Socialist Unity Party / Labour Party Collaboration
Socialist Unity Party members studying at Lenin’s Institute in Moscow during the early ’80s were drilled extensively on the advantages to the Soviet Union that could accrue from the election of a Labour Government in New Zealand.
Great emphasis was placed on the influence the Socialist Unity Party could exert on Labour through it’s control of the trade union movement. Consequently the Socialist Unity Party, for the first time in it’s history fielded no candidates in the 1984 General Election but threw all it’s weight behind Labour.
On the 6th of June 1984, Socialist Unity Party National Secretary, George Jackson addressed a meeting of the Party’s Hamilton branch, explaining the decision to support Labour in the upcoming elections. According to a Party document in my possession, Jackson stated that “the Federation of Labour/CSU (Federation of Labour and Combined State Unions, later joined under the Council of Trade Unions banner)have more influence on the Labour Party than for many years. And the trade union structures have the ability to transform economic campaigns to political campaigns.”
The Socialist Unity Party judged their efforts as successful according to a paper given to the Party’s 1985 conference by National Committee member, Richie Gillespie. “The election of a Labour Government was the only realistic alternative, therefore it was vital if Labour was to be supported at the polls that support needed to be centred round a set of working class demands. In the event the Labour Election Manifesto did contain a number of progressive elements that had been included as a result of trade union input. Through our trade union links the Party had a significant influence on that input.”
Interesting-an unambiguous claim by a senior Marxist-Leninist, that the Socialist Unity Party had input into Labour’s 1984 manifesto.
At the same conference Wellington branch member Terry Urhlich clarified the Socialist Unity Party’s position in relation to Labour. “In today’s conditions, unite with those progressive aspects of Labour Government policy, struggle against these policies not in the interests of the workers, but above all promote Socialist Unity Party policies that are into he best interests of the majority of New Zealanders.“