March 2nd 2022 will go down as a day of shame for the country – a day when the government ended a mostly peaceful protest about unjustified and unnecessary segregation and restrictions on freedom, with the use of force instead of dialog.
It is the closest New Zealand has come to ending democracy and freedom of expression as we’ve known it, and bordering on totalitarianism, with perhaps the exception of the 1951 waterfront strikes, and the Bastion Point occupation.
The difference is those two actions were focussed on a narrow number of workers rights in the case of the former, and a particular piece of land in the latter.
The protest in Wellington drew people from across the country, black, white, brown, well off and poor, old and young, business owners and workers, accountants and midwives – a representation of New Zealand society as a whole.
While the government and the media have been pouring scorn on the protesters and highlighting every supposedly distasteful action they could find, even making some up, what they have not yet realised is that those protesters represent the sharp end of one third of the country who are fed up with the mandates.
This is despite the population being bombarded for two years with messages designed to instil fear, view the government as the only source of truth, and as their saviours.
It says even more about what is happening that one third of the population have got to the stage of seeing through that fear.
While our political leaders and our media were united in condemning (some rather mutedly) the way the protests for democracy were put down by the Chinese regime in Hong Kong, they have supported the same kind of tactics being used to end the protest action in Wellington.
What’s even more shameful is that every political party in parliament supported it – which says an immense amount about the lack of balance and differing opinion that our parliament should have.
What we’ve seen is that absolute majority rule can easily become just as destructively despotic as any dictatorship when it is unchecked by parties in parliament with differing opinions.
There is a clear and growing intolerance for dissent, with laws currently being drafted to stop people with alternative views speaking out and label them, and their views, dangers to society, and to install digital monitoring of the population – vaccine passports being just the start.
Supposed fact checkers, set up and supported by big tech, and well funded think tanks and charitable foundations denounce any view not fitting the “accepted’ mould as false, fake, or conspiracy theory, and label the holders of those views with criminal sounding names – anti-vaxxers, right wing agitators.
To the Prime Minister. The veil on your ‘be kind’ message has been lifted. The politics of kindness has been replaced by the politics of arrogance and the politics of violence. The ‘team of five million’ is actually the team of 3.5 million plus ‘the others’. You have employed the oldest political strategy known – set people against each other, divide and rule.
To the police. Shame on you. Many of you knew that what you were being asked to do was wrong, yet not one was prepared to say no, to stand up for your principles. You consoled yourself with the same words German soldiers used in World War Two and Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine are using today. I was just following orders.
To the 120 Members of our Parliament. Shame on you. It is impossible to believe that not one of you knew yesterday’s action was wrong, that dialogue should have been held weeks ago. Yet not one of you was prepared to speak out, to put your cosy, well paid position on the line, to put your chances of re-election in jeopardy, to resign from your party if necessary to uphold your principles.
Politicians of real calibre have done so – Matiu Rata, Jim Anderton, and Tariana Turia, all of whom resigned from parliament over a principle, and Marilyn Waring who didn’t resign but who was ready to cross the floor and vote with the opposition on the nuclear issue. Rob Muldoon called a snap election before she could do so.
National Party politicians in particular. You were prepared to speak out publicly for three years about minor petty internal matters, but not one of you was prepared to speak out about a nationally important matter.
Efforts to quell dissent will increase. New laws will be drafted. Higher fences will be erected and you will all be party to it.
Unless of course, voters see the light and get a party into parliament that is prepared to stand by its principles, not surrender them in order to pander to whom they think are likely to re-elect them. A party that is prepared to speak out when they know our democracy, our freedoms, and our sovereignty are under attack.
Chris Leitch is the leader of Social Credit