“There was no compulsory vaccination” … Hmm, I have a feeling that with that one statement Prime Minister Chris Hipkins just all but confirmed his change of job on October 14. But you be the judge.
I think we all expect politicians to stretch the truth a little. It’s just part of the territory. It doesn’t mean it’s right – but politicians make promises all the time and sometime don’t deliver on them, they interpret data to their own benefit, they say they’ve achieved something but we know they haven’t, and they even know when they make promises that it may be unlikely to be delivered. Part of our role as voters is to determine who do we trust and what info do we trust. It’s what we call political spin. That’s why the BBC’s Yes Minister was so popular, because it was so funny because it was so accurate. Chris Hipkins made a statement at the weekend. I personally think it sealed his demise as PM.
Interesting story. During the 2008 election when Helen Clark was trying to win her 4th term as PM, I was actually interviewing her and she said this in response to my question around the anti-smacking law which the politicians were working overtime to try and spin the statement – the antismacking law doesn’t ban smacking. And so I asked her “so you don’t want to ban smacking”. During the election campaign the interview resurfaced (you won’t see me in the clip but I’m the one asking the question”
Now everyone knew that it was a smacking ban. Sue Bradford called her law a ban on smacking. It therefore wasn’t seen as spin. It was seen as a lie. And many commentators say that when Clark’s comments were revealed, it was the beginning of the end. I actually take great pleasure in knowing that. Helen Clark’s reign was as harmful to the fabric of NZ society as Jacinda Ardern’s.
But back to spin v lies, last weekend, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins took that to a whole new level. In fact, in my personal opinion, with this one claim he made, he just destined himself to be Leader of the Opposition in just over 5 weeks.
So what did he say?
Let me make it clear, This McBlog is not about being anti-vax or a pro-vax issue. It’s about truth v spin. Can we trust certain politicians.
Our argument from day one was that the decision to vax should be based on informed consent – emphasis on “informed” – and that alternatives such as RATs should be made available.
Now some would disagree with that approach. The Government certainly did.
So as the NZ Herald clearly told us, there was a “mandatory” vaccination for large sectors of our population. Chris Hipkins was the Minister for COVID-19 response. They were the Government of the day. They were entitled to make that decision. He said it was the right thing to do, and to find people who hadn’t done the right thing.
No jab no job
And we identified just how many jobs and how varied were those career areas where jobs were being lost because of that policy – often in areas that had very little public face to face contact – or where we were desparate for workers.
But the Government argued that it would be mandatory – based on their justification.
Here’s a summary clip put together by an account called coronavirus plushee – with a bit of creativity
Let’s be honest. It was effectively mandatory for many many people. The threat of losing your job, your career, made it effectively mandatory.
New Zealand had widespread workplace vaccine mandates, as well as proof of vaccination requirements for entry to cafes, gyms, businesses, and for travel.
No jab, no job.
When I told my children they had to eat their vegetables if they wanted pudding, they didn’t HAVE to eat their vegetables – but there was clear enticement and coercion and even bribery to do so. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.
If you want to go to the beach, you need to clean your room first. Every parent knows what I’m talking about. We didn’t say it was mandatory, but we were using every trick in the book to bring about the response we wanted.
Jacinda Ardern at the time said,
“If you want summer, you have to get vaccinated
Once again, I reiterate – the Government made the decision. They should own the decision and the messaging.
But that wasn’t compulsion – apparently – according to Chris Hipkins
She even admitted there will be 2 classes of people
I actually think it was that interview which spelt the end of Jacinda’s career as PM – just my personal opinion.
Yet at the weekend, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins who was minister of COVID response said that people made their own choices.
After he was called out for it, rather than simply saying “yes the effect was that it was mandatory because at the time we felt that it had to be no jab no job to protect everyone.” I would have respected his answer more if he’d admitted that.
Whether you think that was right or wrong… and I know we’ll all differ on that, he should have fronted up to the truth and the way that every NZer understood it.
But he didn’t.
He doubled down on his statement
We actually did a nationwide poll at the time which found that 1 in 3 vaccinated Kiwis said that the vaccine mandate or pass requirements was a large factor in their decision to get vaccinated.
Vaccinated respondents were asked: Noting you have had at least two vaccinations shots, I’d like to read out a list of potential reasons why you got vaccinated, and for each one please tell me if that reason was not at all a factor in getting vaccinated, a slight factor, a moderate factor, a large factor or the main factor:
- To protect your own personal health
- To protect the health of other people
- Because you would be unable to enter most shops, bars and cafes if you were unvaccinated
- Because you would lose your job if you were unvaccinated
The results suggest that only 70% to 75% of those vaccinated did so primarily for health reasons. The findings were:
- Protect personal health, 70% said it was a large or the main factor
- Protect health of others, 76% large/main
But note this
- Due to vaccine pass, 36% large/main
- Due to vaccine job mandate 31% large/main
Around a third (1 in 3 Kiwis) of those vaccinated said vaccine mandate or pass requirements was a large factor in their decision.
The poll also asked: Do you support or oppose an employer being able to sack a staff member, purely because the staff member has not had a Covid-19 vaccine?
Only 39% support an employer being able to sack an unvaccinated staff member, down from 50% in a November 2021 poll by Curia. Opposition has increased from 31% to 38%. A further 23% were unsure / refused to say.
Respondents were then asked: Do you think employees who do not wish to have a Covid-19 vaccine should be able to keep their job, if they instead agree to have a regular rapid antigen Covid-19 test?
61% (almost 2 in 3) support unvaccinated employees being able to keep their jobs if they agreed to have a regular rapid antigen Covid-19 test – up from 58%. 23% were opposed – down 4%.
We all knew that it was effectively mandated. There were significant consequences if you didn’t.
So was what Chris Hipkins said spin or lies?
I suspect that most NZers would say it wasn’t spin, it was what we call a convenient lie. Strictly speaking to the letter of the law, technically correct, but in reality for families, false.
I didn’t make my kids eat their veges, but the consequences were enough to get the response I wanted.
And that was exactly the strategy of the Government.
That’s why so many people lost their jobs. Because it was effectively mandated.
Rather than admitting it was mandated, I have a feeling that with one sentence, Chris Hipkins just confirmed his change of job on October 14.
But you be the judge.