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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 9. 9 May 1972

working the system

working the system

To "work within and on the fringes of the current political system" is the idea behind the article "Is The Dream Over"

This idea is a good one, for basically the political system consists of its members, and if sufficient of its members feel the same way about a new idea, they'll change it. Unfortunately this change may take some time. I've no doubt that it is far easier to gather a group of individuals at the University and get them to agree, than it is to get the whole of a political party to agree. Take the idea of abolition of capital punishment for example. It is easier to get a group of students to agree with the abolition of capital punishment than it is to get the National Party to agree. Although the latter takes far more effort, it is likely to have far greater effect. Of course party conference remits are only recommendations, and therefore it could be argued that the effort is frequently wasted. True. Vet at the same time, by sticking with the system, the individual within the system is likely to gain more influence. By introducing like minded friends, this influence is likely to grow. The like minded friends are likely to create an image within the party which will attract other likeminded friends. Eventually the party will grow towards the individuals frame of mind. Of course this is a difficult path to follow — there will be many issues the party may adopt that you personally disagree with. But politics is the art of compromise, and I might add, to gain your own ends.

The political pressure groups should not be dismissed as useless. These groups serve as a filter for ideas for the party and help create the climate of opinion for change. They may provide expert opinion on such issues. Nor are marches a waste of time, although too many marches tend to spoil their effect, as they become a cliche. One well supported march in one year is better than 20 mediocre and ill attended ones.

I question the values of letter writing to an M.P. as a means of producing results. This tends to work better for personal problems (eg. getting supplementary allowances) than on national issues. If you were an M.P. who was strongly against the Springbok tour, would 5 letters in favour of the tour change your mind? I doubt it. But if you follow the system through, and achieve a position of influence - by becoming an MP or having office in a political party, then that pressure is likely to have far more strength. Don't be content to be a spectator at the political games, become a participant in the games yourself!

Rosemary Young

V.U.W. National Club