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

fissures factions families « Previous | |Next »
October 17, 2004

I guess the election defeat is a bit of shock for the ALP. So we can expect exhaustion, depression, explosive recriminations, factional brawls and strange happenings amidst the train wreck.

The election was pretty much decided in the outer suburban seats of the capital cities. The outer suburban middle classes in the mortgage belt rejected the ALP, despite Latham's talk about aspirational votes, easing the squeeze and providing ladders of opportunity. Remember all those Green Valley homilies about me and mum?


It is not about Latham and Beazley and the leadership tussle. Maybe it is about the role of the backbench?

From where I sit on the outside looking in, the key problem is the factions run by the factional headkickers who control their group in such a way that the the energy and ideas is drained from the party. The ALP is a political machine without a heart.

For it is within, and between, the factions where we find the disciplined partisan politics bile, hate and recrimination. True, the wheeling and dealing of the factions are a way that an undemocratic ALP deals with the deepening fissure between its traditional working class base and its social liberal, professional middle class one. Yet the effect of factional politics is a choking of renewal within the ALP. Selecting party hacks is just one example. It leads to demoralisation amongst party members.

The consequence of the ALP defeat and its preference deals with Family First is that we are confronted by the family values movement, one in which mercy is hoarded within families, leaving outsiders to damnation and torment. Family values mean that people are loyal to their own kin and pursue familial interests with little concern for the larger civil society. As it is families that matter, not civil society, so fallen angels become malignant devils.

This social conservatism turns our heads to looking backward, toward a better, nostalgic past beyond the radicalism of the 1960s. It asks us to sleepwalk through history, whilst it places iron constraints on the freedoms won in the struggles of the 1960s.

What is suprising is how deep this socially conservative family values movement is within the ALP. When you listen to the ALP right you hear stories about one conservative cause after another. They are often singing from the same song sheet as the social conservatives in the LNP. Strange isn't it, the way the election tacticians have handed control of the Senate to the conservatives.

October 19th
The rise to the front bench of Joe Ludwig - the favoured son of veteran Queensland political thug, Bill Ludwig - exemplifies the negative effects of (Queensland) factionalism in the federal ALP. It indicates both the lovely mix of nepotism, union favouritism and bullying that is often driven by revenge and resentment and the way that where endorsement to the Senate is now generally a reward for factional fidelity.

Let us hope that the talented young women are given positions of power to highlight the progressive face of the ALP. That may counterbalance a divided caucus entrapped up in pessimism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:49 PM | | Comments (0)