March 24, 2013
Last week's Labor's leadership turmoil is certainly not going to help its electoral chances. The damage Labor did to itself is going to make that task even more daunting.
The upside is that the leadership question has been settled. The white noise created by the leaking/destabilisation campaign of the Rudd camp explanation for the woes of Gillard Labor no longer holds. Gillard is now more in charge of her government than at any point since 2010.
However, can the ALP reconcile itself? If so, can the Gillard Government govern in a less dysfunctional way than it did with the aborted media reforms. If so, does it have the right policies for it to be a reformist government?
I don't know the answer to these questions. I do know that the social basis for its old style Laborism has been weakened and hollowed out due to the decline of the ALP’s industrial union base and that it is unwilling to detach the political wing entirely from that withered base so that it can make different kinds of appeals to different social and economic groupings.
Mark Latham articulates that option in his recent Quarterly Essay. Not Dead Yet: Labor's Post-Left Future lays out a program for renewal that entails breaking ties with the union movement and abandoning any lingering doubts about the market.