Social Democratic Party (New Zealand)

Last updated

Social Democratic Party of New Zealand
AbbreviationSDP
Founded1 July 1913
Dissolved1 June 1922;99 years ago (1 June 1922)(continuing group)
Merger of United Labour Party
New Zealand Socialist Party
Merged into Labour Party
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left to left-wing

The Social Democratic Party of New Zealand was an early left-wing political party. It existed only a short time before being amalgamated into the new Labour Party. During its period of existence, the party held two seats in Parliament.

Contents

Unity Conference

Socialist
Party

(1901)
Independent
Political
Labour
League

(1905)
(independents) Labour Party
(original)

(1910)
United Labour
Party

(1912)
Social Democratic
Party

(1913)
(remnants)
Labour Party (1916)

The Social Democratic Party was founded in January 1913 at a so-called "Basis of Unity" Conference (often simply called the "Unity Conference"). This meeting drew together the most prominent left-wing groups in New Zealand, including both political parties and trade unions. The aim was to unite the fractious labour movement into a cohesive force. At the end of the Conference, most of the attendees agreed to merge into two new organisations – the new United Federation of Labour would co-ordinate the trade unions, while the two main political parties (the hard-line Socialist Party and the moderate United Labour Party) would merge to form the Social Democrats. Not all members of the United Labour Party accepted the plan, however, and some continued on under the same banner and continued as a Rump party. [1]

The Social Democrats were founded with the purpose of becoming "...the political embodiment of working-class ideals aspirations" in parliament. [2]

Jack McCullough was the organiser for the Lower Riccarton branch and also organised campaigns for Christchurch City Council elections. [3]

Strike and 1914 election

The Social Democrats gained a rapid boost when, shortly after their formation, Paddy Webb and James McCombs won by-elections and entered Parliament. They joined with John Robertson, who won a seat in the 1911 election as a Labour candidate bringing the Social Democrat caucus to three. Later the same year, however, a controversial strike broke out among groups of dockworkers and miners. Moderates in the union movement considered the strike ill-advised and dangerous, while radicals strongly supported it. The strike was heavily suppressed by the government of William Massey, and the United Federation of Labour was left broken and disorganised. The Social Democrats, still closely linked to the United Federation of Labour, were plunged into disarray, with three of the party's leaders, Harry Holland, Peter Fraser and Bob Semple, being jailed for their roles in the strike. [4]

As a result of the chaos, the Social Democrats went into the 1914 elections with little in the way of planning. Co-operation with local labour organisations was sporadic, as was co-operation with the remnants of the United Labour Party. However, union anger at the government for its "heavy-handed" response to the 1913 strikes was still strong, and the outbreak of World War I had also strengthened the labour vote. In the election, Paddy Webb and James McCombs retained their seats under the Social Democratic banner while the remnants of the United Labour Party won three seats, and a labour-aligned independent John Payne was also successful. [5]

By 1915, the Social Democrats had in its ranks 2 MPs, 2 Mayors; 17 city and borough councillors, 6 members of hospital and charitable aid boards and 2 members of harbour boards. [2]

The six labour-aligned MPs worked together in Parliament despite being from different parties, with Alfred Hindmarsh of the United Labour Party selected as the unified caucus' chairman. [6] In August 1915, when Massey formed his Liberal-Reform coalition government, he extended an invitation to Hindmarsh's caucus. The "Labour" members declined the offer and, as a result, became the official Opposition in Parliament. [4]

Group photo from the Social Democratic Party Annual Conference in Wellington, 1914. Social Democratic Party Annual Conference 1914.jpg
Group photo from the Social Democratic Party Annual Conference in Wellington, 1914.

Formation of the Labour Party

Two years later, in 1916, the close working relationship between the Social Democrats and the ULP remnant was formalised with a merger – the two officially came together as the Labour Party, the same organisation that survives today. [1] The organisation of the Social Democratic Party survived however, and the more militant inclined members of the newly formed Labour Party remained as an "alter-ego" of Labour still campaigning for the goal of complete socialisation until their eventual disbandment in June 1922. [7]

List of presidents

Notes

  1. 1 2 Brown 1966.
  2. 1 2 "The History of the S.D.P." Maoriland Worker. 1 September 1915. p. 8. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  3. Nolan, Melanie. "John Alexander McCullough". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  4. 1 2 Foster 1966.
  5. Hislop, J. (1915). The General Election, 1914. National Library. pp. 1–33. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  6. Paul 1946, pp. 70.
  7. O'Farrell 1978, pp. 201.
  8. McAloon, Jim. "Frederick Riley Cooke". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 30 July 2013.

Related Research Articles

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. The party participates in the international Progressive Alliance.

Social Credit Party (New Zealand) New Zealand political party

The New Zealand Social Credit Party is a political party which served as the country's third party from the 1950s through into the 1980s. The party held a number of seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives, although never more than two at a time. It renamed itself the New Zealand Democratic Party from 1985 to 2018, and was for a time part of the Alliance from 1991 to 2002. It returned to the Social Credit name in 2018.

The United Party of New Zealand, a party formed out of the remnants of the Liberal Party, formed a government between 1928 and 1935, and in 1936 merged with the Reform Party to establish the National Party.

Thomas Mackenzie 18th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Sir Thomas Mackenzie was a Scottish-born New Zealand politician and explorer who briefly served as the 18th Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1912, and later served as New Zealand High Commissioner in London.

The United Labour Party (ULP) of New Zealand was an early left-wing political party. Founded in 1912, it represented the more moderate wing of the labour movement. In 1916 it joined with other political groups to establish the modern Labour Party.

The New Zealand Democrat Party was a political party in New Zealand, founded in 1934 with the purpose of opposing socialist legislation by the government.

The Country Party of New Zealand was a political party which appealed to rural voters. It was represented in Parliament from 1928 to 1938. Its policies were a mixture of rural advocacy and social credit theory.

The Independent Political Labour League (IPLL) was a small New Zealand political party. It was the second organised political party to win a seat in the House of Representatives, and was a forerunner of the modern Labour Party.

New Zealand Labour Party (1910)

The original New Zealand Labour Party was a short-lived left-wing political party in New Zealand. It is a predecessor of the modern Labour Party.

Alfred Hindmarsh

Alfred Humphrey Hindmarsh was a New Zealand politician, lawyer and unionist. He died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

A rump party is a political party that is formed by the remaining body of supporters and leaders who do not support a breakaway group who merge with or form another new party. The rump party can have the name of the original party, or a new name.

Andrew Walker (politician) New Zealand politician

Andrew Walker was a New Zealand politician of the United Labour Party and then the Labour Party from Dunedin.

Bill Parry (politician) New Zealand politician

William Edward Parry was a New Zealand Minister and trade unionist.

Roderick McKenzie New Zealand politician

Roderick McKenzie was a New Zealand Member of Parliament for Buller and Motueka, in the South Island. He was a member of the Liberal Party.

Temperance movement in New Zealand

The temperance movement in New Zealand originated as a social movement in the late-19th century. In general, the temperance movement aims at curbing the consumption of alcohol. Although it met with local success, it narrowly failed to impose national prohibition on a number of occasions in the early-20th century. Temperance organisations remain active in New Zealand today.

The New Zealand Labour Party leadership election, 1919 was held on 27 August 1919 to choose the next leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. The election was won by Grey MP Harry Holland.

The New Zealand Liberal Party leadership election 1912 was held on 22 March to choose the next leader of the New Zealand Liberal Party. The election was won by Thomas Mackenzie, who succeeded Joseph Ward.

The Lee Affair

The Lee Affair was an event that transpired in the late 1930s in New Zealand revolving around Labour Party MP John A. Lee's repeated vocal, public critiquing of his party's leadership. The affair culminated with Lee's expulsion from the Labour Party who then formed his own Democratic Labour Party causing a sizeable rift in party membership. The events have been described as the Labour Party's first major crisis of identity, the nature of which and manner of its resolution significantly affecting the subsequent development of the party for decades. Lee's biographer Erik Olssen stated that the Lee Affair "marked a key battle in the triumph of authority over democracy."

Labour Unity Conferences

In April 1912 and July 1913, two "unity conferences" were held to discuss and determine the future of organised labour in New Zealand. The events mainly centred around the debate over whether industrial action or political activity should be the means of achieving the aims of workers and additionally to unite the "moderate" and "militant" factions within the labour movement. Whilst neither conference fully unified the labour movement, it laid a framework of co-operation that would later assist during the creation of the current New Zealand Labour Party in 1916.

References