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

`lost their way'? « Previous | |Next »
June 16, 2011

There is little need to comment on Alan Moir's cartoon. It represents the state of play accurately. Labor is being looked at with a sceptical eye and for good reason, as the Gillard Government has delivered little after a year. Gillard herself is being treated badly, and is subject to condescension. News Ltd can smell blood in the water and is cranking up the pressure.


The ALP cannot help itself. It's in government, and yet it is going through an identity crisis as a social democratic party that civilizes neo-liberal capitalism. They talk of reform--- they refer to their history of reform a lot--- but they seem to offer little beyond the promise of making the tough decisions, turning to focus groups, doing party polling and being obsessed with themselves.

They do seem to have lost their way in understanding how to civilize neo-liberal capitalism to ensure the well being of the country. Or if they do know how to give global capitalism a human face, then they find themselves unable to carrying it out. They start then stop, giving the impression of buckling under pressure. The live cattle trade to Indonesia is a case in point. They've known about this for a long time, condemn it, but don't hold anyone responsible for doing nothing about it.

One explanation for this state of affairs is that the Labor Right, which controls the party through the factional grip of its party barons, actually has no real or genuine interest in civilizing neo-liberal capitalism, or in renewing social democracy. The point of gaining power is not to make things better for Australians, or to give global capitalism a human face; it's defining purpose now revolves around power and patronage. Gaining power, and keeping it for as long as possible, is what matters.

Ambitious reform has nothing to do with it. The tactics of Labor Right is to retain power by shunning policy risk, relying upon message mastery and spin, and carefully respect Australia's conservative political culture. So nothing really happens.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:39 AM | | Comments (13)


The theme of the day appears to be that Labor spend too much time arguing with the opposition. It seems to me that's a small part of a larger problem. They seem to spend all their time and energy on their enemies, and none on their friends. To the point where their primary vote is down to hard core supporters.

The stupidity of our political leaders never ceases to amaze.

Yes agreed. And all they need now is a new face that the people will believe and believe in is their view. I don't think the people will buy it now though.

Faulkner is determined to push through on internal party reform in the ALP in the face of resistance from the party power brokers that there should only be minimal reform.

the factional/apparatchik controllers (such as Mark Arbib and Paul Howes) are endeavouring to close down the debate about internal reform. They have no time for democracy. They are akin to a cancer in the body politic.

However, the ALP needs more than Faulkner's internal reform to make it a more democratic party. The unions have shrunk and no longer represent the majority of the workforce; whilst the mainstream membership of the ALP has gone, and by all accounts cannot be recovered.

The ALP's only hope for survival, if it wants to be in government, is in coalition with the Greens; but that is something the current Right faction is deeply opposed to. They hate The Greens more than they hate the Coalition.

There is a lot of guff in the MSM about the ALP once being a workers party and it has gone downhill because of the inner city professionals on the left.

I keep waiting for these kind of voices to call "Bring back the DLP".

Those who see the ALP as a workers party (blue collar manufacturing?) must be going back to the 1960s because the alignment (or rmarriage?) between the ALP and the "inner city professional elites" started with Gough Whitlam and lasted about 40 years.

It seems that this alignment is in the process of breaking up. It looks more like a divorce than a trial separation.

According to Greg Melleuish in an op ed in The Australian:

The Greens are the latest manifestation of a sort of moralistic puritanism that has been part of Australia since the First Fleet. Australians must change their evil ways. The Greens see themselves as the enforcers who will achieve that change, thereby leading the country into the sustainable utopia.
In such a utopia the status of animals would rise and that of humans fall. It is no longer necessary to sterilise the unfit. With the advance of medicine they can be detected and disposed of while still in the womb.

He links sterilising the unfit back to Nazi Germany.

I presume The Australian believes in this kind of stuff and takes it seriously

Oh yeah... the Greens are clearly puritanical fanatics. You know the party which is constantly vocal about gay issues, social justice, bigotry and tolerance? Well, they're sour, conservative prudes... every single one of 'em.

Yes... the Greens... the party which wants to sell heroin to our schools kids... has enbraced moralistic puritanism. Oh my.

"lost their way?" To be fair the ALP under Gillard does have a sense of direction.

It can be found the policies in the areas of innovation, skills and training that are designed to meet the investment and workforce requirements of an economy in transition.

An economy in transition means the two speed economy or the patchwork economy. The policies are designed to spread the benefits of the mining boom to those in the manufacturing sector.

An economy in transition could also mean a transition from a high-carbon to low-carbon economy with regions and sectors growing at different rates and requiring help in adjusting.

Greg Melleuish.
Well, whatever else you fault him for, you can't fault him on misanthropy.
Actually, corporatism is always worrying, because it is the precursor to active fascism. Did someone mention the likes of Howes and Arbib? It's not quite so hard to forsee beyond them, is it?

Labor's second term agenda, from what I can gather, is managing the economy through the mining boom without allowing the unskilled or blue-collar workers or regions to fall behind.

"lost their way?"

Gillard + Co are trying to make a deal with the Greens and the independents on a carbon price within the next three weeks. And then get the deal legislated during the spring. That is the best that can be said--Gillard needs more time to broker a deal to have a carbon price on the table.

At her first press conference after becoming PM, Gillard said:

I think that this has been a good government but I do believe we have lost our way. I believe that we have on a set of issues … not delivered the kind of stability and certainty and good management that Australians would seek.

Judging by the current polls many reckon that Gillard has not delivered the kind of stability and certainty and good management that Australians would seek.

Labor has been in office for just over 3 1/2 years, and it has no substantial reform to its name. It is condemned by its own criteria.

For the Labor Right...

The point of gaining power is not to make things better for Australians, or to give global capitalism a human face; it's defining purpose now revolves around power and patronage. Gaining power, and keeping it for as long as possible, is what matters.

For this mob Labor's future lies in the focused pursuit of the centre--playing to the disengaged middle through focus groups. Mainstream opinion is everything.

Labor's left is disposable because progressive politics is incompatible with the centre.

Proves its all in the timing. Had it not been for the insulation debacle I think Peter Garrett would be front runner for a go at PM. He would still be light green wouldn't he.