|Embed from Getty Images|
|I remember thinking at the time that the view from the
community hall was a remarkable one
Look, I can explain everything. There has been a terrible mistake, but I’m not the one responsible.
I would never have gone in if I’d known who the host was.
I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Let me explain how I think this happened. I was on my way to a Council of Trade Unions meeting to hear Helen Kelly speak about the need to strengthen collective bargaining for vulnerable workers.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have great directions for the venue. All I knew was that it was a community hall somewhere in the Kingsland area. The CTU people told me I’d have no trouble finding the place. It would be well lit, and there would be plenty of people around.
So I got to Kingsland and I saw a bunch of bright lights and a lot of people going into a largish looking place, and I thought “hello, that must be it!” They recognised my face and let me through the door of the venue, and then I stumbled about for a bit looking for signs of Helen and her team.
How exactly I ended up in Sky City’s corporate box I can’t really say. I admit to feeling a little disoriented after half an hour or so of searching for the CTU function, and then someone in a sharp suit called out to me “this way! We’re so glad you could make it!”
They put a glass of bubbles in my hand and told me to get stuck into the buffet. They told me they had reserved a prime seat for me, and it even had a card with my name on it.
My goodness, I thought. The CTU are pulling out all the stops tonight! Champagne, ham off the bone, fresh salads and delicious seafood. I was in heaven! I wondered who was paying for it all, but I figured I had earned a bit of a treat after years of going to party and union meetings where the most you could hope for was a gingernut and a cup of terrible instant coffee.
“What’s the occasion?” I asked them. “This is magnificent fare!”
Some fellow in a shiny suit introduced himself as the CEO. I was a bit surprised by his job title. Since when did a union organisation have a CEO? Still, things had clearly been changing within the CTU, if the hospitality was anything to go by.
Helen wasn’t there, so I just hung around and had a drink, and then another, and then we watched the rugby. I’m not a fan of rugby, you understand, but by some fluke the venue where they were holding their talk had the most astonishing view of the Eden Park pitch.
I’m aware that there’s some footage doing the rounds. It shows me jumping up and down and screaming “go you good thing!” while hugging the chap who called himself the CEO.
But I can explain that too.
You see, I’m a fervent supporter of the union movement. I have devoted most of my adult life to improving the lot of our poorly paid workers. The sad truth, though, is that the union movement is at a low point in its history, thanks to years and years of battering at the hands of Tory governments. That’s why when I go to a union function I’m usually struck by the general mood of despondency about the place.
So I was amazed to see so many people jumping up and down and cheering. I honestly thought I was witnessing something special.
I admit that my behaviour may seem foolish now, but I was in the grips of a euphoria brought on by a powerful feeling of class consciousness. For a moment I thought we were going to raise the red flag and march on Wellington in numbers, tearing down once and for all this hateful capitalist system.
In hindsight it did seem odd that they wanted to talk a lot about gambling, and I did wonder where all my usual CTU friends were, and why the talk about collective bargaining never eventuated. But a couple of my caucus colleagues were there in the room, so I didn’t think anything of it.
Had I known I was in the middle of a function organised by the dark lords of that vast pit of Satan, Sky City, I would have fled screaming.
I know now that I have been the victim of a terrible trick. I don’t blame the CTU or Helen Kelly for what happened, because what chance did such a plucky and honest group of people ever have against such a wicked organisation?
But this is not my fault. I’m the victim here. Where is my justice?