Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 35 No 5. March 29, 1972
Strangely, it looks as if the Anti-Apartheid Conference may succeed in spite of the stupidity of certain individuals.
This was a Conference which displayed an encouraging amount of common sense and tolerence. One document distributed, Care's Operation Prism form, demonstrated what we consider to be an ideal approach to a left wing issue. The principle of offering a varied range of activity, so that all those wishing to express their revulsion against a Springbok team of racist Apartheid ambassadors may participate, is excellent. Under the one organisation there is room for activity to suit any conscience; from a mere donation ranging to passive or really vigorous protest. This gives Prism a solid basis for successful action, and the operation will probably be more effective than Hart in the coming battles.
In our manifesto we referred to demands made by Parties on their members. Sure enough, at the Conference we were treated to a display of this in the form of Selwyn Devereaux from the Communist Party.
Despite the general atmosphere of common sense and common purpose, Devereaux attempted to ignore reality in favour of the Party line. We though that after being rubbished twice he may have shut up and entered into the spirit of the Conference. But he persisted in pushing the line that South African racism and fascism is really only a manifestation of class struggle - in spite of the ample evidence of Conference speakers who had experienced the brutality of Apartheid, that this is not the case. Devereaux made a prick of himself - in sharp contrast to some other Communists present.
We hear that Devereaux was highly pissed off with the rapport between Bill Richards, the old Communist battler from Dunedin, and George Goddard, one of the so-called Manson/Bailey group of Wellington ex-Communists. We couldn't help getting the impression that these Wellington ex-Communists were trying to use Richards in practising some political imperialism on South Island comrades.
The Fyson Elitskyist Sal'ers took another drubbing when they tried a takeover in one of the working parties. True to Trotskyist tradition, after their defeat they left the Conference dragging their tales behind them.
Leon, Leon, quite contrary,
How does your movement grow?
With Fysons one, and two, and three,
And walkouts all in a row!
Another minor feature of the Conference which we found irritating and unnecessary was the fondness of some speakers for the sound of their own voice. Jim Hoy, from the Wharfies Union, raved on and on and on - and said nothing which had not already been said.
All in all, the Conference was an encouraging one, marred only by the odd dogmatist. With continuing direction and good political organisation the aims of the Conference could just end up being acceptable to the Labour Party - remember people, it's bullshit year again!