- “I don’t mind having battles, but let them be battles about policy and ideas not battles on negative campaigning… We’ve got an extraordinarily highly educated community … you can’t resort to simple slogans.” ~ Carlo Carli
“My job is to win seats for the Labor Party and not participate in popularity contests.” ~ Stephen Newnham
In the popularity contest that is a state election, you can resort to simple slogans for the benefit of the poorly educated community of north Brunswick amiright?
According to a report in The Age, the ALP is faced with a real struggle to retain their century-old stranglehold over the inner city seats of Brunswick (1904–*), Melbourne (1905–*), Northcote (1927–) and Richmond (1908–*) as a result of:
The greening of inner Melbourne
Sarah-Jane Collins and David Rood
June 30, 2009
The Victorian ALP is divided about whether fighting dirty is the best way to turn back the “Green tide” in former Labor strongholds…
Will the ALP fight dirty?
Are the police corrupt?
Does The Pope shit in the woods?
- “This is New Labour’s legacy. They sacrificed principles, debates, humanity, purpose and personality for the prize of getting elected. But now they can’t get elected to anything so there is absolutely nothing left.” ~ Mark Steel on the EU elections.
The changing tide is inevitable: the ALP is doomed in the inner city I tells ya, doomed! The question is, will the bad news come in 2010, or later? In the 2006 state election, Carlo Carli snuck in on a two-party preferred basis (53.65% ~vs~ 46.35%; the Socialist Alliance/Democratic Socialist Perspective candidate gaining 645 votes (1.94%)). In Northcote (Fiona Richardson), the margin was 58.52% ~vs~ 41.48% (Alex Bhatal); in Melbourne (Bronwyn Pike), 52.01% ~vs~ 47.99% (Richard Di Natale); and in Richmond (Richard Wynne) 53.64% ~vs~ 46.36% (Gurm Sekhon).
The People’s Republic of Brunswick has of course got form. In 1992, Dr. Phil was elected to the Federal seat of Wills, narrowly defeating a rat, Ian Formal, endorsed by local anarchists (a mere 4,348 votes or 6.4%). He won Wills again in 1993, then lost it in 1996. Recently, cheeky Phil quipped: “If I ran and the Greens and I preferenced, the ALP would be a dead duck” (Cleary likely to take Brunswick off Labor, Sarah-Jane Collins, The Age, June 23, 2009).
In January, poor old Race ‘Mondragon is ace!’ Matthews was the bearer of bad tidings:
In a letter to leaders of Premier John Brumby’s dominant Right faction, former cabinet minister Race Mathews reveals the party’s national membership has plummeted to about 50,000 — down from about 370,000 immediately after World War II — and the average age is about 50. Dr Mathews’ letter, dated last Thursday and obtained by The Age, says there are fewer than 13,000 ALP members in Victoria and most are inactive. He says this is “a recipe for extinction, and places the party in the category of an endangered species.” ~ The ALP facing extinction?, January 31, 2009.
Kinda sorta. The Labor rank ‘n’ file may be disappearing (who joins apart from the sons and daughters of older members and/or student politicians and/or or trade union hacks?), but the Labor Mafia retains overall control of both the political and industrial wings of the labour movement. As a result, trade unions continue to pump millions into Labor’s coffers annually, and provide a stepping-stone into (and sometimes out of) power for several generations of middle class careerists. (The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union / Australian Services Union / Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union / Australian Workers’ Union / Blind Workers Union / Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Plumbing & Allied Workers Union / Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union / Health Services Union of Australia / Institute of Marine & Power Engineers / Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union / Maritime Union of Australia / National Union of Workers / Rail, Tram & Bus Union / Shop Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association / Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia / Transport Workers Union / United Firefighters Union are all affiliated to the Victorian ALP.)
Race himself is a Fabian — the pinko stream within the ALP, whose famous members include(d) Dapper Don, Nifty Nev & The Silver Bodgie — and a proponent of ‘Distributism’ (see review of Matthew’s Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society, Pluto Press, 1999 by Ian Barns (Murdoch University) [PDF]).
In the meantime, “LaborFirst is [/was] a grass-roots renewal movement of ALP members and supporters working to strengthen the party through New Ideas, Stronger Membership, Better Candidates, Structural Reform, Better Campaigning” and Unnecessary Capitalisation. Or: Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs, Working Families Working Families Working Families Working Families Working Families Working Families Working Families. Remnants of the Labor left complain here and er, elsewhere.
See also : Labor’s underbelly, Rick Wallace, The Australian, June 30, 2009 | Andrew Scott, Running on Empty: ‘Modernising‘ the British and Australian labour parties, Pluto Press, 2000 | ‘The boom, the left and capitalism’, Ashley Lavelle, Journal of Australian Political Economy, June 2008.
Distributism ~vs~ Constructivism
…In Canada Gary Jewell had been in the IWW and raised funds for our prisoners. He had definitely changed sides but had not thought fit to announce his change to his former associates. He visited England in the late Seventies and met many people in the old SWF and they found it hard to believe he had reneged, but we had it from himself in black and white, telling the spurious journal he had been a syndicalist and was now a “third positionist”. This was a line coming into favour from British fascism, suggesting they wanted neither capitalism nor communism but a third position, and mixed with the nonsense of Distributism and Catholic-Fascism. To muddle the situation further I wrote a cod pamphlet putting forward the claims of Constructivism but not saying what it was. It was a theory invented by a fictitious person I always referred to as The Beloved Dr Ludwig Gans or The Great and Learned Dr Gans. I had invented him years before when at the invitation of some group on the lines of Mensa, I gave a lecture in a series of others in which they had to guess which was deliberately phoney. I pulled one over on them by giving it on Constructivism and all these Certified Intelligents believed it, nodding in agreement when I mentioned Ludwig Gans’ work The Menace of Anti-Constructivism. I did it as a pure joke on George Plume, its secretary, who was always kidding someone. He even pretended to have been sentenced to death during the war for incitement by supporting a Scottish Nationalist in a by-election, only being reprieved because the seat had been won.
I am told that Constructivism, while never as popular as Distributism though equally mysterious, was seriously discussed in fascist circles for some time after I quite inadvertently slipped it in, though nobody ever knew what it was except the great and good Dr Gans, and he never existed.
It was a shame to lose him altogether so once or twice I put in quotes from him in Black Flag as a joke against Marxists who wrote in with equally preposterous quotations. Sure as fate one such wrote in, protesting at the notoriously “reactionary professor” currently in favour with the fascists.
Whatever you think of Constructivism, so far as I was concerned, it beat Gustav Metzger and his Auto-Destructive Art hands down, and was a change from writing sense, with nobody, certified intelligent or not, nodding in agreement.
~ Albert Meltzer, I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels, AK Press, 1996, Chapter XVIII: The Wooden Horse.