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The Nelson Photo News



The Political Scene

The triennial parliamentary elections are over; a National Government has been returned for a fourth successive term of office, and post mortems are being performed up and down the country. Why a fourth term? "A good team, " says National. "The seamen's strike is to blame, " says Labour. "a lack of sophisticated campaigning methods, " says Social Credit. Whatever the cause, National is back with what could be (at the time of going to press) a 46-39 majority. The state of parties on election night was National 44, Labour 40 and Social Credit 0. In the two local electorates, Nelson and Buller, there were no major upsets. Mr Stan. Whitehead, whose electorate now embraces territory formerly in the Buller electorate, was returned with a smaller majority, and Mr Bill Rowling retained the Buller seat easily.

Picture of the whole campaign was this one taken at Stoke, where Mr Whitehead's two grandchildren, Michael and Kay Brown, did their own campaigning for "grandad". Below: The Prime Minister spoke to a chocker house in the Stoke Memorial Hall.


Let's join in the post mortems. Possibly the strangest feature of the election was the support given in some electorates to the individual, rather than the party, and National candidates gained in this respect in a number of cases. Another strange feature was the poorer showing of Social Credit which not only lost its only seat in the House, but showed a decline in all electorates. Does this mean that in 1966 Social Credit gained from National and Labour a protest vote, and that in 1969 the improved images of these parties and their policies drew this "protest" vote back to these parties? Probably. But our own view is that if Social Credit is to succeed, it has to find a way to "put across" its fairly complex financial policy in terms that can be easily understood by the man in the street.

We are pleased to note that this year there was a much higher poll than in 1966, possibly an indication that electors are beginning to take their politics more seriously. And television undoubtedly played its part in helping many to shrug off the apathy that has dogged general elections for so long now.


National candidates for Buller and Nelson, Mr Ernie King (a now hardened campaigner) and Mr Roy McLennan, who was far from disgraced in this, his first campaign. Above: A pensive Mr Keith Martin, listening to his party's deputy-leader, Mr J. B. O'Brien (left). Below left: Labour Party leader, Mr Norman Kirk, with Mr Whitehead and the Mayor (Mr Horne), when Mr Kirk addressed electors from the Church Steps. Below: Having their first vote ("but we're not 20-year-olds") are Judy Smith and Wendy Wells.