Prime Minister Bill English says constitutional changes should not be led by politicians.
“That is the lesson from the flag referendum. I oversaw the process for changing the flag, I voted for changing the flag. In the end, a lot of the voting became a bit of a political vehicle, probably because it was proposed by the Prime Minister.
“So I think in future that constitutional change needs to come from the will of the people.”
That referendum was defeated in part because Labour leader Andrew Little turned his back on his party’s policy to change the flag because he saw it as an opportunity to dent then-Prime Minister John Key’s popularity.
But it wasn’t a landslide defeat for change and if you add those who wanted change but didn’t like the design and those who wanted change but didn’t like the then-PM to those who wanted change and voted for it I think there would be a majority open to a new flag.
The seeds for a flag change have been planted but if they’re to grow and bloom the campaign must be non-partisan and led by the people not politicians.
People-driven campaigns for other constitutional matters would also have more chance of success than those led by politicians.
One of those matters is a move to a four-year electoral term but it’s probably only political tragics who have a strong view on that.