A piece in today’s Oz opens with a slab that looks as if it’s been cut and pasted from a dozen previous outings
WHOM does the ALP represent and what is its core constituency?
Historically, the answer was the working class represented by the so-called Howard battlers in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.
Since the Whitlam ascendancy, this is no longer the case. Beginning in the 1970s and ’80s, the ALP, in Kim Beazley Sr’s colourful phrase, turned its back on the cream of the working class in its rush to embrace the dregs of the middle class.
What’s striking about this set of boilerplate is that it’s often, as in the present case, used in a piece advocating neoliberal policies that the pre-Whitlam Labor party would have rejected instinctively. I reviewed another example here.
In this case, Kevin Donnelly is advocating voucher-based support for private schools and up-front university fees. He says that these policies would benefit the working class and that it’s the middle-class nature of Labor’s current leadership that makes them oppose it.
It is a matter of historical record that the pre-Whitlam Labor party was bitterly opposed to any form of aid to private schools. More generally, it’s worth reading Donnelly (and other articles taking the same line) then trying to imagine the reaction of say, Ben Chifley or Arthur Calwell.
Donnelly may have some good arguments in favor of the policies he proposes, though they are not evident in this article. But he is either ignorant or dishonest in claiming that they represent traditional Labor policy.