James Blunt offers help to break up protest

The British singer suggested authorities use his music to get anti-vaccine demonstrators to leave

New Zealand authorities resorted to using the musical stylings of James Blunt on Sunday as part of an unconventional new tactic to evict hundreds of anti-vaccine mandate protesters who have been camped outside the country’s parliament in Wellington.

The British musician had tweeted an offer of help on Saturday, suggesting the country’s police force “give me a shout” if it was unsuccessful in its efforts to annoy protesters by bombarding them with the 1990s dance staple ‘Macarena’ and Barry Manilow’s greatest hits played on loop.

Hours later, Blunt’s most well-known song, the 2004 hit ‘You’re Beautiful’, blared out the building’s loudspeakers. It did not appear to have the intended effect, however, as videos shared on social media show demonstrators singing along, playing songs over his crooning and dancing in the rain.

The 47-year-old singer has become well known for taking self-deprecating swipes at himself and his career, frequently admitting that he had peaked early and had never been able to build on that initial success. Last month, he jokingly threatened to release new music in response to the Neil Young and Joe Rogan Spotify controversy over alleged Covid-19 vaccination misinformation.

The decision to use music has been attributed to Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard, who has been soliciting suggestions on his Twitter account. The playlist has included Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, ‘Frozen’ hit ‘Let It Go’, and viral children’s song ‘Baby Shark’, as well as a number of Covid-related advertisements.

The protests in New Zealand began on Tuesday when a convoy of vehicles arrived at parliament buildings, adopting the tactics employed by the Canadian Freedom Convoy truckers and blocking a number of streets in the nation's capital.

According to media outlets, there were as many as 1,000 people taking part in the demonstration against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government – with numbers dwindling throughout the week but rising over the weekend.

READ MORE: Artist threatens to release new music on Spotify if Joe Rogan isn’t removed

Dozens of people were arrested when police tried to remove the protesters by force. The authorities have also turned on sprinklers to disperse the crowd on Mallard’s orders.

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