Saving the Senate

Discussion over the Labor leadership, and the government in general, is now academic, in the pejorative sense of the term. Barring a shock on a larger scale than that of 2001, Abbott is going to win the election, whenever it is held, and win it easily. Nothing Labor does or doesn’t do can make any real difference now.

At this point, the only issue to be considered is whether he can be stopped from gaining control of the Senate. Labor and the Greens have 21 seats from 2010, and Labor can be assured of 1 each in the territories (there’s a perennial hope that a Green or independent will win the second ACT seat, but I’m not counting on it. That means they need to win a combined 3 seats in every state for a majority, and can block legislation if they win 3 in at least five states.

Appalling as Labor’s situation is, they should still muster enough support for two senators in each state, but have (AFAICT) no realistic chance of getting three anywhere. So, what’s needed is to elect a Green in every state.

What can be done to achieve this? The first requirement is that the geniuses who run Labor’s preference strategies should not pull the stunts they have in the past, cutting deals with rightwing independents in the futile hope of adding one to their numbers. If anyone reading this has any influence in this respect, they should exercise it now.

The second is to make a positive case for the Greens that will appeal to people who don’t like Abbott, but can no longer justify a vote for Labor. In my view, the Greens are now the real inheritors of the best traditions of Labor, as opposed to the kind of hardhat/HiVizVest posturing that passes for “Labor values” in the ALP. But that case needs to be spelt out for voters who are understandably turned off by the entire political scene.

Suggestions welcome

172 thoughts on “Saving the Senate

  1. In relation to the supposed refusal of the Greens to deal with Rudd over the ETS in 2009, supposedly forcing Labor to deal with the Coalition, I call as witness the well-known Greens apologist, Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union:

    The Australian Workers’ Union has offered to work with both the Rudd Government and the Turnbull Coalition to find ways to develop early bi-partisan agreement on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

    The AWU is calling on the Federal Opposition to establish an early bi-partisan agreement on the White Paper as its main priority for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009

    “The AWU has parted company with The Greens and their supporters in the environmental lobby calling for tougher targets and less transitional assistance to EITEs,” Mr Howes said.

    There’s more where that comes from, but the plain fact is that from the outset the dominant forces in the ALP wanted to deal with the Liberals and marginalise the Greens on the ETS.

  2. Libs represent free trade, on their terms
    Nats represent free trade, on their terms
    ALP represents free trade, on their terms
    Greens represent free trade, on your terms.

    Is that too simple?

    At the end of the day when it comes to a vote simplicity provides an advantage

  3. The media is in overdrive, which has fuelled the ambitions of many men and Tony Abbott is just the worst of them. I am afraid that Simon Crean, Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbill (who has behaved far better than Kevin Rudd) as well as Pyne, Joe and Barnaby. To watch this kind of Gilligan’s Island coupled with Lord of the Flies is truly appalling.

    Today, I idly picked up a copy of The Australian, which has long been known as a terrible paper, and noticed that it has become even worse with no pretence of fairness or fact. It is so much a reflection of angry old white men who are just furious that a woman, despite her supposed total ineptitude, is still in charge and resists the forces arraigned against her.

    Women are not represented in the media views except as attack dogs like Janet Albrechtsen or Michelle Grattan who never have a kind word for Julia Gillard. The few like Anne Summers who are supportive don’t provide enough ballast to prevent the ship from listing. It is impossible for the Prime Minister to be as bad as the people who hate her say and be in charge of a country where most people can lead a decent life; they mostly hate her for daring to beat Macho Man Tony at the last election who clearly was the best man for the job. Whatever happened to the merit principle?

    We have retirement savings, we have a universal health care system and an education system which is educating young people to think and to be future leaders. If there is a disaster support and help are available from volunteers and government.

    The Building the Education Revolution and the addition of school halls was a wonderful scheme with the press refusing to report how happy people are with their new facilities and highlighting the very few failures. In fact the press frequently label the scheme a disaster and just ignore the report into the scheme which found it worked well.

    Many young women at university will go into the workforce and find systems which make it hard for them to be treated fairly. Older women are frequently ignored and dismissed by others despite skills and experience. Childcare is an issue for both groups.

    The election is far from over and Julia Gillard may well surprise. However the first step would be for the commentariat to present fair analyses that give credit where it is due. Unlikely.

    Women are certainly more prepared to do this but are overwhelmed by the aggressive negativity from men who have failed to give the respect to the office and have happily trashed decent behaviour. Women are developing separate communication channels. Destroy the Joint and The Hoopla are gaining in strength each day. There are others such as New Matilda.

    These issues will resonate with many female voters and if they are mobilised in enough places then the election may not be such a lay down misere.

    Of course it would require the Labor blokes to lay down their ambitions rather than squabble over who becomes leader of the opposition. I don’t see the blokes leaving off the toxic attacks on the Prime Minister. Women certainly admire her tenacity and ability to stand up to dreadful attacks and are very conscious of the violence that is directed at their sex and the attacks on Julia Gillard remind all women of bullies they have known. Murder, Rape and paedophilia are the extreme end of violence against women which starts with personal abuse and put downs. Certainly Alan Jones suggested murdering the Prime Minister. John Laws has recently told people concerned about his insensitive interview with the survivor of childhood sexual abuseat the hands of her male relatives to “Go to Hell” because he suggested that she may bear some responsibility.

  4. @Alan

    You are assuming the tough as nails faction of labor will not simply dump the ETS as they have on two previous occasions. Perhaps they’ll ask for a citizens assembly first.

    At this stage, I’d say tant pis to that. While I favour retaining the modest start to carbon pricing that has been made, if it goes, the cost of abatement to business will increase. That’s an own goal and there is something to the principle of not interrupting an enemy while he is making a mistake. Sooner or later, they will have to start abatement, and the blame for the mess will lie entirely with them.

    It’s not as if the current scheme is all that impressive either. It’s the least they could do — and perhaps not even that.

  5. @Jill Rush The situation is that the press repeat LNP statements on BER ie it was a waste if money etc. Somehow the Govt were wrong footed on this one and have never been able to gain any kudos for the program. Perhaps it was just bad PR.

  6. @Rog
    As seen The Australian today it is clear is that it doesn’t matter what actually happened and the story can be fiction as long as it is bad for the Gillard government. If it looks bad for the Opposition…………..sorry that doesn’t happen. Not hard to be wrong footed with that scenario. The Gillard government should be building alternative forms of communications as they will never get retractions or corrections from a biased press.

  7. @Jill Rush

    It is certainly true that angry, old, sexist, right-wing white men hate Julia Rudd with a vitriol that is very ugly. It is certainly true that that hatred springs from both extreme right-wing views and extreme chauvinistic sexism.

    It is not true however to characterise all opposition to Julia Gillard as vicious chauvinistic sexism. Any considered view of Julia Gillard will note;

    1. She betrayed her PM whan as Deputy PM she was entrusted to talk to the mining magnates re the Resources Rent Tax. Instead of doing the job she was entrusted with, she conspired with the Mining Unions (who have reactionary officials), conspired with the mining magnates themselves and conspired with the rightist faction of power brokers in the Labor Party.

    2. She undertook this treachery out of pure opportunism and ambition.

    3. She essentially sided with the interests of the over-rich, capitalist, plutocrat, oligarchs of the mining industry against the interests of ordinary working Australians and ensured that the major slices of Australian mineral wealth continued to go into the pockets of the super rich here and overseas.

    4. Any considered long term view of Julia Gillard’s entire past and past statements will note her opportunist changes of tack where she has said different things, even opposite things, at different times based on what she assesses will be the most populist line at the time with the particular audience in question. She has no essential ideological underpinning or concept of political economy in total. She certainly has no sincere belief in traditional Labor values nor in workers’ interests.

    In summary, Julia Gillard is treacherous, opportunist, deceitful and essentially a fifth columnist for plutocratic capitalist interests. In this, she may be no different from many of her male colleagues in her own party and all of the memebers of the Liberal Party. I treat her the same. I condemn those above characteristics in all politicians and certainly do not make any special allowance or extend exoneration because a politician is a woman. To do so would be sexist.

  8. @Ikonoclast – I don’t suggest that there be special rules based on the sex of a politician and that is my point. Julia Gillard has been judged by a different standard and is expected to be better. In your assessment I notice that you give her no credit for any of her achievements. She always knew it would be hard for a woman to be PM because she would be judged so differently to males and that many men in the media and in politics would tear her down as has happened to every capable women politicians before her. She initially gave her support to Kevin Rudd to be leader because of this.

    On the night of Kevin Rudd’s demise she knew that if she didn’t take that opportunity then it might never come again. Kevin Rudd was so spineless at that point that he didn’t even go to a vote. While there has been much made about the “backstabbing woman”, what she did was little different to any other leader who has wrested leadership. That you continue to think that it is pivotal to her character shows how deeply entrenched attitudes against women being as driven as men for leadership are. Why is it so much worse that she took her opportunity than every other leader before her?

  9. Anna Bligh, Rosemary Follett, Clare Martin and Lara Tiddings were and are not judged differently in terms of their gender. Nor for that matter is Julie Bishop. Once again, we have a Gillard defence based on a state of the world that does not exist.

    Gillard knew she had Rudd’s support for the succession. There was no prospect that the chance would not come again. Once again, we have a Gillard defence based on a state of the world that does not exist.

    Gillard herself created her opportunity by destabilising Rudd’s leadership with her opposition to the CPRS, her compromised negotiations with the mining magnates, a series of leaks pre-empting caucus from considering the future of the CPRS, and her failure as deputy to confront Rudd honestly over the governance issues. Once again, we have a Gillard defence based on a state of the world that does not exist.

    The governance issues under Gillard have been, if anything, worse than under Rudd. the shambles of the media package being the latest example. As Bill Kelty notes:

    The two most recent prime ministers have sought from caucus a special right to select their own ministers, but in both cases, the cabinet process has been allowed to be frittered away. The media reform was moderate, but the process was flawed. A jackboot approach to discussions and timing would not have been permitted if the proper process of cabinet had been followed.

    Once responsibility is accepted, the ALP must reject the ideas and processes that have no home in the party. A Labor Party that cultivates division, or taxes superannuation retrospectively, or cannot justify deficits, or makes regional tours presidential visitations, or reinvents class warfare, or steals the rhetoric of Pauline Hanson on migrants, or embraces the Pacific refugee solution of John Howard, or attacks single mothers and narrows its base to a mythical group of blue-collar workers, cannot win an election.

    I submit the gender argument, while it may be sincerely believed, just does not correspond to reality. It is also not unprecedented. I was assured by a Brisbane doctor in 1975 that he had personally spoken with the eminent Sydney psychiatrist who was treating Whitlam for schizophrenia. He seemed to become flustered for some reason when I asked why the said eminent Sydney psychiatrist had breached medical ethics by disclosing this exciting fact and had his breach been reported to the medical board.

    Absent a leadership change, and after last week’s mess the possibility of the government simply collapsing cannot be excluded, the ALP is not going to take any advice from anyone before the election. One thing they need to do is restore caucus election of ministers. Elected ministers would simply not have tolerated the collapse of the cabinet process under either Rudd or Gillard and would have been in a much stronger position to raise the issue with the prime minister, the cabinet or the caucus.

    All three Gillard leadership contests have been rushed through at extraordinarily short notice. There needs to be a reasonable time for caucus to consider a leadership contest. Four hours just doesn’t cut it.

    Lastly, the ALP needs to think about a much more broad-based body, and one much less subject to manipulation, than caucus. The UK labor party uses a three way college of MPs, elected union delegates and elected branch delegates. Note that word elected. The UK labor party also requires a special majority to unseat a sitting prime minster.

  10. @Jill Rush

    I disagree. You have focused here solely on the gender issues. Julia Gillard sold out to the capitalist mining bosses and betrayed the interests of working Australians. The fact that capitalists are allowed to suborn democracy and buy connivance of the major parties matters profoundly. That is the real substantive issue here. I give Julia Gillard no credit for achievements for she has none in the political sphere. Her “leadership” has been an inept disaster and a betrayal of Labour politics. That several Labor leaders before her also betrayed Labor values is no exoneration. I take a hard line on this. Class traitors are class traitors. They have thrown their lot in with the capitalist oppressors. They are turncoats and sycophants bought off with a place on the plutocrat’s footstool.

  11. @Jim Rose
    Good point – Fielding would have been difficult to persuade – and maybe hindsight is a distorting lens – but it appeared that in dealing with the LNP he had chosen a less easy road.
    I take Fran’s point on who refused to talk to who. I can only speak from my experience – there were precious few locally with flexible views on any subjects. What caused sudden enormous flexibility, when they aligned with the LNP over the reforms to our electoral system “one vote one value”, was driven by a single non urban seat. (Now lost in the recent election).
    They are however caught in a bind – they appeal to the utopian ideals and so risk loosing that whenever they act “politically”. So its a political judgement on supporters reactions in deciding to “deal” with other parties.
    The Greens preference flow here was critical in electing the shooters party to the upper house.

  12. That would be the
    right faction. They love the shade a convincing communicator, including female leaders, provides for them, provided they have control over her.
    Am thinking of Anna Bligh, prevented from taking measures to rescind the anomaly in the abortion law that had the young couple facing charges for procuring a miscarriage using RU 486 a few years ago.
    The DLP types would rather humiliate a secularist than beat upon the Tories, any time.

  13. Glad someone is talking about the Senate. We all know what happened when Howard got control of the Senate. Can’t let it happen under Abbott.

  14. Excellent analysis John. The ALP strategists should now realise that winning is absolutely out of reach and concentrate instead on saving the furniture; make it a 53-47 instead of a Queensland style debacle. May be Paul Howes and similarly minded ALP luminaries should start doing some soul searching and ask themselves if they are really on the progressive side of politics. If they still are, then an implicit alliance with the Greens is absolutely essential for this election at least to save the senate. In the medium to long term, a progressive coalition between the Greens and Labour will look like a decent and credible alternative to many voters, particularly after a few years of endarkened conservatism cum doctrinaire laissez faire under Abbott.

  15. “Glad someone is talking about the Senate. We all know what happened when Howard got control of the Senate. Can’t let it happen under Abbott.”

    Good point. Howard got control of the senate, overreached and got booted. This is a silver lining to look forward to if Abbott gets the senate. I wonder though if he would overreach. This is, after all, a man who would do anything short of selling his own arse in exchange for the PM’s office.

    I hope Abbott’s bottom quip features prominently in Labor’s preelection attack ads 🙂

  16. If the senate is to be saved thn the own side of having the Coalition in charge of both houses would need to be made clear. The MSM will continue to kick Julia Gillard as a way to try and get full control of both houses. Those people here who have a pathological hatred of Julia Gillard will help that to occur. There is no balance and many of the bad Julia anecdotes are rumour and gossip spread by said media. Julia Gillard is blamed for the sole parent loss of pension after a child turns 8 and @Megan you are right women don’t like this policy which was introduced by the Coalition government and supported by the Opposition as a saving measure. I don’t agree with it, but it would have happened whichever party ruled.

    If people really want to save the Senate they need to look at both parties’s policies and judge the characters of both leaders in a balanced way. If Julia Gillard’s past as a lawyer is fair game then Tony Abbott’s involvement with compromised priests should be reported equally. But it isn’t.

    There have been arguments put forward that there have been female state premiers and a female Governor-General. It was the Labor Party which gave us our first female Governor General and it is likely to be a long time before there is another if the Coalition is in charge.

    The few female Premiers are different to a Prime Minister because they do not lead a nation and have lesser powers. For those people who believe that males are leaders and women are there to do as they are told the PM can do no right. There are plenty of them who fill pews or pray facing Mecca.

    That there are so many on the left who fail to acknowledge that they have been affected by the views of the many commentators who find pleasure in tearing the first woman PM down is extraordinary. What is even more extraordinary is that they will support someone as deeply flawed as Kevin Rudd and say he is a better choice as leader or accept that Tony Abbott deserves to win.

    When the Coalition gains control of both houses they can look in the mirror like Joel Fitzgibbon and Simon Crean and proudly claim that they helped bring about that result. The alternative is to bring a reasoned and reasonable analysis and move beyond the backstabbing, untrustworthy witch characterisation which has been a feature of this thread and so much of the MSM.

  17. @Jill Rush

    I guess you want an ALP Govt at all costs. And especially a Gillard Govt.

    To cut’n’paste what I said in a previous thread:

    When Howard was:
    *locking up refugees,
    *making and continuing bad wars,
    *chopping down forests,
    *doing bad things to aboriginal people,
    *backing inaction on climate change,
    *pursuing neo-con policies,
    *paying people to have children,
    *putting religious and corporate power into schools and health care,
    *doing over the top security state (eg: APEC-Sydney, ASIO powers etc..),
    *blocking collective organising with the ABCC,
    *favouring middle-class and 1% welfare over genuine “welfare” for the needy,
    *promoting a “rip it up” economy,
    *and so on….

    I was happy to not only vote against him and all of those things but “hold my nose” and do some little thing to get rid of that government.

    Gillard is essentially doing all the things that people voted out Howard for doing.

    If Abbott romps home because you’re determined not to let the “fetid be the enemy of the putrid” – well don’t blame us. We demand better and have some self respect.

    In short. You want an ALP win? Get them to have some decency and you’ll get it.

    Jill, if you have any clout at all in the ALP – please try to get them to understand this fact. Hey, they might even win!

  18. It’s an interesting thread, each person is contributing intelligently, yet none has the whole picture.
    Is it fair to say that like other western countries our political constitution, for want of a better word, has been both been sidestepped, exploited, or captured by global forces employing new technologies outside of a given communities control?
    We keep saying, don’t wreck the Murray, don’t wreck education, heritage and media and so forth, but any politician beyond a certain significance is either bought or perhaps blackmailed into following the neolib line.
    The community fight backs to the extent that it can present people like Bob Brown who can influence or tone down the worst excesses of development at any/every cost and who show up the false logic and unthought through propositions of the unself reflexive developer mentality, but it seems incredibly difficult to gain and use the levers of power constructively against the incessant propaganda of Murdoch and tabloid tv and radio and those who in turn own them
    Are we doing a grieving process for Paradise Lost?
    Is the best we can hope for something like the current ALP, in preference to the harsh overtness of the coalition as a sort of holding operation, hoping against hope for something that is a civilisational game changer whilst in inevitable retreat?
    The last five years should have seen the 2007 platform well-implemented-much of it has, without the publicity it deserved and the hard right led by Abbott consigned once and for all to history where it belonged, yet it seems that Labor will now only remain in power at the cost of its soul, or be consigned itself to the history books.
    So, it is little wonder that many people have came to the conclusion that the time to jump ship for the Greens is definitively here or very due, particularly after that very defensive cabinet reshuffle.
    Yet it need not be totally either/or, there are reasons for salvaging what can be salvaged of Labor in this new age, or voting Green.
    My solution would be to check the polls leading up the election, put some thought into how to fill out both the senate and reps cards and vote strategically.
    Paul Howes wouldn’t like that, but just voting for Labor in a seat or a senate place that is out of reach seems as futile as voting Green in a seat that is line-ball and might go to Labor over the coalition equally so.

  19. @ Megan I can assure you I have no clout at all in the Labor Party (nor any other). The risks of a landslide to a Coalition which is so much further to the right than Labor however because people aren’t happy with how right wing Labor is, seems to be stupid. All I am suggesting is that people stop wholesale condemnation of the Prime Minister, who is not the devil incarnate, because this will lead to total power going to a coalition which will be far more rabidly right wing.

    @ Paul Walter There seems little evidence of the Greens gaining ground as people seem to be thinking that they will give support to an alternative government as both left and right obsess over the terrible government from their largely comfortable homes.

    That is why I suggest that thinking people recognise the need for some proportionality in the debate if the senate is to have a balance with Greens and Independents having a voice. The risk of a Campbell Newman style landslide (and hasn’t that worked out well for Queensland) becomes more likely every day. Social Democrats such as Professor Quiggin helped that along too as he strongly condemned the Labor Government and helped give Newman momentum.

    If a wipeout of the Left is not to occur then the Left needs to find things on the Left side of politics it likes about the current government. Otherwise the wipeout that is feared will occur as the right wing press continues its endless diatribe and manipulation of the people which is straight out of Pravda’s play book. And nothing has changed – absolute power leads to absolute corruption.

  20. Jill Rush, Labor got itSELF chucked out in Queensland. as in NSW. because of its own stupidity and arrogance, not because of anything John Quiggin, or anyone else said.
    People gave a loud NO to Costa in NSW yet the message was not heeded and we saw the results there.
    To compound the NSW mutton-headedness, Bligh was headed for defeat until she offered a cast-iron promise to NOT repeat the NSW errors, getting past the libnats because they mulishly would not promise not to proceed with privatisation.
    Lo and behold within a short time the Bligh government announced it would privatise, as if the no privatisation promise had never been made.
    Straight away, the public reminded Bligh and co of their promise in various ways which in turn were promptly ignored; was this stupidity or just monumental arrogance?
    The promise PRECEDED neo lib ideology, that is why the public demanded it be made and it was made, BEFORE the polls..
    All Quiggin did was confirm what other economists had also said, that it wasn’t necessary economically. no matter how theologically adored by the white-collars about the government and treasury it was.
    What is it that neolibs don’t understand about the word “no”?

  21. It is good to see that both sides of politics agree that the senate has the right to block a newly elected government from carrying out its core election promises. 1974, all is forgiven.

    it is good that notions of the rotation of power, checks and balances, and a divided government is a weak government are gaining support across the spectrum.

    this senate obstructionism, of course, will not happen. the balance of power held by either katter’s mob and the DLP or by Nick no pokies in the unlikely event of a WA Nat does not win the 4th senate seat in WA.

  22. The impending wipeout of federal Labor could be very easily averted by dumping Gillard, reinstalling Rudd and adopting real Labor policies. It really is that simple. However, the egos of Gillard and her supporters are such that they would rather see Labor crash and burn than see Labor win without them.

    Dumping Rudd was the stupidest thing they ever did. What other party had ever been stupid enough to dump a highly popular, successful and intelligent leader who delivered them a crushing victory and first term? It was so moronic it’s unbelievable. Then sticking with a stupid decision is the next stupidest thing you can do. Gillard didn’t even win the last election in her own right. She’s been a lame duck from her day 1.

    Gillard is so neocon and follows all of Howard’s policies she might as well be in the Liberal party. However, I agree the Liberals will be worse. So vote Green or Socialist first pref and then pref Labor.

  23. The question raised is how to stop the Coalition gaining control of the Senate. The responses I am reading here suggest that the people on this site much prefer that the Coalition gains control.

    Living in the past Ikonoclast or hoping for a perfect world are unlikely to achieve that aim. Bad mouthing the Government Megan will also not achieve that goal As for positives raising the minimum threshold for taxation, raising the age pension, beginning to develop policies to control carbon pollution, better standards of care in child care centres, putting people with disabilities into the national conversation are some I can think of.

  24. @Jill Rush

    People who have made a stupid decison and then want to sweep it under the carpet are usually the ones who say “we shouldn’t live in the past, we should move on.”

    I won’t play that game. I remember history and remind them of their stupid decisions WHEN they show a propensity for sticking to those stupid decisions. It is unempirical and revisionist to say we should forget the past. Remembering mistakes, rectifying them and avoiding similar ones is called “learning by experience”. It’s clear that Gillard and her party supporters have learnt nothing and have taken no lessons from experience. That is the essence of stupidity.

  25. The final senate seat in Qld will be between the Greens and Katter’s Aust Party. Given the State election voting in Qld the Greens will probably struggle. Imagine KAP holding the balance of power in the Senate.

  26. @Ikonoclast so what are your ideas for the future then – or are you happy to have total Coalition dominance of the legislature. I understand that you like the Greens but how do you suggest that you increase their vote when you are so keen to emphasise Labor’s negatives? As I read the thread it is to give into despair and curl up into a ball because the Labor Party caucus didn’t agree with your analysis that Rudd should be leader and that now that particular option is gone. The Greens will suffer as a result of Labor negatives being harped on about even though the Greens have achieved some victories too. They won’t be given air time to increase their vote but will be blamed. So far the focus has been on past negatives so you will convince people to vote for the Coalition.

  27. @David Wyatt the last senate seat in QLD more likely to be between the greens and labor. Labor will get less than 2 quotas, which is less than 29%. LNP will get a large excess on 3 quotas to get katter elected 5th.

  28. @Jill Rush

    “The Greens will suffer as a result of Labor negatives being harped on about..”

    It was Labor who attacked the Greens even when they were in an alliance with the Greens to deliver minority government. Labor are putrid under Gillard.

    You seem to think Gillard Labor should be above criticism even while they trash every Labor value and every green and social democratic alliance.

    Labor inadvisedly and foolishly dumped one leader mid-stream, now they can advisedly and wisely dump one mid-stream. I can’t help it if the Labor leadership and caucus are too stupid and pig-headed to see the plain way forward. That is their failing.

    You think that after they have made an egregious strategic error they should double down and make the same strategic error all over again and set it in stone for the rest of this term.

    In fact, I am the realistic one pointing out the current path is obvious stupidity leading to failure and the other path offers some hope. You have still not addressed the issue that Gillard is a suborned lackey of the mining oilgarchs. Perhaps you think that’s OK. Let the rich set their own non-taxes and have the govt screw the workers to make up the difference at the behest of the rich. It that the philosophy you agree with?

    Historical (Aprocryphal?) Note:

    Tallyrand: What DO you fear sire?
    Napoleon: I fear only stupidity.
    Tallyrand: Ah then, you must tremble every day.

    Certainly the wise tremble every day when they see how stupid Gillard Labor is. And they tremble more when they think on how this rank stupidity will deliver government to Abbott.

  29. The Gillard defence is fascinating. You can see it not just here, but scattered far and wide across most forms of social media.

    There are undoubtedly sexist attacks by the extreme right and those attacks are then undoubtedly dog-whistled by people within the Coalition. Arguing that Gillard faces generalised opposition in terms of gender is drawing an incredibly long bow, although not as long as one commenter on a noted social media site who worshipfully called her ‘our homegrown Hypatia’.

    When the gender argument fails you move into this weird world where anything but uncritical 100% support for whatever bright idea most recently moved the prime minister is supporting the Coalition. That is a concept of leadership that belongs more to Beijing in 1968 than to contemporary Australia.

    Leaders earn respect. Leaders earn loyalty. This endless demand for unearned loyalty is just trying to get the band to play louder on the Titanic.

  30. I just had a really radical thought! Labor could try being a Labor party! How radical is that? I mean they haven’t tried it for about 35 years.

  31. @ Ikonoclast – I am not sure why you think I should respond to a generalised tone of outrage because the Gillard government tried to wrest some benefit out of the mining industry which would never have even been attempted by the Coalition. That you trumpet this as some kind of winning argument as to why the Coalition deserves to win is absurd. You have not come up with any kind of solution to the senate issue and continue to be absolutely negative about Labor as if they are the worst choice available.

    @ Paul you acknowledge that there are sexist attacks against Julia Gillard and that these are dog whistled by the Coalition. The latest is the use of the term hagiography which most people don’t know, although they do know the word “hag”. Get it; nudge, nudge, wink,wink.

    Irony alert – Of course since it is only women who notice the sexism as significant, it means that it hasn’t been validated by a bloke and therefore doesn’t exist.

    The only people I have even known who ever talk about earning respect are men who demand that women kowtow to their views and therefore may be treated with respect. This particular argument results in vicious attacks as uppity women need to be put in their place. You may concede that women subjected to this kind of treatment may see it as sexist.

    The loyalty argument is particularly silly in the context of examining the leader of the opposition who never opens his mouth in public except to mouth slogans and gets very little hard questioning. When it does happen as with Leigh Sales she is taken to task and he refuses to go on her program again.

    The violent language used about the PM which you dismiss, is seen as significant by a large number of women who are disturbed by it, having seen it so often as a precursor to real violence which is often downplayed as boys will be boys kind of stuff. Alan Jones has advocated death for the PM and got away with it. I notice that you don’t see it as very important yourself.

    I have yet to see a male commentator admit that women do see it as a problem and that it is unacceptable. The gender argument doesn’t fail because you have not examined it and you completely misrepresent the arguments people who object to the sexist attacks on the PM put forward.

    From this thread it looks like the left prefer Tony Abbott to conquer both levels of parliament because he is a better choice than Julia Gillard who is after all a “treacherous, incompetent” female. The upshot is that no-one has put forward any idea of anything other than replacing Julia Gillard with another bloke and as a pesky woman she doesn’t know her place which is to go quietly and let the men take over. This undermines the idea of the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate as what people really don’t like is the instability.

    I have suggested that a strategy for the senate, if not the house, is for the left to discuss the successes of Labor, but if the left can’t get beyond “if only Kevin would save the party” then there is little chance for success in either house. He not only missed the boat, he tried to sink it.

    There isn’t any kind of analysis of what Australia would look like under an Abbott government which is another strategy because no-one is demanding answers but are busy parrotting about what an awful “witch”, “.itch”, “backstabber”, and “incompetent”, Julia Gillard is. What realistic answers does anyone else have apart from Ikonoclast’s curl up in a ball and give up? No wonder the rampant right is running riot.

  32. @ Ilonoclast. I didn’t suggest that we forget the past I said living in the past does not help to achieve a goal ie learn from the past but live in the present and prepare for the future.

  33. @Jill Rush

    The upshot is that no-one has put forward any idea of anything other than replacing Julia Gillard with another bloke

    That is not true. And, I’m not the only one who has pointed this out to you several times.

    I HAVE put forward an idea – drop the neo-liberal policies and get back to protecting our sovereignty by standing up to the right wing machine which has been running the western world for at least the last 30 years or so.

    Julia Gillard obviously has no intention of standing up to the neo-cons (she IS one)! When Tony Abbott becomes PM everything from that point on is the fault of the ALP – starting at the top: Gillard. The faceless men and neo-con apologists and Murdoch sycophants and various ‘Right’ fundamentalists and protected CIA sources all fit in somewhere in the order of demerit, but you get the idea.

    Don’t blame us for what you have enabled the ALP to become. And especially don’t beseech every one else to drink that Kool-Aid using the argument that Abbott would be worse.

    The “rampant right is running riot” in the ALP – not out in the real world. Out here we’re working our guts out trying to put the brakes on it. And it isn’t appreciated when ALP die-hards tell us to shut up and just get behind the Gillard program and somehow everything will miraculously get all better.

    That stuff is all a bit Hopey Changey Obama 2008.

    We gave that a try and it doesn’t work.

  34. Do people want/ not want an ALP government/Abbott government at all costs.
    Gee, you DONT want an Abbott government, it could be the final death of democracy of Australia.
    Yet, golly gosh, why does Labor so go out of its way to alienate those who would most gladly vote for it and why do so many within its upper echelons go into deep denial when questions of intent and policy are raised?
    Jill Rush, you acknowledge that I’m aware of the employ of the PM by MSM as a battering ram against Australian democracy on the basis of her being a woman, yet accuse men of not being aware of it or in mischievous denial of it. We are aware of it ( if we have any brains- it’s our skins too) but we see the sexism as a means to an end for the propagandists rather than than as example of sexual fascism for its own sake, even though we know that there is also a deep misogyny that is also satisfied in the attacks, both within the propagandists and the unconscious public.
    But it shouldn’t preclude an honest examination of the ALP or Julia Gillard; the ALP’s obscured inner uglinesses should not be shielded, on the basis that any examination of the real factors as to its current problems is “misogyny” or “traitorous”and thus invalid. The inner diseases do seem there, ought to be exposed and routed out, if its not too late already.
    Megan, am largely in agreement with you, but as to fair play again, I doubt whether Jill Rush has welcomed the ALP swing to the right any more than us.
    Jill is pointing the very real possibility that there could, conceivably, be an even worse outcome than a returned ALP government- Abbott ultraism.
    It all seems classic wedge to me. The Tories and their big-end allies have consciously employed or played on, genuine misogyny, as with asylum seeker fears, as the means to obscure other things as dark, that they also want to make permanent.
    We are generally all on good terms but arguing amongst ourselves.
    But explaining why change has occurred has to extend to factors other than those of personal flaw.
    If there is wedge, who is driving it and are there any solutions anyway?
    The culture and personalities and the structural flaws within the ALP have been beautifully exploited by the hard right within Australia.
    Can the worthwhile part of Labor be salvaged and can Abbott’s quest for unprecedented power be blunted by at least not handing him the Senate?
    The Greens and the ALP must cooperate and this means that the right faction in the ALP must be somehow prevented from disrupting that, otherwise all is lost.

  35. And why pray tell does the corrupt ALP right control the federal government and who is their chosen instrument for that control?

    All we need now is to hear that ancient rubric that the progressive vote has nowhere else to go. A rubric that the corrupt ALP right continues to mouth even after New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia where the progressive vote found somewhere to go – down the sinkhole.

    The polls are interesting. A majority of the country want Labor to win the election but they expect the Coalition to win. There is a message in there that even Julia Gillard and her enablers could read.

  36. @Ikonoclast What does adopting real Labor policies mean? Go Left, Chicken Kev, go Left?

    • You do not win by giving up on the median voter. Rudd is a bog-standard social democrat who won power by camping over the middle ground.

    • There is no double secret real labor policies majority out there who is parking their votes with Abbott on mass pending Labor developing a socialist spine.

    British Labor tried hard left policies in the 1980s and spent 15 years out of office.

    British Labor was democrat socialist in 1945, but lost the 1951 election because the Tories promised to end the wartime rationing that was still in force in 1951! Labor party policies from the 1940s made Britain the sick man of Europe for 40 years.

    Australian Labor is unpopular because of its policies, not its leaders. Do you remember that it was the great big new tax that lost Labor its majority at the last election?

    Alan at #32, ‘the sexist attacks by the extreme right’ mantra lost its mojo when Gillard made a PR appearance with Kyle what’s his name. Now he is a sexist and an oaf even by shock-jock bad boy standards.

  37. @Jim Rose The ALP struggles from systemic dysfunction as identified by resignation of many ALP luminaries citing structural problems which were later identified by way of testimony at ICAC. Unpicking the mess left by NSW will take quite some time, I imagine.

  38. @Ikonoclast

    Jill, you don’t understand matters at all IMO. Julia Gillard did not try to wrest any benefits from the mining industry. She acted to oust the leader who was going to legislate a workable mining tax. She did this in collusion with the mining bosses. She acted to protect them from a workable mining tax. Is it any wonder the final tax was ineffective? This was the plan all along.

    I didn’t dismiss the ugly sexist language used against Julia Gillard. I said it existed and was reprehensible. Do you misrepresent me there. I also said thus does not change the substabtive case against Julia Gillard’s politics. Politically she is a neoconservative and, bought and suborned and in the pockets mining capital. You don’t seem to understand the gravity of this fact.

    You seem to think because Julia Gillard has been the subject of ugly sexist attacks by right-wing reactionaries this means one must support her right or wrong in everything else; even when her own policies are manifestly pro-capital and pro-plutocratic.

    I am not saying elect Abbott and the Liberals. Again you misconstrue and mis-characterise. In fact, in a post above, I said vote Green or Democratic Socialist first and preference Labor second.

    But I am saying that Labor must get of the right-wing reactionary elements in its own party and Julia Gillard is the leader of right-wing reactionary-ism in the Labor Party. She is anathema to all true Labour and worker values.

  39. @Jim Rose

    I am not sure I have ever suggested that Julia Gillard is anything but either or both of a knave and a fool when it comes to election campaigning. Indeed when she uttered the Great Misogyny Speech I think I said here that it was a remarkable speech to give in defence of a misogynist like Peter Slipper, whom she cut off at the knees some days later anyway.

    Reciting a grab-bag of talking points from recent UK history does not prove very much at all about the world of empirical fact except that you have swallowed a deal of Thatcherite agitprop hook, line and sinker. It is quite strange, for example, to think that the Attlee government made such bad policies that the Churchill, Eden. McMillan and Heath governments were unable to take any corrective measures. Apparently you accept such acts of genius as Thatcher privatising electricity into the hands of EDF, a French parastatal, so that electricity in the UK is government-owned, it just happens to be a foreign government.

    Almost everything said in this thread, apart from the Gillard defence, has been about the need for better policies and the impossibility of achieving that under the present leadership.

    It is by no means clear that the Great Big New Tax lost the last election for Labor. It does not seem to have won the last election for the Coalition, who lost the 2PP and failed to form government. The problem with the carbon price is that popular support for it was vastly weakened by Gillard’s opposition to it as deputy prime minister, Rudd’s foolish decision to accept Gillard’s advice to abandon the CPRS, her absurd plan for a citizens assembly, her promise that there would be no carbon tax, and her subsequent introduction of a carbon tax.

  40. @Ikonoclast The only female political figures I know who were put down, talked over, dismissed, demeaned and derided (and often in the crudest terms) were Thatcher and Palin. Who did that? Much of what was said of Palin would not get passed the filter on this blog for obscene words.

    Gillard got a pass on being unmarried. McMahon had to marry and have children to become PM. Tim Fischer also had to be found a wife to stop similar murmurings in the bush.

    Politicians do better when they have families because the voters know that these political leaders share the same hopes and fears they have for their children because the politicians themselves have their own children.

    Labour voters rightly distrusted the members of the educated middle class and the Toffs who joined the party after 1945 because they never knew struggle.

    The first generation of Labor leaders were strict on educational standards in schools because they wanted their children to do better in life. Today’s Labor leaders are failed teachers and lawyers who represent the interests of the teachers’ unions.

  41. You guys are wrong. Rudd has his chance when the Tories were in the gutter over Grech Turnbull and then Abbott, early.
    Had he called a double dissolution after they buggered him around over his carbon amelioration proposal, all of this would be academic.

  42. Jim Rose :
    @Ikonoclast The only female political figures I know who were put down, talked over, dismissed, demeaned and derided (and often in the crudest terms) were Thatcher and Palin. Who did that? Much of what was said of Palin would not get passed the filter on this blog for obscene words.

    You are 110% full of it. I sit here in shock that someone could have the sheer chutzpah to engage in such blatant revisionism.

    Hilary Clinton – subject to slurs about her sexuality and looks
    Michelle Obama – subject to slurs about her race, looks (and secret plot to COMMUNIZE ‘MERICA)
    Elena Kagan (Supreme Court Judge) – standard conservative attacks based on looks, sexuality, etc

    Thatcher got a lot of flak because her policies were unprecedentedly divisive. Palin got a lot of flak because it was clear that she was painfully out of her depth and wholly ignorant. Neither are a gender thing.

  43. @Jim Rose

    I don’t know the detail on sexist attacks on Thatcher and Palin. No doubt they did occur and were reprehensible on that score. But many of the attacks on Thatcher, as a neocon atacking workers, and on Palin, as an intellectual light-weight who had no idea about anything, were right on target. If you imagine Gillard has not suffered sexist attacks then you are selectively perceiving evidence.

    Times have changed. Once no top pollie would get a pass on being unmarried yet living with a partner. Now, any pollie, male or female, can get a pass on that. Gillard is not getting special better treatment because she is female.

    I would think a parliament with a cross section of all types of people would be most representative. Childless people (by choice or not) need representation too.

    Labor’s current problem is that it has become a second Tory party. That’s its real problem. You can’t out-Tory the Tories as I said somewhere way above. The Tory Party is the natural party (on the active side) of totally selfish, oppressive and exploitative people. They are that way to their very bones. If you have even the tiniest amount of the milk of human kindness for your fellow citizens you have to have different politics from the Tories.

    A large proportion of passive Tory supporters are duped, propagandised, suffering from false consciousness and a lack of ability or education to perceive where their true interests lie.

  44. @paul walter The Green did an analysis on their blog showing that on the 2007 results Labor could lose one senator in a double dissolution.

    Labor would have to at least keep the 83 seats it held in the House of Representatives to ensure a majority at a joint sitting for its great big new tax! Labor now has 71 seats.

    A double dissolution was a waste of time unless Labor expected to increase its majority in the House and not risk flooding the Senate with two nick no pokies senators, for sure, and various other one issue candidates because the quota is halved. remember how easy it is to get into the upper houses of Australian parliaments even at half-senate elections.

    Too many on the Left subscribe to what Popper called:

    The con­spir­acy the­ory of ignor­ance, which inter­prets ignor­ance not as a mere lack of know­ledge but as the work of some sin­is­ter power, the source of impure and evil influ­ences which per­vert and poison our minds and instil in us the habit of res­ist­ance to know­ledge

    The possibility that are ignorance is large in the social sciences and many consequences are unintended consequences is not as an exciting an explanation of social problems.

  45. @Paul Walter ,it is nice to see that someone understands the choices as it appears that some are struggling to get beyond the Labor isn’t perfect meme and are quite happy to stay navel gazing at this disappointment.

    @Megan proposes a solution which is no solution since it won’t address the core issues as Jim Rose points out. Getting policies changed is not easy but if you have particular ones in mind you could write to the relevant Minister and outline them. I have no influence as I have pointed out before. However arguing how bad the ALP is on blog sites and other places will encourage the LNP and its supporters and undermine the ability to get a senate to scrutinise LNP policies. If that is what you want keep on with your negativity about the ALP and ignore the LNP shortcomings.

    This will hurt the Greens too as people will decide to vote for the winning team rather than move to a party which is minor and left of the party which everyone is saying is bad.

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