We don’t hear much of El Jefe nowadays. The lone MP, shunned from his own party after facing a series of corruption charges, has watched the Winston Peters saga unfold with interest. No doubt part of him is outraged that Winston Peters has been given so much leeway from the Labour Party, and given the benefit of the doubt until the rule of law has carried its verdict, whereas Field was jettisoned before charges were laid. So much for due process.
Field was one of those old-style unionists that Chris Trotter is so nostalgic about. Field’s many years running the Service and Food Worker’s Union in Auckland taught him how to get things done working-class style. Not for them the niceties of debate. If a union member is wavering over whether to vote for you, then that person gets a visit from the local union thug until they are convinced of the more sound argument.
Field is credited by many in the Labour Party with bringing out the vote in South Auckland in 2005. The Service Worker’s Union and the EPMU rounded up union members and their families, picked them up in buses, fed them, and instructed them on how to vote on polling day. Often the instructions given to them were in Samoan. The instructions were to the effect: “If you don’t vote Labour, then National will win. If National wins, National will take away your working for families, cut your minimum wage, take away your job, when you have lost your job they will take away your benefit and throw you out of your state house, and then send you back to Samoa.”
It was vicious, dirty campaigning at the last minute, and preyed on the fears and insecurities of vulnerable South Auckland voters. It also worked. In droves, the Labour Party through its EPMU and SFWU proxies, shipped people in to vote.
Remember Len Richards? Yes, he’s the one who bashed a protester outside the Labour Party conference this year, because protesters wouldn’t listen to his wife, Labour Party activist Jill Ovens. Richards is also involved with the Mangere Labour Party, in no small way. He has taken over as the SFWU campaign coordinator. Before Field was ejected from the Labour Party, Richards was Field’s protege. Every standover tactic that Field used in his time at the SFWU has been passed on to Richards. Richards is also yet to be prosecuted for his assault despite it being captured on televiion and being in front of several cops.
El Jefe isn’t done yet, however. Last Wednesday evening Owen Glenn made the sensational claim that Williams called him on election day in 2005, while eating KFC with a hundred or so people he was feeding, while accompanying them to the polling booth to vote. That claim is only sensational to those who aren’t aware of the strategies Labour uses, along with the SFWU and the EPMU, in South Auckland.
On Thursday last week in Parliament, Field made an interesting contribution during Question Time:
Taito Phillip Field: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Given that we are so focused on being accurate and truthful in everything that we say, I tell members that I distinctly recall, from listening to the news last night, that the KFC story referred to Manurewa, not Māngere.
Mangere is Field’s own patch. Mangere, Manurewa, and Manukau East are the major voting block of Pacific Island, unionised voters. They are the heart of the membership of the SFWU and the EPMU in Auckland. Field was drawing attention away from the activities in Mangere, to redirect the focus on Manurewa.
No person in and around Parliament knows more the campaigning tactics of the EPMU, the SFWU, and the Labour Party in South Auckland in 2005, because he ran those tactics. Field knows where the bodies are buried. He could easily confirm Glenn’s story, as well as many others involving Mike Williams’ campaigning activities in South Auckland in 2005. Some enterprising journalist should go and ask him.