But with a Federal election due any day now, I thought it was about time I again surveyed the local Trotskyist* scene, and thus ascertain: Who looks forward to this historical opportunity to seize state power by way of the ballot box?
Oddly, given her impeccable** feminist and Marxist credentials, the communist Van Thanh Rudd has thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and will be drawing her into the elaborate performance piece Rudd has given the provisional title of Lalor Election 2010. Otherwise, in early 2010, the RSP announced that Hamish Chitts would be going into battle against The Rudd Formerly Known as the Australian Prime Minister in the seat of Griffith (see : RSP federal election campaign: No racism! No war! For a working people’s government!, Kathy Newnam, Direct Action, No.22, May 2010).
Socialist Alternative (SAlt) is not standing any candidates at the election — and I don’t remember it, or its precursors within the iSt, having done so at any electoral contest in the past — but does urge anyone who cares to put the Tories last on the ballot:
In the coming elections Socialist Alternative advocates giving a first preference vote to either Labor, the Greens or others who are genuinely left-wing, like socialist candidates, and putting the Liberals last. However what really matters is not what we do in our five minutes in the polling booths, but what we do day in and day out to build a fighting movement that can begin to turn the tide in our favour.
The other groupuscule most closely allied to SAlt is Solidarity. As far as I can tell, it’s position is more-or-less the same as SAlt’s: vote for leftist and/or Green candidates where possible, but put the Liberals (Coalition) last. This also appears to be the position of the Socialist Party (SP), who have the rare distinction, along with the SA, of having experienced some success at the ballot box.
Along with SAlt, Solidarity, and the SP, the other explicitly Trotskyist party in Australia is the Socialist Equality Party. Federally-registered, it regularly participates in bourgeoisie elections, and regularly comes last.
The two main non-Trotskyist Marxist parties are the Communist Party of Australia and the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). In early 2009, the CPA was the primary (and perhaps sole) initiator of the Communist Alliance, which has since fielded one candidate, Bob Briton. Briton was very happy at his success in the SA seat of Lee (Great result for Communist Party in Lee says candidate, March 24, 2010). The CPA’s cousin in the CPA (M-L), meanwhile, do not appear to stand their own candidates, tho’ former members have assumed high office (see : Stalin! FARK! Avakian! Mao! Rage! Muzak!, January 30, 2008).
The Freedom Socialist Party was once a member of the Socialist Alliance, but left several years ago. They will almost certainly not be standing a candidate, but will presumably advocate voting for somebody else. The Progressive Labour Party, on the other hand, was once registered, and contested elections under its own steam, but is now seemingly defunct (or perhaps merely resting). According to Trotskyist Platform, “If You Support Socialism then You Must Defend North Korea!”, but If You Support Socialism then Who Must You Vote for in the Upcoming Election?
Given the above, a more significant ‘progressive’ challenge to the ALP will likely come from the Greens. In Melbourne, widely considered to be The Seat Most Likely, law-talking guy Adam Bandt will square off against former union hack Cath Bowtell — an ”inner-urban progressive family woman”, presumably. A member of the Socialist Left faction, despite making all the right noises, Bowtell’s job has not been made any easier by party policy on gay marriage (against) and on locking up asylum seekers in foreign countries (for).