Good evening everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all tonight.
My name is Byron Clark and I am the Workers Party candidate for Christchurch Central. This is my second time standing in this electorate. Three years ago I stood up and gave speeches as a young, long haired radical. Today, I’m obviously older and my hair is a little shorter, but I stand here as radical as ever.
I want to define that word as it is often misused. The word radical comes from the Latin word radix, meaning “root” and a political radical, like myself, is someone who advocates getting at the root of societies problems, and the root of the problem is capitalism, a system where those who must sell their labour to live are exploited for the benefit of a few elites. While its hardly common to hear people even talk about capitalism during elections in New Zealand, the recent turmoil in the finance sector of the world economy has meant there is a little more space for radical ideas. Indeed even The Times of London recently carried the rhetorical headline; “Karl Marx, did he get it all right?”
Capitalism is past its used by date, but this latest bust isn’t going to be the end of it, capitalism won’t fall over, it needs to be pushed, by an organised working class movement, with the goal of production for human need rather than private profit. While large socialist mass movements exist in Latin America and South Asia, we are far from that point in New Zealand. The Workers Party is working to build that movement, We are running in this election to spread ideas, ideas that don’t get much air time, but are increasingly relevant to the world we live in.
While we work to build the movement, we are also campaigning with policies that will improve the lot of workers today. We are calling for the abolition of GST, a regressive tax that takes money from workers’ after tax incomes and disproportionately affects the poor. Repealing all Anti-democratic Laws, from the Terrorism Suppression Act, which has been used against political activists but caught no terrorists, to the anti-strike provisions of the Employment Relations Act, to the Electoral Finance Act, a draconian law which stifles political speech. We also call for open borders: the abolition of all immigration controls and full rights for migrant workers. While today money can move freely around the world, this right doesn’t yet apply to people.
Slogans I’ve heard in this campaign tell people to vote to change the government, or sometimes rearrange the words to call for a “government of change.” I’m asking you to vote for a party that doesn’t just want to change our government, but change the world.