By the late ’80s, the Socialist Unity Party and it’s fellow Marxist parties had long abandoned any idea of winning electoral support under their own banners. Consequently they relied on infiltrating and manipulating larger parties in order to gain leverage and influence.
By that time, the SUP had, for many years controlled or influenced most of NZ’s major trade unions, such as the National Distribution Union, Service Workers Union, the Engineers Union and the Public Service Association. These were all affiliated to the Labour Party and were able to use their block vote at party conferences. This enabled the SUP to elect sympathisers and covert SUP members to Labour’s Executive and Policy Council and to influence policy development
This helped cement an unofficial, but very real SUP/Labour/Council of Trade Unions alliance. SUP leader Ken Douglas wrote in the Soviet publication “Problems of Peace and Socialism” in July 1989 “We emphasis that in New Zealand, progress will be impossible without joint action by SUP and Labour Party members”
According to the Communist Party’s, “People’s Voice” of the 11th of June 1990, SUP Vice President Alan Ware stated at a March 1990 SUP Central Committee meeting “There remains within the Labour Party membership, party apparatus, caucus and cabinet, people who are our allies”
During the late 1980s, this SUP/CTU/Labour “Triad” caused considerable turmoil in NZ socialist circles. The SUP/CTU was seen by many radicals as “selling out” and muzzling militant trade unionists in order to keep Labour in power. The SUP/CTU’s apparently passive acceptance of the 1984/90 Labour Government’s “free market” economic policies, led to widespread anger in the unions, Labour’s militant wing and within the SUP itself.
In 1989, Labour MP Jim Anderton left the Labour Party and linked up with the Workers Communist League, some Trotskyites, Labour militants, former SUP members and other socialists, to form the breakaway, New Labour Party.
In 1990, many North Island SUP members broke away to form the Socialist Party of Aoteoroa, under the leadership of Bill Andersen, President of the powerful Auckland Council of Trade Unions and the National Distribution Union.
In December 1991, Anderton’s NLP joined the Green Party, the Maori nationalist, Mana Motuhake Party and the Democrats to form the Alliance Party.
The majority of NLP leaders and many Greens, came from Marxist-Leninist backgrounds, mainly the Socialist Action League or the WCL. These socialists effectively dominated the Alliance Party and dictated it’s policy.
Bill Andersen’s SPA also supported the Alliance, it’s puppet unions providing manpower, office space and material aid. Both the Auckland Alliance and SPA were headquartered in the local CTU building. The People’s Voice of the 21st of September, 1992 described SPA leader Bill Andersen as an Alliance supporter, though he hasn’t “(yet) signed a membership card“
In 1989, self proclaimed Marxist , Labour Party member and ERC activist, Paul Harris wrote an article on Proportional Representation for the SUP’s theoretical journal, “Socialist Politics”. In the esoteric world of Marxism-Leninism, theoretical journals are key transmission belts of party policy to the rank and file. Therefore Harris’ ideas can be safely assumed to have party approval.
According to Harris “If Proportional Representation was used in 1990, we could see a progressive coalition of the Labour Party, NLP, Mana Motuhake and the Greens emerge to form a government, even though National may be the largest single party. Would that not strengthen our democracy and our society? Surely all socialists should appreciate the need to develop such a broad-based political alliance to unite progressive forces”.
After this insight into what “democracy” means to Marxists , Harris went on to say “..as socialists (both inside and outside the Labour Party or the SUP ) we should be seeking to promote Proportional Representation as a means of achieving a broad coalition which will group together all forces opposed to the worst excesses of ‘Rogernomics’ and the likely extensions of it under a National Government…”
Harris revealed his hopes for MMP;“This coalition will not give us socialism. But it could provide the basis for a radical and progressive transformation of our society…Working together, recognising the validity of each others’ positions, the working class, women’s, Maori and Green movements could collectively reconstruct our society as a decent and humane one. For that to occur, I would argue that Proportional Representation is an essential political precondition.”