The Labour Government in New Zealand—No Change
The New Zealand Labour Party reached the acme of its political aspirations on November 27th, 1935, when it gained control of the treasury benches, having won 53 out of 80 seats at the general election.
The result was the cause of a wide-spread atmosphere of expectancy and buoyancy among a large majority of the workers; their problems were solved; there was no need for further struggle; while some members of the master class, in their ignorance, expected a drastic change. However, after the smoke of the political battle had cleared away, the stark realities of capitalism still remained, and the Labour Party immediately commenced to administer capitalism in their own peculiar way.
Mr. Savage, the new Premier, hastened to assure the people that the sacred rights of property would be strictly observed.
The first act of the Labour Government was to issue a bonus or Christmas box to the unemployed and relief workers in the shape of an extra week’s pay and other small concessions, so that they might enjoy a good Christmas. The rest of the year, of course, does not count.
The inquisitive methods of the Unemployment Board and questions on relief application forms were to cease. While the Unemployment Board has ceased as such, the inquisition still persists, and the Labour Party still find it necessary to ask why a person seeks relief, while applying a means test for which they denounced the last Government.
The natural tendency of capitalism is centralisation, hence the legislation of the Labour Government is along those lines. The first Bill to be brought forward was the complete control of the Reserve Bank by the State and the buying up of the shares of the private shareholders at the highest market price.
The Hon. R. Semple’s policy for Public Works is an example of how the Labour Government can obtain a greater amount of surplus value from the hides of the wage-slaves in a more highly efficient manner—the co-operative system of work.
This system of work has been bitterly fought by the Miners’ Federation for many years; for it demands only the very best and fittest of workers and totally eliminates some of the less fit; incidentally giving the master a good job at a low cost to the detriment of the worker, as the fast pace set soon wears him out and at an early age he finds himself on the human scrap-heap of industry.
However, the appeals of the Labour Government to the people to give them a chance have been successful in so far as there have been no major disturbances or disputes to date; the workers in general are suffering in silence until such times as the Labour Government relieve them of the effects of capitalism. This they cannot do. When the workers realise that the Labour Government differs little from other Governments administering capitalism there will be a rude awakening.
The childlike faith of the majority of the workers in the Labour Government is hard to understand, despite the fact that its leaders are continually appealing to everyone for their backing and co-operation. Their pre-election attitude was “We can and will!”
Is it that they find it impossible to administer capitalism in the interest of the majority of the people, which is the working class, or is it that they have now realised their ambition—the position of Minister of the Crown, with all its privileges and advantages?
According to their election manifesto, in which they promise “Higher Wages,” “Guaranteed Prices,” “Pensions for All,” all they need is State control of credit and currency to enable their programme to be carried out. They now have control of the Reserve Bank but apparently that is not sufficient; for they find the co-operation of everyone is also necessary. The question is: Can the capitalist and the workers co-operate in common interest? An understanding of the position of these individuals in society proves the opposite.
If it were legislation that could bring about that state of society of which the Labour politicians dream and vaguely refer to, then they have all they need; an overwhelming majority of seats in the House.
However, they have no mandate for Socialism, while they do possess the mandate to administer capitalism. This can be done only in the interest of capital and the capitalist class.
The New Zealand Labour Party in power has proved itself little different from capitalist Parties; in fact it has simply advanced new methods of extracting more surplus value from the workers, and is attempting to put them into operation. Everything is being centralised and placed under State control where possible; legislation has been rushed through; in fact, records have been made in this direction, but none of it will in any way alter the fundamental position of the workers of New Zealand. They will still have to sell their labouring powers in order to live, the wages, or price of these, will be determined by the value of the necessities required to produce, develop, maintain and perpetuate the labouring power, or in the event of the inability of the labourer to sell his power he will be forced to throw himself upon the charity of the master, that is, eke out an existence on sustenance or other means of relief.
The Socialist Party of New Zealand holds that Socialism is the only cure for the effects of capitalism. While capitalism continues so the workers must suffer from its effects and their condition become worse, so we ask the workers of New Zealand to join us in the work of propagating Socialism and organising for the overthrow of capitalism. Socialism is the only solution to their problems.
Socialist Party of New Zealand.