Keith Locke-A Wasted Life Part 3

In 1990 Keith Locke stood as NLP candidate for Mt Eden. He was openly backed by “Left Currents”, the new name for a revamped Workers Communist League. He was also busy running “One World Books” -a “progressive” bookshop and HQ for several socialist organisations.

In 1991 Locke joined the editorial board of a new socialist magazine, “Agenda”
Fellow board members included two former WCL supporters, Leonie Morris and Bruce Cronin, two veterans of Philippines “exposure tours”, Janet Cole and Susannah Downing and leading Information on Ireland activist and former SUP member Dean Parker.

In late 1991 the NLP merged with the Greens, Mana Motuhake and the Democrats to form the Alliance Party. This was clearly linked to events in Australia and further abroad. Both the group of ex SAL members who formed the NLP and the Workers Communist League had strong ties to the Australian Socialist Workers Party.
In 1990 the SWP changed it’s name to “Democratic Socialist Party” while it’s newspaper “Direct Action”, became “Green Left Weekly” This was part of a strategy to moderate it’s image with the Australian public and other political groups.

The DSP was, and still is, very well connected to the international grouping of Trotskyite parties, the “4th International”, many of the world’s leading traditional communist parties and an array of Maoist groups, environmental and “social movements”
The aim,in several countries, was to unite these disparate groups into a third party to the left of the existing Labour or Social Democratic Party.

The SWP/DSP had long dreamed building such a “third force” in Australia. To this end the SWP had, in ‘87-’89, unsuccessfully attempted mergers with both the Communist Party of Australia and the Pro-Soviet Socialist Party of Australia.
According to Green Left Weekly, 18th of November 1992, “Jim (Percy, DSP leader), was the initiator…” of the party’s “analysis of the Australian Labor Party which has resulted in the Party seeking to build a third force in Australian politics similar to the New Zealand NLP”. The project stalled for a while when Jim Percy died of cancer in late 1992.

In November 1992, Locke and former SAL comrades, Paul Piesse, Petronella Townsend, Matt Robson and Lew Stribling wrote to GLW, offering condolences on the death of Percy. “We have known Jim since 1970. Since that time we have shared the same sociasupportedion and suported the same struggles against oppression. Through two decades we kept in contact with Jim and benefitted from sharing political ideas and experiences…Jim was with us in our early political development as members of the SAL in NZ. He was also alongside us when we formed the NLP. He contributed his political ideas and experience to the NLP in a comradely and supportive way. He saw the NLP as a progressive development which could revitalise socialism in NZ and have a positive effect in Australia…We cannot be with you at the funeral of our comrade. However it is a maori tradition to sing at a funeral. We therefore request that when the Internationale is sung that it be recognised that the voices of Jim’s comrades in NZ have also been raised as a final tribute to a respected fighter of the people”

In 1994 the DSP launched an important new international magazine “Links”
According to an editorial in the first issue; “Links is a new international discussion magazine. It is a magazine for the post Cold War left… a magazine that is taking steps to unify and bring together the forces for socialism in the world today…”Links” hopes not only to bring together active socialists from different countries and different continents, but to unite socialists coming from different traditions-the tradition of the pro-Moscow communist parties, Trotskyite parties, Maoism, the left wing of national movements, left forces breaking with social democracy, and activists from social movements who have come to see the need for a party.”

Locke contributed an article on the Alliance Party to the first issue of “Links”. He also represented the Alliance at the Easter 1994 “Links” planning and assessment meeting in Sydney, which was formally hosted by the DSP. Other delegates at this meeting came from the Brazilian Workers Party,(now in power in Brazil), the Italian Party of Communist Refoundation, the US Committees of Correspondence (a breakaway from the Communist Party USA), several Filipino Marxist organisations, the Sri Lankan Trotskyite Nava Sama Samaj Party, the Indonesian Peoples Committee, the Trotskyite Fourth International and the British Marxist group, Militant. Dr Nguyen Khac Kinh, deputy director of Vietnams National Environment Agency was also present. The main discussion was on broadening the distribution of LINKS to promote the “widest possible unity of Marxists from different political traditions”.

“Links” continues today as a force in the international socialist movement. Its editorial board has included high ranking members of the South African Communist Party, the DSP, the Party of Democratic Socialism (the former East German Communist Party), the US Committees of Correspondence and Matt McCarten from the NZ Alliance Party. Contributing editors have come from the Cuban Communist Party, The Brazillian Workers Party, The Italian Refoundation Communist party, the Russian Party of Labour, the French Revolutionary Communist League and a whole host of third world and European Marxist-Leninist groups. US Marxist writer James Petras has also been prominent

Locke, Matt Robson and their Alliance colleague Matt McCarten stayed in contact with the DSP right through the 90’s and beyond. At one stage Locke was Auckland correspondent for Green Left Weekly and wrote occasional articles for the paper till at least 1998, a year before entering parliament. To remove any lingering doubts on the nature of the DSP I quote former DSP parliamentary candidate, Susan Price in GLW of 26th April 1995; “DSP is a Marxist-Leninist party and we don’t think that is a bad thing”.

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