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

ALP: all at sea? « Previous | |Next »
December 23, 2010

It is not just asylum seeker policy is it. The minority Gillard Government appears to be all at sea in a number of areas: the Murray-Darling Basin, climate change, health reform, urban renewal --nay reform in general. The exception is the national broadband network, where there has been vision, policy competence and leadership. Why so? Why does the federal Labor's primary vote continue to fall, and not just in the mining states of Queensland and WA?


Bernard Keane's interpretation in Crikey is in the form of an identity crisis:

It’s genuinely unclear, even to Labor MPs, what Labor now stands for, what it believes in its heart of hearts. The party’s turn away from reform under Kim Beazley and Simon Crean was, evidently, more than just petty politicking. But the bigger problem was it didn’t abandon economic liberalism in favour of something else -- say, old-fashioned big government and a regulated economy. No, it continued to talk the language of economic liberalism, but without the commitment to it of the previous generation. In such a party, unmoored from core principles, unsure what its philosophical foundations are, the hucksters of NSW Labor, with their relentless focus on announceables, and focus groups, and media management, could have a field day. And they have. There’s little evidence that Labor is finding a way to repair these deep tears in its soul.

His judgement is harsh but accurate. The political hucksters from NSW run a hollowed out party; one squeezed between the suburban mortgage belt parts of the capital cities and the inner-city areas. The Coalition keeps acting as if an election is just around the corner.

Does that identity crisis mean the social democratic left has to go back to its roots?

In the Australian Financial Review Geoff Kitney says:

Not since the early days when the two party system evolved has a prime minister faced the challenges Julia Gillard has faced. No modern political leaders have had their power so circumscribed as hers. No modern political leaders have had so little leverage on the system with which to build their leadership authority....Her task is huge. The critical question hanging over her---and which will probably determine the fate of her government --is this: is she up to the task. Does Gillard have the leadership qualities---the negotiating skills, the inspiration, the ideas, the drive, the team, the breadth of vision--- to inspire her government m her party and the people.

This is the great person view of politics--the great leader--when it is the cabinet that shapes the politics; a cabinet in a de facto coalition with the Greens over a normal parliamentary term; it is a collective approach because ministers do have responsibility for their portfolios.

It is the business world that demands strong leadership to push through economic reform to create a market society. A minority government, by definition, cannot be strong. So corporate Australia is sceptical about the Gillard Government.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:45 PM | | Comments (6)


So... at some point the Coalition became the radical reformers and Labor became the risk-averse CONSERVATIVES.

How cool is that!!!

The metaphor of the hollowed out party will cross over into parliamentary seats, I suspect, following the NSW election.

Wmmbb, I sympathise with the point, we need to remember that Labor, in hollowing itself out, has become a doppell of the Tories.
They are untrustworthy also. I agree that Kenneally's fit of arrogance re privatisation ought to have them slung, but for years the fear in Sydney of the Tories has has them tolerate even sixth rate labor out of the certainty of what would happen with a rightist Tory government (as typified by the Cameron govt in Britain). The real insight that electors have acquired is that both parties will betray them; where to go from here?

re your comment: "The real insight that electors have acquired is that both parties will betray them; where to go from here?"

proportional representation

"...where to go from here?"

Just try and get some comfortable seats and enjoy the ride as best we can. Because we're just passengers now.

There's too much inertia. This ship isn't going to change course, no matter WHAT we do.

Gary, I think that if proportional representation is the solution, party apparatchiks from both major groupings will continue to ensure that it remains hidden at the bottom of the wastepaper basket, where they feel it belongs.
How to get constitutional reform up, when it's their politicians in the houses of parliaments, anyway?