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The History of the S.D.P.

ITS FORMATION.

The Social Democratic Party is the national Labour party of New Zealand. Although it appeals for support to every right-thinking aud humane- person, whether wage-earner or not, yet it is primarily and essentially the political embodiment; of pvorking-ttlass ideals aspirations. Its formation was the result of aii enthusiastic campaign for Labour unity. It was established by the largest -and most representative Labour congress ever held in New Zealand.

In January, 19i3, a large Congress of delegates from workers' organisations met in Wellington for the purpose of endeavouring to promote _the political and industrial unification of Labour. A committee on which all sections of opinion were adequately represented was set up to frame recommendations. That committee unanimously recommended the formation of an independent workers' political party to be known as the Social Democratic Party. The Congress endorsed the committee's recommendations. The committee was continued in office as the Unity Committee for the purpose of drafting political and industrial constitutions, conducting a five months' campaign for Unity, and making all arrangements for Unity Congress which was held in July 1913.

Over four hundred delegates attended tho July Congress, and the Social Democratic Party was established as the political organisation of the workers of New Zealand, and the United Federation of Labour.as their industrial organisation.

In July, 1914, tho Congress of th« re-constructed United Federation of Labour adopted tlie Social Democratic Party as its political expression. , In July, 1915, the Congress of the United Federation of Labour again endorsed the Social Democratic Party, thereby pledging tho support of all its affiliated bodies to the Party. ELECTION SUCCESSES. Within a week or two of its establishment the S.D.P. fought and won the Grey Lynn by-election against both Liberal and Tory Parties. In December, 1913, it fought and won the Lyttelton by-election, again against both Liberal and Tory Parties. At the general election of last year (1914) it retained these two seats, and polled high votes in seven other conititueuces. The total S.D.P. vote was 21,457 votes, while in Dunedin the candidates running under the joint auspices of the S.D.P. and tho Otago Tradea Council obtained another 7,677 votes. At present the Party has in its ranks two Ms.P.; two mayors of boroughs; seventeen city and borough councillors; six members of hospital and charitable aid boards; two members of harbour boards, and quite a considerable number of members who are active on school committees. WORK IN PARLIAMENT. The work of tho S.D.P. members in Parliament has .been to apply, as far as possible, Social Democratic principles to current political problems. On the land question', the high cost of living, victimisation of workers, Huntiy disaster, industrial Bills, proportional representation, canteen scandals, food supply during war, wages of Expeditionary Force, pensions for wounded soldiers, health of troops, war taxation, and on every question, they haive steadfastly advanced Labour's point of view. INDEPENDENCE OF LABOUR. The Social Democratic members of Parliament, Messrs. P. C. Webb, and J. McCombs, have unflinchingly upheld the principle of Labour's independence in Parliament. They greatly assisted in forming the Labour Group in tho House of Representatives. They helped to strengthen that Group in its atti-

tude of independence towards the present Coalition Government. Tho foundations of an independent working-class Parliamentary Party has at last been laid. It is the only Opposition Party now. WORK ON LOCAL BODIES. Tho members of the Party on local bodies aro continually endeavouring to advanco the interests of the workers in local matters. Already, owing t6 the efforts of S.D.P. city and borough councillors municipal employees have had their wagea increased and their working conditions improved. COST OF LIVING. The Social Democratic Party is the only political party that has conducted national protests against the present high cost of living, which is undoubtedly due to the exploitation of the people's needs during the war crisis by the food monopolists. Shortly after the war broke out, a national campaign of protest against food exploitation was inaugurated, and this protest has been maintained by numerous meetings ever Bince. It is the only party which has advanced any plan to reduce the cost of living, put an end to tho exploitation of the necessaries of life, and control the food supply of the country in the interests of the people of tho country. WAR TAXATION. The Social Democratic Party is the only party that has boldly advocated the whole cost to New Zealand of the war should be borne by the wealthy landowners, merchants, and capitalists, who are reaping extra profits because of the war. ' Week by week the views of the Party on these and other questions of importance are boldly and capably advanced by its official organ, "The Maoriland Worker." THE MEANING OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY. You know what political democracy means? It means adult suffrage, and ,the government of the people by the people or their elected representatives. We have not got complete political democracy in New Zealand, because, for instance, wtomen are debarred from entering Parliament, and the country still tolerates an antiquated appointed Legislative Council, but we have, got a fairly large instalment of it.

Social Democracy means the "extending of democracy to the social 'and industrial life and activities of th country. The Objective of the Social De-, niocratio Party is the Socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, or, in other words, the ownership by the whole of the people of the land, the factories, the warehouses, the railways, the steamships, the banks, and all the other requirements and services necessary to the production and use of the means whereby the people live. This would mean the organised production of the' necessaries of life in the interests of the whole of tiie people; not, as at present, their disorganised, or badly organised production, as a means of profit-making for a few people. This would mean the substitution of social service instead of personal aggrandisement and gain. The abolition of' the profit-sys-tem means the .abolition of economic difficulties which press so hard on every wage-earner. With its disappearance will go the problems which vex and perplex society to-day, eiich as unemployment, overwork, bad housing, food exploitation, poverty, disease and the greater part of crime. BREAD AND BUTTER QUESTIONS. In short, Social Democracy will solve the bread and butter question. But by doing that it will free this country from every other social evil. Once freed from the cruel and - debasing struggle for a mere subsistence, which is all the average worker can ever hope to obtain at present, and sometimes even that with difficulty, the people as a whole will have an opportunity of developing to the very highest and best they are capable of, physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. Only Social Democracy can give this chance. It can only do bo by convincing a majority of the people that such a change is desirable. Until it does that by getting people to think as you are asked, to do now, there are certain demands which the Party advocates both because of their obvious immediate benefits, and because their adoption by Parliament would assist the people onwards toward the ultimate goal of complete democracy. THE PARTY'S PLATFORM. The Party's Platform contains such proposals for enlarging and improving Democracy as Proportional Representation, the Initiative and Referendum, the Recall, full civil rights to all public employees, and the entire removal of the Parliamentary disabilities of women. Proportional Representation would make Government by minority vote, which we had until the Coalition was formed, impossible, and. ensure that each Party would be represented in Parliament according to its numerical strength. The Initiative and Referendum would enable the- people to inaugurate and pass legislation, while the Recall would put a strong safeguard against mis-representation in the hands of the electors. The Party i 3 opposed to the Referendum on matters of religion and conscience. On industrial matters the Party advocates, among other measures, a sixhour day, the Right to Work, arfd Dominion awards with minimum wage established which would rise with rise in the cost of living. 1 The Party favours Direct Taxation, Graduated Income Tax, and Taxation of Unimproved Land Values. The Party advocates Freo, Secular education from the kindergarten to the University, with all books and stationery supplied free of cost.

The Party favours Old Ago Pensions for nion at GO and for women at 50 years of age, as well as for all widows,

orphans, blind, and incurably helpless. Also the endowment of .motherhood, including maternity care and infant life protection, and the Nationalisation of Hospitals. You will find the full Platform in tho current issue of "The Maoriland Worker," which you would do well to consult. ,, THE NEED FOR AN INDEPENDENT LABOUR PARTY. Never was thero greater need in New Zealand than at the present for a strong working-class political party. It is true that "whether Liberal or Tory win the exploiters are always victorious." The Liberal and Tory Parties always represent the land-owning, merchant, and capitalist exploiters, who are at , present taking advantage of the war to enrich themselves at your expense. The sham fight between these two parties has ceased. It is true that neither party has sunk any principles. They had none to sink. The Social Democratic Party is the only political party with principles. The work of criticism, of safeguarding in Parliament the interests of the people from the exploiters rests exclusively with the Labour Group. Now that both of the exploiters' parties have combined t-heir task will be all the more difficult. It is the work of the Social Democratic Party to help and strengthen and increase the Labour representation in Parliament. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. Need for an independent workingclass party. Do you know that from 1904 to -1913, the unimproved laud values of New Zealand increased by £101,234,056? Do you know that during that period the annual land taxes increased by only £293,645? That the total land taxes during that time amounted to only £5,300,334? That the Customs and Excise duties, which

fall on the mas 3of the people, for the same years amounted to £30,267,780 That a fair estimate of tho wealth produced in New Zealand during 1914, is, £61,000,000? That of this amount less than one-oighth of the poulation, 124,422 (men, women and children) took £20,750,000, while seven-eights of the population, 883,746, got £40,500,----000? That 118 persons enjoy incomes of over £10,000 per year? That the average wage of the male industrial worker is £115 a year, of the women industrial worker £G0? That in 1913, 43 persons died leaving estates'totalling £3,097,082? That this concentration of wealth in a few hands is going on rapidly? That in 1913 tho taxes on wealth amounted to £1,935,471, and on the people by Excise and Customs duties to £3,553,789? That the private wealth of New Zealand is estimated at £276,619,832? That the average wealth of persons twenty years of age and over is £424—£848 for a man and wife? Have you got that £848? If not somebody else has—the Liberal and Tory exploiter has netted it. Are you in favour of establishing a few rich exploiters—and a people in perpetual poverty? The Liberal and Tory Parties aro. If you are in favour of an equitable and fair wealth distribution, if you aro opposed to exploitation,, to poverty, to struggle and wrong for the many, to unearned riches for the few, if you believe in equal opportunity and the highest and best life for everybody, you must support and join the Social Democratic Party—-the independent working-class party—the party with ideals, principles, and practical proposals. „ Send to Mr. J. Glover, hon. secre-tary-treasurer, P.O. Box 108, Wellington, for information as to conditions of membership, or consult the local secretary. '

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

The History of the S.D.P., Maoriland Worker, Volume 6, Issue 237, 1 September 1915

Word Count
1,954

The History of the S.D.P. Maoriland Worker, Volume 6, Issue 237, 1 September 1915

Working