I am a lefty. I am left handed, as well as a staunch left-winger, and a member of the Labor Party. Let that discredit your opinions about me or not; but there is no denying that the current state of the Australian Labor Party is a sinking ship, and the inevitable rot and decay that comes along with a boat found at the bottom of the ocean breeds worry and fear. Combine that worry and fear with declining membership numbers and an disunited selection of members and senators and you have political anarchy, and not the type that the ALP elite in Keating and Hawke were known for.
The tumultuous result from the Federal election last year had barely sunken in before the next tumultuous result in the recent Western Australia bi-election delivered a blow to the left-wing faithful. The party that Kevin Rudd took to the 2013 ballot didn’t deserve to govern for the next 3 years, which was affirmed at the election before it, a minority government that only thing taken from the battle between Julia Gillard and the pain in her backside known as Tony Abbott. From 83 seats, a comfortable majority, down to 72 seats tied with the Liberal National Coalition. The minority government that Julia Gillard and her cabinet scraped together may have produced a record number of pieces of legislation, but the diminishing support for the Labor Party has been caused by several differentiating factors, this just one of them.
It was the disgraceful show of political antics, backstabbing, party politics and corruption that shook the ALP to its core, and handed the keys to Kirribilli to Tony Abbott and his merciless Coalition. Interchanging leaderships, the fear of spills, failed mandates and union corruption plagued the once great party based on the labour movement, all whilst its opposition posed in front of signs like “Ditch the Witch” and created catchy slogans to reiterate the trouble that the Labor Party had caused over its last two terms. The internal parasitic effects of the Labor Party destroyed their own reputation, handing the Coalition blow after blow of political dynamite.
Still struggling to find their feet in Opposition, Bill Shorten leads the collection of misfits that come together to form 55 seats of the 150 up for grabs in our House of Representatives. There’s no denying the former union boss is stuck in a tricky position, having to face the music for the last 6 years of failed schemes and botched legislation, answering to union powerhouses, and struggling to maintain the fact that the Labor Party are actually trustworthy in 2014.
The rise of the Australian Greens are another hernia in the political backside of the ALP. The bi-election in WA saw a 6% swing towards the extreme-leftists, and though second preference votes may have gone the way of Labor, the party saw a boisterous swing away from them, receiving only 21.9% of the overall vote. Is this the beginning of a stamp out of the ALP, with the Greens soon to become to major left-winged party in Australia? Time can only tell. Protest votes may be one thing, but the swing away Shorten’s Labor to Milne’s Greens is the dilapidated effect of the political standard in 2014.
Counting for the Senate election is still undergoing, but the projected result of the Liberal’s taking away two seats and Labor, the Greens, and the Palmer United Party all taking one are not a good sign for the ALP and its 40,000 members. The one seat undecided looks to flow to the Liberals, making it their third seat for the state. It may be the fact that WA has never really been a Labor state, but the effects of the Mining and Carbon Tax cannot be ignored.
Fast forward to the present. Bill Shorten promises to reform the current membership process for the ALP, but more than promises must be made. Union ties must be dulled down. Memberships for the rank-and-file must be easier to sign up for. Policies must be discussed and debated between back and front benchers and the wider membership basis, and in amongst this all the Labor Party must find out what they stand for, and then stick with it. There is no merit in blasting the Coalition for the next 3 years with the blame, when the accountability the Labor Party clasp is bubkes.
“We cannot say Labor is ready to serve until we change“, dripped from Mr. Shorten’s mouth as he accentuated the importance of reform in the party that once used to be great and now stands mediocre.
Unity is needed throughout the party, but the calamity from the last 6 years can’t be forgotten easily, nor should it be. But like the left do, we must carry on, learn from the mistakes and disassociate ourselves with the political incorrectness that has been caused over the last two government terms.
RMS Labor can be saved from the iceberg they’re been nudged into, but there needs to be reform, clarity and trust, all of which won’t come overnight. Hope must be restored and consistency achieved before people are forced to vote again in 2016.
Progression is needed, after all, the Labor Party used to be epitome of it.