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

being ground down « Previous | |Next »
January 9, 2005

Whilst John Howard has been playing the statesman in his exercise of knowledge and political power in Indonesia, the ALP has been living in the shadows contemplating the eightfold path to economic enlightenment.

Such contrasts in the art of politics based on sound judgement and practical shaping can fill even the true believers with nagging doubt:


The federal ALP seems to have disappeared on the tsunami issue. They are not even raisng issues about emergency relief versus development or the effect of the civil war in Aceh on the provision of emergency relief.They've gone missing in action says Crikey.

Little seems to be going the ALP's way.

WA and NSW elections? It would appear that WA will probably be the first to fall. Do we have a domino effect?

David Burchill has written an op-ed in the Australian Financial Review (Jan 8-9,2005,p.62) on things not going well for the ALP. No, it is not about factional dinosaurs and warlords and their masculinist culture and big dick practices. Burchill explores the ALP's relationship to the moral traditionalists and economic aspirationals in the outer suburbs.

Burchill says that, though Latham was the ALP's aspirational leader, his explicit appeal to the outer suburban voters failed. Burchill then says:

If Latham was Labor's "aspirational leader", then what went wrong? Why did outer Sydney and Melbourne show their backs to the lad from Green Valley? With the benefit of hindsight, part of the answer now seems obvious.It was the economy, stupid.

Burchill goes to say that Latham neglected the economy because he felt that Labor had little new to say.It had done the hard yards in 1983-96 and the rest was pure gravy. Burchill then adds:

And so he focused on personal matters--but purely in the social sphere, without recognizing the personal impact of economics on people's lives. Yet for folk in the outer suburbs economics is personal.It is the linchpin of their endeavour to "get things in order"--to put their lives in good order and get their families on the up and up.

So the ALP tried to appeal to the outer suburban apirationals in terms of the welfare of their families and localities without talking about the economic conditions that made this getting it together possible.

Burchill sums up well.It is less a case of Labor putting the social cart before the economic horse, and more a case of Labor forgetting to hitch the cart and horse together.

He ends on a depressing note:

Latham gave the aspirationals his best shot, but failed. Nobody left in Labor's decimated ranks is nearly so well qualified to pull it off....If Latham's moment has indeed passed, then get get ready for the long haul.


| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:48 AM | | Comments (0)