Organisational change in the New Zealand Labour Party, 1974-81
Strachan, David John
This thesis is an examination of the organisational changes that have occurred in the extra-parliamentary wing of the New Zealand Labour Party between the Annual Conferences of May 1974 and May 1981. Changes in the Party structure during the period are a major component of the study, with particular reference to the effects of these changes in the major metropolitan centres. The thesis attempts to examine the reasons for the major structural changes approved in 1974, the immediate impact of the new structures and the increased emphasis given to implementing the 1974 blueprint, in the aftermath of Labour's election defeat in 1975. A central focus of the study in the post 1975 period is the activity of the N.Z. Council at the highest level of the Party and the Councils attempts to restructure the Party organisation. The thesis attempts to explain the reasons for the emergence of a more assertive N.Z. Council and for the consequential reduction of the influence of the Parliamentary Labour Party in organisational matters. The first chapter is a prelude to the changes which occurred within the Party in the mid 1970's. It covers the 1967 - 73 period and traces the early attempts at constitutional change, the initial resistance to reform of the Party structure and gives reasons for the gradual acceptance of the need for change within the Party. Chapter two focuses on reasons for the major structural changes that were approved at the 1974 Annual Conference and examines the implications of these changes in the dominant organisational units of the Party at the national and local levels. Chapter three is devoted to a study of the internal reappraisal of Labour's organisation, in the wake of the disastrous 1975 election campaign, while chapter four deals with the attempts by the N.Z. Council, during the 1976-78 period, to respond to the serious organisational problems facing the Party. A feature of this chapter is the build up in Party membership, which was intended to diminish the Party's communications problems, and to establish a basis for the restructuring of the Party organisation. Chapter five is an account of the revival of the Labour Party at the local level during the 1976-78 period and explains how different forms of regional organisation evolved in the main centres. The long term consequences of the massive increase in branch membership are dealt with in chapter six. This chapter, which covers the first two years of Jim Anderton's Presidency, deals with the reasons for Anderton's victory, with the drive towards further modernisation of the Party machine (by means of a new look Executive) and with the effect of the increased assertiveness of the N.Z. Council in the internal Party arena. Chapter seven concentrates on the “new breed” of Regional Organiser employed by the Party during the 1979-81 period and on attempts of these organisers to upgrade the Party at the regional level.
Advisor: Wood, Antony
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Political Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis