Sean Plunket and his on-line radio station The Platform want you to 'join the resistance.' But what exactly are they 'resisting'?

WHILE SEAN PLUNKET might have Tuaranga rich listers Wayne and Chloe Wright to thank for providing the financial backing to start up and run his on-line radio station The Platform, he owes Jacinda Ardern and her Labour Government a vote of thanks for providing him with the reason to exist. 

Launched in September 2021, The Platform was a conservative reaction to the identity politics that Jacinda Arden came to represent, and which swept through both the state sector and the political and social milieu that gravitated around the Labour Government. 

The Labour Government, especially in its second term when it governed alone, had the decisive and historic opportunity to be a government of the many, and not the few. Instead, it substituted identity politics for class politics. Matt McCarten, formerly Labour’s Chief of Staff under David Cunliffe and Andrew Little, observed that Labour had been taken over by the middle class and its concerns: 'They look down on the working class. ‘We love the poor, but they smell.’ Because they’re not part of them. They’re in the leafy suburbs, the hip suburbs, the Grey Lynns of this world. And they don’t live amongst the working class, they’re not of them. They are missionaries. That’s what Labour does, ‘we do nice things for people. But we don’t rock the establishment, we don’t rock the middle classes. We keep them quiet.'

The irony is that Matt McCarten and Sean Plunket shared a common dislike and mistrust for what became shorthanded as 'woke politics'. But they came from two different political directions. While the traditional or class-based left attacked Labour for its managerialism that represented no threat to the economic status quo, the right saw Labour's - and the Green's- woke politics as the vehicle to undermine the Labour Government and help return the National Party to the Treasury benches. Certainly, Labour's liberal and middle-class supporters helpfully supplied the right-wing with plenty of ammunition that it could fire right back at it.

Week in and week out, The Platform - and Plunket in particular - tubthumped its opposition to woke politics. And even though the on-line radio station is another capitalist-owned media operation, Plunket also liked to play up its so-called 'outsider' status. Unlike the mainstream media, he argued, The Platform was 'politically independent' and had not succumbed to the identity politics of the Ardern government. 

But if the liberal left and the conservative right fought it out on the terrain of such issues as co-governance, decolonisation, gender ideology and corporate feminism, there was little between the two camps over economic issues. Neoliberalism would continue to prevail. Yet it was economic issues, such as the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing, that weighed heaviest on the lives of working people. 

Jacinda Ardern was able to pose on the international stage as a left wing progressive, but domestically she acted as just another centrist defending the status quo. Under her Labour Government there was an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the rich which, as commentator Bryce Edwards observed, led to the 'sacrifice of the poor'. And, as John Moore pointed out, 'Moderate social reforms and a lack of economic transformation don’t really cut it for those who are both socially and materially oppressed.'

A change in leader and a declaration that Labour was refocusing on 'bread and butter' economic issues was not enough to save it on election day and now Sean Plunket and The Platform have got the government they wanted.

Less than three months since the new government was installed, The Platform is looking less like the anti-establishment rebel that it claimed to be under the Labour Government and looking a lot more like a loyal cheerleader for the National-led coalition government. In its largely uncritical loyalty to the government, it is displaying exactly the same political partisanship that it used to accuse media outlets like Stuff and RNZ of under Labour - and which it still has in its sights.

Even so, The Platform is inviting people to 'join the resistance'. But what, exactly, is it 'resisting?' So far, The Platform has expressed no resistance to tax cuts for the middle class while beneficiaries are to be subjected to a harsher and more punitive sanctions regime that will plunge more people into desperate poverty. Nor has it shown any interest in resisting the 6.5 percent austerity cuts (quietly increased to 7.5 percent) and which will throw more people out of paid employment. It has also not resisted the Government's moves to diminish New Zealand's independent foreign policy as it aligns the country ever more closely to the United States. Nor has it expressed any 'resistance' to Israel's brutal genocidal rampage in Gaza. Indeed, Plunket has proved to be a supporter of the Zionist state and an apologist for the war crimes it has been committing. And as for existential issue of climate change, Plunket is a climate change denier.

Given that Plunket has whooped it up and declared that the Government is popular despite the best efforts of 'the legacy media' to pull it down, it's all too apparent that The Platform has become just another megaphone in the conservative noise machine. The pertinent observation of the late John Pilger is appropriate here: 'Journalists are never real journalists if they are agents of power, no matter how they disguise that role. Real journalists are agents of people.'


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