Friday, May 25, 2012


Yesterday, in one of the most effective student protests in years, 400 students blockaded a major Auckland street for several hours over cuts to student funding. Bill English's response?

"Yes, there's a protest movement out there but who's really listening to them?" English said, in response to a question from the audience.

"They get on TV and they can make a bit of a racket ... dragging a few rubbish bins around, they need some Greeks to show them how to do it," he said.

Firstly, this is the usual arrogance we've come to expect from the National Party. "A few peasants are protesting? Well, its not as if their opinions matter, is it? Its not as if they're bankers or the gambling industry..." But apart from that, English ought to be careful what he wishes for. In Greece, protest means pitched battles in front of Parliament and Ministers unable to appear in public for fear of being lynched by an angry mob of now-destitute people. And its ended up that way precisely because their government has expressed the arrogant, dismissive attitude to popular discontent displayed here by English.