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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972

Talking Politics

Talking Politics

Whatever happens at the Conference Norm Kirk must continue to cry himself to sleep and subsequently wake up screaming in the night, because no matter how you look at those poll figures, even upside down they bode no well for the electoral prospects of the party. Very nasty they are.

Only 42% said they'd vote Labour which is a drop of 5% on March 71 while since then National support has claimed to 44%. About 4% of the people asked said they thought they might vote after all as if voting was some sort of significant social act, and 9%, Godbless them, still don't want to vote at all. As it happens, and as Harold Wilson will be glad to tell you poll figures are a load of old cods anyway, but Norm can't afford to believe that.

The nett result of all this is that beneath the Labour Party's gleaming exterior its underwear is full of holes, the reason being that Labour has never had more than a quite small firm electoral base. Right from its early years the only votes it has been able to rely on, even if it policy was that all Labour voters should be shot, are most urban blue collar workers and some specialist groups in other areas - miners, shearers, construction workers, seamen and what not. Even the great victories of 1935 and 1938 netted less than 50% of the votes. In 1935 they got in with 52 seats but only 40% of the vote (which, just out of interest is 3% less than Hitler and the Nazis got in the Federal elections of 1932) To get even this they had to water down their policies and project their leadership to attract white collar and farming votes Since the war the historic social trend has been against blue collar workers. It is not generally known that the FOL has today a majority of white collar workers: Add to these the 48,000 plus members of the PSA, a predominantly white collar union, and you will find that the vast majority of the electorate are white collar workers who are red necks to a man. Labour's reliable support has been eroding for the past 25 years, and the result has been the progressive alteration of party policy to appeal to white collar groups. It has been a schizophrenic and traumatic task because the Labour Party is historically committed to a policy of sackcloth and ashes, and thats something about which white collar workers do not wish to know. The conference, on the other hand, is stacked with socialists, and social democrats and vulgar Marxists with a firm philosophic belief that things are going to worsen before they get better. Some remits they pass are an electoral embarrassment to the party leadership and in the past they have attempted to draw a veil of silence of them. But over the past few years some of these remits have refused to lie down, and the party has employed an advertising agency to cover them up. Labour policy has now become trendy sackcloth and ashes.