Going For Broke With Woke

By Chris Trotter

What are we to make of Chris Hipkins speech “Working With Others”? Ostensibly about unity, the Prime Minister’s address homes in on the two issues which, for the last three years, have divided New Zealanders the most – Ethnicity and Gender. For good measure, he has also ruled out leading Labour into any kind of coalition agreement with NZ First. Taken in its entirety, Hipkins’ speech has much less to say about unity than it does about refusing to work with anyone who declines to embrace Labour’s radical social agenda. That being the case, it would have been more honest to entitle his address: “Going For Broke With Woke”.


Implicit in this strategy is a strong belief that New Zealand society, or, at least, a majority of those New Zealanders determined to vote on 14 October, have embraced the Labour Government “line” on Ethnicity and Gender. Clearly, those who balk at the idea of injecting the concept of co-governance into the provision of public services; or reject as unfair the idea of trans-women competing against biological women in sport; will no longer find a welcome in Labour’s “big tent”. Once celebrated for its broad inclusiveness, Hipkins’ party has opted to greet potential supporters with a grim array of ideological bouncers.

This is not, however, the picture Hipkins wishes his audience to conjure-up. Quite the opposite, in fact:

“Elections are contests of policies and values”, says Hipkins. “Disagreements are a fundamental part of a healthy democracy. But I won’t seek to divide our communities. Labour’s focus in this election won’t be on imported culture wars, but fighting an economic war against inflation and inequality.”

From the man who issued a “Captain’s Call” ruling-out a Wealth Tax, these lines have a disturbingly Orwellian quality to them. It wasn’t Labour’s opponents who commissioned the He Puapua Report, and then kept its recommendations hidden from both NZ First and the voting public in the months leading up to the 2020 General Election. Nor was it National, Act or NZ First that whipped-up opposition to the visit of “Posie Parker”, and then downplayed the violence unleashed upon those who came to hear women exercise their right to free speech. No, when it comes to importing culture wars, Labour is well out in front of its rivals.

How else are we to interpret the following sentence explaining Labour’s refusal to work with Winston Peters’ party?

“New Zealand First has become a party more interested in toilets than the issues that really matter.”

The reference is to NZ First’s policy of ensuring that biological women’s – and men’s – right to privacy is protected by requiring public toilets and changing-rooms to include spaces for those whose definitions of gender differ radically from those of their fellow citizens. NZ First’s “architectural” solution to the intrusion of biological males into biological women’s spaces, may well strike voters as a laudable attempt to broker a compromise between the contending parties.

That’s not how Hipkins sees it. According to the Prime Minister, Peters is:

“[S]eeking to make trans people the enemy in this campaign.”

That is an extraordinary accusation. It does, however, comport with the political style of the aggressively woke, who interpret anything other than 100 percent acceptance of the “correct” ideological position as proof positive of “incorrect” beliefs and “genocidal” intentions.

In for a penny, in for a pound, Hipkins presses on:

“Living fully in your own skin isn’t always easy for any of us at the best of times, and it can be particularly hard for our rainbow communities. None of them deserve the kind of abuse that is being directed their way, stoked up by politicians who should know better.”

This is hard to take from the political party which, alongside the Greens, lent its support to a social movement whose followers openly threatened violence against those who dared to oppose them – and then delivered it.

It is all of a piece, however, with a party so convinced of its own rectitude that it has become incapable of construing disagreement as anything other than – to use the buzzwords du jour – “misinformation, disinformation and malinformation”. In its mildest form, this mindset offers “education” as the optimal solution to the “wrong-think” of dissenters. Among the hardcore, however, dissenters are to be suppressed. What Hipkins has signalled in his speech is a personal preference for the hardcore’s response to the communicators of “wrong-thought” – among whom he clearly includes Winston Peters and NZ First.

That Hipkins has opted to drag New Zealanders into the strange, looking-glass world of the super-woke is deeply troubling. According to the Prime Minister, dissent on questions of gender threaten the unity of the nation and automatically disqualify the dissenting party, NZ First, from any role in government. At the same time, Te Pāti Māori may pour scorn upon the principle of majority rule, and the democratic system it upholds, without rebuke. The party’s claim that Māori genes are superior to those of New Zealand’s other ethnicities, likewise, presents no barrier to entering a Labour Party-led coalition government.

What Hipkins’ speech makes clear is that Labour has opted to “go negative” for the seven weeks remaining before the election. The Prime Minister may wax eloquent about the unity of the nation, and claim that only Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori have the right to speak for the shining Aotearoa-New Zealand of tomorrow; but what he has done, in the fractious world of today, is divide the nation into an “Us” who agree with the Red-Green-Brown troika’s radical programme, and a “Them” who cling to the wrong-thought of their outdated ideas and dangerous beliefs.

It is the intractable problem that besets all populist movements, be they of the Left or the Right. Who is, and who is not, to be counted among “the people”? Because, once you have determined who may properly be included in the “true” nation, then it follows that all those who fall outside your definition must be “untrue”. And what is the usual fate of those who prove untrue?

By the strictures set forth in his speech, Hipkins has identified the untrue nation as those who still believe that one-person, one-vote, one-value is the unalterable foundation of representative democracy. Also excluded from Team Chippy are those who answer the question: “What is a woman?”, with the words “Adult human female”.

By sunrise on 15 October, New Zealanders will know which nation is larger: the Woke Left’s “Us”, or the Centre-Right’s “Them”. Whatever else follows, the “others” being “worked with” are unlikely to include the untrue. The side, representing close to half the nation, that lost.

Read more from Chris Trotter at https://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/.

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    dave perry September 12, 2023 at 6:58 am - Reply

    spot on Chris. The hypocrisy of Labour's subtle declaration of who's with us and who's against us is extremely galling for a party claiming inclusiveness as one of their great qualities….and that's wokism in a nutshell, isn't it. Your term rectitude sums it up. They are driven by a cult like belief that they own the moral high ground…that's why they're so dangerous. Nec minute, New Zealand becomes “A handmaid's tale” (or is it already to some degree?) where those that don't speak the woke lingo are shunned and excluded. My God, these days I yearn for a return to a simpler time before some amongst us saw so much to gain in the ego stroking opportunities buried in critical theory.

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