Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 20. 1972
Walking the Election Plank — Has History Produced a Second Allende?
Walking the Election Plank
Has History Produced a Second Allende?
The atmosphere of Chile 1970 was definitely in the air the night self-proclaimed Marxist Peter Wilson was overwhelmingly elected President of VUWSA, although most of the pundits got pissed too quickly to note the similarities between his victory and that of Salvador Allende.
In a poll of 1985 votes, Wilson received 1145, or about 57%. His major rival Mike McKinley got only 576, while right-wing candidate Ian Powell and pseudo-Yippie candidate Stephen Hall got 104 and 61 respectively. The election all round was a victory for the left-wing. OHMS president Robert Reid was easily elected Man Vice President; Pete Rendell pissed in as NZUSA Liason Officer; Pierre Maru received a massive 1574 votes for Cultural Affairs Officer; Lisa Sacksen beat off three males to be elected Secretary and Don Carson sneaked in again as Sports Officer. Peter Boshier, who now swears he knows the difference between a printing press and a washing machine, was re-elected Publications Officer while Anna Smith (Woman Vice President) and Byron Cullen (Treasurer) were elected unopposed.
Rather than bore you with our introverted local analysis of the significance of the election, Salient has used the three week gap between the results and publication to receive comments from our correspondents around the world.
There was some initial confusion in Europe after the election. The headquarters of the Socialist International in London immediately claimed Wilson ( a member of the Labour Party) as theirs and listed him as the 150th social Democrat to be elected to office in the world this year. That claim was immediately disputed in Brussels by the United Secretariat of the Fourth (Trotskyist) International, which claimed Wilson as theirs after a Wellington radio station broadcast that Wilson was a Revolutionary Communist with Trotskyist tendencies. However a mamoth telephone conversation between Ernest Mandel of the 4th International and Socialist Action League Secretary Keith Locke in Wellington quickly led Mandel to denounce Wilson as a petit-bourgeois academic liberal "radical". The United Secretariat then hailed the election as a great victory for world Trotskyism and defeat for ultra-left tendencies, apparently refering to the fact that the S.A.L. backed candidate for NZUSA Liason Officer got nearly 25% of the votes even though he lost.
At Transport House in London, headquarters of the British Labour Party, a press officer revealed the stunning news to reporters that Wilson's election was part of a long planned L.P. conspiracy to entrench the Wilson family in elective offices throughout the western world. Apparently Transport House had sent a certain Albert Rhodes alias John Shaw, alias Ivor —censored— to New Zealand to perpetrate this conspiracy, which he did with outstanding success. Probably Rhodes will receive the Clem Attlee Memorial tie pin for his work.
But in Chicago the election was received in a much colder fashion. The Militant reported on its front page that "Heroic Socialists Down Under attacked by vicious mob". The story by George F. described how the national headquarters of the "only Socialist party west of Hawaii" had been under "constant attack" from a "mob of hooligans". "As I write this August 3", he wrote, "my fellow comrades are beating off hordes of invaders led by some yellow-bell ..." A memorial service for George and his comrades has already been held here, attended by "great new layers and segments" of workers plus three stray dogs which eloquently piddled over the grave.
In Zurich the gnomes received the news of the VUW elections with their customary sullenness and held a street collection to raise money to send a sympathy telegram to Byron Cullen. It is rumoured that Billy Graham and the Pope joined in this message.
The dollar was reported to be shaky on Wall Street when the election results were announced to anxious stockbrokers. Their uncertainty immediately affected the pound which is at present floating, somewhat waterlogged, near the Azores. Only a speedy Royal Navy expedition rescued the pound from sinking once the news had come through. However in Moscow the ruble looked quite healthy, while our Peking correspondant reported that the Yuan was in extremely good shape.
In Pretoria the cabinet went into secret session im-mediately although it is apparently waiting for "Brooder King" to produce a full analysis of the election. At Stellen Bosch Dannie Craven burst into tears and ran round his thirty five rugby grounds sobbing "We'll play with the Argentine if those c---- won't have me."
Back here in Wellington all the factions are still squabbling over Wilson's carcass. Called a "revolutionary communist with Trotskyist tendencies" the morning after his election, Wilson temporarily raised the hopes of Wellington's five non-S.A.L. Trots - and then dashed them again when he denied the description. Pundits listening to Wilson's radio interview noticed that Owen Gager's face fell quite noticeably. However all eleven Maoists in town (not to mention the modern revisionist Socialist Unity Party) should not take too much pleasure out of this fact. Wilson did say he'd read Trotsky on the radio, and as every bigoted Stalinist knows, reading a page of Trotsky is as bad a stepping into a mire. Also his close associates say that he enjoys reading the Red Mole, the British lefty Trot newspaper.
All in all the most apt comment that can be made about Wilson's election is that his greatest problem next year will be fighting off all his mates who want to tell him what to do and see that he does it - a different problem, eh Mr Wilson?
(These comments were pieced together by the editors from Pravda, Wellington and Moscow correspondents; Trud, Red Star, Harpers, Morning Star, Le Monde, Chicago Daily Tribune, Socialist Affairs, and our correspondents in Mexico City, Peking, Leningrad, New York, Birmingham and Ottowa.