In November 1911, when this photo was taken, Bob Semple was the organiser for the Federation of Labour. He had come to New Zealand from Australia in 1903 or 1904, began working in mines and became a union leader. Semple believed in industrial unionism and the class struggle, and on this basis helped establish the Federation of Labour in 1908. The federation rejected the arbitration system, and 'fighting Bob' Semple with his energetic oratory was a highly effective spokesman for the socialist cause. In later years he became a Labour member of Parliament and a cabinet minister in the 1935–49 Labour government. By then his ideological position was more moderate, and he became known for his pamphlet Why I fight communism.
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