Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Blessing in Disguise
Blessing in Disguise
Though bitterly disappointing at the time, in restrospect the 1975 Election result has been a shot in the arm for an ailing Labour movement.
For years the Labour Party has suffered from haphazard organisation, financial insecurity, falling membership, declining trade union participation and an digarchic structure which all too often stifled innavatory ideas.
The 1975 debacle has jolted the Party into an awareness of these deficiencies, and has prompted a widespread desire for real grassroots participation.
Moreover, since the Election, the Labour Party has gained a large number of new members, as yet untainted by pragmatism and full of new ideas. Consequently the Party reached an important undershed in its history.
To retain this resurgency of support and build on it, the Labour Party must obviously be more than lacklustre alternative administration of the status quo. Clearly it must modernise its organisation and structure, but more importantly (as Helen Clark, 1975 Labour Candidate for Piako, put it) the Labour Party must choose one of two courses: (1) We continue to offer ourselves as successful administrators of a capitalist economy, capable of smoothing its rougher edges with welfare policies i.e. a programme of 'pragmatic welfarism'; or (2) We remodel ourselves as a party committed to genuine social change through democratic means'.
The resolution of this question is vital to the future success of the constructive Left in New Zealand.
But where does the V.U.W. Labour fit into this? Ideally, we too can participate in the mapping out a direction for the Labour Party which is new and yet builds on the ideals and essentially radical traditions of the Labour Movement in New Zealand.
To this end, the Labour Club welcomes into its ranks all students who share our basic vision of just, co-operative society where economic security is guaranteed to all, and where intellectual and spiritual fulfilment is possible. The Club has always southt to heighten the political awareness of students and to serve as a focal point for the type of enlightened discussion that lead to constructive policy proposals.
Now that the politics of expediency and prejudice seemed to have prevailed, it is essential that groups such as the Labour Club speak out forcefully to inject some idealism and progressive thinking into the political scene. For while the Labour Party is in a humble and receptive mood, we now have a great opportunity to influence it, and ensure its committment to a programme of far-reaching social change.
Already the Labour Club has established itself as the most active political club on campus. We have recently taken part in a stimulating discussion with Alan Levett on the need for new departures in policy formulation within the Labour Party. We have involved ourselves in Capital Plan.
A press release has been made deploring the Mayor's short-sighted rejection of Councillor Shand's motion urging the Government not to designate Wellington as the port of call of nuclear ships. On the social side, a successful stein has been held. Planned activities include seminars on foreign aid and on the relevance of the Welfare State. Further suggestions are welcome..
Harold Wilson once said: 'The Labour Party is idealism or it is nothing'. It is the Labour Club's aim to serve as a medium through which young people can channel their idealism into constructive avenues.
If you want to help us, do so, and if you're concerned at the current state of New Zealand, then come along to one of our fortnightly meetings. For further information contact Dave Colline (WOA 6740) or Rob Rabel (893-093)