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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

painful times for social democracy « Previous | |Next »
November 28, 2003

A politically isolated Simon Crean is what the media flows from Canberra are all about at the moment.

Simon Crean is on the ropes gain. He's been there before, many times from the punches thrown at him. This time, however, Crean is a dead man walking. His factional support in the Labor caucus has eroded. He was tapped on the shoulder Wednesday night by the factional heavies who supported him. That means, as John Quiggin says, that Crean's gone. More on the ins and outs of this tapping on the shoulder can be found over at Backpages

Indeed Crean, after sleeping on it all after Parliament closed for the week, resigned as leader of the ALP this morning. Geoff Kitney's judgement of Crean as leader can be found here.He says that "Crean's problem is Crean."

I'm not an ALP person myself. I take my stand with the Australian Greens. Why so?

Briefly, the ALP's commitment to social democracy is thin; they care little for democracy; are indifferent to citizenship; they lack courage in taking a stand on crucial new issues of principle; are unwilling to be a genuine opposition; and resistant to developing a substantive agenda in social democracy in a globalized world. What's left is a defense of the basic principles of the welfare state and a slightly different method to support and to correct a self-regulating market's allocation of scarce goods.

Crean's problem was not just Crean. Changing leaders is going to dramatically change the declining fortunes of the ALP The problems are too deep and structural. I know we are witnessing a social democratic party in transition, and that there are big tensions in the ALP's multiclass appeal and support. But its Third Way is policy thin; it is in disarray; and its right wing blue collar trade union support support remains deeply hostile to the new social movements---especially environmentalism. Will it make that much difference if its Mark Latham, or Kevin Rudd or Kim Beazley?

Geoff Kitney says is about survival first and revival second:

"...this contest is not about directional change. It's a vote for a more effective leader still essentially with Crean's policies. Party members, and voters, looking for an ALP with policies more like the Greens or Democrats are not going to get them, whether Crean stays or goes.

A change of leadership will be about trying to neutralise the Government's big advantages - on national security, border protection and economic policy - and trying to win on Labor's best issues, health, education and equity."

We may as well sit back and watch the political theatre. The Canberra Press Gallery will be all over the details, the political junkies will get their fix, and the conservative Howard Government will stir the pot with glee.

On a personal note I do feel sorry for Simon Crean. Though he was unpopular in the electorate, his has been political death by a thousand cuts in his back. He cut a tragic figure caught up in political cycles of self-destruction that became ever more enclosing. I hope Simon Crean is treated honourably and kindly. He has served his party to the best of his ability.

It is another example of the treachery with a smile on its face in the corridors of power. This time it was practised by the kneecapping, corrupt NSW Right. This mob is deeply in love with corporatism, think that goal of social democrats is just to win elections; reckon the role of government is to keep the growth machine ticking over; are willing to sacrifice a rudimentary system of social welfare to please global financial capital;and just want to hang out with the imperial president in Washington.

The turmoil within the ALP can only continue. The effects of globalization will see to that.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:05 AM | | Comments (5)


Perhaps it's splitting straws Gary, but Latham is the most unreconstructed economic rationalist of the three candidates, and the least across the vital foreign affairs brief.

The differences in leaders do have an effect in terms of electoral appeal and hence the chance of the ALP being re-elected.

However, we are talking about substantive policy here from the AlP right.

You are right about Latham.On the other hand he is more innovative in terms of policy than the other two.

Though I did find his recent Suburbs book pretty thin and trashy.

I agree with cs. And sc should be given credit for attempting some reform where angels feared to tread.

sounds like early election and a verly likely win to JH to me. Liberal leadership 'handover' before or after election?

gary what mileage do you think the greens will get out of this as far as picking up votes?

From a non - left POV, the key point is what faction Crean's successor comes from. As all the contenders are from the Right, politics stay as they are.

the pundits are saying that on present trajectory the Greens are on target to pick up two Senate seats ---at the expense of the Australian Democrats.

NSW and WA are the states identified, with a question mark over Queensland.

A very good argument for why Howard will avoid a double dissolution election. You need to get 7% quota for a seat instead of the 14% for a normal election.

The Greens are dreaming if they reckon they can pick up an inner city seat in the Houe of Representatives.

Most of the independent Senators will go in the next election.