Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 10. 1971
Brab Young Aro Street Caucus
Brab Young Aro Street Caucus
On my way home last Thursday, and who should I bump into coming out of his Labour Party Conference, but Old Arthur Faulkener. Arty and I Have been friends for years, but since I left the Press Gallery we haven't bumped into each other much. As is his wont he asked me how my health was, and I said I was O.K., and added that the weather was very nice, but he did not seem his normal cheery self, so I asked him what was wrong. It is always easy to ask Arthur personal questions. I remember the time when I was in the gallery, and he came up not looking too cheery, so I asked him how his wife was (funny how one always asks the appropriate questions on such occasions), and he said she had just died. I must say I laughed, but Arthur never saw the joke. Not a humourous chap.
In any case, what turned out to be wrong this time was that Arthur had lost a motion in his conference. The motion to withdraw from S.E.A.T.O. had come before his foreign affairs committee, and he had used his casting vote to get a "no" recommendation to the conference. "Damn me if the conference didn't reject the recommendation of its duly elected committee" meditated Arthur, "I believe in democracy, but those [unclear: anz] Name me one who has been to S.E.A.T.O. head-quarters in Bankok." I did not have the heart to remind Arthur of the more radical days of his youth, when he was occasionally seen to wear a red tie, and once was seen to vote against a party leadership motion in caucus. Yet of course it is a very human failing to crap out in old age. Many have done it. Some say fat Norm has done it himself (I should say "said" - their bodies were washed up at Makara last Saturday).
I remember the times when Sir Keith (Keith, plain Keith as he was then), used to walk into the house of a winter's day to the cheering of the Government, and the jeers of the Opposition; great days they were in 1958. But I digress. As I talked with Arthur, all my old friends gathered round me, Mat, Martin. Joe, Norm, Paddy, Nordy. It makes one warm to know one has friends, but it is sad to see a Party Conference sink so low as to against its leaders' wishes and vote to legalise Drug Addicts. Vietniks and Queers. What would Micky Savage have said if he were alive today?
Someone was saying to me (funny me not remembering who), how much better the old Labour Party conferences used to be when all the delegates would stand and sing the Red Flag (arousing song that one, if a bit red), and then they would sit down and listen in respectful silence to their leaders (and they were real leaders in those days), and then pass good, strong, radical, might I say heartwarming, motions, as suggested by their leaders. One has heard it said, and one might say one agreed with it, that what we lack today is respect for leaders, and leaders to respect. Is there any member of Parliament today who can sit through an all-night session without falling to sleep? I fear not; I fear that it is not everything that has changed for the best. Where is the yellow peril now we not longer fear it? Right on our doorsteps.