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WA election: GLW's wall of silence

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  • bobgould987
    Green Left Weekly s wall of silence about the WA election By Bob Gould It s now a couple of weeks since the WA election. In that couple of weeks GLW has kept
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 10, 2005
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      Green Left Weekly's wall of silence about the WA election

      By Bob Gould

      It's now a couple of weeks since the WA election. In that couple of
      weeks GLW has kept up its implacable ultraleftism in everything
      relating to the Labor Party and official union structures, and has
      ignored any useful things coming from those structures.

      A kind of high point of this political stupidity was a rather
      excitable and eccentric DSP member accusing me on the GLW list of
      having blood on my hands, presumably because I am an ALP member. Does
      this principle apply to all people nationwide who have ALP tickets,
      including Martin Kingham, Michelle O'Neil, etc?

      The WA election result has important lessons for the labour movement,
      and all progressive movements. Firstly it's a very heartening and
      healthy result, given the looming attack of the Liberals on the state
      industrial relations systems.

      The Labor vote went up to about 42 per cent, the Green vote held up at
      about 8 per cent, Labor in the lower house retained the same majority
      as in the previous parliament, and in the upper house the One Nation
      members were all defeated, Labor went up from 13 to 16 and the Greens
      dropped from five to two, which produced exactly the same result, in
      broad political terms, as the previous upper house.

      The Green-Labor combination has 18 out of 34 upper house seats and the
      Liberal-Nationals 16. The only change is that Labor has more seats and
      the Greens fewer.

      This result in the upper house underlines the electoral problem facing
      the Greens. The upward surge in the Labor vote pushed the last Labor
      candidate ahead of the first Green for a quota, so the Green was
      eliminated first and Green preferences elected the Labor candidate.

      As far as I can tell, there was no double-crossing on preferences by
      Labor or the Greens in WA, and both parties stuck fairly
      systematically to giving the ultimate preference to each other,
      sometimes after minor parties.

      The overall result was aided by the fact that one of the Greens got
      enough preferences from some small parties to the right of the Greens,
      that were antagonistic to the Liberals, and that pushed the Greens
      over a quota in a province where the combined Labor-Green vote was a
      bit less than the conservative vote.

      That was a lucky outcome because it gave the Labor-Green side control
      of the upper house, and the Greens the balance of power despite their
      reduced numbers.

      The obvious immediate problem is electoral reform. In the last
      parliament Labor and the Greens couldn't agree on a formula to get rid
      of the outrageous electoral weighting in WA in favour of rural areas
      where the conservatives are strong. This gerrymander is ridiculous. In
      the Agricultural province, the Liberals got four seats to Labor's one,
      yet a vote in that province has about three times the value of a vote
      in urban areas. This is a long-standing scandal and the Greens and
      Labor must find a common approach to get rid of it.

      The nurses' union electoral team, which used a lot of unwise rhetoric
      about giving preferences to the Liberals, got a very modest result,
      and the nurses' union leadership will now, obviously, have to work
      very hard to mend fences with the Labor government to achieve the best
      industrial outcome for their members in a set of circumstances that
      they obviously didn't anticipate -- the re-election of the government.

      During the election campaign the industrially militant CFMEU, which
      runs its own right-wing faction of "outs" in the ALP in combination
      with former premier Brian Burke, rapidly moderated its anti-government
      rhetoric, obviously estimating that Labor would be re-elected.

      Unfortunately the same commonsense approach didn't extend to the DSP,
      which persisted with ferociously anti-Labor rhetoric until the last
      moment before the election, presenting the Greens and the Socialist
      Alliance as the real alternative to what they termed "the two
      capitalist parties".

      The outcome of the election suggests several things. Firstly, the
      Greens electoral surge seems to have stalled in most states, except
      possibly Tasmania, at about 8-9 per cent.

      That is still a substantial vote, and it gives the Greens an ongoing
      and serious presence in state upper houses, the Senate and municipal
      politics.

      The Labor vote clearly fluctuates between 35 and 44 per cent. As the
      conservative commentator Baume pointed out in the Financial Review a
      week ago, the overwhelming majority of seats with the largest Muslim
      component are Labor seats and the overwhelming majority of seats with
      the largest Catholic component are also Labor seats. These seats are
      also where most industrial workers and recent immigrants live.

      The voting pattern in WA underlines this class division between the
      Labor-Green side and the conservative side of electoral politics.

      The slightly lunatic projections by Mike Berrell and others about the
      eventual disappearance of the Labor vote are completely refuted by the
      WA results.

      Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: in statistical terms the Socialist
      Alliance vote in WA was completely negligible.

      In working class politics it's important to make a balance sheet of
      one's activity and political perspectives. The WA results confirm the
      need for Marxists to have an active united front strategy towards
      Labor and the trade unions, and the Greens.

      I look forward with interest to the DSP leadership's analysis of the
      WA election results if they ever make one. I'm not holding my breath.
    • Peter Boyle
      Does anybody who follows Australian politics have ANY problem distinguishing between the professional gasbag and chronic ALP apologist Bob Gould on one hand
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 10, 2005
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        Does anybody who follows Australian politics have ANY problem
        distinguishing between the professional gasbag and chronic ALP
        apologist Bob Gould on one hand and militant trade union leaders
        Martin Kingham, Michelle O'Neil, etc on the other?

        Well the Socialist Alliance and the DSP have no such problem. We're
        working very well with the latter. See
        <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2005/617/617p9.htm> for example.
        Those union militants (who are still ALP members) have been giving
        greetings to Socialist Alliance conferences year after year. We are in
        no way isolated from them but we would SO appreciate being completely
        isolated from Bob Gould. The consequences of such "isolation" could
        only be beneficial to the socialist movement.

        Peter Boyle
      • watermelonjack21
        ... Fascinating as the rituals of Socialist Alliance gatherings may be, not to mention your personal irritation with Bob Gould and the undoubtedly difficult
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 12, 2005
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          --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Boyle" <ppz@g...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Does anybody who follows Australian politics have ANY problem
          > distinguishing between the professional gasbag and chronic ALP
          > apologist Bob Gould on one hand and militant trade union leaders
          > Martin Kingham, Michelle O'Neil, etc on the other?
          >
          > Well the Socialist Alliance and the DSP have no such problem. We're
          > working very well with the latter. See
          > <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2005/617/617p9.htm> for example.
          > Those union militants (who are still ALP members) have been giving
          > greetings to Socialist Alliance conferences year after year. We are in
          > no way isolated from them but we would SO appreciate being completely
          > isolated from Bob Gould. The consequences of such "isolation" could
          > only be beneficial to the socialist movement.
          >
          > Peter Boyle

          Fascinating as the rituals of Socialist Alliance gatherings may be,
          not to mention your personal irritation with Bob Gould and the
          undoubtedly difficult questions he keeps presenting you with, that's
          not much of an analysis of the WA elections Peter.

          Jack
        • Ben C
          I think Peter Boyle got it right in his response to Gould. The SA has already, several times, answered the critics who say our low electoral results show that
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 13, 2005
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            I think Peter Boyle got it right in his response to Gould.

            The SA has already, several times, answered the critics who say our low
            electoral results show that the SA project is a waste of time, or at
            least seriously misconceived. The WA elections result doesn't add any
            new dynamic that hasn't already been established, nor any new lessons
            that the SA hasn't assimilated. Between the Greens, the ebb of the
            anti-war movement, and the ongoing mass media blackout on left
            alternatives, of course the SA isn't getting many votes. Are we meeting
            new people, joining members, making progress through our campaigns? Yes.
            One could argue, as does Humphrey McQueen in the latest Seeing Red, that
            elections are not the best prioritisation of resources. But Gould has
            made his polemics on this point at every opportunity. I would be happy
            to agree to disagree and keep on our separate paths, but he seems drawn
            to debating the SA (on the internet at least) like a moth to a candle.
            Leftists in the Greens raise some interesting alternatives to the SA for
            left organisation, although obviously those of us in SA are unconvinced.
            I haven't heard of any example in the ALP which raises a better
            alternative. Even the left union leaders who are ALP members often
            portray (to the left) their membership as a necessary evil of the
            position, more than a matter of any personal commitment to the ALP. And
            as it's been pointed out, the SA is working with these people as much as
            we can.

            Gould's questions to SA may be "difficult" in a number of senses.
            Difficult to those who haven't decided what answer they will make and
            test out in practice. (which the SA has done). Difficult to those who
            haven't followed the debate before (it's fairly easy to find SA's
            analyses of our role in elections and other arenas on the SA web site).
            Mostly difficult for those who have heard the whole storm-in-a-teacup
            controversy already and don't see why we should have to answer the
            perennial critic on and on ad nauseam.

            Ben C
          • Peter Boyle
            ... that s ... It didn t claim to be. But it wasn t an expression of irritation at Bob Gould but a political point about the Socialist Alliance s approach to
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 13, 2005
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              --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "watermelonjack21"
              <watemelon321@y...> wrote:
              >
              that's
              > not much of an analysis of the WA elections Peter.

              It didn't claim to be. But it wasn't an expression of irritation at
              Bob Gould but a political point about the Socialist Alliance's
              approach to the ALP.

              I don't know if there was much of deep political significance to
              analyse about the WA election result. I reckon it was good that the
              Liberals lost and that it probably shows that there is a wave of
              reaction to the federal election result that has even reached WA.
              (Another sign of this reaction is the rapid spread in the last week of
              union delegates voting for mass action against Howard's impending IR
              attacks -- following the good example of Victorian unions.)

              I hear from one of my brothers who is a senior policy advisor to the
              Gallop Labor government (he chooses to work for limited change within
              the system) says that Labor was certain it was going to be re-elected
              and the former Liberal leader whats-his-name-forgot-already put the
              last two nails in his own coffin with his Kimberley to Perth canal
              scheme and just two days before election with a major mistake in the
              costings of his election promises.

              Labor and Liberals tried to outbid each other in a reactionary law and
              order campaign. Liberals even tried to outbid Labor in settling an
              industrial dispute with the nurses union! Pretty standard for state
              elections these days.

              The Greens held their share and SA, which is not even registered in
              the state electoral role collected just over 1000 votes.

              Peter Boyle
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