The SUP’s People in Parliament
The 1984 Labour government was supported by a party shot through with Socialist Unity Party supporters, secret members and sympathisers.
The Labour Party’s union affiliate organisations, policy council and executive (up to the level of party president) was thoroughly infiltrated by the SUP and its supporters.
In the 1987 General Election, the SUP used its leverage on Labour to get more “progressive” people into Parliament. This caused considerable controversy as unionists stacked electorate meetings around the country to ensure “suitable” candidates were selected.
An April 30th 1987 report in the Christchurch Star claimed that moderate Labour MPs were worried about “growing infiltration of safe labour seats by trade union candidates.” Labour Party’s president, Margaret Wilson, “today rejected suggestions of an orchestrated campaign by a Leftist element…” Jim Anderton admitted, however that “in Porirua trade unions had been clearly activist in support of Graeme Kelly.”
Liz Tennet, a Clerical Workers Union official won the Island Bay nomination after a bitter fight with moderate Helene Ritchie, who later accused “unionists of stacking the election meeting.”
In a speech at Massey university in July 1992 former Finance Minister Roger Douglas claimed that in 1986/87 then Labour President Margaret Wilson had gone “out of her way to pick a string of inadequate left-wing candidates“. Douglas had discussed the situation with colleagues in an effort to establish what could be done about it, “the answer was nothing, given the constitution of the Labour Party“
At least three Socialist Unity Party linked Labour candidates were elected to Parliament in 1987.
They were, Sonja Davies in Pencarrow, Graham Kelly in Porirua and Larry Sutherland in Avon.