While the main centres and the West Coast of South Island seemed to be in an uproar in 1912-13 Wanganui remained calm. Why was this? The aim of this thesis is to investigate the unionist and political activity of Wanganui as a secondary centre; to explain not only why no unrest took place in 1912-13 but also to discover what was essentially different about this secondary centre compared to what happened in Wellington in 1912-13. For this purpose the study has been concentrated around the unionistic and political activities of W A Veitch. It is easiest to centre this study around Veitch because he was politically paramount from 1911-35. Frequently he initiated patterns but to a large extent he was able to retain power because he reflected patterns and responded to the actualities of Wanganui politics.
The "Ballance Tradition" was the key factor in Wanganui politics. No politician could hope to gain power in Wanganui unless he remained within the limits it imposed. Veitch was keenly aware of this and his political career is an example of the "Ballance Tradition" in action. This was not an ideological tradition. There was little room in Wanganui for ideology as militant labour was to discover. The "Ballance Tradition" was largely one of attitude and of political behaviour which encouraged cooperation between working class and middle class, reflecting the Liberal synthesis of the 1890's. It stressed broadly humanitarian goals which were to be achieved by an evolutionary process. It saw the needs of Wanganui as a whole and was opposed to specifically sectional demands.