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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.

Muldoon Jumps On Shearer

Muldoon Jumps On Shearer

On nuclear power, earlier this year, Ian Shearer from Hamilton East spoke for many National MPs when he was concerned over the nuclear policy Muldoon was following. The way he was jumped on quietened criticism for a while, but particularly from Rotorua last month the critics have started again. The Young Nats and the National Party women's group were outspoken.

So at the moment we're battering down the hatches for a major confrontation between the Government and the unions. Particularly over the wage freeze. Recently, over teachers demands and over broadcasting, the Government has abruptly backed down. It is clear that they have realised the isolated position they are in, and are trying to gain support, not only in the country in general, but also in the National Party caucus. Muldoon needs support, and he is trying to rally it.

Having deliberatedly caused confrontation with the waterfront workers with the planning of the nuclear ship visit in the school holidays, there is one thing Muldoon cannot afford now. This is a continuation of the splits in the Party caucus. The liberal and right wing elements are too far apart.

Salient understands that the story on Marilyn Waring was printed with this situation primarily in mind. We have no knowledge of whether the Prime Minister was invovled, but certainly leading members of the Party were. The aim is quite simple. With the waterfront unions and particularly the abortion issue creating 'problems' a way of quietening the critics inside the Party had to be found.

The direct method of discipline was tried against Ian Shearer - it kept the troops in line for a while, but stronger measures were needed now. Most politicians have 'skeletons' in their dark cupboards which they would prefer to keep there.

Salient considers that the Waring story was published to remind MPs of their own weaknesses in this regard, and hence to shut them up. We have not yet discovered why Marilyn Waring was chosen. She has certainly been one of the more active new liberal MPs. It probably has much to do with her being a woman, and hence 'vulnerable' by some obscure sexist logic. Her attitude on the abortion issue may have entered into it.

But these considerations are secondary to the running of a story attacking the private life of a 'liberal' National MP. Given the volatile political climate and the tensions within the National Party, it is inconceivable that Truth would run a story such as this without checking it with their mates on the hill first. Such links as have been publicly disclosed alone would make discussion highly likely. We believe it goes much further than this.

The public reaction against Truth's prying into Marilyn Waring's private life has been strong and unequivocal. No. The reaction against what looks like a form of sophisticated political blackmail of National MPs must be equally strong. A party, a Government, that holds its potential rebels in line with ploys like this cannot have much better in store for the rest of us.

The struggle within the National Party is likely to intensify over the next few months. It is revealling that George Gair, long considered a right wing Muldoon man was criticised as politically expedient by Muldoon in the abortion debate. Many National MPs got really stuck into their leader in the same debate. That debate, as it should have, has its own position. But the Nats are clearly under stress. In view of others of their actions, it is not surprising that Truth should be used by the right wingers to further their aims.

If the National Government has got itself into a ness, and especially if the right wing cannot get out of it, that is cause for worry. The resulting actions do affect the rest of us. If it is going to resort in desperation to political blackmail then it is obviously time for action.