A new group has surfaced, arguing that it’s time to replace the Australian Labor Party. They are not (yet) a political party, but want a debate about forming a new progressive party. I think the proposal has merit.
I have argued over a long period that the ALP is an obstacle to the policies that are essential if Australia is to survive the coming decades as a reasonable place for our children – politically, socially and environmentally. It has jettisoned its reason for being, and simply pursues power. It claims, feebly, to care about little people, but having been seduced by neoliberalism it continuously subverts that goal. It is reduced to applying bandaids to the wounds its neoliberal policies inflict. Here are a couple of my recent articles on the topic:
Julia Gillard’s recent Whitlam Oration spells out Labor’s sellout. Labor’s ambition is to be Howard Lite. Several commentators have noted the things left out of Gillard’s speech: Brian Toohey, John Quiggin, and Amy Mullins, among others, some more of them mentioned by Quiggin. Quiggin is particularly devastating:
“It is a speech that could have been given, with absolute sincerity, by John Howard on behalf of the Liberal Party and marks – in both large and small ways – Gillard’s acceptance and celebration of the values and beliefs of the Liberal Party as espoused by its leaders from Menzies onwards.”.
A major concern about the proposed party among progressives will be its competition with the Greens. I think this is a small concern compared with the benefits. We have preferential voting, and the parties would logically exchange preferences, more readily than Labor and the Greens. The parliamentary Greens are a fairly tough lot, despite Labor sniping about “basket weavers”, and they can probably stand the heat, and benefit from it.
Another question is why have a new party, if they would be much like the Greens. The answer is in the perception of many that the Greens are indeed basket weavers, or extremists. As pointed out by Peter Lewis of Essential polls, Greens and Labor voters already share many attitudes, but a Network Ten poll shows 52% of people think the Greens are extreme, versus 30% who do not.
My own feeling is that the Greens spend a lot of political capital on issues that are important (gay marriage, euthenasia, even Tassie forests) but not crucial, like reducing our carbon emissions and general assault on the environment, and reining in the financial sector and corporate welfare dependents and looters.
So have a look at ReplacingTheALP. I would not necessarily join such a party, but I think it would be very healthy for our democracy, and our future.