Thursday 28 January 2016

The 0.004% Mandate: Why Opponents Of The TPPA Should Boycott Real Choice’s “Blockade” On 4 February.

Thumbs Down To Extremism: With the registered support of just 0.004% of the voting public, the activist group Real Choice claims a mandate to shut down central Auckland! If there wasn’t so much at stake it would be funny. The broader anti-TPPA movement can be assured, however, that there’s at least one person who is laughing his head off. John Key.
A GROUP calling itself “Real Choice” has announced its intention to “blockade” the Sky City complex on Thursday, 4 February 2016. It’s chances of doing this are, of course, zero. Unless several thousand Real Choice supporters have been knocking themselves out in a network of hidden “Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) training camps (at the same time as the riot squads have been doing their “Public Order Response Training”) the group’s planned blockade will not progress beyond the first Police skirmish-line.
Real Choice’s stated intention of “shutting down the surrounding area and stopping entry by blocking some surrounding roads – effectively creating a TPPA free zone” completely ignores the fact that the signing of the TPPA, featuring the representatives of twelve nations, is already the subject of a major security operation. The idea that anyone is going to be permitted to block roads or stop entry is simply delusional.
Forewarned of Real Choice’s intentions, preventative measures will already be underway. Police Intelligence will have supplied the security operation’s commander with the names and photographs of Real Choice’s principal operatives and their movements will be closely monitored from now until next Thursday.
Real Choice’s very public threats will also, very likely, have prompted the acquisition of interception warrants by the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) who will, doubtless, be liaising with their colleagues at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to set up comprehensive real-time surveillance of Real Choice’s members.
This will be done not because the group represents an actual threat to the signing ceremony, but simply because, through its actions, Real Choice has provided New Zealand’s security apparatus with a golden opportunity to “test drive” its new powers and resources. (Always assuming that Real Choice is not what’s known as a “false flag” operation: a group set up by the security services themselves - often to establish a case for government to give them even more powers and resources!)
Real or fake, Real Choice has delivered to John Key exactly what he was hoping for by staging the TPPA signing ceremony at Sky City. In doing so it has placed at jeopardy all of the work done by Jane Kelsey and Barry Coates at “It’s Our Future”. Entirely parasitic to the mass movement others have created, this tiny group has embarked on a course of action that threatens to undermine what tens-of-thousands of New Zealanders have researched, argued, organised and marched for.
Real Action, which began its life as the equally ineffectual “Show Us Ya Text”, claims to be acting in the name of democracy. It’s website describes itself as “a group of citizens who believe in democracy and think everyday Kiwis should have a say on the TPPA.” Quite what it thought “everyday Kiwis” were doing last night [the evening of Tuesday, 26 January - C.T.] in the Auckland Town Hall; or last August, when close to 30,000 of them participated in nationwide demonstrations; one can only imagine.
To most people, what It’s Our Future has been doing for the past four years is the very essence of democracy. The fact that, last night, it had assembled representatives of the Parliamentary Opposition on the Town Hall stage, and that, together, those politicians had signalled the prospect of a new coalition government putting an end to New Zealand’s participation in the TPPA in 2017, surely indicates that democracy is in absolutely no need of Real Choice’s “assistance”.
Real Choice, however, could use a lesson or two in exactly what democracy is and isn’t. Last November, for example, the group set up an online “referendum” to determine whether or not New Zealand should ratify the TPPA. The voting period extended from 23-30 November and, according to the website, 12,070 voted. Of these 11,731 (97%) voted against ratification. That was enough for the boys and girls at Real Choice – the people had spoken!
The people? Really? No. What they attracted were 12,070 votes out of an electorate numbering (at the 2014 General Election) 2,416,479 electors. In other words, Real Choice’s referendum (of which most of the country was entirely unaware) canvassed the opinion of just 0.004% of the voting public. And from this infinitesimal sample it now claims a mandate to shut down central Auckland! If there wasn’t so much at stake it would be funny.
The broader anti-TPPA movement can be assured, however, that there’s at least one person who is laughing his head off.
John Key.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 28 January 2016.


Tiger Mountain said...

the blockade represents an organisational split from the main TPPA organising group by some of the militant minority who history shows do indeed try and freeload on the crowds generated by more mainstream groups

I would still like to see the main “Its our future NZ” march get as close to Sky City as possible, a symbolic rev up and then move on, no shame in that at this juncture, the understanding and resistance that has been built on TPPA in this neo liberal wasteland of a nation is a great effort so far

also New Zealanders are out of practice since the no nukes days really, it should not be forgotten that regular ’81 tour protestors met twice weekly, trained intensively and kept intelligence on the Police, the demos and vigils did not just happen without a lot of work, a small group of blockade activists will be wiped off the streets in seconds at Sky City and will of course dominate the news coverage

if TPPA marches do get to the 50,000 level then by all means blockade and seriously disrupt and properly rip Key’s script up for toilet paper

Anonymous said...

Chris , thanks for the info on these clowns, I agree that John Key would not mind if Auckland was closed down, he and his party will grab the headlines in their condemnation and whoosh the polls will rocket in their favour.

Andrew Little has apparently now announced that Labour is NOW apposed to the TPPA and Labour MPs will be at the protest march.

Goff and Shearer bought this insane position of Labours to a head, by saying they support TPPA, now Little must sack them from any shadow positions they hold.


greywarbler said...

..sack [Goff and Shearer] IMMEDIATELY sounds about right. Shearer was mentioned as saying he'd sign the TPPA. Is that true?

Tiger Mountain
It doesn't seem a good vote-drawing move to even consider shutting down the area, no matter how many protesters there are. There is probably a saying by some smart Chinese General about Wisdom in strategy is to have the power and personnel then use it judiciously or something.

JustCallMeAudrey said...

You're so out of touch with NZ's politically active youth it's embarrassing. You've got one foot in the grave mate.

Also may I bring up the protest "menu" you were harping on about the other day( Changed our mind have we?

Chris Trotter said...

I happily plead guilty to your first charge, Audrey. Largely because the group you refer to is so very hard to locate. With one foot in the grave I am old enough to remember when young people were politically active in numbers that ran into five figures - not two. When your "politically active youth" get around to doing something the rest of NZ notices - I'll be in touch.

As for the "protest menu" that HART developed in 1981. It is important to re-emphasise that the items on the menu were the product of democratic discussion and debate. Even the "special ops" aspect of the protest activity was discussed - inasmuch as those who were thinking of engaging in such activity were told in no uncertain terms to think them through very carefully and, above all, not to broadcast the fact that they were being planned.

At the Auckland Town Hall on Tuesday night "Real Choice" simply bellowed out their intention of blockading Sky City to the 1,000 people who had come to the It's Our Future organised event. No discussion. No debate. Just an announcement for everyone - including the Police - to like or lump.

Not the most ethical, or intelligent, way to go about things.

So, in answer to your final question: No. I haven't changed my mind. Unlike "Real Choice", who now appear to construe democracy as meaning - "what we want".

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem, Chris. You mention that Real Choice only represents .004% of the eligible electorate. So by the same reasoning, 30,000 marchers nationwide against the TPPA only represents .01% of eligible voters. This means that 99.9% of the voters are happy with the Government signing the TPPA. Sure it could be apathy on their part, but these "marches" (do the children get counted as a marcher?) always appear populated with - how to put it - no credible people (to the eye). As such, it only turns those happy with the status quo, off. Why haven't the anti-TPPA people disseminated, in some form, an easily digestible bullet point presentation, perhaps maybe by public notice advertisements in the newspaper, as to why the general populace should be opposed to it, so they can come to a rational conclusion. You could say public meetings have been held, but they only get the "marchers." Demonstrations without substance and just all slogans and possible civil disobedience will only alienate the majority and never change the public mind. As you say, the public's mind is where the battle will be won.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@11:28am

You are clearly unaware, Anonymous, that in the most recent opinion poll I could find - the TV3/Reid Research poll of 20 November 2015 - 34% of respondents were in support of the TPPA, 52% opposed to it, and 14% were undecided.

I'm sure you'll agree that 52% is a great deal more that 0.01% of New Zealanders!

Large numbers (by which I mean tens-of-thousands) of people on the streets almost always betoken a considerable body of like-minded citizens in the non-active population.

I must add that I'm amazed that you have somehow managed to avoid all of the discussion of the TPPA on the Internet, radio, television and in print. There has been no shortage of news reports, articles and think pieces on the subject! Without this wide-ranging debate, the number opposed to the TPPA could not have grown as high as 52 percent.

With the greatest respect, may I suggest you pay a little more attention.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Checkpoint did a vox pop survey where they asked half a dozen people how they felt about it. I think from memory only one knew anything about it. Not very scientific I guess :).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that response, Chris. Your amazement may be so, but again although I am an avid reader of print media and do not watch TV3, I still can't recall any logically laid out article on why I should be considering opposing the TPPA - if I did, I may pay a little more attention. I can't say I have gone actively searching on the internet for material, nor do I listen to radio, and I'm sure that is the case with a large proportion of the voting public - as I have said, maybe apathy. However you note the TV3/Reid poll shows 52% against. A poll is a poll, but it is supposed to be a snapshot of how the total electorate is thinking - in which case I note that "marchers" number 30,000 (you use "tens-of-thousands in your reply to me - your article used the figure 30,000, so that is "tens-of-thousands," but maybe not inflated above 30,000) equaling .01% of the voting population. At 52% opposed, only 30,000 of 1,208,239 opposed (or roughly .025%) are expressing a visible opposition - hardly a considerable body of like minded citizens compared to the other 99.75% of citizens - hmmm. I'm also intrigued by the stance of Mike Moore, Helen Clark, Phil Goff and David Shearer in support of the TPPA - what do they know that we don't?