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Canberra watch « Previous | |Next »
December 1, 2006

Is the federal ALP a party in search of a spine, as Laura Tingle argues in the Australian Financial Review? Well, I reckon that it has lacked political courage. Tingle says that:

These days, much of the federal parliamentary Labor party is beyond even being depressed about the lack of spine the party appears capable of showing collectively. And at the end of the day, its a lack of spine that is Labor's problem. The electorate has judged Kim Beazley and decided he's weak and people are not listening to what he has to say... But what the last two years have revealed is a more systematic weakness in Labor's ranks...The party seems unable to mobilise itself to successfully provoke a change--either with or without Beazley.

There have been murmurs all week about the need for change with the behind-the-scenes backgrounding and undermining---called a destablisation campaign by the press. Currently, the right wing ALP, ruled by an inner circle of mates headed by Swan, Smith and Conroy, has been going nowhere on the issues that count and which flow Labor's way:- interest rates, climate change, Iraq. These have been placed to one side in favour of industrial relations. So we have a one card trick. It's not enough to make the case for a change of government at next years election. The ALP has looked depressed and dispirited all week. It has lacked courage to tackle the issues that matter.

ALPleadershipC.jpg
Bill Leak

Well, we will see about the spine bit won't we? The Rudd/Gillard team have issued a challenge to Beazley. There is to be a spill of all leadership and frontbench positions on Monday.The challengers are calling for a change in the leadership of the party and strategic direction. That's a welcome move. It's time for change. Beazley is yesterday's hero.

It would appear that the dominant NSW right wing faction, which once stood behind Beazley, has split into two. Will Rudd/Gillard deliver on the fresh ideas, fresh vision and a bucketload of energy that they promise? How will that happen given the diminished talent pool, and the Stasi trend described by Senator Ray:

A whole production line of soulless apparatchiks has emerged: highly proficient and professional, but with no Labor soul; control freaks with tunnel vision; ruthless leakers in their self-interest; individuals who would rather the party lose an election than that they lose their place in the pecking order

Presumably the strategy of relying on resentment over Coalition policies is coming to an end.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:10 PM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

Currently, the right wing ALP, ruled by an inner circle of mates headed by Swan, Smith and Conroy, has been going nowhere on the issues that count and which flow Labor's way:- interest rates, climate change, Iraq. These have been placed to one side in favour of industrial relations. So we have a one card trick.

That's about it in a nutshell. It's time.

(And Robert Ray is channelling Latham, I see.)

wbb
Shaun Carney in The Age makes some interesting comments. He says that a number of prominent people in the party organisation have in recent months expressed profound concerns about Labor's chances under Beazley's leadership.

To put it plainly, they concluded that Beazley had run his race, that he had done all he could as Labor leader to put the pieces together after the 2004 defeat. They also concluded that not only would Labor not make any further inroads into the Government's popularity, it would go backwards the longer Beazley stayed.

He then asks How has it come to this? How can a man who has received so much goodwill for so long find himself struggling to maintain the confidence of so many after only 22 months back in Labor's top job
The main reason is that Beazley did not do what was required of all politicians who are given a second shot. Political leaders on their second go-round must say they have changed and they must show they have changed.

For a while Beazley did change in that he took firm stands on the abolition of individual work contracts, university fees and uranium mining. But one old pattern did not change:
He was still his blustery old self, failing to pull together the disparate threads of Labor's critique of the Government and falling into his habit of blathering. After almost two years back at the helm, he has not managed to cement in the public consciousness any idea of what a Labor government would do to make Australia a better place.

It is hard to disagree with this account. I guess that is why the momentum lies with Rudd and Gillard--oh well that is what I judge from reading the body language.

The Dream Team is beginning to crack around the edges.....I think Gillard has hitched herself to the wrong wagon...

Shaymus,
there is a lot of spin from both sides on this as there are around 20-30 MPs undecided and each side must claim they are in front to persuade the undeciided.

The front bench spill makes it more complicated as MP's will also be jockeying for places in the Shadow cabinet. The winner needs to secure at least 45 votes in the 88-member Labor caucus.

Re Rudd. He has published two essays in The Monthly magazine earlier this year..The first, titled "Faith In Politics" in the October edition, outlined how a deeply committed Christian such as Rudd can keep his progressive social-democratic impulses alive.

In the second essay, published the November edition , Rudd mounted a criticism of neo-liberalism--
--have a read of this