Hehir on Red Peak

Liam Hehir writes at Stuff:

We now have four official alternative designs for a national flag and, in a few months, a winner will be selected to go up against the Blue Ensign next year.

The selection of the final four has seen an intensifying of criticism of the coming referendums from liberal pundits. They do not like our current flag, which is not sufficiently politically correct for their tastes, but they object to the alternatives as well. This has seen a late rally behind the Red Peak design by Melbourne-based Aaron Dustin, which is now the official preference of the twittering classes.

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”.

This is a weird complaint, because many commentators have conducted themselves like ageing teenagers on the subject. They think the Blue Ensign is lame, but they also saw themselves as too cool and ironic to participate in anything so closely associated with John Key. They’ve therefore contented themselves with sardonic digs from the sidelines.

With the announcement of the shortlist, however, they seem to have suddenly realised that things are going ahead without them. They want another chance.

But it’s too late. Legislation could be passed to revise the shortlist in accordance with the tardily expressed preferences of Manhire and company. The question is why the rest of New Zealand should now trouble itself for the sake of people who until last week largely acted as if the whole process has been beneath them.

Red Peak is an okay design. I’d vote for it over the current flag, but I much much prefer the Kyle Lockwood designs. And so do New Zealanders according to the UMR poll. The Red Peak design barely featured.

If people wanted it, they should have tried to create a buzz for it prior to the short-list, not after it.

Red Peak is a case in point. While some elites consider it politically and aesthetically superior to the supposedly gauche official alternatives, a quantitative survey of the by UMR Research suggests that the shortlisted designs are broadly aligned with the public’s preferences.

By contrast, Red Peak was the preferred candidate of less than half of 1 per cent of respondents and just 1.5 per cent of those surveyed included it in their top four designs. In fact, of all the long-listed designs, Red Peak ranked among the least designs for all demographic groups surveyed – together with the similar looking Wā kāinga/Home. Notably, it was also the least favored flag of Māori.

In the UMR survey, Red Peak came 35th out of 40.  It was the third least preferred among men, 4th least preferred among women, 3rd least preferred among under 30s, and the least preferred among Maori. In every demograpic it is one of the least preferred designs, but because a a few people on Twitter sign a petition, the media make it a major story and demand the Government ignore its own rules, and over-ride the independent panel – to pick a design the public appear to hate.

It’s also 4th least preferred with National and Labour voters and overall least preferred with Green voters.

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