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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 25. 25th September 1974

Tale of a Trotskyist photo

page 19

Tale of a Trotskyist photo

Dear Mr Steele.

In its latest issue (September 11) Salient ran two pictures of the Ford Lockout which had been solicited from the Socialist Action photographer, Graeme Cookson. Socialist Action was happy to oblige, end these are not the first Socialist Action photos Salient has used this year.

However, when it comes to reciprocating Roger Steele puts his foot down. On September 17 I asked him if Socialist Action could purchase photographs taken by Salient's Keith Stewart on Friday's abortion march. Steele refused.

This problem has not always existed. For a long time we had an amicable commercial relationship with Keith Stewart, purchasing the occasional photo from him. (Salient also sells photos to papers like the Sunday Times). But in June this year Steele became very upset about Keith Stewart selling us a photo of the first Khoo demonstration, which we ran on our front page. Now we are guilty of wanting to use a Salient photo to help the campaign in defence of the Auckland abortion clinic.

When I pointed out that Salient had just solicited and published two of our photos, Steele blamed his subordinates, and said he had not been aware the photos were "Trotskyist". His error is understandable: I must confess I find it hard to distinguish a "Trotskyist" photo from a "Maoist" or a "bourgeois" one.

Roger Steele's factional hostility towards the Socialist Action League is becoming rather absurd. Students who don't like him acting in this way in their name could perhaps bring it to hit attention.

Keith Locke

Editor Socialist Action

[Salient is grateful to Mr Locke for providing this original example of the work of the Trotskyist school of falsification of history. Unfortunately Mr Locke's piece borders on the trivial, but it Still shows the means by which the likes of Locke and the old Trot before him distort a story to paint themselves as martyrs.

First, let's sort out the facts. No photographs were ever 'solicited' from the socialist action photographer, Graeme Cookson. Use of the photographs was discussed between Cookson in his capacity as a worker at Fords, and the writer of our story. Actually, Locke's letter is the first time I had ever heard Cookson described as the Socialist Action photographer' — very convenient for you, Mr Locke.

Second falsification — "in June this year Steele became very upset..." In fact, my unease about Salient photos being sold to Socialist Action had been growing for some time, but I never got 'upset' about it, the only time I ever get upset at the Trots is when they tell lies.

Third, I did not "blame my subordinates". I said to Locke over the telephone that the arrangement for the photos was made without my knowledge by the writer of the Ford story and the Fora worker, Cookson. When Cookson asked, via the writer, to use our darkroom and facilities I acceded, as Cookson seemed keen to present the photos.

I do not recall describing the photos as Trotskyist' — certainly that would be a little absued, unless it was a conversational abbreviation for taken by a photographer from a Trotskyist newspaper'.

Finally, even if all Mr Locke's points about the 'soliciting' etc of the photos were accurate (which they are not) they still do not necessitate a reciprocal relationship. I decided to no longer allow Salient photographs to be used by Socialist Action because I regarded that paper as a distortion of reality which I wanted no part of, and Mr Locke's latest actions give me no cause to change my mind. — Ed.]