Winston Peters said capitalism has failed too many New Zealanders and addressed the problem by backing a coalition led by Labour with NZ First and the Greens aiming to restore Peter Fraser’s governing ambition to improve the physical and cultural conditions of all New Zealanders. The well-being budget is a centrepiece of this aspiration. Finance Minister Grant Robertson is a Peter Fraser scholar and engages in seminars on the First Labour Government’s Prime Minister for a decade.
With National still attracting over 40 per cent of the vote, the Coalition is vulnerable to being ousted at the next election if a few per cent more voters get cold feet about the egalitarian measures intended to right the imbalance that has developed, with a few having much more than their fair share and the country’s proud welfare state collapsing. A largely conservative media even in the state-owned enterprises such as TVNZ — Jessica Mutch McKay comes to mind as, in my view, delivering negative and disapproving reports on the Labour-led government — makes it difficult to get the soft political message past the hard political reporters to reach the voters. The perception of Labour incompetence or free-spending is established in slow-drip fashion by negative reporting. One of the indirect aims of my new novel Death of an Agent is to promote the soft politics of Peter Fraser’s legacy that really and truly made this country great – for all its citizens.
My novel references Peter Fraser’s egalitarian aims through a number of characters. Here is broadcaster Ru Patterson speaking to a middle-New Zealand left-wing group he is establishing to protest New Zealand sending troops to Vietnam:
We fought a war to bring peace to the world. Our prime minister at the time Peter Fraser played a large part in setting up the United Nations protocols that would ensure peace for every nation large and small. Are we to ignore those protocols and join the American aggressor? I say no. We have no quarrel with the Vietnamese. They do not threaten us. China is not invading Vietnam or any other country. America is the invader, lying to the anxious American public on behalf of the manufacturers of terrible weapons designed only to maim and kill. It is immoral to participate in this wicked adventure. Let us stand up as Peter Fraser did for peace and an end to state murder. Say no to Lodge, say no to LBJ, say no to murder. We will not be their ally in an unjust war. We will stand up for our beliefs, for a righteous moral foreign policy, for all those who sacrificed their lives in a just war so that we could live in freedom and with honour. Stand up to bullies, stand up for justice and the right thing to do. No way with LBJ! No way with LBJ! No way with LBJ!’
Here is reaction to Ru’s speech from the narrator, the uncommitted ex-policeman and spy catcher Dan Delaney:
By God, this was heady stuff, like that speech Peter Fraser made in Auckland Town Hall just after the Second World War. Peter Fraser would surely agree with everything Ru said. It was the right and proper position.
On Ru again:
Ru said we are the racists. We are the new Nazis, if we attack Vietnamese. We are the invaders. We should put our own house in order, stop supporting apartheid, ban or at least boycott all South African goods imported here, stand up for the values we signed up to when Fraser helped draft the United Nations charter. Respect the right of self-determination, respect the right to be free from the invasion of bigger countries.
Ru’s speech to a public meeting in Wellington, where he planned to stand for Fraser’s long-term electorate seat of Wellington Central:
Last century Maori were accused of being communists and I regard it as a compliment, a term of approval as much as one of denunciation, for Maori truly practised – they still practise — the sharing of wealth. We believe in travelling down a socialist road to a fairer deal for all our citizens, not the capitalist path to greater wealth for the wealthy and little shared with the workers, the majority of our fellow countrymen and women.
This does not make me a communist. I couldn’t be a communist and have any chance of winning the Labour Party nomination for Wellington Central in the next election, opposing the sitting National MP for this electorate, Dan Riddiford. I have nothing against dippy old Dan personally, but I will give it everything to return Wellington Central and New Zealand to the fair society its most illustrious MP Peter Fraser created during his decade or so running the country. Like me Dan Riddiford is a returned servicemen, like me he was a prisoner-of-war in Italy, and unlike me he escaped. Also unlike me he is part of a government which is about to join the murderous American and Australian forces killing innocent Vietnamese in the name of alleged Chinese communist expansion. There is no expansion. The Chinese troops have stayed home, where there are more than enough problems to occupy their leaders. Ask Rewi Alley next time he is back here, he is working with the Chinese leaders to feed and educate their nation. That gargantuan task occupies all their energies, unlike America, which has a booming arms industry and the leisure to try it out on the wretched Vietnamese.
The American regime and our government and alas our Anzac mates across the Ditch are the stickybeaks, poking their nasty noses into the affairs of Vietnam and attempting to impose a fascist regime on this peasant nation. In the name of freedom, we are supporting tyranny and oppression and the murder of innocent peasant men, women and children. For pity’s sake, what kind of regime are we supporting when the South Vietnamese military and civilian leader admires Hitler! Didn’t we fight a world war to depose that tyrant? How come we support this pocket Hitler? Answer me that!
We do not support a rampant war-mongering so-called Great Power, whether Russia or America. We support Peter Fraser’s original proposal at the setting up of the United Nations at the end of the Second World War to deny these Great Powers a veto, which has been used by both Russia and America to justify their unilateral occupation of or undemocratic attacks on other nations, even to the extent of assassinating leaders they do not approve of. Fraser narrowly lost the two-thirds vote because the Great Powers ‘persuaded’ enough countries to abstain from the vote. We advocate revisiting that veto vote. We support self-determination, just like those Vietnamese who oppose American troops, as they previously opposed the colonial mind-set of the French invaders and exploiters.
We must not accede to the ‘requests’ of LBJ’s emissary. He is a warmonger and former ambassador to that American puppet regime in South Vietnam, proposing to escalate an unjust war upon innocent and poor peasants none of us have or will ever meet. We fought the Second World War to bring peace to the world. Peter Fraser played a large part in setting up the United Nations protocols that ended colonialism and attempted to ensure peace for every nation large and small from aggressors. Are we to ignore those protocols and join the US aggressor?
I say we will not fight. We have no quarrel with the Vietnamese, they do not threaten us. China is not invading Vietnam or any other country. It is America who is the invader, lying to the anxious American public on behalf of the makers of terrible weapons designed only to maim and kill. It is immoral to participate in this wicked adventure. Let us stand up as Peter Fraser did for peace and an end to state murder.
Obviously Ru lost, as did the peace movement, at the time. When Labour got back into government, Ru and the peace movement won. Now in 2019 we see the signs again of President Trump and Russia and China bullying and possibly planning to invade small countries. Is it time to revive Peter Fraser’s proposal to veto the Great Power Veto at the United Nations? A UN vote if successful would complete Peter Fraser’s legacy and perhaps create a realignment of the majority of nations more favourable to really fighting climate change.