It was the night of the long butter knives! Or was it? On Wednesday in the bar of the Victorian Parliament, a shouting match between upper house MLC Adem Somyurek and Lara MLA John Eren spilt into the appropriately named “Stranger” restaurant. Both were screaming at each other in Turkish.

Sources close to Eren claim that Somyurek then grabbed a butter knife from the table he was dining at, and waved it about. Somyurek denies this, and is backed up by his two dining companions, Marlene Kairouz and Julie Suleyman, both members of Somyurek’s right-wing “Mods” factionette.

The alleged attempted Devonshire sconing of John Eren came to light after allies of Eren showed anyone in Spring Street a series of texts from Somyurek, suggesting they get together sometime for their mutual benefit, in standard ALP language (“I will rat-fuck you!”).

The confrontation appears to have been a product of Adem Somyurek’s frustration at the stalling of his grand factional plan. The wily Springvale-based branch king has been trying to unite the whole Victorian Right behind his leadership, and glue them together with the new “Industrial Left” (IL) grouped around the CFMEU (Vic) and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).

Somyurek got Bill Shorten and the Australian Workers Union (AWU) on board first (or vice-versa). He was hoping to get Stephen Conroy’s old “Cons” group too. He got their union base, the Transport Workers Union (TWU). But the parliamentary side has proved recalcitrant. They’re “led” by Corio MP Richard Marles and his beefier state level mini-me John Eren and they fear being swamped in the new arrangement.

Marles got his start as an MP in 2007, when the Conroy faction was built — by deposing Corio sitting member Gavan O’Connor. O’Connor was rolled after an influx of new Turkish-Australians turned up at Geelong branches — turned up in minibuses — desperate to join Labor. Somyurek and Eren’s Turkish-language stoush would be the first parliamentary debate some of the older ones would have been able to follow.

What’s left of the “Cons” are now said to be making some sort of federal-level deal with Anthony Albanese. Without the Cons and the SDA, Somyurek’s new CU-IL alliance is stalled at around a third of votes where it matters. That makes a leadership challenge all the more possible. Somyurek would be left marooned. He’s spent months buttering-up the Cons. Was this the unconscious motivation for the suggestion of the alleged weapon in reports?

The whole thing promises mayhem in Victoria, where Premier Daniel Andrews has a one-seat majority. With Somyurek restoring business-as-usual to Vic Labor, all it takes now is Somyurek ally Jane Garrett — Lady MacBeth with a butter knife — to make a run for mayor, and hand her seat of Brunswick to the Greens, for the whole show to be gone.

That’s Victorian Labor for you. In power they can not only lose the family silver, they go for each other with it. Allegedly.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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