This piece by Paul Strangio is right on the money.
Labor has taken the left for granted and while this hasn’t cost them government it has cost them desperately needed public support. Last Federal election some Labor campaign organisers told me they secretly voted for the Greens. Campaign organisers live and breathe election campaigns, they put in hours and hours and hours of work – their social lives, their homes, their weekends, their evenings, their families, all become completely tied up in the cause. So, things are bad when they are sick of it enough to vote for another team.
You would not believe it right now, but Labor is actually quite good at the passionate policy debate (think of Keating’s Redfern speech); in terms of swinging voters it’s one of their strengths. The necessary swagger comes easily to them. Right now the ALP is attempting to mimic its own righteous outrage for current debates, but it either hasn’t the high moral ground or hasn’t the honest belief to carry it off. It can be nauseating to watch.
Over the last thirty years the Labor Party’s big policy ideas have far outnumbered the Coalition’s, but the wretchedness of the asylum seeker political debate threatens to permanently diminish not only the Labor Party’s core values but this country’s international standing. With a minority government and a relentless news cycle this is undoubtedly a tough time to be in power, and the Labor Party is still fighting some worthy and difficult battles – the mining tax, the carbon tax, the disability insurance scheme – but they have upstaged themselves with a Howard-era small-mindedness. You can’t out-conservative a conservative like the Opposition Leader, but you can lose your lefty supporters.
The kind of caustic misogyny being levelled at Gillard from the right should be appalling enough to muster support for her from the liberal left. It is the kind of noise the Labor government could do with. Passionate liberal left supporters are manna from heaven in the public arena – tireless, vocal, compelling, switched-on and well-informed – they can end up dominating a discussion even when up against the forces of a conservative media. In the United States of America there is evidence that the right have to hire people to pretend to be right-wing commenters in order to keep up with the genuine enthusiasm and activism of the left in on-line media.
But that defence for Gillard isn’t happening, as Strangio notes …
There are some uncomfortable questions raised by the hostility to Gillard. Where does the loathing spring from and has it got something to do with her gender and status as an unmarried woman? The other notable thing is that amid this campaign of calumny against the Prime Minister, she and her government have been relatively friendless. If, as the conservatives insist, the liberal left still dominates Australia’s cultural institutions, it has been conspicuously mute in defending Labor since the party entered office in 2007. When the Whitlam Labor government was under siege by 1974-75 from the opposition and a host of vested interests, it at least had partisans to spring to its side.
Perhaps this is another danger of the ALP’s progressive alienation of the liberal left over recent years, and the misguided calculation that it would not matter. For while the liberal left has either deserted Labor or cooled in its ardour to the point of indifference to the Gillard government’s fate, Labor’s haters are no less passionate.
Categories: gender & feminism, media, parties and factions
Why would the left defend or be friends with someone so far right and lacking conviction and conscience?
I think it is a toxic combination of lost hope that this would be the Labor government we had been longing for – in some ways it has been in others [same sex marriage, asylum seeker policy, mining tax] not, a relentless campaign of misogyny some arising from how she came to the leadership some just because that’s what those people are like, and a hostile media that seem to think that they are the “king” makers now and should be making the news rather than reporting it.
Quite a few people need to get back in their box chocolate, but Gillard isn’t one of them. I quite admire the way she has just been getting things done despite the carping and wailing of the Opposition Leader. Finally the vuvuzela of politics is starting to get on people’s nerves and Hockeynomics is starting to become something even right-wing economists can’t ignore anymore.
I really hope that Turnbull is playing a long game and waiting for Abbott and Hockey to so soil their own nest that no one can ever return to it [i.e. them as the leadership team, + Julie Bishop as the forgotten Deputy Liberal leader and some Nationals guy as the Dep Opp leader]. However, I do wonder if Turnbull waits too long if he might find that the Gillard government sneaks back in, perhaps this time with a majority because hey, we have a carbon tax and a mining tax and the world hasn’t ended and in fact not a lot has changed and this Prime Minister is actually getting stuff done. If we can get the NBN online to a few more people then that might help to. I volunteer to have the NBN [are you listening Canberra?].
That said, Gillard does have to stand up and be the leader she needs to be. She needs to be someone the Left can have faith in again, someone who gets asylum seeker policy right this time, onshore processing, up the intake of refugees from Malaysia so that genuine refugees don’t have to wait decades to get somewhere safe to start their new life. Have a conscience vote on gay marriage.
mikez – we defend, and should defend Gillard because she is the target of a savage and vicious kind of hatred being directed at her for being a woman, and for being unmarried and childless. Whatever her leanings we should not want public discussion to be so intolerant.
But the fact is she isn’t hard right and nor is her party one without “conviction or conscience”. Although, I do agree that the ALP have managed to all but smother their convictions through extreme acts of risk aversion.
Oh, you have so very nailed it, right there.