Mar 27, 2012

Rundle: time to work out what a Labor Party is for

In the aftermath of Queensland -- a place that, like Vietnam or Dresden or Hell, has become an event -- it's worth revisiting a debate that's been going on round Leftish traps, regarding the ALP in power.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


In the aftermath of Queensland — a place that, like Vietnam or Dresden or Hell, has become an event — it’s worth revisiting a debate that’s been going on round Leftish traps, regarding the ALP in power, and in the next election. This has centred around two strategies, based on differing perceptions of the party’s character and chances:

1) Grit your teeth, ignore the crap and support the ALP at the next election. Why? Not because of its centre-right policies per se, but because it holds certain things in place, making it easier for a real regeneration in changed circumstances. Thus what remains of Labor’s capital-labour settlement — what’s left of arbitration, Fair Work, etc — not only retains some protections for workers, but also maintains the principle that forces other than the market alone should set the conditions for work, and the framework within which wage and conditions are set.

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103 thoughts on “Rundle: time to work out what a Labor Party is for

  1. bird7755

    hi there, I think this sums it up Guy….Labor need a cohesive ideology framework then you do your compromising on the top 50%. They need to win the argument from a values basis and connect the economic and social – people have been brought up only to think about the economic administration of the economy so they need to start from this basis and then say, OK, a 2 tiered education system affects the economy – ie show the linkages and then win the war on taxes.

    Most studies have shown that Australian’s are more social democratic than economic libertarian so there is absolutely no reason that Labor cannot win the argument. They also do not come over the top strongly over the Murdoch media – people are now starting from a low base so it seems to me they overestimate that alot of people are dumped down and then, if they did educate people, they underestimate people that nobody will vote for them – when in fact that will have people lining up to vote for them. This is the only thing that will force the Right to undergo profound changes back to a Robert Menzies conservative

  2. Microseris

    Labor has moved further and further to the right and become a party with no core beliefs or principles. It now simply stands for the gaining and retention of power.

    At least Liberal stand for something – money.

  3. Stiofan

    Absolutely nailed it right there, Guy!
    This pretentious piece of leftish drivel shows that you are as irrelevant to modern Australian politics as Anna Bligh. I haven’t encountered such a meandering piece of pseudo-intellectual pseudo-science since the Marxist Summer School at Sydney Uni in 1979.

  4. James K

    I am still confused: if people do not want govt owned assets sold off… why did they vote for the coalition that has that as a standard plank of their economic policy?

    Here in Vic. the libs are talking about selling off the Port of Melbourne. Under Kennett they sold off 300 schools, the public transport system, the utilities (Qld was slow on that one)… and more. Some jails were privatised.. the list is long.

    The coalition are philosophically committed to less govt activity and more private business activity. That is their core belief.

    And so Queenslanders – who oppose the sale of a govt asset, voted in the party that will sell off more govt assets….

    I am confused.

    Maybe they voted against Labor because they said they would NOT do it but then did. They backflipped! And backflippers should be voted out.

    BUT if Qlders like the sale of govt assets as a principle, should they not have been happy to see Labor “see the light” or “get with the program”? Isn’t it good to backflip if the backflip is IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

    I am very confused. I think Qlders dont like the sale of govt assets (just as many of the rest of us hate it too). But if that is the case… they voted for the party that is the master of selling off govt assets.

    Sounds a lot like “cutting off you nose despite your face”.

    All I can really conclude, is that there were other things that really caused the swing.

  5. Suzanne Blake

    Increased taxes, increased incompetence, dishonesty, “wealth redistribution”, ICAC events, jai led MP’s, more dishonesty, Union control and working families working to keep them in power at the trough

  6. puddleduck

    Which begs the question… why are the right wingers still in the ALP? Why don’t they join the Libs?

  7. Jimmy

    This article lost me at “The worst thing that could happen for Australian politics in the mid-run — i.e. the next 15 to 30 years — is for Labor to somehow eke out another victory in 2013”.

    With Abbott promising to repeal everything that Labor has achieved in the previous 6 years and looking like he will send the country into recession and lurching quickly to the right there is no way that it could be a good thing for Labor to lose the next election.

  8. James K

    I agree.

    as a greens supporter, I do find it sad to think that all the most progressive thinkers and slightly left of centre minded folk, have tended to desert labor for the Greens. It has left the Labor party in the hands of the right and they are useless and misguided. (Nothing bias about my comments is there!)

    But the success of the greens in growing support by politically active and ideal progressives, might just be one of the reasons why Labor has drifted so far right.

    Or maybe that was happening first and it caused more to leave and find a roost in the Greens party.

  9. Suzanne Blake

    Dont worry yourself Jimmy,Labor won’t eke out anything. The brand is damaged for a generation

  10. Michael James

    I am with Stiofan, what a load of self-referential,. self-aggrandising [email protected]

    “Queensland is now an event”

    Oh really? Then what did the almighty thumping that Labour in NSW received become? There the swing was 16.5%, worse than even last weekend’s well deserved shellacking.

    Perhaps its that the electorate, having placed ALP governments in power across the entire nation and federally, is swinging away to the conservatives, to a point that eventually the country will mostly be under conservative government.

    Then eventually, slowly and inexorably, the pendulum will swing the other way. All governments have a use by date, about three terms. Those that outstay that time tend to receive an almighty thumping at the ballot box, as long term resentment over those governments arrogance and born to rule mentality starts to really rankle with the electorate.

    Howard received it, Keating before him. Bligh and Kenneally are simply the next in line.

    Eventually Abbot or someone else will unseat the ALP in Canberra and they will govern for a few terms, the same as O’Farrell and Campbell will in Sydney and Brisbane respectively.

    Eventually however they too will end up on the nose with the electorate and will be turfed out, to be replaced by someone else.

    It’s the cycle of elections, when its time to go a government should go, postponing that day of reckoning just makes that reckoning even worse for being delayed, the ALP in Queensland can talk to their colleagues in NSW about how that feels.

    Gillard may salvage an election win in 2013 (unlikely but possible) however given their standing with much of the electorate, by the time they go to the next election after that it’s probably likely that the carnage visited upon the LP by the electorate will be horrible to witness.

    Speaking of use by dates, Crikey, Mr Rundle, from his Olympian point of despatch in London is obviously well past his. Can we please have someone who is a little more in contact with the real world of Australian politics, circa 2012, rather than a superannuated leftist prone to seeing the world through ideological glasses.

    His recent columns have undermined his claims to journalism, he is more a polemicist and propagandist these days than a reputable journalist.

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