MY VOTING PAPERS duly arrived on Friday and I have voted to retain the country's current flag. This is not because I have any special affinity or loyalty for the current flag, but the alternative is such a design disaster it has to be stopped appearing on flagpoles and breakfast cereal boxes. The alternative flag is visual pollution and I’m voting for the lesser evil, a concept I don’t normally agree with.
As Russell Brown pointed out on the Public Address blog, in making its selections the Flag Consideration Committee ignored a video outlining the principles of flag design that they had posted on their own site. Kyle Lockwood's flag offends my design sensibilities in the same way that the ugly glass and metal boxes that are popping up in central Christchurch offend me.
The other reason why I voted for the current flag was purely vindictive - to stick it to the Prime Minister and his flunkies like Maggie Barry who have played every trick in the book in a vain attempt to persuade the electorate to vote for the Lockwood flag. But, despite this clunky political campaign, John Key informed us a few days ago that the flag referendum wasn't actually 'political'. Ha ha. Nice one, John.
I entirely agree the flag referendum is a political sideshow, but I don’t believe it necessarily kicks more serious issues off the table. When did the media need an excuse to talk about the banal and trivial? For evidence of that, just take a look at what's on offer every weeknight at 7pm on TVNZ and TV3.
And while the flag referendum might be a political sideshow, every three years we are invited to participate in an even bigger farce when we allowed to vote for political parties that are all promoting the same free market policies. We are routinely denied our democratic rights and that's why I, like a million other people, no longer vote.
The general election is the real sideshow and it has more serious implications and consequences than which flag is flying from the flagpoles. The irony is that most of the people who have decried the farcical nature of the flag referendum are exactly the same people who will be urging us to vote in the election farce next year.