The ALP national executive’s decision yesterday to include Macquarie in its regime of central preselection impositions has sparked a wave of dissent from warring factions, with left dissidents likening the state party to communist Russia and NSW general secretary Matt Thistlethwaite to Stalin.

Crikey has stumbled across an extraordinary missive that was doing the email rounds in the lead-up to last Saturday’s state conference, which famously resulted in a purge of Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald and a win for left-aligned assistant secretary Luke Foley.

The rant, which had party temperatures at boiling point, contains many amusing paragraphs detailing the state’s slippery slide into apparent despotism:

The cult of the individual embodied in the slogan “All power to the general secretary” is applicable to both the Soviet Union of the 1920s and today’s NSW ALP … the machinery committees are best understood as being akin to the Show Trials of Stalin’s purges of the 1930s. The outcome of the considerations of these bodies is decided in advance, with the wishes of the general secretary communicated to loyal henchmen and henchwomen who duly execute their instructions.

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Historical comparisons with the Eastern Bloc are bountiful:

As it groped around for some credibility, the 1950 Congress of the Peoples Republic of Bulgaria could not have invoked Marx and Lenin more than a NSW ALP conference calls on Curtin and Chifley…with the vacuous praise of old heroes comes a doleful companion: the rehabilitation of old enemies. At the 1961 Party Congress Khrushchev posthumously rehabilitated the murdered Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky — the Red Bonaparte. This was an historic event of sadness and grief. At the 1971 Party Conference Keating rehabilitated the former Premier Jack Lang — the Auburn Plute. This was the settlement of a suburban Sydney squabble.

… the impression is that the ALP is like Albania under Hoxha — technologically backward and bureaucratically repressed.

The document also containes a helpful table on trade union membership in NSW, and the requisite delegate breakdown on state conference floor. The Shop Assistants Union, that benefit from big department store sign-ups as a semi-official condition of employment, remain dominant.

Table 1: Composition of the 2009 NSW ALP Annual Conference

Union Delegates (Must be 48% of the Total Delegates)
Union Membership Delegates
Marine Engineers 620 1
Meatworkers 6856 7
Metalworkers 24,141 27
Services Union 9,849 11
Australian Workers Union 25,893 28
Communications 11,967 14
Construction, Mining 24,117 25
Commonwealth Public Sector 11,970 12
Electricians 18,000 20
Financial 13,219 15
Health Services 34,215 38
Miscellaneous 25,109 30
Media 4,203 5
Maritime 3,429 4
National Union of Workers 17,150 18
Rail, Tram & Bus 14,822 17
Shop Assistants 65,664 73
Textile, Clothing, Footwear 3,261 4
Transport Workers 36,448 42
Municipal Workers 33,274 37
Union Total 384,207 428 Delegates
State Parliament 16
Federal Parliament 16
Young Labor 16
Federal Electorate Councils 49 x 3 delegates each 147
State Electorate Councils 93 x 2 delegates each 186
Policy Committees 15 committees x 3 office holders 45
Administrative Committee 34
Total 888 Delegates

The rancour adds to the turmoil inside the NSW branch following last weekend’s extraordinary PM-auspiced power grab. Following the secret Left-authored deal to oust Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald, sections of the Right were so livid, according to insiders, that payback was sought to intervene in Macquarie, against the wishes of local branches, the momentarily triumphant Luke Foley and the departing Bob Debus.

Left branches are rebelling forcefully this morning over the imposition of Searle, with many apparently unaware of his solid exploits as Blue Mountains mayor. Crikey has continued to receive futile calls for a local vote this morning to revive the hopes of their candidate, spin doctor Sue Templeman.

On Templeman loyalist said they were unimpressed Searle had pursued his campaign through the media: “He has gotten into this position by smooth-talking journos and right-wing backers into thinking he is the one, with more than a little help from constant meddler (NUW official) Mark Ptolemy.”

As controversy swirls over Searle, Left-aligned national executive observers have described the publication in Tuesday’s Crikey of a triumphant salvo revelling in the Left’s victory last weekend as “not helpful”.

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