Van Badham addresses a protest against sexual abuse,  Melbourne, 2014.

Will Brunswick get in the van? Crikey hears that with Brunswick MLA Jane Garrett about to announce her candidacy for Lord Mayor of Melbourne, there’s a move to persuade playwright, Guardian columnist and activist Van Badham to stand for the seat. The move would come from inside the Industrial Left (IL) faction, grouped around the CFMEU (Vic) and RTBU (Vic). Badham’s been a vocal supporter of the CFMEU’s industrial deaths campaign, and is frequently retweeted by CFMEU head John Setka — including footage of a Badham karaoke number at a fundraiser, which, well … dare to struggle.

Brunswick is firmly controlled by the Socialist Left (SL), against which the Industrial Left is now aligned. Sources in both camps told Crikey there was a move on to persuade Badham — a former National Union of Students politician out of Wollongong, before she became a writer — to stand. The current sole candidate for preselection – which will happen on March 18, the day after the Batman byelection — is Cindy Louise O’Connor, an organiser with the metalworkers’ union (AMWU), and is SL aligned.

The push for Badham would be based on one thing: if Jane Garrett quits early, Labor will need a miracle to hold the seat. As with Ged Kearney in Batman — an SL figure taking a seat dished out to the Right, after the stonking defeat of a Right candidate in Northcote — the uphill Van push would be on the grounds that only such a figure could win it. Badham would be the ideal candidate for a hail-mary pass. She’s forceful, a top-rate speaker, has a high-profile and culture-hero status from her Guardian column. Also, she’s a self-styled anarcho-syndicalist-libertarian-communist, and that would go down great on Sydney Road, the anarchists’ last redoubt.

She’s also, in recent times, been an unabashed supporter of the Labor Right, going out of her way to defend David Feeney, Michael Danby — and ersatz anarcho-syndicalist-company union, the SDA. That looked like extreme solidarity and forbearance. Given the hopes of the IL locking in an alliance with the Right, including the SDA, and surrounding the Socialist Left — it is, well, let’s just say, extremely helpful to a Badham vanguard push. (Badham was contacted by email for comment on this article).

Will Brunswick get in the van, when the van finally comes for Jane Garrett (to move her office stuff to town hall, of course)? We shall find out …

Peter Fray

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