The Socialist Unity Party
Formed in 1966, the pro Soviet, Socialist Unity Party was from its inception NZ’s most influential Marxist-Leninist party. The Party progressively came to dominate the union movement which it aggressively milked for money and resources. This combined with significant financial support channelled through the Soviet embassy and NZ/USSR Friendship society, gave the Party substantial resources to promote its agenda.
Most members however came directly to the Socialist Unity Party via trade unionism.
The SUP tried to project a comparatively moderate image to the public and in so doing earned the scorn of many smaller, less sophisticated Marxist groups.
In its heyday in the late ’80s, the SUP controlled the approximately 400,000 strong Council of Trade Unions (a significant force in a country of then just over 3,000,000 people). SUP General Secretary Ken Douglas was President of the CTU and it’s executive and major affiliated unions were all dominated by SUP members or sympathisers.
Through the union movement and the SUP’s auxiliary organisations such as the New Zealand Council for World Peace, the Party influenced public opinion and government policies in many areas.
It also infiltrated members and sympathisers into many areas of public life, including the media, government departments, state funded bodies and other political parties, especially Labour.
In 1990 long time SUP leader Bill Andersen resigned from the party in a difference over tactics to form a more traditional Marxist-Leninist party, the Socialist Party of Aoteroa . SPA took over the formerly SUP controlled National Distribution Union where it maintains considerable influence to this day.
While the SUP dissolved in the late ’90s/early ’00s, SPA continues on as NZ’s “mainstream” communist party.
Part 4 Part 6