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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 24. 26th September 1973

According to Labour — "The Nation":

According to Labour

"The Nation":

The Nation header

Along with just about everyone else on the political left of Tom Skinner (and that's no mean number when you come to think of it) I could not see much harm in the pinkos of the Labour Party turning out yet another tabloid.

Of course, the Labour Party's publishing record is pretty dismal when you think about it. Me old granddad remembered John A. Lee's leaflets but where did that get him? — tipped out on his arise when the Nash/Savage gang didn't need him. Then there was the "Southern Cross", a Labour Party daily. FOL President Fintan Walsh always insisted that his statements be printed in full on the front page. Thus assured of an audience, he wrote even more turgidly than usual, and so it came to pass that not even the best racing column in New Zealand could save the 'Southern Cross".

A few years ago, some of the Auckland activists in the Labour Party published the inoffensive "Statesman". A sort of house journal for the converted, even that farted in church and liberal old Norm Douglas burned a whole issue which contained a few words he didn't like.

Now they are at it again. The Norm Kirk flunkeys, Hunt and Moore, aided by the unimaginative Wybrow, have formed a little company to publish "The Nation", Major partner in the company and editor of the paper is Graeme Colman, who was an ardent campaigner for Moore in the last elections. Little is known about this Colman except that his journalistic career boats some time on the Rotorua "Post" and the "Auckland Star".

With predictable arrogance. Hunt made it clear that Labour Media Ltd would be only too happy to help with trade union journals and similar ventures. After the dismal achievement of "The Nation" so far, it's my guess that there will be few takers.

"The Nation" must be the most appalling publication to be produced in the last ten years. I remember hearing Kirk telling a young Trot that "Socialist Action" was neither read nor of use for bumwiping. "The Nation" falls into the same category.

Essentially, it is a mere mouthpiece for the established parry line. It completely lacks imagination in its content and its layout represents a nadir in journalistic history. Furthermore, there is a dangerous attitude to working people generally and trade unions in particular which reflects the true class interest of today's parliamentary Labour Party.

This urban manufacturing class arrogance is blatantly clear in the second issue. The August 10 performance of Hugh Watt is recounted in the most laudatory terms. 'Mr Polities', he is called, the man who saved New Zealand from Industrial Anarchy. The Nation's centre spread, while nominally rejecting the right wing thesis that wages cause inglation, actually reinforced the anti-worker, anti-union prejudices cultivated by the established media, the Employers' Federation and the National Party goons. No call is made on the Labour Party for effective price control, profit control and rent control. No attempt to made to analyze the causes of inflation, or any other crisis of capitalism. Not even a hesitant return to the old Social Democratic catchery of nationalisation is attempted. No, 'Mr Politics' saved the nation by applying, albeit in a slightly more balanced way, the remedial techniques that have failed the National Party for the past 12 years.

The question that springs from this is "Why?" The answer is simple". The Labour Party today represents one of two main trends existing among the ruling class in New Zealand. While the National Party represents the rural and rural dependent and servicing industries and the large financing corporations connected with these interests. Labour has emerged as the political representative of the new secondary industry bourgeoisie, those elements that got their start during the war years and require steady protection to ensure their continued growth. They are also the industries of mass affluence and a party with a policy of mild redistribution ensures a Steady market of a fairly large mass with some surplus disposable income. It's fine balance and if Labour should tip too heavily in favour of social welfare, then the Tories can always be brought back to remedy the situation.

"The Nation" concentrates on this political programme. So power cuts are featured in the first issue as Tory mismanagement. We are not told why some bugger turns off my water heating while the Japanese-Rio Tinto-Comalco plant maintains production. Nuclear tests are another feature in the first issue. Again, the monotonous interview with the monotonous Fraser Colman. Most of us would have been far more interested in learning why Colman's attitude to immigration is proving even more racist than ex-Minister David Thompson's. Many of us would like to know why the Becks, shanghaied from Botswana back to South Africa, their mother unable to find work, their lather in prison, have not been allowed to enter New Zealand. Beck was a good trade unionist — perhaps Labour is afraid he might discover how the New Zealand worker is being conned.

Gumdigger cartoon

One of the few original items in "The Nation " was the cartoon reprinted below. With its repulsive anti-Maori stereotyping, we might have expected to find it in the "Sunday Times", except that it probably was not even funny enough for that rag.

But the anti-union approach in "The Nation" takes an even more sinister turn when one looks at the threatment of the Engineers' Union. Probably the most right-wing union in the country, and certainly the one most normally compliant to the political needs of the Labour Party, the engineers are viewed patronisingly as interrupting Jim Boorner's golfing holiday. While not condoning the Kawerau dispute, "The Nation" evokes just a thing of sympathy for poor overworked Boomer. This investment in sympathy will return a hundredfold when Boomer votes in Labour's interest on the FOL executive and when his union comes to wield thousands of card votes at the special FOL conference next month. By licking Boomer's bum at this time, "The Nation" implies disapproval for the militant sections of the trade union movement which are calling for disassociation from the savage anti-union legislation which Labour has recently imposed.

Much of "The Nation" is Ministerial Press statements, the rest apology. Take the David Shand story. Here's young Dave, off to 'uncover the rot' of fruit distributors while in the same issue Fruit Distributors Ltd have a nice feature ad. As the revenue drops, it is David Shand's expose (if there ever is one) rather than that ad that is likely to go.

"The Nation" is doomed. Founded from within the Labour Party establishment, there is little possibility of it becoming independent from the day-to-day needs of the labour Government. As such, it will continue to be an apologist, and with the Labour Government already in the shit up to its neck, apologists for its policies face an uncertain future.