When we were forwarded a press release by protest enthusiast Socialist Party and a Melbourne inner-city councillor Stephen Jolly encouraging scribes to make contact with him while he was in South Africa for the World Cup, offering to comment on the various stripes of oppression and corruption he encountered there, we quickly flicked our switch to â€˜takedownâ€™ and wrote a series of mildly cheeky questions to him with a view to dissing him severely when he failed to respond.
Our plans quickly changed when Jolly not only responded but did so in surprisingly good humour.
Over there with his boy for one of the worldâ€™s biggest sporting tournaments, youâ€™ll see the lighter side of the earnest rabble rouser.
Turns out that the Yarra councillor who has shown up his big-talking Greens party rivals by working hard and speaking up for some of the most disadvantaged people in his community is a serious soccer fanatic.
Brother Jolly, are you a soccer fan? Which club(s) do you normally support? And do you cheer on a particular nation or do you regard national borders as a bourgeois construct?
Comrade Andrew, yes i am (a soccer fan), plus i am President of Yarra Jets soccer club (based in Clifton Hill) and coach of the under 14 girls team. I support Melbourne Victory in Oz, Man Utd in EPL and am supporting Australia in the World Cup (although if Ireland had qualified I would have gone for them first). I am an internationalist but only idiots think ordinary folk have no national consciousness.
â€œThis (trip) is fully paid by me, thanks to loans from Members Equity and the Commonwealth Bank – hopefully they get nationalised soon and the debts written off.â€
Do you think you’re the only soccer fan arriving in South Africa who will double-dip, both savouring the delights of the great game and opining freely on the failings of the nasty FIFA and so on?
Not sure, probably not.
Have you noticed law and order problems over there? Or do you look too broke to be mugged?
Law and order problems been hyped up a bit I reckon. There are police and security everywhere from airports to CBD to the roads themselves. Public are very proud to have World Cup here, so are very down on crims who might take advantage of international football tourists. Having said that, there is loads of crime in the townships – the tabloid media here (aimed at the masses) doesn’t hold back on colour photos of dead bodies and the like. However, for football tourists it’s ok – that said, if you walk the townships or joburg suburbs such as Hillbrow at night with cash sticking out of your jeans you are seriously asking for it.
Is this trip a Yarra council paid mission, Socialist party junket or are you there in a private capacity?
This is fully paid by me, thanks to loans from Members Equity and the Commonwealth Bank – hopefully they get nationalised soon and the debts written off. All my Council allowance (which the Greens and ALP jointly voted to increase by 25% in the days after the November 2008 Council election, with only me voting against, is about $5600 a quarter). I give it all to Socialist Party and only claim back bone fide and audited expenses. Our party has a principle of a ‘workers rep on a workers wage’. My fulltime, real job is in the construction industry, working for a labour hire company.
Which games are you going to? Is it expensive? Anything over there that’s impressed, surprised or saddened you?
Things are dirt cheap here compared to Australia – no complaints on that one from a tourist perspective. My 13 year old son and I are going to 11 games, including Australia vs Serbia and tonight the first game at the beautiful new Green Point stadium in Cape Town between France and Uruguay.
Saddened? Yes by a black/coloured/Indian population who gave so much to overthrow apartheid yet, in the main, still remain rooted in poverty – except for a thin layer of black empowerment beneficiaries. They are proud to host the World Cup, but it’s very much like when I lived in a public housing estate in Dublin with my Granny during my first 14 years: When rich relatives would visit she would stress out ironing the best tablecloth and cleaning the best cutlery. Behind the glitz of FIFA and the World Cup is all the depressing features of longterm poverty.
Do you have a secret hankering to cheer on North Korea?
Kim Jong Il will end up like Ceausescu with a bit of luck – I am not a Stalinist. However I hope his team get the odd draw or win so as to save them from the gulags back home.
You have shown up the Greens party councillors on Yarra by working harder than all of them combined – from what we hear – do you therefore shun nations with the colour green in their kit?
The real ‘Green’ team, Ireland, are not here. So the sight of Mexican green or even South African green makes me a little sick. The Greens in Australia are only green in opposition and ‘change to the away strip’ once they get a taste of power eg Yarra, Tasmania, Ireland, Germany. SP has the best of their policies without the illusions in bureaucrats and capitalism. Thanks for compliment though – if that’s what it was.
If you had a choice between a big game and a big demo, be honest, what would you choose?
I’d go to a game (and hold up a banner at half time)
Were you concerned about your carbon footprint by taking such a long journey and what measures have you put in place to offset these nocturnal emissions?
Many of my Green Party mates drive four wheel drives, have LCD TVs, and often talk a lot of shite -Â so i would have to go to a few World Cups to catch up with them in terms of carbon footprint.
Your tip for the Cup?
Spain if they don’t bottle as usual. A (very outside) tip for a semi place – the USA.
Your involvement in sport, doing actual things to help people in public housing rather than just gobbing off and your union – the CFMEU â€“ which has left the Socialist Left and now votes with the moderate unions the SDA and NUW. Does all this suggest you are on the verge of crossing to the Dark Side?
My union has won higher wages and better conditions for its members than any other construction union in world, as far as i am aware. The old ALP would be giving them plaudits, not sending the ABCC onto them. I would prefer the CFMEU to break with the ALP and set up a new mass leftwing party as unions have done alongside community groups in Greece and Germany recently. By being outside the ALP you can pressure the ALP better than being in it – that’s been my experience in Yarra by the way. I want to win over some of my Green and ALP mates to SP rather than the other way around. Joining the dark side, ie selling out, only pisses off the people you want to represent while you never really get the respect of the people you are joining – look at the Peter Garrett experience.
So there you have it folks, VEXNEWS first interview with a Socialist.