Financing the war effort became a new concern to Langstone, who believed "the greatest problem facing the country is the question of getting out of debt" (P.D. 1944, v265, p335). The national debt increased 114 million Pounds between 1941 and 1943, with a total of 392 million Pounds being spent on the war as of 1943. Ultimately New Zealand spent 640 million Pounds on the war. Taxation was another concern and Langstone sought a published list of all taxpayers and their sources of income, no doubt to pin-point those he believed should be paying more. He also wanted community-created property values taxed and taxes on dividend drawers, rather than on companies. He wanted the published list to be annual and cover all personal incomes from all sources, in order to make "spivs" justify their income (WTU Letter to Archie K., 9/5/1949. in Bert Roth papers). He criticised share holders making "lots of money", but opposed company taxes as they went into prices. He preferred land, death and personal taxes as they didn't feed into prices.
He also revived his 1930's enthusiasm for a state bank issuing interest free money for public projects, the amount of money issued subject to maintaining a stable internal price level. He recalled that "years ago we fought for a State Bank with the sole right of note issue. It would have been the Reserve Bank, and we want proper control of banking" (P.D. 1944, v265, p338) and "Labour has never stood for a policy of insulation. Labour has stood for a policy of internal price levels to support our national income. Our own price level is separate and distinct, possibly from the price level of any other country" (P.D. 1944, v266, p784). He continued to seek "a much more scientific, and certainly more desirable, system of measuring our money values" (P.D. 1945, v270, p247) or a "true scientific index of prices" (P.D. 1947, v279, p334).
Once again he was publicly promoting the monetary reform ideas of Arthur Kitson and Frederick Soddy. During financial discussions in the 1947 to 1949 Labour Party caucus he often felt it necessary to quote William Jennings Bryan's 1896 "cross of gold' speech against the Gold Standard (Dr Martyn Finlay, 26.9.97)
The 1944 Labour Party conference unanimously requested the government to purchase the remaining two thirds of the shares in the Bank of New Zealand, overturning the decision of the 1943 conference to oppose the purchase. The motion was even seconded by Walter Nash. Langstone had played a strong part in this by setting up a caucus committee to promote nationalisation of the Bank while both Fraser and Nash were overseas, (NA Nash to Bruce Brown 15/10/1962 and Brown to Nash 22/10/1962), but nationalising the Bank had also caught the imagination of many in the Party. Langstone encouraged this new enthusiasm amongst Labour supporters, for example speaking on bank nationalisation to the North Shore branch in May 1945 (University of Auckland Library, A 65 Box 9, Correspondence, 24/5/1945). At the 1944 Conference Langstone was carried shoulder high. The Bank of New Zealand Bill passed through Parliament in November 1945.
Following his time in North America and Europe, Langstone adopted a more international focus. He was enthusiastic about the new United Nations Charter, which arose from a fifty nation conference opening on 25 April 1945. He hoped that its Economic and Social Council would become its most important agency and also supported the concept of a world trading bank. Previously, he had strongly supported the Atlantic Charter of 14 August 1941, especially its call for equal access to trade and raw materials, and the abandonment of force. He now hoped that the newly formed United Nations would encourage an economic system that would abolish war and allow for a better exchange of goods. World War Two came to a close with the act of German surrender at midnight of May 8 1945, and the formal Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945. Langstone later welcomed the independence of India in 1947 and spoke of his admiration for Gandhi.
Echoing the American socialist Eugene Debs, Langstone claimed "the Labour movement's aim is that we lose ourselves in the service of others, that we strive to abolish poverty and make war impossible, to bring to every one a realisation of his relationship to all other human beings, to usher in a age of universal brotherhood" (P.D. 1944, v265, p338). Langstone further believed "the Labour party stands for a society of unity, a society where there will be production for use and not for greed, self and profit" (P.D. 1946, v273, p411). Rejecting total state control, as "we stand for the public ownership of public things and for the private ownership of private things" (P.D. 1945, v268, p319), he preferred a planned economy, with both government and private enterprise involvement. Nevertheless, he "castigated the unfair distribution of wealth and had fought for equality of income, for each man to be paid according to his ability and work" (P.D. 1948, v280, p265).
While "proud to be a socialist..." ( favouring a) "...public bureaucracy ... to give service without thought of gain" (P.D. 1948, v282, p2074), Langstone continued to declare he was also a "monetary crank" (P.D. 1948, v282, p2078) supporting an internal price level, keeping the supply of money and goods in a ratio through taxation. The term "funny money", which was used to describe his ideas, has various origins. It was used in a "N.Z. Commerce" article (15 September 1945, pages 3,5) entitled "High priest of finance and apostle of funny money, the subjugation of Mr Frank Langstone by Mr R.A. Algie", which recounted an exchange in Parliament. Ronald Algie, who had been a law professor at Auckland University and National M.P. for Remuera from 1943, became a regular sparring partner and in Parliament in 1946 contended the "funny money" label was in fact coined by Howard Elliott of the "N.Z. Financial Times". Langstone also favoured the administrative amalgamation of the Reserve Bank, the Bank of New Zealand, the State Advances Corporation, the State Fire Insurance Office, the Government Life Insurance Department and the Public Trust Office. Sometime in this period Langstone issued "Money power versus the people, use of public credit" (Taihape, Taihape Printing and Publishing Company). This 8 page pamphlet has not been traced.
In 1944 Langstone sued the "Evening Post" for 2,000 Pounds for libel. The issue for 17 September 1943 (p 6) had stated: "Mr Langstone's recall. Mr Langstone was very annoyed at being recalled from Canada said Mr Malcolm (Independent), in an address last evening. But I happen to know why he was recalled, and if I were to tell you the facts you would agree with me that this was the proper thing to do. Even the Labour Government could not do otherwise" Langstone contended this claimed he was recalled because he was guilty of high misconduct and brought him into public odium. The issue for 21 September 1943 (page 6) attempted to right the situation with "Not recalled, Mr Langstone's post, report contradicted." In Court Langstone's counsel argued that Langstone had resigned of his own free will , there was no recall, and no misconduct forcing such a recall. The defence argued that Langstone had slandered and vilified Fraser, and that such words were common practice in politics. The jury reduced the payment to 200 Pounds.("Evening Post", 17/9/1943, 21/9/1943, 18/2/1944).
Local issues in Waimarino remained important. Langstone regularly supported the expansion of forestry and the timber industry, along with the 1945 Bush Workers' Bill, which extended health and safety inspections to work in the bush. He also supported developing a pulp and paper industry at Mataura in the South Island. He served on the King Country Rehabilitation Committee and expressed concerns over mine and quarry safety for Ohura miners. He also took up the lack of electricity reticulation to the Ohura and Matiere areas, wanting the Electricity Department to step in due to the absence of a local electric power board. He was also concerned about the flooding of the Whanganui River between Taumarunui and Matapuna. He highlighted the inability of some country schools to hire and retain good teachers, as well as children travelling long distances to school. The establishment of a District Nurse at National Park, particularly to assist the many Maori in the area at risk to tuberculosis, was finally achieved in 1946. On these local issues he would even disagree with decisions of his former Cabinet colleagues. He also supported local body restructuring and amalgamation.
Langstone also contended that "every right thinking person would agree that there were many injustices done to the Maoris between 1860 and 1864 so far as the appropriation of their land is concerned" (P.D. 1944, v266, p807). When the Ngai Tahu settlement of long-held land grievances came to Parliament in 1944, Langstone spoke strongly in support. The recommendation was for a final settlement of 354,000 Pounds and Parliament decided on 10,000 Pounds per annum being paid to the Ngai Tahu Trust Board for 30 years. However, Langstone also believed economic development was a better long term solution, proudly referring to the 1.5 million Pounds he had made available for Maori land development while Minister. He supported Maori continuing to have free access to fishing grounds, as provided for in the Treaty of Waitangi, and in 1946 strongly supported the Waikato Maniapoto Maori Claims Settlement Act. This provided 6,000 Pounds a year for 45 years to the Tainui Maori Trust Board, and after that 5,000 Pounds per annum in perpetuity.
However, Langstone acknowledged he disagreed with Tuwharetoa claims to Lake Taupo. Also, when the West Coast Settlement Reserves Amendment Bill came before Parliament in 1948 one of Langstone's past actions was put under scrutiny. In 1948 the Myer's Royal Commission, into the level of rent being paid to Maori for land in the Taranaki area, found that rents fixed by rushed legislation in late 1935 were a grave injustice to local Maori, who were losing between 5,000 and 6,000 Pounds per annum. Savage, as Minister of Native Affairs, had met with elders on 11 September 1936 and asked his officials to look into the options available. On 30 October 1936 Langstone, while acting Minister, had minuted "no action" on the matter. The Commission on the other hand felt the matter should have been promptly remedied. In his defence Langstone said that he had felt that the land valuation for the rental was wrong, but had left it for Savage's decision. Maori had been making representations in the intervening eleven years.
In the mid 1940's Langstone was beginning to complain of difficulties hearing other speakers in Parliament, and was able to listen to Parliament on a radio while in the Chamber. His deafness also affected his pronunciation, while some of his colleagues were irritated by what they regarded as a maundering or rambling style of speech (Dr Martyn Finlay, 26.9.97).
He also faced criticism of his choice of Embassy in Ottawa, which he had bought in June 1942 and which now required a lot more expenditure to bring up to standard.
On liquor issues Langstone was a liberal, being a social drinker he believed New Zealand had a future in developing unfortified wines. He had a good knowledge of the sly grog industry within the "dry" King Country, but there is no record of any participation by him in it (Dr Martyn Finlay, 26.9.97). He also attended horse races, but criticised people being encouraged to gamble to excess.
Langstone opposed some American post-war "film noir" movies, describing them as "rubbish, gangsterism, men with guns, and people talking out of the sides of their mouths" (P.D. 1948, v282, p2377), the latter a possible reference to Humphrey Bogart. Instead, he wanted 50% of the cinema programme to be of New Zealand material, 90% of current feature films banned and the cinema to educate, not merely entertain. At the time the cinema was a major public entertainment with a normal session providing newsreels, cartoons and short documentary features, along with the main film. Langstone joined those who wanted independent cinemas to get a better share of the films made available.
Langstone reconciled with Walter Nash, but not Fraser. In a letter dated 9 November 1944 (AU A 303 Sinclair Papers), Langstone wrote to Nash describing himself as a "wretched, miserable, nasty person, with enough bile and sourness to contain the universe" and thanked Nash for his kind words to him. Nash replied that the only differences between them were over monetary policy. For example, Langstone was ready to support the retention of exchange controls.
On 5 August 1946 Langstone lost his most devoted supporter. His wife Agnes died at her daughter's home in Lower Hutt of an acute pulmonary oedema and coronary thrombosis. She had suffered from arteriosclerosis for some years. Her Methodist funeral was attended by Prime Minister Fraser, Cabinet members, other politicians and members of the Labour movement and personal friends. She was cremated at Karori Cemetery in Wellington, with the inscription "In loving memory of our darling mother Agnes C. Langstone died 5 August 1946" (Area 12, Block BC, Row 11, Plot 003). Described as being of a retiring disposition ("Standard", 15/8/1946, p5) she was active in helping others and gave a great deal of practical assistance to the Labour Party. She was a member of the Ohakune Labour Party Women's Branch. When first elected in 1922 she had carried on Langstone's Taumarunui restaurant business until at least 1924 (Cleave's directory), and had gone with him to Western Samoa in 1936, London in 1939 and Ottawa in 1942.
New electoral boundaries were proclaimed on 26 June 1946. There had been major changes in the way electorate boundaries were determined, using adult rather than total population and eliminating the Country Quota. Langstone had long opposed the Country Quota for creating electorates of unequal population, even although Waimarino was a beneficiary of this. In the 1943 election the quota for Waimarino was 21.2%, but there were another 14 seats with a higher quota.
The impact on Waimarino was dramatic, with the numbers on the electoral roll increasing from 11,488 in 1943 to 13,777 in 1946. The geographic boundaries of the electorate were greatly expanded, also acknowledging the continuing population decline within the old electorate boundaries. In the north west the boundaries moved much closer to Te Kuiti, in the north east the boundaries moved across Lake Taupo almost to Murupara and in the south east expanded south of Taihape. Only in the south west was there little change. Langstone "never owned a car himself and had never learned to drive" (P.D. 1949, v287, p2360) and believed "the alterations to the boundaries of the electorate had made it too extensive for him to cover at his time of life" ("N.Z. Herald" 8/11/1946, p8). He had represented Waimarino for 21 years. Langstone deferred to his Waimarino Labour Representation Committee chairman and a young farmer from the area, Pat Kearins, as the Labour candidate. He campaigned extensively for him, and later assisted him in Parliament. Langstone was later accused by National of running away from Waimarino.
Around this time Langstone had issued "Big money for the farmers, how the people pay, exchange rate subsidy - 16 Million Pounds a year, by Langstone Labour M.P." (Wairoa, Wairoa Star Print, 1946). This 8 page pamphlet addressed National Party claims that farmer's were losing out under Labour and claimed that farmers were the chief beneficiaries of Labour policies, especially the guaranteed price.
Kearins won Waimarino in 1946 with 52.7% of the vote and a majority of 681, stayed on in 1949 with 50.7% of the vote and a majority of 202 and even survived the 1951 General Election with 50.2% of the vote and a majority of 67. In 1954 the electorate was split between Labour-inclined Rotorua and National-held Waitomo, Patea and Rangitikei. Kearins tried for the new Rotorua electorate but the Party hierarchy preferred Ray Boord. Kearins later became Mayor of Taihape. The name for the electorate was briefly exhumed for the 1963 to 1969 General Elections, but remained National, with Labour winning only between 30 and 36% of the vote.
Langstone later said that having "voluntarily forfeited his Waimarino seat .. (he) .. was selected for Roskill. He did not seek that seat" (P.D. 1949, v285, p81). However, he had lived in the Roskill area since 1943, and it had been seven years since he left Ohakune for his Wellington Ministerial house. Labour first won Roskill in 1931 and in 1946 a new Mount Albert electorate was created, centred on Sandringham, Morningside and Mount Albert. From the 1940's farming land in the southern part of the Auckland isthmus was transformed into new state and private housing areas. The Roskill electorate now contained the Mount Roskill Road Board area (which graduated to Borough status from 1947), as well as more established south Epsom and Balmoral.
The Roskill branch met on 20 May 1946 to chose a new candidate as the sitting Roskill M.P., Arthur Richards, had decided that as 75% of the new Mount Albert came from the old Roskill that would be a more suitable electorate for him to represent. After discussion the branch voted 11 in favour of Dr. Martyn Finlay, 6 in favour of the President of the Auckland Labour Representation Committee J.W.A. Stead and just 4 in favour of Langstone. Finlay had stood for Labour in Remuera in 1943. On the same night the Waikowhai branch ranked Richards ahead of Langstone and Tom Skinner. It is not known how the third branch, Roskill East, voted and soon after a Three Kings branch also formed.
Langstone's nomination for Roskill was opposed by the National Executive of the Labour Party, who wanted him to remain in Waimarino, or preferably not to offer himself again at all. However, a former Parliamentary colleague, Alec Lamont Monteith who was MP for Wellington East 1922 - 1925, along with several local Party officials lobbied for Langstone (Allen Monteith, 24.9.97).
By 19 August 1946 Langstone was introduced to Roskill branch members as the official candidate. Roskill branch's A.I. Keesing became the Roskill campaign organiser. The branch nevertheless preferred to keep itself separate from the combined committee formed by the other branches in the electorate (AU MS A 154, Box 8, Minutes of Roskill branch). Finlay was adopted by North Shore and Skinner by Tamaki, and both won their respective electorates.
To the local press Langstone was a "colourful figure" who "expresses himself vigorously and often with fiery emphasis, uses many of the platform tricks of the seasoned campaigner, adds a wealth of action and gesticulation to his speech making and peppers the whole with simple quips at the expense of the opponents of Labour". He was also "a leading spirit in the more radical section of the Labour Party, his chief interest is finance ... he argues that although the Reserve Bank and the Bank of New Zealand have been taken over by the government, there is still much to be done to utilise the country's credit in the way it should be used" ("N.Z. Herald" 8/11/1946, p10).
The press believed Roskill would be a close contest. The 1946 National candidate had previously stood in 1943 and lost by only 962 votes, while the Democratic Labour candidate had won 1,015 votes and another 489 votes were spread between three other candidates. However, while losing solid Labour areas in Mount Albert Borough, the electorate had also moved eastwards towards Labour Onehunga and slightly westwards to Labour Auckland Suburbs. There had also been several hundred Labour-friendly state houses built in the area since 1943. Local issues included the development and servicing of the new housing areas, and a proposed suburban railway line parallel to Richardson Road. This was to link the main north line with the expanding industrial areas of Onehunga, without needing to go via Newmarket. This railway line never eventuated, amd the land is now partly used as a motorway extension.
The press emphasised Langstone's support for farming, land development, afforestation, soil erosion, river control and fostering local industries, the latter an important topic in suburban Auckland. However, his "pen of the candidate" piece for the "Auckland Star" (4/11/1946, p4) was almost non-partisan, focusing on the need to change laws (unspecified) to keep up with the times. National's Roy Granville McElroy was a barrister and solicitor who held a doctorate in law, was an Auckland City Councillor since 1938, and involved in its inner city slum clearance programme. He later became Mayor of Auckland (1965 - 1968) and a director of the Reserve Bank.
Langstone also strongly supported the campaign of Warren Freer, who was standing in the next door electorate of Eden. Freer recalls in his memoirs ("A lftetime in politics", Victoria University Press, 2004) Langstone's advice to go door to door, ensure one got to sit down at their table and never refuse a cup of tea. Dickie Barter and Langstone later urged Freer to nominate for the Mt Albert seat in 1947 (pages 24 & 26).
Langstone won Roskill with 50.6% of the vote and a majority of 155. While National won 78.96 of the vote at Saint Andrew's Schoolroom in south Epsom, Balmoral was split with National winning 53.53% at Maungawhau School and 58.8% at the Mount Eden Road booth, while Langstone won 56.17% at Telford Avenue near his home and 59.48% at the Dominion Road booth. Mount Roskill was strongly Labour, with Langstone winning 66.9% at Kingston Avenue, 56.5% at May Road, 64.2% at Mount Albert Road, 56.48% at Three King's School, 63% at Owairaka and 62.5% at Waikowhai. Langstone also won 58.7% of the Members of Forces' votes, with soldiers still serving in Japan, the United Kingdom and on H.M.N.Z.S. "Bellona". Commissioned for the New Zealand Navy on 1 October 1946, the "Bellona" arrived in Auckland on 15 December 1946. The turn-out in Roskill was 94.68% and there were 58 informal votes. Nationally Labour retained office with 51.3% of the vote, a swing to Labour of 4%, after the 8.5% swing against it in 1943. Following the election Langstone was nominated to return to Cabinet, but received just nine votes. He continued to serve on the Agricultural and Pastoral, Lands and Maori Affairs (renamed from Native Affairs in 1945) Parliamentary committees.
Following his re-election Langstone continued to pursue his financial theories. To Walter Nash he wrote "incorporated within our State Bank there should be a Stock and Station Department for the purpose of dealing with farmer's business, and why there should be any objection or delay in this being accomplished is 'Greek' to me, and I sincerely trust that this coming session legislation will be passed to give effect to this principle". Further he would "deny the right of the Trading Banks to use the Public Credit for making advances to their clients". Noting Trading Banks had created 14 million Pounds over the last few months "this does not savour of complete control of Banking Credit and currency as I understand it" (NA NASH 2247 - 0522, L to Nash 21/12/1946). Nash politely replied to offer to discuss how the trade expansion had expanded credit (NA NASH 2247 - 0522, Nash to L 13/1/1947).
Langstone's response to this was that there should have been a Stock and Station agency in the beginning of the formation of the Bank and that he "had hoped that with the passing of the BNZ Act that our State Trading Bank would have become the only authority .. to advance credit .. I know I am considered to be a 'crank' regarding the control and operation of Banking Credit and currency" .. which inevitably "will become the law of this Dominion". He further regarded New Zealand as a "milch cow" for overseas banks and claimed that he and Nash were "poles apart" (NA NASH 2247 - 0522, L to Nash 16/1/1947). Ever patient Nash replied that he disagreed they were "poles apart" and saw the "possibility of reconciling some of the views" (NA NASH 2247 - 0522, Nash to L 20/1/1947).
Following the lead of the Australian Federal Labor government, Langstone asked in 1947, on behalf of fellow Labour M.P.s Bill Anderton, Tom Skinner and Paddy Kearins, that government make the now totally state-owned Bank of New Zealand the sole legal issuer of bank credit for all those seeking an overdraft or loan. This would have been the next step towards state control of the means of exchange, but the answer was in the negative. The Australian government on the other hand proposed to nationalise all private trading banks. Australian Labor Party hostility to private banks seemed greater than that of its New Zealand counterpart, with Prime Minister Ben Chifley driving the campaign (Hill, John - "From subservience to strike, industrial relations in the banking industry", St Lucia, University of Queensland, 1982).
Australian banks with New Zealand outlets included the Bank of Australasia, the Bank of New South Wales, the Commercial Bank of Australia and the Union Bank of Australia. The Bank of Australasia amalgamated with the Union Bank of Australia in 1951 to form the Australia and New Zealand Bank. In New Zealand there was also the National Bank of New Zealand, which was owned in Britain, along with regionally based trustee banks such as the Auckland Savings Bank. Along with these was the savings bank section of the New Zealand Post Office.
An Act confirming New Zealand's adherence to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (G.A.T.T.) came before Parliament in mid 1948. Langstone warned there was nothing in the trade treaty allowing for maintaining internal price levels and continuing exchange controls. He also opposed the section allowing for joining the International Monetary Fund. However, despite National taunts, he did not vote against the Bill and was paired in its favour. He did, however, issue a 7 page pamphlet "The Bretton Woods International Monetary Fund" (Auckland, Dawson, 1948?) in which he claimed the I.M.F. would create a new gold standard, rather than a "standardised commodity price level".
Later, in 1949 he formally asked if New Zealand had entered into the International Monetary Fund agreement, the answer was in the negative. He also wrote that he was concerned about the sovereignty implications of Bretton Woods and regarded it as a step towards World Government. He preferred New Zealand economic self determination (Letter to Archie K. 9/5/1949, Bert Roth papers). New Zealand did not join the I.M.F. until 1961, with many in the Labour and Social Credit parties believing it would lead to external control of New Zealand finances.
Langstone joined other Auckland Labour M.P.s in expressing concern over the ash and grit coming from the King's Wharf Electric Power Station and supported the 1947 Auckland Centennial Memorial Park Amendment Bill. Auckland Labour M.P.s regularly put questions on local matters in association with their fellows. Langstone also unsuccessfully sought making the Waipoua forest in north Auckland a National Park, and favoured an Auckland City Council housing development in Avondale.
In 1947 the National opposition introduced a Legislative Council Abolition Bill, which received government blessing to go to a second reading. Alone on the Labour side Langstone strongly supported the abolition of the Council, but as he preferred the matter be settled by a government Bill he voted with Labour to reject it. A joint House of Representatives and Legislative Council Constitutional Reform Committee was then set up in 1947, with Langstone a member. In 1948 the committee reported back to Parliament that it was unable to reach agreement. National claimed Langstone had joined them in supporting replacing the appointed Legislative Council with an elected one. Langstone in fact publicly declared he saw no reason for a two house parliament.
National also claimed that Finlay had joined National and Langstone in supporting a referendum on the whole issue. Finlay was certainly in favour of abolishing the Legislative Council, but noted that Peter Fraser liked to use the Legislative Council to announce obituaries, and would invite all the Labour Legislative Councillors to caucus when there was a big item up for discussion (Dr Martyn Finlay, 26.9.97). Labour was unwilling to commit itself to a change and Langstone was criticised within caucus. National abolished the Legislative Council in 1950.
In a letter dated 3 October 1948 Nash cooled the situation by confirming his personal support and regard for Langstone. "In your letter to me of 30th September you raise the question of your bona fide's as a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and I am sending this note to say that I have never questioned them, and neither do I believe that any member does. It would be completely incorrect to say that you had lost the confidence of the members of the Party. There may be at times - as there inevitably will be - differences of opinion between members, but that does not in any way affect our loyalty to the Party and to the Movement. We must all watch that these differences do not jeopardise the progress of the Labour and Socialist Movement.
Your record in the Labour Movement and the Party will stand examination at all times, and I am sure that every member of the Party has full confidence in your personal desire to do everything that you can to maintain our present position and so organise as to continue progress towards our objective.
It is to be regretted that any misunderstanding occurred regarding the report of the Constitutional Reform Committee, but I had no doubt whatever after your statement in Caucus that you were satisfied that your action was in accord with the desires of the Party.
Frankly, the Party would not be the same without you, and I hope that your health will be good enough to ensure that you will be with us in the House at our meetings on Tuesday. All good wishes...".
Within the 1947 to 1949 caucus Langstone was largely isolated. He counselled Freer on his arrival in Parliament that "friends were few and far between" (Freer's memoirs, pages 28-9) and his mutual hatred with Fraser continued. He regarded Fraser as self-centered and too close to Fintan Patrick Walsh to the deteriment of the interests of the government. Freer nevertheless regarded him as the "spearhead" (page 31) for opposition to some of Fraser's policies by Freer himself, Martyn Finlay, Ormond Wilson (elected for Palmerston North in 1946) and Alan Baxter (MP for Raglan), all of whom preferred "socialisation" to "stabilisation" to greater or lesser degrees. Moreover, Langstone was still loyally supported by Paddy Kearins (Dr Martyn Finlay, 26.9.97). Freer describes Kearins as quiet and sincere (page 33).
Within Roskill Labour Party membership discontent with the Government was apparent. In February 1947 the Waikowhai branch urged the Auckland Labour Representation Committee (L.R.C.), which covered all the urban electorates, to support both the abolition of the Legislative Council and to "complete socialism" (AU MS A 65, Box 4 Vol 7, Minutes of A.L.R.C. 25/2/1947). On 25 September 1947 a Roskill East branch resolution to the L.R.C. opposing Labour's proposed amendments to the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act providing for a compulsory ballot before a strike, was ruled out of order. The more militant unions regarded these amendments as interference in union self government, and symbolic of Labour's shift to the right to woo non-union middle class voters who supported greater controls on the union movement. Two Roskill electorate officials, A.I. Keesing and Allen Monteith became active on the L.R.C.. In July 1948 Keesing became an approved Labour Party candidate and Monteith in October 1948. In March 1949 Monteith withdrew his nomination for the Remuera electorate, but was soon after elected to the Executive of the Auckland L.R.C.
In March 1948 there was a strike at Mangakino in support of the local Worker's Union branch secretary Len Clapham, who was a Communist. Bob Semple as Minister of Works denounced the strikers as pro-Communist. The Auckland L.R.C. meeting of 20 April 1948 then faced a resolution from the Electoral Committee of the Combined Branches of Roskill "to forward an emphatic protest against the Government's anti-worker attitude in the recent and present industrial disputes and would suggest that the Parliamentary Labour Party would better serve the interests of the worker by implementing the Socialist policy it was elected on, than by fostering dissension in the Labour movement". This was also ruled out of order. Even the more conservative Roskill branch had resolved on 12 April 1948 "that Government be urged to implement its policy of Socialism and refrain from causing disruption in the Trade Union movement". The Roskill branch supported freedom of speech within the Labour movement and on 14 June 1948 supported the abolition of the Legislative Council.
The Auckland L.R.C. meeting of 22 June 1948 then faced a resolution from Roskill East calling on the L.R.C. to "communicate to the Government that it is utterly opposed to military conscription on the grounds that it is the negation of human liberty and is the beginning of a servile state". This was deferred in light of a forthcoming Government announcement. The Roskill East branch also urged the abolition of the Legislative Council. The Roskill branch opposed conscription at a meeting on 12 July 1948 and the Waikowhai branch called on the L.R.C. meeting of 24 August 1948 to support a referendum on conscription. This was deferred until the Labour Party Conference.
Peter Fraser returned from the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference in 1949 determined to force through peacetime military training, or conscription. On 21 and 22 May 1949 a full meeting of the Labour Party caucus discussed the issue and Langstone later claimed at the Party conference, on 24 May 1949, that he had been the only caucus member opposed to the proposal. Freer's memoirs howver add Finlay, Ormond Wilson and Freer himself as all opposing the proposal.
It should be noted that some opponents were not at the conference. Ormond Wilson, M.P. for Palmerston North, wrote (AU MS A56 Wilson to J.K. Banks 11/7/1949), "if I had been there it would have made no difference. One of my few friends in caucus - Pat Kearins - said on the phone last night that he was glad I was away as had I been there, I'd have only got into trouble with Langstone Langstone and had no more effect inside Caucus or Parliament". Freer went on to publicly oppose conscription, while Finlay asked permission to join the "antis" during the Referendum campaign, but was bawled out (Dr Martyn Finlay, 26.9.97).
When the conference opted for a referendum on the issue, Fraser immediately brought to Parliament the necessary legislation. Langstone did not speak to the June 1949 Military Training Poll Bill, but exhausted himself on public platforms. He became vice-president of the N.Z. Peace and Anti-Conscription Federation. Allan Monteith was the president and Keesing the secretary. The anti-conscription movement had held a series of public meetings in November 1948 and the Federation had been formed after a peace conference in May 1949. In Parliament Langstone was relatively restrained on the issue, pointing out that neither Canada nor South Africa felt obliged to bring in conscription after attending the Commonwealth Conference, and repeated his long held view that air defence was the answer.
In June 1949 Langstone issued a pamphlet "Why I oppose conscription", contending Labour was only bound to a referendum, enabling him to campaign against conscription. The 32 page pamphlet had cartoons attributed to "D", this was Dennis Knight Turner who also illustrated for the "People's Voice". In his pamphlet Langstone argued conscription was wrong on grounds of cost and social disruption. He also wrote "Why I oppose conscription in peace time" for John A. Lee's Fortnightly (6 July 1949 p 6-7), which was reproduced as a householder. The Waikowhai branch unsuccessfully urged the Auckland L.R.C. on 26 July 1949 to oppose conscription. However, loyalty to the Party prevented much public opposition to conscription from within the labour movement.
Despite his outspoken opposition to Government policy, Langstone received the support of all six Party branches in his electorate for nomination as a Labour candidate in June 1949. Even the Roskill branch endorsed Langstone's candidature on 13 June 1949. Roskill East had kept up its opposition to Government policies by asking the Auckland L.R.C. on 24 April 1949 to discuss the recent Arbitration Court wage decision, this was ruled out of order.
The National Party's "Freedom" of 27 July 1949 (pages 1,3) believed Langstone would soon be removed as an official Labour candidate because of his independence. In fact Langstone formally resigned from the Labour Party on 7 August 1949, he had been a member of the Balmoral Branch since 1948 (AU MS A 154, Box 1). To the press he gave conscription as the reason for his resignation. He is quoted variously as saying "what does it profit a man to gain conscription and lose the government in November" (Molly Langstone, 20/11/1976). Allen Monteith remembers "what does it gain a Prime Minister to engineer a victory for conscription, at the expense of his own supporters and people, in August and lose the power of Government in November " (Allen Monteith, 24.9.97).
He served out the remainder of the session as an Independent Labour M.P. supporting Labour on matters of confidence. He faced jibes from both Labour and National, but the "Independent Group" of one had some fun saying that at least his Party was unanimous on all the issues. His speech on the Military Training Bill on 6 October 1949 was one of his most eloquent, repeating his preference for air defence, that war was unlikely in the immediate future and also expressing concern over public money being spent on the "yes" vote.
Freer in his memoirs (page 43) uses the word "retired" and not resigned "claiming that it was over the military training legislation, no doubt feeling that this would give him support as an independent to win Roskill", and that Langstone had finally giving up on working to change things from within. Freer then claims Langstone "tried to convince Roskill voters that he had resigned because he couldn't support Nash's financial policies as well as over the military training legislation. Before he left he admitted that he had made a mistake, 'but it is too late to try and mend fences now'" (page 43).
The growing left wing versus right wing war within the union movement was becoming apparent. Langstone rarely spoke on detailed aspects of industrial relations, but his last major contribution to Parliament came on an amendment to the Finance Bill which better defined the geographic area of the Auckland Industrial District. This amendment was to assist the government complete the de-registration of the Auckland carpenters' union after its "go slow" industrial action from March 1949. In its place the government had registered a more moderate new union. Langstone preferred that the two unions should be left alone to compete for membership support.
Some other Roskill Labour Party members left with Langstone. The Roskill branch minutes for 7 August 1949 noted the combined branch campaign committee was in recess and for 8 August 1949 noted that Keesing and three others had resigned from the branch. Allan Monteith resigned from the Auckland L.R.C. Executive on 22 August 1949. However, a new Roskill campaign committee was organised on 17 August 1949 and the Three Kings branch reformed (AU MS A 154, Box 8). The future long term Mayor of Roskill, Keith Hay, revived his interest in the Labour party to assist in this process. Hay had also been supportive of John A. Lee's Democratic Soldier Labour Party. The Roskill branch meeting of 29 August 1949 discussed five nominees for the Labour candidacy and the official Labour candidate, James (Jim) Freeman, was introduced to the Roskill branch on 10 October 1949.
Freeman was vice president of the N.Z. Timber Workers' Union, ironic given Langstone's long support by timber workers in Waimarino. Born in Australia, Freeman had moved to New Zealand in 1939 and was Labour's Remuera candidate in 1946. Formerly a member of the Communist Party of Australia, he became President of the Auckland Trades Council in 1948, helping to break Communist Party control of the Council, and in 1951 broadcast messages hostile to the watersiders during their strike.
Buoyed by a 500 signature petition by Roskill electors asking him to stand, Langstone contested the 1949 election as an Independent Labour candidate. He supported a stable internal price level index, reducing those taxes affecting prices, finance for industry, bilateral trade on a goods for goods or value for value basis, the amalgamation of all wage authorities, inclusive economic planning, efficient social services and a commitment to world peace. He also supported control of public credit, a land tax and multilateral trade agreements ("Auckland Star" 10/11/1949 p8), along with the nationalisation of all insurance companies, joint stock companies and stock and station agents. The press used phrases such as "radical", "outspoken", "vigorous", "provocative", "fearless" and "political courage". Freeman on the other hand focussed his campaign on Labour's record in government and countered Langstone's fluency at speechmaking by saying he was also a good listener.
In late October 1949 the Auckland Trades Council, claiming a mandate to secure the return of a Labour government, commenced overtures to Langstone to withdraw from the Roskill contest. They were concerned that his 1946 majority of 155 would be easily overturned. However, Langstone publicly rejected them ("Auckland Star", 11/11/1949, p1) and the Council decided to abandon its approaches ("Auckland Star", 18/11/1949, p4).
Accountant John Rae focused National's campaign on the cost of living and economic controls and won Roskill with 51.1% of the vote, and a majority of 1415. A prospective fourth candidate, J.B. Kennedy who was a Democratic Liberal, had withdrawn before polling day.
There had been 1,359 voters added to the roll since 1946, greatly expanding the electorate, both in the state housing areas of Wesley and private housing in Hillsborough and Waikowhai. Langstone won only 7.6%, or 1097 votes. If Langstone had not stood, or even remained the official Labour candidate, the electorate would still been have lost by Labour, joining Labour's three other Auckland losses at Tamaki, Otahuhu and North Shore. Nationally Labour suffered a 4.2% swing and lost office after fourteen years. In 1951 Rae's vote was 51.4%, with a 7.3% swing back to Labour contrary to the national trend, but not enough to retrieve the electorate for Labour. Labour had to wait until 1957.
Langstone's 7.6% varied within the electorate. Langstone's best vote was 17.8% at Waikowhai where Labour won only 28.72% and National won the booth. On the other hand his second best was at the solid state housing area of Owairaka where he won 15.55% and Labour 65.86 %. In south Epsom he won only 3.55% against National's 81.2% at Saint Andrew's Schoolroom, but won 6.36% at Liverpool Street against National's 66.36%. He averaged 8 to 9% in Balmoral, slightly better in Mount Roskill, but slightly worse in the Hillsborough area. Total turn-out was up to 94.1% and informal only 87.Copyright, David Verran 2004