The Crikey editor still doesn’t know who JF Smith ia but any search of our archive throws up a fascinating cross-section of articles. We always thought he was a loyal Labor man but after this extraordinary spray he’s clearly fallen out of love with the Bruvvas. Read on.

The Coalition has won an enormous victory and, implicitly, a complete mandate, at a time when any right thinking person would have felt obliged to reject their fourth term in government.

Howard’s predilection for being remarkably flexible with the truth and a front bench characterised by the likes of Vanstone and Ruddock, a talentless twit like Darryl Williams and a thug like Tony Abbott should have resulted in a complete rejection by the electorate.

However, like many, I suspect that I was forced to vote Liberal. Why? Simply by virtue of the fact that Labor, in engaging in its tedious leadership challenges, the fronting of an even more impressive range of talentless candidates than Liberal in the likes of Kevin Rudd, Martin Ferguson, Kim Beazley et al, non-performing backbenchers like Anthony Byrne and a history of inexplicably stupid shadows such as Laurie Brereton – together with the performance of union associates in the CFMEU, MUU and so on – and its unbelievable desire to deify Gough Whitlam, one of the most arrogant intellectual pygmies of recent times, has left anyone wanting to vote for any party other than Liberal no viable choice.

I am angry with Labor at having abrogated its responsibility to provide an opposition of alternative policies that were funded, were viable and did not increase taxes. I am angry that Labor did not move polices into the public arena in any way other than in a cynical approach to pork barrel the electorate. Clearly policy was being made on the run.

I am angry that caucus elected Mark Latham, although to be fair he is the best of a bad lot. He is undisciplined, arrogant, inexperienced, lacks any deep appreciation of policy development and, in spite of all his glib talk, has little real understanding of the importance of opportunity to people or how to deliver it.

The comments by Lennon in Tasmania were a disgrace but highlighted just how fragmented and power hungry the Labor party, its many factions and union arms are. Labor seems to have forgotten, or failed to appreciate, that the electorate may not be that smart or sophisticated, but it is smart and sophisticated enough to appreciate that economic management and reasonably consistent policy is necessary.

You may not agree with much the Liberals have enunciated, or their despicable dealings on a number of issues, but they are consistent bastards. The Labor factions are just bastards. And of course, with the demise of the Democrats (that brand is now so devalued it will never rise again) there is not much to “keep the bastards honest”. Besides, they are all bastards, Democrats included, and the electorate realises that if faced with such a choice we may as well go with the most competent bastards.

(Regarding the Democrats, I cannot but suggest that Stott-Despoja resign. Of course she won’t, she is hanging out for her parliamentary retirement package after never having worked a real job in her life. She has been consistently silent – she’s not known as the only retired sitting member for nothing – after her appalling leadership of the Democrats, effectively gutting the party then handing it over to a drunk. Meg Lees, whilst a little fruity and out of the whole thing now, was at least up-front. Despoja has never taken responsibility. If she had any integrity she would resign now. She has none and will not).

Labor hacks and party machinists will, of course, engage in the usual bloodletting and recriminations. Who cares. Unless Labor can face the fact that it is becoming irrelevant as the world moves on from the old “us versus them” priority that prevailed when Labor was founded, it will go the way of the Democrats.

Failure to open the Labor Party up to non-union involvement by people who wish to contribute is mandatory. The Hawke-Wran review was clearly an enormous waste of time in that its recommendations and observations were neither fully adopted or appreciated.

Unions have a place, there is no doubt about that. They must exist to protect people against the extremes of unscrupulous operators. They must exist to represent the combined voice and rights of workers. Greg Combet, Sharan Burrows and the likes of the CFMEU have forgotten all that. They failed to reform workplace behaviour at Ansett and, whilst bad management was a very large factor, that company was gutted in essence because of union greed.

Combet and others comprehensibly failed to represent the best interests of workers after that fiasco. As they have equally lost the battle with a voracious Qantas that certainly doesn’t regard Australia as home. But who can blame them – Qantas that is? Why wouldn’t you move off-shore when having to deal with blackmailers and poor performers? Even more galling however is that the union movement crucifies retired workers living off their savings every time they ask for a pay rise – it drives up costs of living and the retired worker is shafted again.

Labor seem not to appreciate that the population is aging. People look to their retirement situation and even old union members can appreciate what it may mean to have Labor in power. Too many of us have a fine appreciation of how union dues have been rorted, mismanaged or disappeared to have much faith in the union movement nowadays. It has abrogated its purpose and charter, beholden now to so many dishonest vested interest groups. By extension that means we cannot trust Labor.

The problem is, behind it all, Labor is as arrogant as Howard and Co. Nobody personifies that more than Kim Beazley. Despite a huge swing against him Beazley will carry on, no doubt, in the pompous, superior way that he always has.

The problem is, he is demonstrably no intellectual of any great ability (his record attests to that), he is ill-disciplined and looks to the academic sector for a comfortable sinecure. He should not be so rewarded. Arguably he has done much damage to Labor and little to revive it as a credible opposition, as has Latham. How could the party elect such a foul-mouthed, objectionable leader? Like Beazley he clearly has a problem with personal discipline – they are what they eat.

Labor is in huge trouble and deservedly so. Thankfully there is a chance that Telstra can be off-loaded. Notwithstanding the out-of-proportion influence of the farm sector that lobby’s representation in affecting Howard’s considerations will now be significantly reduced. Hooray! (The farm sector is almost as bad as the unions in demanding its own interests be acceded to so often to the detriment of the nation). Thank goodness industrial relations will not be wound back 30 years, reducing Australian productivity and performance.

Here is the problem for Labor. They fail to recognise that workers have a strong interest in generating personal wealth. That means good economic performance, low taxes, low interest rates, stable IR. Labor cannot deliver that combination.

Who will Labor elect to lead them now? There is no standout. The party, because it closes its ranks to non-union membership, is bereft of any real talent. The first move by Labor must be to open its ranks and accord the union element balanced representation in policy development whilst taking into account that 80% of Australia is not unionised.

What chance of this happening? None.

Peter Fray

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