Simon Bridges might not have made many friends in Wellington when he accused Police Commissioner Andy Coster of being a “wokester” last month but some in the party think the issue was a winner and played into wider concerns about cancel culture.
At a meeting of about 60 National Party members, including some MPs, party pollster David Farrar, of Curia Market Research, told MPs that he saw the party winning support by taking a stand on “cancel culture” issues.
Farrar was speaking at Metro Nat drinks on Tuesday night at Wellington's Wellesley Boutique Hotel.
According to people at the meeting, Farrar discussed cancel culture – the practice of ridding someone from public life for making inappropriate comments.
An attendee said that Farrar believed cancel culture issues were a winner for the National Party.
Farrar would not confirm or deny what was said at the meeting.
“I get invited to a lot of talks. I shared my views on what I thought were relevant issues,” Farrar said. “It was to a private meeting.”
He did, however, point to the fact that he had publicly Tweeted that he was giving a talk on cancel culture, a few hours ahead of the talk on Tuesday.
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Taupō MP Louise Upston attended the session and told Stuff that constituents had been increasingly worried about cancel culture.
“I think it is an issue that we need to focus on ensuring that people are comfortable and confident with expressing a view that is shared by the majority,” Upston said.
During the Q&A session that followed, a participant asked how Bridges’ “wokester” remarks – for which Bridges was himself almost ‘’cancelled’’ – played into wider fears about cancel culture.
An account of the meeting said that Farrar agreed Bridges’ remarks would be popular, although he disagreed that attacking the police commissioner was a good idea.
Farrar would not confirm or deny that account.
Bridges said that although he was not at the meeting, he stood by the merits of the “wokester” remarks.
“I was not at the meeting, I stand by what I said, but I want to be a straight shooter in New Zealand politics,” he said.