Friday 28 January 2022

Efeso? Yeah, Yeah!

Rebel With A Cause: Efeso Collins promises to be the sort of candidate who can generate genuine excitement among an electorate that usually dismisses local government elections as too boring to bother with. That said, you might think that Labour’s top brass would have fallen to their knees saying “Thank you God for sending us a candidate straight out of Central Casting!” But they’re didn’t. Why? 

WHAT IS LABOUR going to do about Efeso Collins? His decision to offer himself as a candidate in this year’s Auckland mayoral election places the party in a very difficult position. If Labour backs him, he risks dragging it in a direction it doesn’t want to go. If it sacks him, he just might win anyway.

Collins is a larger than life politician of considerable eloquence and unsettling (for Labour’s top brass) independence of mind. Even worse, he is a politician unafraid to take a principled stand – even at the cost of angering his senior colleagues. Born and raised in Otara, the youngest son of Samoan immigrants, Collins possesses that rare, but highly prized, quality of personal authenticity. For the Pasifika community, he’s the Man.

In other words, Collins promises to be the sort of candidate who can generate genuine excitement among an electorate that usually dismisses local government elections as too boring to bother with. That said, you might think that Labour’s top brass would have fallen to their knees saying “Thank you God for sending us a candidate straight out of Central Casting!” But they’re didn’t. Why? Because Collins makes them look like the stale, white-bread, don’t-rock-the-boat politicians that they truly are – and they hate him for it.

Foolishly, Labour’s top brass have allowed their animosity towards Collins to cloud their strategic political judgement. Without first securing a rock-solid guarantee from Collins that he was not going to run, they started briefing the Auckland news media about the man they had already fixed upon as Phil Goff’s replacement. (That Phil Goff had fixed upon the same man made it all too easy!)

North Shore councillor, Richard Hill, was presented as the man upon whom Labour’s hands had been laid. Technocratic, socially liberal, a disciple of the gospel of “governance”, and a bona fide policy wonk, Hill was shopped around to local government journalists as Labour’s heir presumptive to the mayoral chains.

And then Collins announced – on the woke website The Spinoff, no less. In a long interview with Spinoff editor, Toby Manhire, Collins laid out his pitch for “the second most powerful job in New Zealand”.

It was a damn good pitch, confirming just how adroit Collins has become at presenting himself as both a genuine reformer and a moral conservative – the perfect South Auckland combo, but also one likely to kindle genuine interest among a great many more Aucklanders than simply the city’s Pasifika population. Receiving the near instant endorsement of the caustic conservative commentator, Ben Thomas, was proof of Collins considerable cross-over appeal.

The Spinoff also did Collins the enormous favour of putting up a video produced by his South Auckland supporters for his first run at local office. This is the sort of thing that Labour’s pathologically cautious apparatchiks just can’t do. Jacinda can – which is why Labour is where it is today. Do what? Make her party look cool-as. What The Spinoff allowed its huge audience of young, politically engaged readers to see and hear was that, way before Jacinda mastered this style of communication, Efeso’s campaign workers had nailed it to the wall.

This is Labour’s problem. It has set its heart on a Hilary Clinton, who can’t win, and is now facing a Barack Obama, who can.

What to do?

The most obvious solution – which Collins admits to lobbying for hard over many months, to no avail – is an open process of democratic selection. A “primary”, if you will, like those used by the Americans to determine their parties’ choices.

Labour Party members, across the whole of Auckland City, would be asked to vote for their preferred candidate. Simple? Effective? You might think so. But, Labour’s top brass hate the whole idea of membership elections. (Mention the name of David Cunliffe and watch them turn pale!) The only election process they seem to favour is something along the lines of the College of Cardinals choosing a Pope. An entirely mysterious process, conducted behind locked doors, comprehensible only to God.

Besides, even if the Labour top brass could be persuaded to democratise the selection process, they’d still be faced with the problem that Collins would, almost certainly, win it. And if he did, he would likely prove even less amenable to the guidance of Labour’s top brass than he has as a humble councillor. Like his last-minute refusal to vote for Goff’s regional fuel tax, arguing convincingly that it would disproportionately impact his Pasifika and Māori constituents who depend on their old, gas-guzzling jalopies to get them to work on time.

Not the sort of argument that cut much ice with North Shore Councillor Richard Hill – who loyally supported Mayor Goff’s regressive policy.

So, what will Labour do? My best guess is they will put Hills up as an “independent” candidate and spend the whole campaign casting Collins in the role of “spoiler” and “splitter” of the “centre-left” vote. If that fails to produce the desired effect in the polls, then Labour’s little online helpers will remind voters that Collin’s opposed gay marriage and has personal moral objections to abortion. Thoroughly distancing themselves from such scurrilous tactics, Labour will, nevertheless, be privately delighted to see their allies in the news media amplify these attempts to cancel Collins’ campaign.

Will it work? Doubtful. Wokeness is an acquired socio-political taste – at best. Depending on how Collins responds to these attacks, his standing with the average, non-woke, voter might even be enhanced. A brown, working-class, family man, under attack by the worst elements of left-wing “cancel culture”. What’s not to like?

Then, of course, there’s the Right. Should its preferred mayoral candidate/s fail to fire, and the race between Collins and Hills come down to the wire, conservative Aucklanders might just decide to inflict a crushing blow upon Labour in Auckland by throwing their weight behind Collins – thereby ensuring his victory, as well as giving themselves a not insignificant role in the election of Auckland’s first Pasifika mayor.

Wildly optimistic? Maybe. But just read this extract from Collins interview with The Spinoff before writing-off the chances of the Right swinging in behind him:

“As far as reaching across the left-right aisle is concerned, Collins points to his working relationship with Desley Simpson, the National-aligned councillor for Ōrākei. “I made a deliberate choice to sit next to Desley. And that is based on the fact that I represent the poorest ward in the city, and she represents the wealthiest, and we can sit there while other discussions are going on and thrash things out,” he says. “And what that has done has allowed me to understand how people in her area see the world, the same way I can invite her to understand how our people in this part of Auckland see the world.” During last year’s Covid lockdown, that resulted in “one of those beautiful things”, he says, when “she turned up with trailer loads of goods, which had women’s sanitary products, food, furniture, and she brought it to the Māngere budgeting service – trailer loads of stuff … She rang me and said: “Look, I’ve got these people who said they’ve seen you on TV, they know you’re really keen to get some services and products out to your community. Let’s make the link.”

It’s stories like that which make Efeso Collins such a formidable mayoral candidate. Raised on Bible stories, he knows how to craft a memorable parable.

Labour’s problem, as an old mate of mine once observed of another ideologically rigid organisation, is that: “They’d rather keep control of the losing side than lose control of the winning side.” Well, faced with Efeso Collins, the chances of Labour keeping control of the Auckland mayoralty strike me as slim. I think they’ll lose it.

And, frankly, that will be no bad thing.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 28 January 2022.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful. I hope Collins wins. He sounds great.
An authentic politician who knows his own true values and sticks to them. Good he is not woke.
Beautiful story about his deliberate act of sitting with Delsy and what came from it

Edward Main said...

A good read. I have never heard of this gent until now and you nailed in with one word in the second paragraph. Authenticity

Good luck to the chap!

Anonymous said...

Party politics has no place in local body governace. Give me good people from whatever political colour who make decisions that are the best fo their communities. As a right of centre voter I would vote for Collins because of his obvious ability, I just don't live in Auckland.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Party politics has no place in local body governace. "

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Yes... until a left winger looks like getting in.

John Hurley said...

Over on Twitter one of Stu Donovan's Followers/Followees asked who the best economist is. One said Shamubeel Eaqub and another Donal Curtin. Donal Curtin had a blog post about Labour lowering immigration and hoped it was just "throwing a bone to the dogs".

I woke up thinking about that. I understand why that guy stabbed Jo Cox.
All these people have done is add low paid service jobs while "putting strain on infrastructure" (generally creating horrible backdrops for people to live their lives - them and their children).
MJ Savage said "New Zealanders will have space and sunlight and beauty". Above all they had community. The guy who killed Jo Cox should have had connection - through his mother; his father to someone elses mother and son and aunti etc. Today this is something Maori (allegedly) have (as culture) over and above everyone else.
They also claim a deep and meaningful relationship with the whenua (for Maori only).
How do they think people feel when beautiful places are spotted, commodified, and built out by the real estate industry.
The winners always have a bold hole.
Once unions had a voice and some influence from ordinary workers. I'll bet they were listened to out of practicality, rather than care.
That's the thing about representation: you have to have understanding and empathy. The metropolitan elite don't have any.
The Jo Coxs' simply do not see the lives of the ordinary people as relevant

Guerilla Surgeon said...

John. I guess your posts mean something to you on the whole but if anyone else can understand them perhaps they could get in touch with me. Incidentally, Jo Cox was shot, not stabbed. So perhaps you understand very little.

Shane McDowall said...

Jo Cox

Incidentally, she was shot thrice and stabbed multiple times.

sumsuch said...

I expect council party politics in the UK is a little down to the 5 year parliamentary term, but it would help here to have an intervening discerning process to increase local politics participation -- we don't know them. At the mo' it's about our ability to throw out folk, which is no unserious thing.

Everyone in my little town knew our mayor of many decades was a twit in many ways but we kept him in harness for some reason (I wasn't here at the time). Allowances were made. I could tell you stories about Napier mayors, my hometown. Nothing corrupt, unless it was for good purposes. Rejecting folk is a bloody good way.

John Hurley said...

As I said: no representation without empathetic understanding.
Chris posted a Deplorables video a couple of years ago.
Society is held together by John Campbell who holds up a mirror (after selecting suitable opinions and trashing the rest).
He was able to get a Groundswell organiser to say that those who oppose te reo in their news and weather are racist; showed that they are divided and quoted Andrew Hogart as saying many of them are "crazies". In other words Groundswell nothing.
I talk to people and they self censor. It is like opening an oyster.

Unknown said...

What they said

Flaneuse said...

I Like them both. Isn't there room in the Labour party for them both to shine?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well unknown – they had me until they put experts in scare quotes. If we are not to believe experts – then who? Asked this question a number of times never really had an answer. Could it be you people haven't a clue?

David George said...

The 270 self described experts were shown to be nothing of the sort, hence the scare quotes.

"the list of signatories was not populated by people actually working in virology or vaccine research. Many of those who signed were nurses or students, others were general practitioners, a few were dentists, and at least one was a licensed marriage and family therapist"

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Still not answering my question though David. If we don't believe experts who do we believe? You? If we believed people like you would all be sitting round drinking pints of our own piss – no thank you.

David George said...

Science is not about belief.
Which experts, only the government approved ones, is that how science works.

David George said...

I prefer not to get involved in any discussions with you at all GS so please stop badgering me if I choose not to respond.
I'm curious though, what prompted this piss drinking nonsense you seem obsessed with. I've never said anything like that, or even heard of anyone else recommending it come to that. FYI I'm fully vaccinated but opposed to the mandatory aspect of it and have serious doubts as to the wisdom of the injection of children and some concerns about the effect of mass injection of young healthy people generally. That Great Barrington declaration I posted sums up some of the issues. I've good reason to be suspicious of mass government and media declarations of "the truth" and the demonisation of any dissent.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon.

What was it about playing the ball and not the man that you didn't understand, GS?

Let's just stick to the issues.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well, you don't usually enforce those rules Chris, so you can hardly blame me.And there was plenty of meat in their to get your teeth into. What about not allowing antivax propaganda here – its creeping in and you're not doing much

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon.

If you only knew, GS, how many anti-vax comments I am forced to delete every day, I trust you would revise your opinion.

Please re-submit your earlier comment - minus the personal insults.

I really am trying to make Bowalley Road an ad hominem-free zone.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

That this should become an ad hominem free zone is an aim that I can get behind, given some of the sneering abuse I've put up with here – not to mention what doesn't get through. :)

So – David.

1. Your declaration has been put out by a fringe group, and they have been excoriated by just about every epidemiologist ever.
2.Not to mention that it has been signed by all sorts of odd people, like physiotherapists and homeopaths, whose knowledge of epidemiology is usually zero. And apparently there are numerous obvious false names – I do believe Julius Caesar has signed it twice. Naughty.
3. Drinking your own piss is one of the remedies put forward by nutty antivax people, along with drinking bleach, taking horse dewormer, and I do believe someone suggested shoving an ultraviolet light bulb up your bum. I would have thought that with your penchant for the unconventional, you would know about this. My bad.
4. We have been mass injecting children for well over 100 years now, and it has saved millions of lives. It's pretty much instrumental in the elimination of smallpox from our disease lexicon. The alternative prior to inoculation was to use about 1/3 of the French army to enforce a Cordon Sanitaire in order to keep smallpox outbreaks out of France in particular Western Europe in general. Expensive. As a supporter of lowering government spending I would have thought you'd been in favour of this also.
5. Everyone who joins the Armed Forces and pretty much every country in the world receives a huge number of vaccinations. My father got them when he joined up for World War II. It doesn't seem to have done that particular generation any great harm, apart from those who fainted at the sight of a needle, who were apparently numerous.
6. Dissent is not demonised, so much as lying. Vaccine misinformation is rife, and you seem to be instrumental in passing it on. It might have been "demonised" but it certainly hasn't been "cancelled" given the extremely vocal minority that exists in just about every Western country seemingly, which unfortunately gets publicity out of proportion to its numbers. A minority whose bizarre behaviour in some instances should perhaps put us off believing anything they say.
7. Government approved experts are usually the best in the field. People who contradict them are usually the lunatic fringe. Who also seem to believe weird things often.
Like this one.
And this one.

Now that I know your vaccine status, I would not necessarily associate you with such lunatics, but you are part of a spectrum which is facilitating their misinformation. This is bad for society.

John Hurley said...

Julie-Anne Genter is asked a question about the effect of 6 story buildings on neighboring properties.

She says that actually windows aren't the issue it is that many old Wellington houses are built directly on the ground.

She gives Barcelona and Paris as places that have density plus walkability and "amenities".

They also have their slums and you cannot take human nature out of human. Humans prefer small cities and nature.

She also says we must prepare for future residents (immigration).