The Socialist Unity Party
In July 1980, Labour Party Council member and unionist Allan O’Neill claimed that the and Socialist Unity Party were infiltrating the Labour Party;“It appears to be a new tactic of these political organisations to get their members into the party to incite from within and push their own political dogmas”
Other Labour figures made similar accusations, but nothing was done.
Former KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky was even blunter.
In his 1990 history of the KGB, Gordievsky alleged that New Zealand and Australian communists were being “run” by the International Department of the CPSU. He said “I know the situation in New Zealand very well; only 500 members (the Socialist Unity Party) but they are invaluable because each was ready to do something. It was like the KGB had 500 agents in the country.” Gordievsky added “plus some of them penetrated the trade unions,… and then they penetrated the left wing of the Labour Party”
By the early ’80s The Socialist Unity Party had gained control of the Federation of Labour and almost all New Zealand’s major unions, especially in the Engineering, Dairy, Hotel and transport industries.
These unions were affiliated to the Labour Party and enjoyed block voting rights at Labour Party conferences. Every financial member of an affiliated union was counted as a member of the Labour Party. This gave affiliated unions thousands of votes each, which if coordinated correctly gave the Socialist Unity Party the ability to choose the Labour Party’s president, executive and policy council and to influence policy.
The Socialist Unity Party took advantage of this system to devastating effect. Since the early ’80s the majority of Labour Party senior officials were Socialist Unity Party sympathisers or in some cases secret members.
Combined with straight out out infiltration by secret Socialist Unity Party members and sympathisers at branch level, by the late ’80s the SUP became an influential power bloc inside the Labour Party.
On the 16th of April 1980, alleged Socialist Unity Party member and Labour Party official, Rob Campbell made a speech to the Waterloo branch of the Labour Party.
Campbell told the assembled Labourites “As the economic and social crisis which has gripped world capitalism for the last decade deepens, New Zealand’s economic future has become increasingly uncertain… “The union response to these issues [high unemployment, technological advances, deregulating the labour market] must be a socialist one.
None of the major economic and social issues facing workers are capable of being resolved within a private enterprise or capitalist framework…The Labour Party must become a genuine socialist party with a socialist programme for the same reasons as the union movement needs such a programme.
In this process, as is the case in the union movement, organisations such as the Socialist Unity Party are allies, not enemies.”
Campbell worked tirelessly to build bridges between Labour and the Marxist-Leninists of the SUP.