Re: electoral success
- By Bob Gould
For a month or two I've observed a self-denying ordinance on
contributing to the Green Left list, which these days is mainly a
sounding board for very unusual contributors such as Nemo, Mato Ska
and the rather nasty Stalinist Roger Raven, who libelled me as an
However, Dave Riley's latest bit of alternative-universe wierdness
prompts me to break my vow.
For quite a while Riley has been engaged in a wierd and lenghty
polemic on the Socialsit Unity list in Britain attacking some
socialist who argue the tactical case for rejoining the British Labour
Party. In the course of this discussion Riley has made a number of
assertions about Australian politics that clearly aren't true.
The overseas audience has little way of testing Riley's assertions,
being observers from afar.
Riley has his good days and his bad days, and today must be one of his
very bad days, because he has clearly forgotten which list he's on,
and he has written an eccentric piece for an Australian audience that
relies on them knowing nothing about Australian politics. That might
work for Riley's British audience, but not for Australians.
Riley's method is unpleasant in the extreme, but it's revealing. He
attacks the current Greens, implying that in some way they
illegitimately grabbed support that by rights should go to the
Socialist Alliance. He does this by presenting a biased and inaccurate
account of past disputes in the Nuclear Disarmament Party and the Greens.
He writes as if political support can be transferred by some process
of manipulation, which tells you a lot about his own state of mind but
nothing about mass politics.
The Greens have won their support by systematic agitation over a very
long period, but Riley makes no allowance for that. It's merely, in
his book, a matter of some past manipulation.
In passing he makes the claim that there were only about 750 Greens
members at the start of the Iraq war, when in fact there were about
5000. He has to lie like that to draw attention away from the obvious
failure of his own project, the Socialist Alliance.
Even more dangerous politically is Riley's attack on the existing
Australian electoral system, which includes an implicit attack on
In the real world, the Australian electoral system, while not perfect,
has a large number of useful features from a socialist point of view.
For a start, there's compulsory voting, including a legal obligation
to enrol to vote.
In practice, 93 per cent of eligible voters are enrolled and 95 per
cent of those vote in elections. Compulsory voting ensures that the
most exploited, who are excluded in the US and Britain, actually make
up a large part of the Australian electorate. That's an underlying
reason for the constant problems facing the reactionary parties
resulting from a changing ethnic and cultural mix of the population.
Secondly, Australia has optional preferential voting, which Riley also
attacks. This gives the electorate a chance to vote for a more leftist
group and then give a preference to Labor, for instance. That's hated
by both the Australian conservatives and Dave Riley.
Further, Riley implies that proportional representation doesn't exist
in most municipal councils, while in fact it is very widespread
throughout the country, and leads to the election of many Greens
councillors alongside Labor councillors.
Proportional representation in local government elections was
introduced in Victoria by the Bracks Labor government.
Riley's most barefaced piece of verbal fudging concerns elections to
Australian parliaments. Proportional representation exists for the
upper houses of five state and territory parliaments and the federal
senate. In all of these upper houses there are elected Greens
To make matters almost insufferable from Riley's point of view, the
proportional representation system was introduced by Labor governments
in the five state upper houses, transforming them from non-elected
House of Lords set-ups into far more democratic institutions. Most
recently and most spectacularly this democratic reform was carried
through in Victoria.
The elephant in the room of Riley's political babble is that Australia
has a larger mass political workers party, a bourgeois workers party,
the Labor Party, and a smaller but important mass electoral formation
on the left, the Greens.
The real electoral politics of the workers movement in Australia
revolves around the struggle for a united front between those two
groups to defeat the Tories.
Riley's problem is that his own rapidly declining formation is
minuscule by comparison with the other two and has an underlying
hostility even to the need for a united front between the two formations.
In my view it's this political problem that drives Riley's incoherent
- --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobgould987"
>[The bullshit artist lives I see. Offering another tome of great
> By Bob Gould
import for the little world of us lesser mortals.]
I have been diagnosed by Doctor Robert Gould ( Official Psychiatrist
to the Marxian Left)and I am therefore so crushed and so ashamed that
i will now go to my room and sulk...maybe take a bex, have a cup of
tea and a good lie down....
- Personally, I thought Bob's absence greatly improved the quality of
the discussion group. I urge Bob to continue this selfless and noble
act of self-denial. Let me assure Bob that he could do the left no