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

Gillard's folly? « Previous | |Next »
October 9, 2010

Christopher Pearson is quite clear on what constitutes the folly of a minority Gillard Labor government after it barely survived a spectacular electoral collapse. Pearson writes in The Australian that it is Gillard Labor's embrace of the Greens.

The ALP is being cannibalised to the point where it may not have a future as a governing party in its own right... The ALP can't afford to be cast in the role of a senior partner in a long-term alliance with the Greens because they are competing for the loyalty of the same voters and Labor will keep bleeding votes. Given that the Greens' Adam Bandt had already repeatedly ruled out supporting the Coalition, no pact needed to be formalised or concessions made last month. Whatever message it sent to the independents is as nothing compared with the one sent to all the voters who veer from election to election between the two main parties: we are prepared to vacate the middle ground and govern from the Left.

And why is this tacit alliance folly, if we reject The Australian's view that Labor should become a right of centre party appealing to "Howard's Battlers"? Pearson answers:
..the Greens' policy on almost everything is utopian, ill-considered and not properly costed. To consolidate their own position as parties for grown-ups, Labor and the Coalition should always speak of the Greens as the infantile party: resolutely irresponsible, innumerate and a threat to the economy.They should also be pointing out that the Greens provide a flag of convenience for former Moscow-liners, Trotskyites and other ultra-leftist ratbags.

'Almost everything is utopian, ill-considered and not properly costed' implies some are not. So which Green policies are not utopian, ill-considered and not properly costed? Pearson neglects to say. Nor is he interested in doing so.

So what we have is just another anti-Green rant launched from The Australian. When are the conservatives who hang out around Murdoch's newspapers going to start doing public policy analysis as opposed to wing nut rants? For instance, how about some public policy analysis on water reform, electricity or urban renewal? Noel Pearson shows how it can be done.

After all, Pearson is based in Adelaide, where these are pressing issues, as are affordable housing and pleasant living environments. Surely Pearson doesn't think that if Adelaide made its urban parks smaller it could fit in more affordable housing and overcome the constant traffic? Or is it more suburban sprawl--more new suburban estates on the urban fringe? My guess is that Pearson (and his conservative cohorts) do not have the skills or knowledge to do public policy analysis.

At the very least though, Pearson needs to explain why Labor's alliance with the Greens in Tasmania and the ACT, which appear to be working well in both cases, is not relevant to Gillard Labor. Why what is success in one is folly in the other?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:39 PM | | Comments (14)


Pearson baldly states that 'The national interest demands that at any given time both main parties should be capable of running competent governments, neither of which would be beholden to fringe parties.'

Perhaps he might start a campaign to change the constitution and privilege the Liberal and Labor Parties as the only two political parties allowed to hold seats in parliament ... in the national interest, of course. In fact why not introduce mandatory bipartisanship by requiring all legislation to have the support of at least two thirds of both houses? After all 'effective' government, meaning government that prioritises endless economic growth within a free market monopoly capitalist system, is the only kind we are interested in, at least if you are an apologist for the ruling class.

Conservatives in the USA are becoming increasingly totalitarian in their agendas, seeking to impose state control of everything from education to religion while simultaneously cutting taxes and reducing welfare. It's a development, one feels, driven mainly by desperate anger at the way global tendencies are eating away at the longstanding power of US corporations and their managers.

Where US conservatives go, needless to say, their uncritical Australian mimics will be sure to follow.

'The national interest demands that at any given time both main parties should be capable of running competent governments, neither of which would be beholden to fringe parties.'

I'm amazed that nobody has picked up the glaring typo in this para. Clearly it should have said... "Powerful, self-serving interest groups demand that... etc etc."

As for the comment 'that Labor should become a right of centre party appealing to "Howard's Battlers"? Ah.... isn't that already the case? Isn't that why so many disillusioned voters ditched Labor and went to the Greens?

Thanks for saving me the time, Ken Lovell.

Maybe conservatives like Pearson are hoping that their weekly rants and bayings will spawn a grass roots movement (the Tea Party) just like the US.

no doubt Australian conservatives will follow their American ones and redefine the "abuse of power," so that it refers almost exclusively to government intervention on behalf of people who aren't rich. The welfare state is the end of a free society, it is putting us on the road to the dead end of European-style socialism, etc etc.

They long for an energized and organized right wing movement to rise up and wipe out The Greens.

And what is Gillard meant to do with a Green controlled Senate? Attack rather than negotiate?

I try to avoid visiting Rupert sites so haven't read all of Pearson's article, but it looks as though he's neglected to point out that shifting to the right on a couple of Abbott's talking points cost Labor the votes that went to the Greens and created the situation where they had to come to the agreement with Greens that Pearson is now complaining about. The ALP don't like the Greens any more than Pearson or the Australian.

He also doesn't seem to have considered that his own position revolves around rejecting welfare, yet his side of politics have formally stapled themselves to the Nats, who must be the biggest supporters of welfare in the parliament.

As others have pointed out, anything the Australian publishes on the Greens has to be viewed through the filter of that paper's recent declaration of war.

not just the Nat's. If Pearson's side of politics is rejecting welfare, they are also the biggest supporters of welfare for stay-at-home mums.

They deserve it because these are mums who have their feet on the ground, have lots of common sense, and live according to Australian values.

there is no need to haven't read all of Pearson's article--he doesn't say much. He just says that the Labor Green alliance is based on a secret preference deal with strings attached, and that shifting to a carbon tax may well prove disastrous for Labor and the economy.

On the latter he says:

It's a decision she could comfortably have deferred until 2013. By then we may have a better idea what -- if anything -- the Americans and the Chinese in particular are proposing to do about carbon.

Pragmatic, mildly conservative voters don't like politicians taking premature, high-stakes gambles, especially ones that drive up the cost of living.If Abbott succeeds in painting the carbon tax in those terms, Labor may decide to depose Gillard before he has the chance to defeat her.
I thought that the strategy was to depose Gillard within a year.

re "Labor's alliance with the Greens in Tasmania and the ACT, which appear to be working well in both cases"

And possibly Victoria in the near future. The seats in play for the Greens there are Melbourne, Richmond, Northcote and Brunswick, and these could cost the Brumby government two ministers. On current polling, Labor may be forced to negotiate with the Greens and any independents to form government.

However, any Green lower house seat win is dependent on Liberal preferences. What way will the Liberal Party go? Support the ALP? Or support the Greens?

The right strategy is to reduce the number of members of the major party that is your opponent?
Labor has a 13-seat majority and the Coalition needs a 6.5 per cent swing to take power in Victoria. It does not appear forthcoming. The Coalition will lose the election, and so they have to weaken Brumpy Labor's hold on power.

"Where US conservatives go, needless to say, their uncritical Australian mimics will be sure to follow..."

I believe this comes, for a large part, from being a far-flung, isolated anglophone nation. We uncritically grab on to these trends because we can easily identify with them and because they don't required us to think too hard.

Just look at the number of unfiltered US-sourced news that makes it on to our screens. Just look at what passes for TV drama and entertainment. Just look at how easily the American context is transposed into our culture. Their TV villains are our villains. Their "welfare queens" are our dole cheats. Their fears are our fears.

I'm amazed and disappointed at the number of chain emails I get which are clearly American in origin.... the local loons make a half-arsed attempt and diguising the source... Louisville becomes Liverpool, Chuck becomes Barry... and buddy becomes mate. But the message is the same. We ARE Americans and their social problems are the same as ours.... their arguments are ours... their paranoia is ours.

I recently lost a long-time friend because they kept sending me these chain emails. Even though I repeatedly pointed out to them that the messages (myths) were offensive, fraudulent and incorrect, they kept coming. Eventually I lost my cool and told them to cease or our friendship was over. Seems that my friend thought that bigotry was more important.

"We ARE Americans and their social problems...arguments...paranoia are as ours".
Of course, Mars 08.
As was intended.
Whether by Manifest Destiny, or through the agency of some other more mundane source, we may well speculate, eg on alternatives that come to mind..

If the ALP is forced into alliance with the Greens it has only itself to blame. The people who vote for the Greens are slightly to the Left of mainstream Labor, and they feel abandoned by the party for which many of them have consistently voted for years. (Having said that, I acknowledge that there are also a lot of young voters who have always voted Green, as well).

I only wish that the Greens were a credible Leftish party, but I fear that a taste of power will drive them (or a critical section of them) to the Right, much to the disappointment of those who are voting for them precisely because they appear Utopian in comparison with the ALP and Coalition.

Actually, Lyn, I think the ALP (particularly what passes for its Left) dislike the Greens even more than the conservatives do. (Possibly it's because we remind them of what they should be.)