Today might be Bastille Day, but it also seems to be Wayne Swan Day in this morning’s papers. The Australian has a remarkable puff piece by Ross Fitzgerald (here) extolling Swan as “one of only two or three potential leaders of the Labor Party in federal parliament.” And in The Age
we can read the thoughts of the man himself, writing on “the mixing of
religion and politics,” about which he says he is “perfectly relaxed.”

Swan
wants to portray himself as a good Christian, but he also shows that
he’s a good Marxist at heart. For him, economics is everything; all
else is just a diversion staged by the wicked ruling class to distract
the masses from bread-and-butter issues. “While it’s taking away fair
wages and security of employment, [the government] wants us to
concentrate on issues like birth control and gay marriage.” But Swan
wants Labor to stick to its proletarian guns: “You can have
conservative views about marriage and also think people have the right
to job security.”

But how much use is it to women, for example,
to be given job security if they don’t have the right to control their
own bodies? Will their sons and daughters really care about increased
wages if they’re at risk of being conscripted to fight
fundamentalist-inspired wars in the Middle East? And isn’t it
patronising at best to tell the workers that they should care more
about food on the table than about basic civil liberties?

The
“culture wars” may indeed have been started by the Right, but once
they’re on they have to be fought. Approached properly, they offer the
prospect of gains for Labor: there are many people whose class
interests are non-Labor, but who are alienated from the Coalition by
its social conservatism. But Swan wants to run up the white flag before
the battle has started.

CRIKEY: Who can forget Ross Fitzgerald’s
piece last year slamming Crikey for not running ads for his mate Robbie
Swan and the sex industry. Fitzgerald and Swan are old AWU factional
mates and Crikey has exposed their public back-scratching before. It does The Australian little credit to run such a puff piece that somehow fails to mention Swan’s botched tactical handling of Labor’s tax policy.

Peter Fray

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