Socialist Unity Party of New Zealand

Last updated
Socialist Unity Party
Split from Communist Party of New Zealand
Ideology Communism
Political position Far-left
Colours     Red

The Socialist Unity Party was one of the better-known communist parties in New Zealand. It had a certain amount of influence in the trade union movement, but never won seats in Parliament.


The Socialist Unity Party was founded in 1966 as a splinter group of the Communist Party. The Communist Party had been bitterly divided by the Sino-Soviet Split, a dispute between the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev and China under Mao Zedong. The party eventually decided to take China's side. Shortly afterwards, a number of the more prominent supporters of the Soviet position, such as Ken Douglas, George Jackson and Bill Andersen, established the Socialist Unity Party. The Socialist Unity Party retained ideological and political links to the Soviet Union for most of its existence. [1]

The Socialist Unity Party's association with the Soviet government drew considerable criticism from mainstream politicians. In 1980, the Soviet ambassador to New Zealand, Vsevolod Sofinsky, was expelled after allegedly giving $10,000 to a member of the Socialist Unity Party. [2] In 1987, another Soviet diplomat, Sergei Budnik, was ordered to leave the country by Prime Minister David Lange for his alleged involvement with the party. [3] [4]

At the same time, the Socialist Unity Party was strongly condemned by other communist groups, which accused it of not following "true" communism and of collaborating with capitalists. The Socialist Unity Party's most well known leader, Ken Douglas, was also criticised by hardliners for the comparatively moderate position he took within the trade union movement.[ citation needed ]

The Socialist Unity Party, unlike some of the more radical groups, participated in New Zealand elections, and was not wholly antagonistic to mainstream parties it was prepared, for example, to occasionally support the Labour Party as "the lesser of two evils". The party put forward candidates in four elections; generally in safe Labour seats in the four main centres; except for Franklin and Stratford in the 1975 election and Waikato in the 1981 election. However Bill Andersen stood against Rob Muldoon in Tamaki four times.

The Socialist Unity Party has now dissolved, although the Socialist Party of Aotearoa (now also defunct), which split from the Socialist Unity Party in 1990, continued for a number of years afterwards into the early 2010s.

Electoral results (1972–1981)

Electioncandidatesseats wonvotespercentage
1972 504440.03
1975 1504080.03
1978 401790.01
1981 504470.02

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Italian Communist Party communist political party in Italy (1943–1991)

The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.

Communist Party of Finland Finnish political party (1918–1990)

The Communist Party of Finland was a communist political party in Finland. The SKP was a section of Comintern and illegal in Finland until 1944.

Communist Party of Germany former political party in Germany

The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956.

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was founded in 1920 and dissolved in 1991. The CPA achieved its greatest political strength in the 1940s and faced an attempted ban in 1951. Though it never presented a major challenge to the established order in Australia, it did have a (relatively) large membership and a significant influence on the trade unions, social movements, and the national culture.

Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)

The Communist Party of Great Britain is a political group which publishes the Weekly Worker newspaper. The CPGB (PCC) claims to have "an internationalist duty to uphold the principle, 'One state, one party'. To the extent that the European Union becomes a state then that necessitates EU-wide trade unions and a Communist Party of the EU". In addition, it is in favour of the unification of the entire working class under a new Communist International. It is not to be confused with the former Communist Party of Great Britain, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist), or the current Communist Party of Britain.

Communist Party of New Zealand

The Communist Party of New Zealand (CPNZ) was a Communist political party in New Zealand which existed from March 1921 until the early 1990s. Although spurred to life by events in Soviet Russia in the aftermath of World War I, the party had roots in pre-existing revolutionary socialist and syndicalist organisations, including in particular the independent Wellington Socialist Party, supporters of the Industrial Workers of the World in the Auckland region, and a network of impossiblist study groups of miners on the west coast of the South Island.

Socialism in New Zealand

The extent to which socialism plays a part in modern New Zealand politics depends on which definitions of socialist are used, but few mainstream politicians would describe themselves using the word "socialist". The term "social-democrat" is more common, but the more general "left-wing" or "centre-left" are used far more frequently. New Zealand has a complicated assortment of socialist causes and organisations. Some of these play a considerable role in public activism—some commentators claim that New Zealand socialists are more prominent in causes such as the anti-war movement than in promoting socialism itself. Other groups are strongly committed to radical socialist revolution.

The Workers' Socialist Federation was a socialist political party in the United Kingdom, led by Sylvia Pankhurst. Under many different names, it gradually broadened its politics from a focus on women's suffrage to eventually become a left communist grouping.

Gordon Harold "Bill" Andersen was a New Zealand communist, social activist and trade union leader.

Communist Party of Denmark communist party

The Communist Party of Denmark is a communist political party in Denmark. DKP was founded on 9 November 1919 as the Left-Socialist Party of Denmark through a merger of the Socialist Youth League and Socialist Labour Party of Denmark, both of which had broken away from the Social Democrats in March 1918. The party assumed its present name in November 1920, when it joined the Comintern.

Ken Douglas New Zealand politician

Kenneth George Douglas is a New Zealand trade union leader.

This article gives an overview of socialism in the Netherlands, including communism and social democracy. It is limited to communist, socialist, and social-democratic parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ means a reference to another party in that scheme.

Socialism in Australia

Socialism in Australia dates back to the earliest pioneers of the area in the late 19th century. Notions of socialism in Australia have taken many different forms including the utopian nationalism of Edward Bellamy, the Marxism of parties such as the Communist Party of Australia, and the democratic socialist reformist electoral project of the early Australian Labor Party.

Socialism in the United Kingdom is thought to stretch back to the 19th century from roots arising in the aftermath of the English Civil War. Notions of socialism in Great Britain have taken many different forms from the utopian philanthropism of Robert Owen through to the reformist electoral project enshrined in the birth of the Labour Party.

The Socialist Party of Aotearoa was a minor political party in New Zealand. It was formed in 1990 through a split in the Socialist Unity Party, led by G. H. (Bill) Andersen. The last known leader of the party was Brendan Tuohy.

Communist Party of Great Britain Communist party in Great Britain from 1920 to 1991

The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was the largest communist party in Great Britain between 1920 and 1991, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. Founded in 1920 by the merger of several smaller Marxist parties, the party gained the support of many socialist organisations and workers' committees during the period after World War I and the Russian October Revolution. Many miners joined the party through 1926 and 1927 after the General Strike of 1926. In 1945, two of the party's MPs won seats in the general election. From 1945 to 1956, the party was at the height of its influence. It experienced its greatest loss of membership after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the party's Eurocommunist leadership decided to disband the party, establishing the Democratic Left think tank. The anti-Eurocommunist faction had launched the Communist Party of Britain in 1988.

Hoxhaism variant of anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement

Hoxhaism is a variant of anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement, appearing after the ideological dispute between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania in 1978. The ideology is named after Enver Hoxha, a notable Albanian communist leader.

Anti-revisionism is a position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Where Khrushchev pursued an interpretation that differed from his predecessor Joseph Stalin, the anti-revisionists within the international communist movement remained dedicated to Stalin's ideological legacy and criticized the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his successors as state capitalist and social imperialist due to its hopes of achieving peace with the United States.

Far-left politics in the United Kingdom Left wing politics in the United Kingdom.

Far-left politics in the United Kingdom have existed since at least the late 19th century, with the formation of various organisations following ideologies such as revolutionary socialism, anarchism and syndicalism. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution and developments in international Marxism, new organisations advocated ideologies such as Marxist-Leninism, Left Communism and Trotskyism. Following the 1949 Chinese Revolution, further international developments from the 1960s led to the emergence of Maoist groups. Political schisms within these tendencies created a large number of new political organisations, particularly from the 1960s to the 1990s.


  2. "Soviet ambassador expelled | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  3. The untold story behind New Zealand's ANZUS breakdown. - Free Online Library
  4. "New Zealand Orders Soviet Envoy to Leave". New York Times. 1987. Retrieved 2018-07-06.