My money and vote is definitely on the latter.

Alistair Boyce is the owner of the iconic Wellington pub the Backbencher. 


Rob Beechey said...

A splendid piece of written mastery that covers all bases. The Hipkins, Adern and Robinson’s classic Marxist authoritarian overreach was on full display and must be dealt with in accordance with fair minded Kiwis. Sheltered by the compromised mainstream media, Alistair Boyce has created a true account of a crime carried out against New Zealand citizen’s right to protest.

Anonymous said...

Sunday, 28 August 2022
Human cost of the Parliament occupation, six months on
Johnny Blades RNZ

Such sanctomoious drivel such as this never helped. Absolute self-righteousness. Lacking any ability to understand or read a situation.

The commentators in the report were just as shallow.
Marama Davidson, David Seymour, Marc Daalder, Bridie Witton, Greg O'Conner, and Christopher Hipkins
all had plenty to say. Bridie was 'sad' because she found out that no one likes her.

All their comments were inflammatory, unfounded, sanctomoious, and self srrving.

Well I felt 'sad' too. For NZers who were shamelessly ridiculed and dismissed by such a
nasty lot of self congratulating individuals that wish to shape young (and old) peoples minds.