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YOU HAVEN'T MADE IT UNTIL YOU'VE LOCKED HORNS WITH BOB GOULD

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  • michael berrell
    Bob Gould has a rather unfortunate habit, when either losing an argument or failing to persuade others to his rather idiosyncratic view of the A.L.P., of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2004
      Bob Gould has a rather unfortunate habit, when either losing an
      argument or failing to persuade others to his rather idiosyncratic
      view of the A.L.P., of resorting to personal invective to disparage
      opponents. I guess this trait has been honed of a half century of
      involvement in polemics within the A.L.P. and the wider socialist
      movement. I'm rather thick skinned and it doesn't worry me
      personally and when someone resorts to name calling it usually
      indicates that they are rather short on logic. Anyway, they say you
      haven't made it in the world of left wing politics until you've
      locked horns with Bob Gould so I take it as a kind of compliment.

      Bob came on the list the other day and slandered the SEP claiming
      that they had advocated an informal vote at the last election. I
      pointed out that Bob had confused the concepts of a split ticket
      with an informal vote. (Although personally I don't think Bob is
      confused at all but rather is trying to be deliberately misleading
      in a mischievious way). The confusion may have emanated from the
      fact that at their public meeting last May which both Bob and I
      attended the SEP seemed very reluctant to allocate preferences at
      all and as I pointed out, under the electoral law this would have
      amounted to an informal vote. However, as events transpired the SEP
      allocated 50% of their preferences to the A.L.P. and 50% to the
      coalition, a split ticket. In both the Senate and in the House of
      Representatives they advised voters to place a 1 in the box next to
      the SEP candidate and then to number all the squares according to
      the voters choice. Voting for the SEP in the Senate, either above
      the line or below the line would not have amounted to an informal
      vote. Will Bob Gould now retract his claim that the SEP advocated
      an informal vote at the last election?

      Bob's view of the A.L.P. is perhaps the most eccentric of all,
      certainly it has little grounding in reality. It is apparent to all
      that there is a general rightward drift within the A.L.P. since the
      last election, a move to reclaim the reform agenda of the Hawke and
      Keating era. This enfuriates some of us because it is clear that it
      was this reform agenda which seriously undermined Labor's support
      base in the first place. The evidence is plain for all to see,
      declining membership the collapse in Labor's primary vote. If Bob
      disagrees with this analysis perhaps he can put forward his reasons
      for the collapse in Labor's primary vote and then we can have a
      discussion. There's no question that there is tremendous pressure
      being brought to bear upon the A.L.P. by the bourgeois press to
      abandon whatever little remains of its core beliefs and principles.
      Witness today's column in the Sydney Morning Herald from Peter
      Hartcher " Labor clings to Dead Ideology" in which he demands that
      Labor drop any commitment to the idea of the redistribution of
      income. And there's no question that many within the Labor Party are
      receptive to these arguments in particular Swan and Smith who now
      occupy key economic portfolios and have no ideology other to do
      whatever is, in their opinion, electorally popular. Swan and Smith
      epitomise everything that is wrong with the A.L.P. today. Just
      tonioght on Lateline in response to a report from the Productivity
      Commission, that Orwellian body, that Australia faces a crisis due
      to its aging population, Swan clearly attacked the Howard Government
      from the right claiming that taxation was destroying incentive.

      I don't think this rightward drift is part of a conspiracy. I
      think its a contradictory thing. It's being forced on the party by
      wider global forces. These global forces dictate that the old
      nationalist perspective of Social-Democracy, whereby a party could
      carry out social reforms within the confines of a regulated economy,
      with progressive taxation and a generous system of social welfare is
      no longer viable. I accept the SEP's analysis on this point,
      sectarian or not because it makes the most sense. The contradiction
      is this while the party is being pushed further to the right by
      these forces it is also being pushed further away from its support
      base or any semblance of what the party used to stand for and herein
      lies the crisis. Labor's current rightward drift will do nothing to
      arrest its alarming collapse in electoral support on the contrary it
      will exacebate it.

      Did you hear Bob Hawke's impassioned plea for the A.L.P. not to
      abandon its roots in the trade union movement. The desperation in
      his voice was palpable. Now Bob Hawke, in my view is responsible
      for a lot of the mess the A.L.P. is in today but he's been around
      the party for a long time and through some of its worst times, Hawke
      knows the party is in a crisis, a crisis of identity and
      philosophical direction, unsure of what it stands for and who it
      represents, a party adrift.
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