Alf is astonished to learn – and is disappointed, too – that a gay greenie from the West Coast reckons the place should no longer be regarded as a place where the blokes are real blokes.
The gay greenie in question is Kevin Hague, one of their List MPs, and he is saying he is “sick and tired” of the region’s residents being portrayed as rednecks.
This was triggered by Labour List MP Damien O’Connor’s red-blooded denunciation of the party’s list selection process, which he colourfully said was run by “self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays”.
Labour leader Phil Goff demanded an apology from O’Connor. But he had enough political nous to say O’Connor’s comments could be viewed positively by West Coasters.
They are certainty being viewed positively by Alf’s mates in Eketahuna, although it’s fair to say they have the great good sense never to vote for Labour.
The curious thing about the West Coast is that while it seems to be a redneck stronghold, it has a track record for returning Labour MPs to Parliament. This includes (in O’Connor’s case) an MP called Damien, which is not the sort of name a genuinely rednecked dad would give to his lad.
But thanks to Labour’s greenie leanings under Helen Clark, it’s protection of rare snails and its scuttling of great developmental plans involving nothing more than a bit of mining and tree-felling, the coast was won by the Nats last time around.
Alf regarded this as a an expression of good old redneck rejection of namby-pambyism.
But on the strength of Hague’s remarks, maybe the red is being watered down to pink.
Hague, who is a Green Party MP, told The Press he was not offended by O’Connor’s comments. However, he was less impressed by Goff’s response.
“West Coasters do value plain speaking but I am sick and tired of the West Coast redneck stereotype,” he said. “I have never encountered any prejudice as a gay man on the West Coast.”
While O’Connor was one of three Labour MPs who voted against civil unions, Hague said he “gets on well” with O’Connor.
Hague did not expect O’Connor’s comments would win or lose him votes.
But what other opinions do we hear?
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn’s thoughts, for one.
While he did not want to get involved in national politics, he had “10 bob each-way” on O’Connor being returned to the West Coast-Tasman seat.
“My advice would be keep plugging away, and don’t alienate your party,” he said.
There’s nothing in those remarks, however, to tell Alf whether the red is gradually being rubbed off the necks of the Coasters.
He hasn ‘t been down that way for a while, but he is aware of the sorts of tucker they serve at the wild food festival.
It’s not for the squeamish.
He also imagines it’s hard to find too many latte drinkers in that neck of the woods. Or rather, he would hope not to find too many latte drinkers.
On the other hand it’s to be noted that Hague recorded 2102 votes out of the 34,431 cast.
That’s an astonishing 6%.
But was it a 6% vote for a green party or a 6% vote for a pink candidate?
Either way, there seems to be an undue number of muesli munchers among the Coasters.
And maybe you can get a latte down there nowadays to wash down your prairie oysters, and maybe your wild food will be served by couples who have been through the civil union carry-on.