Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969
1 Socialist — George Fyson
1 Socialist — George Fyson
George Fyson, the editor of Red Spark, the magazine of the VUW Socialist Club, is standing as a candidate in the General Elections. He will contest the Wellington Central electorate for the Socialist Action League. George is twenty years old, and in his third year at Victoria.
The Socialist Action League was formed a few weeks ago, and most of the group are students and members of the Socialist Club. It will already be known to a few students through a bulletin which has recently appeared, Socialist Action.
"The reason why we are putting up a candidate," said George, "is that we regard the Vietnam issue as a critical one for the future of the whole world, and it is essential that it should be made into a key issue in the elections. The Labour Party Conference (and the Fol Conference) called for the withdrawal of NZ forces, but the National Executive and the Caucus, in order to maximise Labour's chances at the elections regardless of the cost, do not intend to implement the decision. We are standing a candidate only because of the Labour "leadership's" deliberate equivocation on this fundamental question of Vietnam. We have offered our active support to the Labour Candidate for Wellington Central on the condition that Mr Kirk will commit himself as leader of the Party to unconditional and immediate withdrawal. But he won't. We wrote two letters to him, but he did not deign to reply."
Asked if the S.A.L. was trying to "blackmail" the Party, as Kirk is reported to have said, George replied. "Certainly not; there can be no such construction placed on our actions. We have deliberately chosen a scat that is safe for National in order not to harm Labour's chance of becoming the Government. The Labour Party is definitely preferable to a Tory government; although bureaucratically deformed in the extreme, it does still retain the affiliation of the bulk of the working people. Our campaign is to raise ideas and issues; vote-catching is incidental In fact, we are going to go to the polls with the call that in all other electorates except Wellington Central people vote Labour."
George told Salient that although Vietnam would be the primary plank in the S.A.L.'s programme, many other issues would also be brought forward. "Essentially it is a programme for a socialist transformation of New Zealand, he said, "and our election demands will highlight a number of issues which we think will be the most effective in raising the consciousness of people, in showing them—mainly workers and students—that socialism is necessary page 9if we are to progress, and that it can be achieved, through class struggle, through the mass movement of the working class and its allies.
When asked whether such a prospective, which was essentially a revolutionary one, was compatible with standing for Parliament, which some "revolutionaries" considered to be a "sellout" tactic. George answered. "There is nothing at all hypocritical in standing for Parliament, provided that you have a genuine socialist programme, and put it before everything else. At a certain stage the Bolsheviks under Lenin put up candidates for the Tsarist Duma, and even had them elected. Lenin recognised that elections provide revolutionaries with great opportunities to publicise their ideas. And it goes without saying that he was under no illusion as to the efficiency of parliament in the long term.
"One of our first actions in the campaign will be to demand radio and television time for ourselves and for all political groups that are at present excluded, such as the Communist Party and the Socialist Unity Party. This situation is typical of our whole distorted electoral system, which sometimes seems like nothing more than a deal between the leaderships of the main parties to preserve their own parliamentary positions. We will not only attack this blatant and arbitrary censorship, but will also point up the self-censorship of the Press. which functions in the interest of privileged minorities.
The Socialist Action League's programme is not yet finalised in the details, but its main points will go like this:
(1) Foreign Policy. Withdrawal from Vietnam, of all NZ personnel; withdrawal from Malaysia. Seato, Anzus; no Omega stations here Trade embargoes on Rhodesia and South Africa; no sports tours to countries practicing apartheid. Recognition of The People's Republic of China.
(2) Education. Greatly increased state expenditure on education. No state aid to private schools, which exist only to maintain either privilege or sectarianism. (But school holidays etc. will be available to all cultural and political groups to hold classes and meetings after school hours.) Abolition of all examinations, Universities to be administered by councils representative of all groups—staff, students—in proportion to their numbers. University grants to be controlled by a council 1/3 students. 1/3 stair. 1/3 government. All students over the age of 16 to receive the national minimum wage (see below). Secondary school students to have full trade union rights, schools to be run by councils similar to universities Abolition of corporal punishment.
(3) Income, Rents, Taxes. A National Minimum Wage, payable to all people over 16, whether sick, unemployed, studying. Taxation to be much more steeply graduated. Rents to be no more than 10% of wage. Retraining for persons displaced by automation etc. at full pay. Social Security to be completely over-hauled; all medical and related services to be entirely free.
(4) Nationalisation of all large industrial enterprises, and of all financial institutions. All nationalised industries—including those already nationalised—to be placed under the country of democratically elected workers' councils. In general, no compensation to former owners, but with exceptions in the case of farmer owned freezing works and in the case of holders of small parcels of shares.
(5) Equality For Women. Equal pay for women immediately. Legalised abortion. Free day nurseries, and vastly increased facilities for pre-school children.
(6) Maoris And Islanders. Recognise the Polynesian peoples' rights to self-determination, even to the point of their forming a separate state, if they so wish. Special and substantial state funds for Maori and Islanders' education. Polynesian studies to be a compulsory subject in all schools. Schools of Polynesian studies to be developed in the universities, with substantial government grants. Outlawing of all discrimination—in jobs, accommodation, etc.—on the basis of race.
(7) Security Service. To be abolished.
(8) Management Of The Economy. All nationalised industries to be co-ordinated in a national economic plan, and the planning board to be responsible to the highest democratic body of the country. Strict price control. Automatic escalator clauses in all wage agreements including the N.M.W. No bank secrecy for any firm or organisation. State monopoly of foreign trade.
By Les Slater