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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 10. 1971

A question of Image

A question of Image

Do you remember sitting in a large picture theatre during October 1969, and being suddenly confronted with a feature employing many of the latest audio-visual film techniquest. It was when these varied images condensed finally into a scene of Parliament Buildings, and one was presented with a brief case carrying Norman Kirk striding up the steps of them, that it dawned on one that this was a Labour Party Adversitement. This inconsistency between what one was being presented with, and traditional feelings about the Labour Party, caused many in the audience to laugh aloud. Perhaps you were one of these.

Attending the 55th, Annual Conference of the N.Z. Labour Party was a similar experience. A party whose leader had attacked Mike Hirschfeld now voted this gentleman on to the National Executive. Whereas it had been strikingly obvious last Conference that the success of a remit depending on who supported it, rather than the idea itself, this year decisions on remits were not so openly stage managed from the platform. Norman Kirk and those sitting on the platform were relaxed and good humoured, com pared to their previous uneasiness. Can such fundamental changes in outlook be attributed solely to the change in the President of the Party.

Much comment has been made about Bill Rowling's low key human chairing of the Conference proceedings. The image that this particular Conference has acquired is smooth, unified, and liberal. However, it should be borne in mind that the passing of a remit at Conference is not a water tight guarantee that it will become Party Policy—those who attended the Conference prior to the last election are very aware of this fact—and policy can stilt be announced that has not even been discussed at Conference, and that is even contrary to decisions made at Conference (e.g. State Aid, and Kirk's recent press statement on S.E.A.T.O.).

In the final analysis, what the Labour Party goes to the country on, must be balanced between democratic decision-making, and political expediency. For such is a fundamental fact of political life.

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