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ALP: torn 'n frayed « Previous | |Next »
November 19, 2004

From what I saw in Federal Parliament this week the ALP is in a bad way.

It is in a political cage, is badly wounded, and hurting badly. Its body is sundered and bleeding, whilst its spirit is one of depression and despair. The ALP is facing a future of 3-6 years of triumphant, arrogant Coalition members taunting it, and jabbing its wounded body with sharp sticks through the political cage. At the moment a humiliated ALP does not have the energy or will to howl with rage and rattle its cage with fury.

It was worse, far worse, than I'd expected.

During the week the ALP went through the motions of political theatre, but the performance was tired and cliched. It left me wondering whether the ALP knew any other tricks than the old one of political personal attack. Or whether it realized that that it needed some new tactics other than living off the political oxygen generated by the political bribery allegations made by Tony Windsor.

(More on the scandal at Palmer's Oz Politics, Completely Biased and Margo's Webdiary. I expect the Howard Government to tough this out without suffering any great damage. Greg Maguire is the weak link).

It was more difficult for me to go behind the smiling mask presented by the ALP in the theatre of Parliament to see the disunity, conflict and frustration within the ALP's body politic about the way the ALP had conducted itself in the election. Nor was I able to see into the inner sanctum of the ALP to discern the public mood in the leadership group. What I did see was the body language of those from the inner sanctum when they were in public on Tuesday. Their body language was one of being wounded, in shock and in pain. The wound was still raw and bleeding.

The press (eg., Pamela Williams in todays Australian Financial Review) are reporting on the recriminations circulating about the nature and style of Latham's leadership and character, the disagreements within the campaign team, and the incompetence of the party machine etc etc. The crew on board the ALP are not happy.

My judgement is that the implications of the election defeat have yet to fully sink in. The soul searching has yet to begin. Many are still in denial.

The key political point is that it is a long way back to the Treasury benches for the ALP. Howard and his arrogant crew will repel any attack on their citadel with ruthless determination.

John Quiggin is more optimistic. He suggests that it would not take much to shift things: a couple of percentage points increase in interest rates would cause a 3% percentage shift to the ALP. Maybe. Remember the Government's majority in the Senate is for 6 years. That means the ALP and the minor parties (Greens & Democrats) will be sidelined and public debate marginalized.

What is required in the long run (3-6 years) is a new political narrative and some good environmental and social policy. The social policy needs to be based on the fair and equitable distribution of both goods and services, wealth and income, and to take into account the current resources, opportunities and needs of citizens.

My guess is that today's policy review in Canberra will see the ALP gut both Medicare Gold and the Tasmanian Forests policy. They have.

One positive is this Latham speech.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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