Bill Shorten’s back flip on midsize business tax cuts generated a torrent of ink last week, but almost none of it focused on the real reason for both the initiative itself, and its embarrassing reversal at the hands of shadow cabinet. Which is, of course, that the policy had nothing to do with policy at all. It was simply another in the increasingly humiliating series of ritual dances that the would-be next prime minister must perform in order to satisfy his unlikely alliance stablemates, the CFMMEU and related "industrial left" groupings.

The push for a bit of old-skool class warfare was wholly internally focused: a test shot to see how much authority Shorten has. The killing of it in shadow cabinet was an equally abrupt response -- not a lot. That a Labor leader from the Catholic right has a high-corporate tax policy knocked on the head by the Victorian Socialist Left and National Left shows how devoid of content the war of position is.

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