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Wrong turn by bus campaigners

By Steven | November 22, 2009

You know what appals me most about the save-Manners-mall-from-buses campaign’s decision to hire students to front up for a protest march?

It’s not the sheer stupidity of the tactic, which was surely always likely to bite them in the bum. It’s not that they’ve completely undone their own cause, illustrating how little support they can muster. It’s not their laughable attempt to blow it off by saying it’s the same as GoWellington putting posters on their buses. It’s not even the hypocrisy: imagine how they would have howled if the Council had done the same thing, or a company or lobby group they opposed had tried to pay supporters to boost their image.

It’s that they’ve undermined the credibility of popular protest generally. It doesn’t take too much of this before we’ll all be wondering, every time we see a street demonstration, whether the protesters are just paid lackeys. Or if we’re thinking of joining in, whether we want to lend our name to an enterprise where some of the grass roots may have just been bought like pot plants from a Palmers Garden Centre.

These tactics are all too similar to the loathsome establishment of front groups for lobby groups like the tobacco industry, conjured up by artful PR campaigners to look like genuine popular campaigns, which in reality have almost no community support at all.

They should fess up, admit this was a terrible idea, and vow on their mothers’ graves not to ever do it again.

Topics: Protest speech | 43 Comments »

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