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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 24, September 27, 1976.


"What has happened in the Middle East has shaken the capitalist system to its very roots. The fight over the next few years will not be to balance oil prices but to prevent the whole structure from collapsing." Norman Kirk, at the 1974 Labour Party Conference.

It's not a happy time. Even crumbs and damp pieces of cloth (the students staple diet) are being hit by inflation. Unions and others trying to win back a cup of cold tea are threatened with heavy fines and deregistration. Local racism is coming more and more out of the woodwork. Muldoon's paranoia of the Soviet extends everywhere.

The contradictions, as Mao said, are sharpening. Conflicts of all kinds that could be postponed during the boom come out with a vengeance in the slump. If you think this is bad, the President of the Manufacturers' Federation reckons we just might have a real recession next year.

So what's the answer? Where's the elusive elixir? David Exel came up here a couple of weeks back to tell us its the Labour Party. While the reception he got was not the most friendly, the questions he raised are important ones. What is the role of the Labour Party. How much can we expect from it?

Even in its own terms, the Labour Party is not doing too well at the moment, as Exel was ready to admit. The problems go a fair bit further than he suggests though. Its not that that the people at the top of the Party are 'wrong' somehow, and everything would be roses if they were replaced. As we will see a little later, the Labour Party, the very essence of its role in the slate system cannot solve our problems. In fact, it often intensifies them.