My local paper, the Christchurch Press, has a new columnist. Unfortunately it’s arch socialist shit-stirrer, John Bernard Minto. Given that the Press seems to think his opinions are worthy of dissemination, it would be remiss of me, not to profile him.
John Minto’s first real activism was in the mid ’70s with the National Anti Apartheid Committee. Minto was Napier rep and would have met some of the NAAC’s Maoist stalwarts like Dave Cuthbert, Trevor Richards, Rona Bailey, David Stott and Joris De Bres. By 1978, Minto was NAAC rep for the Auckland region.
NAAC and Halt All Racist Tours, were heavily intertwined and by 1980, Minto was an HART National Councillor, National organisor and co-ordinator of their campaign to “persuade” insurance companies to leave South Africa.
By 1981, Minto was in the thick of organising opposition to the Sprinbok rugby tour. He worked from the offices of the Socialist Unity Party controlled, Northern Drivers Union. His tactics however were too radical even for the SUP and there was some tension.
By August 1981, Minto was a leader of the Small Action Group with Donna Awatere and Ripeka Evans. SAG was a splinter from the main Auckland anti Tour organisation, MOST, which while completely communist dominated was more mindful of “middle NZ” public opinion. SAG recruited from Auckland Urban Maori gangs, Black Unity, Waitangi Action Committee and the Maori and Polynesian People’s Revolutionary Front.
After the Tour, Minto maintained his links to radical elements. In December 1981 he addressed the Socialist Action League’s 7th national conference in Masterton. In February 1983, Minto welcomed the US Socialist Workers Party’s (sister party of the SAL) presidential candidate, Mac Warren to Otahuhu. In November 1983 Minto was listed in the SAL’s, “Socialist Action”, condemning the US invasion of Grenada.
Was Minto getting influenced by all these Marxists? In an interview published in “Canta” in March 1985, Minto told Trotskyite, Steve Cowan “Oppression of all forms is linked. Oppression of women, oppression of working people, oppression of the indigenous people of a country”
During the late ’80s, Minto continued as the face of HART. He worked hard, meeting CEO’s of companies like Fletcher’s, Brierley’s and Shell trying to convince them to disinvest from South Africa.
By 1990, Minto was working a bit more closely with the Communist Party, which by now formed the backbone of HART. He signed a “Peoples Voice” appeal that year, “Join us in a United Campaign to Defeat the Compact“. In September 1991 “Peoples Voice” listed him as a backer of another Communist Party campaign, the “Day of Action” against the National Government. In April ’94, Minto spoke on “Building the Fightback-Lessons for Mass Activists” at the Communist Party’s “Socialism 94” conference held in Auckland.
In the late ’90s, Minto was a science teacher and Chairman of the Quality Public Education Coalition, a lobby group consisting of socialist teachers and “educationalists”.
By this time, the Communist party had morphed into the Socialist Workers Organisation. In ’00 Minto was one of the “leftists and unionists” signing an SWO calling for the “Freedom to Strike”.
In 2002 Minto and Mike Treen, a former Socialist Action League member, formed Global Peace and Justice Auckland, an umbrella group for Marxist activists of various backgrounds. “The purpose of such a network would be to help strengthen the efforts of the many groups already working on a whole variety of issues and to perhaps give a collective voice to concerns they hold in common.”
The meeting to form GPJA attracted such luminaries as socialist priest, Terry Dibble, Maire Leadbetter, Jane Kelsey, Dave Colyer from Socialist Worker, Lynne Serpe of the Electoral Reform Coalition and the Green Party and Len Richards of the Alliance Party.
In June 2004, Minto was guest speaker at the Anti Capitalist Alliance’s “Peoples Resistance ’04” conference in Auckland. In 2005 he put a lot of energy into stopping the Black Caps cricket tour to Zimbabwe. Ironic, considering HART and the NAAC played a small role in bringing “black majority rule” to that unfortunate country.
Minto’s main activity recently has been the Workers Charter Movement. Organised by well known Marxist-Leninist, Matt McCarten and Socialist Worker leader, Grant Morgan, the WCM is an attempt to weld various Marxist groups and individuals into a new left wing political movement.
Minto sits on the 20 member steering committee, alongside the likes of Rachel Asher (ex Victoria University Bolshevik Club), Roger Fowler, Robyn Hughes, Daphne Lawless, Grant Morgan and Pat O’Dea (all connected to Socialist Worker),Cathy Casey (partner of Matt McCarten), Luke Coxon (ex Radical Society), Jennifer Francis (Socialist Party of Aotearoa, former partner of the late Bill Andersen), Matt McCarten and Mike Treen.
Clearly the Press has gained a columnist that the old “People’s Voice” would envy.