25267Re: the left in the Labor Party
- Jan 15, 2006Dale Mills wrote:
> > There has been discussion about working with the Labor Party 'left.'Alan Bradley wrote:
> I genuinely have never met such a person. So as to make the discussion
> less abstract, perhaps it would be possible to name several prominent
> members and suggest why they are 'left.'
> Dale, if you "genuinely have never met such a person", you need toI thought this was a charming exchange.But Alan's failure is that he
>get out more.
did not take up the challenge and name these creatures. I'm sure we
cannot expect Alan to name members of the genus in Sydney but it is an
interesting exercise nonetheless -- albeit a pretty pointless one. Who
are the Queensland ALP lefts, Alan, this side of 2005? And on what
basis would you adjudicate such an award?
And the same could be asked of other centres -- who's left in the ALP?
And this is the problem, today. OF COURSE there are lefts in the ALP,
OF COURSE they do stuff..but to be frank, you wouldn't know it. And
that's a big part of the problem.
I posted the interview with George Georges before. George along with
Hughie Williams( and Hughie has been a major tade union militant all
his life)established the Socialist Left here in Qld and was one of its
core leaders thereafter. And it's obvious from this interview that
George was a man of principles, a man with a core commitment to left
(for want of a more descriptive word) politics. Just consider what
sort of politics he adhered to and on what grounds he took his stand.
That's a leftie.
But the problem today, ten years later, you are hard pushed to find
this sort of coalescence -of people or ideology or, indeed, ethics!--
within the ALP. As GG indicated the formal ALP left splintered years
ago here and despite Georges intentions of saving the party from
itself, you'd be hard pressed to find a red line drawn anywhere in the
party. Those branches noted for their adherence to 'socialism'(or
whatever) have been gutted by resignations over the past decade or more.
So it's not an easy task to quantify or describe in terms of an easy
classification. And the reason for this is that Georges' attempt to
reboot the left failed miserably here in Qld. Sure he was the lefts'
champion and figurehead --and has now passed on -- but we know that in
the way of actual activity, of campaigning, the ALP left in Qld is in
a sorry state. Even Georges ran foul of it when it was clear he was
too left for some of them in the trade unions.
So when you are talking about an ALP left today in Qld we'd be using
a very different barometer than the one we'd use to describe George
Georges. And if you were talking about an ALP left today in Qld you'd
be talking about a left that was much smaller even than the left
OUTSIDE the ALP.
I know there are some brilliant left trade union activist in Qld
--some of whom are members of the ALP. And I know that because we work
with them on various campaigns and issues. But so few swallows do not
a summer make.
I tragic irony of George Georges is that when he left the ALP and
stood as an independent his core campaign team comprised the non ALP
left.: Greens, Socialists, Animal Rightists, Feminists, Trade
Unionists (especially those in the TWU) -- even his campaign manager
was a past CPA organiser, Michael McDonald -- and in the m,ain his
old comrades, his old party comrades, wouldn't have a bar of him. He
was a pariah.
Those who did -- and there were some -- worked for him secretly.It was
almost cloak and dagger stuff --as George was held in such high esteem
and had had such a major influence on peoples' politics and lives that
some coudln't turn their backs on him.
By the time the 1st Gulf War came along in 1991 -- the ALP left was so
passive and impotent that it took George all his considerable powers
of browbeating to get any of the ALP lefts to sign on with the anti
war movement. If you like, this was the first major default by the
ALP left in Qld relative to its past traditions. In that campaign they
were there, but something like hen's teeth.
And you'll note at the same time, that in federal parliament the ALP
lefts who opposed the war --such as Qld Senator Margaret Reynolds --
abstained on the war vote.(I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm
wrong but there were about 6 of them) But let's just say with Labor in
power they did not vote against it.
George Georges would not have done that. And recently we had to
witness the complicity of the NSW ALP left MPs with the brutally
draconian riot and assembly legislation passed by the NSW parliament
-and among these were people like Meredith Burgmann (a Labor MLC)who
was such a key figure in the anti-aparthied movement in the early
seventies which was restrained and brutalised by measures such as
those she now voted for.
So I don't blame Dale Mills when he wonders if these lefts exist today.
I don't think I'm being very choosey either. I'm not asking for the
real McCoy-- no red flagger--just some backbone.
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