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The left, the trade unions and the Labor Party ranks

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  • bobgould987
    The left, the trade unions and the Labor rank and file between Rudd and a hard place By Bob Gould There s overwhelming sentiment throughout the workers
    Message 1 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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      The left, the trade unions and the Labor rank and file between Rudd
      and a hard place

      By Bob Gould

      There's overwhelming sentiment throughout the workers' movement,
      except among a small coterie of cranks, that the pressing question of
      the moment is the removal of the Howard Government and its replacement
      by a Labor government led by Kevin Rudd.

      Many on the left hope this will be accompanied by a strengthening of
      the Greens in parliament.

      Alongside this lies the difficult circumstance that Kevin Rudd clearly
      sees himself as an innovating conservative figure, and wishes to move
      the general policy and practice of the Labor Party to the right.
      Recent parliamentary leadership actions, such as declaring policies on
      IR that weren't clearly decided on at the recent Labor federal
      conference, clearly indicate that he wishes to establish his right to
      decide policy rather than accept the policies decided by the
      structures of the Labor Party, such as federal and state conferences.

      Rudd has also, in recent weeks, clearly indicated a desire to
      marginalise union influence in the Labor Party, if that is at all
      possible.

      What part of all this represents his own aspirations and what part is
      an electoralist response to the relentless pressure of the media and
      the ruling class is not entirely clear.

      It's possible that Rudd and Gillard are telling the unions that this
      is necessary for the elections, but the reality after the election
      will be more pro-union than the current rhetoric.

      Rudd and Gillard in these matters are Bonapartists, in the sense that
      they balance between the different forces and the pressures exerted on
      them. All this puts the trade unions and the Labor rank and file, both
      left and right, in a difficult position.

      The desire of the left half of Australian society to get rid of Howard
      and elect Rudd is palpably apparent to anyone with even half a brain.
      Eccentric voices on the left, such as the man called Raven on the GLW
      list, who talk recklessly about driving a wedge between the unions and
      Labor are objectively playing into the hands of the reactionary forces
      in Australian society.

      The overwhelming majority of the left half of Australian society,
      including the most active people, of whom there are many tens of
      thousands, recognise that it's necessary to work hard to defeat Howard
      and elect a Labor government. It's not possible, however, to evade the
      issues that have been served up to us by recent events. The ranks of
      the movement, both left and right, and the ranks of the trade unions,
      must unite to defeat the pressure coming in the final analysis from
      both the ruling class and the media, to marginalise the unions in the
      Labor Party. That's the political imperative of the moment, along with
      the other political imperative of electing a Rudd Labor government.

      The opposite argument, that it would be a good thing if the unions
      were pushed out of the Labor Party, is political poison from the point
      of view of the future of the workers' movement. The result of such a
      development wouldn't be any growth of a leftist alternative, it would
      be the further demoralisation and retreat of the socialist forces and
      the class-struggle militants in Australian society.

      If Howard gets in again, it is unlikely to lead to a radicalisation,
      it's much more likely to lead to further demoralisation and retreat of
      the left.

      The major current project of the ruling class, that of driving the
      unions out of the Labor Party (even if Rudd is making major
      concessions to that pressure) is much easier said than done,
      thankfully from the socialist point of view. Left and right factions
      of the Labor Party, both federally and in all six states and
      territories, are factions in which union interests are very powerful
      and often dominant.

      It's clear that some Labor politicians both left and right would like
      to get rid of this "incubus" of trade union influence, as they see it,
      but it's not in the nature of the unions, either left or right, and in
      this instance their leaderships, to easily give up their long-held
      prerogatives. Even most leaders of the trade union bureaucracy who in
      the final analysis make their living out of the unions and to their
      credit are emotionally committed to the institutions in which they've
      spent most of their lives, understand that the union movement is
      fighting for its life.

      It flows from this conjuncture of contradictory circumstances that the
      leadership of important militant unions, both left and right, ought to
      take the initiative for the formation in every state of something like
      the Pledge Group of unions that existed in Victoria for a number of years.

      A national Pledge should focus on a kind of minimum program, which
      should involve a "thus far and no further" kind of approach.

      The first plank should be the election of a Rudd government. The
      second plank should be total defence of trade union affiliations,
      interests and prerogatives in the Labor Party. The third plank should
      be the insistence that the incoming Labor government adopt an
      industrial relations policy acceptable to the overwhelming majority of
      unions on key matters.

      The fourth plank should be vigorous opposition to further
      privatisation. The immediate cutting edge to that battle is the latest
      push for electricity privatisation in NSW.

      A fifth plank should be opposition to so-call public-private
      partnerships, which usually mean that the public shoulders the burden
      of debt and the private sector pockets any profits.

      The whole of the labour movement should be mobilised to fight around
      this kind of minimum program. In the real world of politics, it's
      obvious that the main momentum for such a mass Pledge-style movement
      will come after the election, rather than before. However, with the
      instructive experience of the past few weeks in front of us it seems
      to me the preliminary work on such a movement should begin now, and it
      has been forced on the unions and the ranks of the workers' movement
      by the speed of events.

      PS. A very important aspect of the coming electoral battle will be the
      question of the necessary comprehensive national exchange of
      preferences between Labor and the Greens. Feral Greens in a few places
      should be vigorously persuaded to accept a preference deal with Labor
      for the general good.

      It is necessary, by negotiation, to remove any possible basis for the
      kind of thoughtless actions by the Labor leadership in Victoria at the
      last federal election, which led to the election of the Family First
      senator instead of a Green, and contributed to Howard's (one hopes)
      temporary grip on the Senate. It would be a tragedy if sectarianism on
      the part of either Labor or the Greens damaged the chance of wresting
      control of the Senate from Howard, given the importance of a
      progressive majority in the Senate to make easier the necessary
      campaign for progressive policies from a new Labor government.
    • luke weyland
      Bob, ths seems a well argued set of proposals that both Labor and those to their left need to seriously consider one by one. Alas the ALP leadership caring
      Message 2 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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        Bob, ths seems a well argued set of proposals that both Labor and those to
        their left need to seriously consider one by one.
        Alas the ALP leadership caring more about perceptions of economic
        'orthodoxy' promoting favourable economic climate for business and loyalty
        to Washminister (Washington and Westminister roled into one) than to their
        own members, trade unionists and other workers, students the natural
        environment and promoting a violence free world. National conferences no
        longer determine party policy - ALP state and federal members are no longer
        to be elected by local branch stallwarts. Senate and Leglislative Council
        positions long determined by back room deals. Iwould sincerely love the
        true believers left within the ALP like Bob, to achieve their goals. Long
        ago I was a naive Year 11 studentwho belived Bill Hayden would be a
        reincarnation of Atlee and Bevan roled together. I joined in 1979, became
        disillusioned in 83 and did not renew in 1984.




        On 6/5/07, bobgould987 <bobgould987@...> wrote:
        >
        > The left, the trade unions and the Labor rank and file between Rudd
        > and a hard place
        >
        > By Bob Gould
        >
        > There's overwhelming sentiment throughout the workers' movement,
        > except among a small coterie of cranks, that the pressing question of
        > the moment is the removal of the Howard Government and its replacement
        > by a Labor government led by Kevin Rudd.
        >
        > Many on the left hope this will be accompanied by a strengthening of
        > the Greens in parliament.
        >
        > Alongside this lies the difficult circumstance that Kevin Rudd clearly
        > sees himself as an innovating conservative figure, and wishes to move
        > the general policy and practice of the Labor Party to the right.
        > Recent parliamentary leadership actions, such as declaring policies on
        > IR that weren't clearly decided on at the recent Labor federal
        > conference, clearly indicate that he wishes to establish his right to
        > decide policy rather than accept the policies decided by the
        > structures of the Labor Party, such as federal and state conferences.
        >
        > Rudd has also, in recent weeks, clearly indicated a desire to
        > marginalise union influence in the Labor Party, if that is at all
        > possible.
        >
        > What part of all this represents his own aspirations and what part is
        > an electoralist response to the relentless pressure of the media and
        > the ruling class is not entirely clear.
        >
        > It's possible that Rudd and Gillard are telling the unions that this
        > is necessary for the elections, but the reality after the election
        > will be more pro-union than the current rhetoric.
        >
        > Rudd and Gillard in these matters are Bonapartists, in the sense that
        > they balance between the different forces and the pressures exerted on
        > them. All this puts the trade unions and the Labor rank and file, both
        > left and right, in a difficult position.
        >
        > The desire of the left half of Australian society to get rid of Howard
        > and elect Rudd is palpably apparent to anyone with even half a brain.
        > Eccentric voices on the left, such as the man called Raven on the GLW
        > list, who talk recklessly about driving a wedge between the unions and
        > Labor are objectively playing into the hands of the reactionary forces
        > in Australian society.
        >
        > The overwhelming majority of the left half of Australian society,
        > including the most active people, of whom there are many tens of
        > thousands, recognise that it's necessary to work hard to defeat Howard
        > and elect a Labor government. It's not possible, however, to evade the
        > issues that have been served up to us by recent events. The ranks of
        > the movement, both left and right, and the ranks of the trade unions,
        > must unite to defeat the pressure coming in the final analysis from
        > both the ruling class and the media, to marginalise the unions in the
        > Labor Party. That's the political imperative of the moment, along with
        > the other political imperative of electing a Rudd Labor government.
        >
        > The opposite argument, that it would be a good thing if the unions
        > were pushed out of the Labor Party, is political poison from the point
        > of view of the future of the workers' movement. The result of such a
        > development wouldn't be any growth of a leftist alternative, it would
        > be the further demoralisation and retreat of the socialist forces and
        > the class-struggle militants in Australian society.
        >
        > If Howard gets in again, it is unlikely to lead to a radicalisation,
        > it's much more likely to lead to further demoralisation and retreat of
        > the left.
        >
        > The major current project of the ruling class, that of driving the
        > unions out of the Labor Party (even if Rudd is making major
        > concessions to that pressure) is much easier said than done,
        > thankfully from the socialist point of view. Left and right factions
        > of the Labor Party, both federally and in all six states and
        > territories, are factions in which union interests are very powerful
        > and often dominant.
        >
        > It's clear that some Labor politicians both left and right would like
        > to get rid of this "incubus" of trade union influence, as they see it,
        > but it's not in the nature of the unions, either left or right, and in
        > this instance their leaderships, to easily give up their long-held
        > prerogatives. Even most leaders of the trade union bureaucracy who in
        > the final analysis make their living out of the unions and to their
        > credit are emotionally committed to the institutions in which they've
        > spent most of their lives, understand that the union movement is
        > fighting for its life.
        >
        > It flows from this conjuncture of contradictory circumstances that the
        > leadership of important militant unions, both left and right, ought to
        > take the initiative for the formation in every state of something like
        > the Pledge Group of unions that existed in Victoria for a number of years.
        >
        > A national Pledge should focus on a kind of minimum program, which
        > should involve a "thus far and no further" kind of approach.
        >
        > The first plank should be the election of a Rudd government. The
        > second plank should be total defence of trade union affiliations,
        > interests and prerogatives in the Labor Party. The third plank should
        > be the insistence that the incoming Labor government adopt an
        > industrial relations policy acceptable to the overwhelming majority of
        > unions on key matters.
        >
        > The fourth plank should be vigorous opposition to further
        > privatisation. The immediate cutting edge to that battle is the latest
        > push for electricity privatisation in NSW.
        >
        > A fifth plank should be opposition to so-call public-private
        > partnerships, which usually mean that the public shoulders the burden
        > of debt and the private sector pockets any profits.
        >
        > The whole of the labour movement should be mobilised to fight around
        > this kind of minimum program. In the real world of politics, it's
        > obvious that the main momentum for such a mass Pledge-style movement
        > will come after the election, rather than before. However, with the
        > instructive experience of the past few weeks in front of us it seems
        > to me the preliminary work on such a movement should begin now, and it
        > has been forced on the unions and the ranks of the workers' movement
        > by the speed of events.
        >
        > PS. A very important aspect of the coming electoral battle will be the
        > question of the necessary comprehensive national exchange of
        > preferences between Labor and the Greens. Feral Greens in a few places
        > should be vigorously persuaded to accept a preference deal with Labor
        > for the general good.
        >
        > It is necessary, by negotiation, to remove any possible basis for the
        > kind of thoughtless actions by the Labor leadership in Victoria at the
        > last federal election, which led to the election of the Family First
        > senator instead of a Green, and contributed to Howard's (one hopes)
        > temporary grip on the Senate. It would be a tragedy if sectarianism on
        > the part of either Labor or the Greens damaged the chance of wresting
        > control of the Senate from Howard, given the importance of a
        > progressive majority in the Senate to make easier the necessary
        > campaign for progressive policies from a new Labor government.
        >
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • alanb1000
        ... Without a doubt. The aftermath of Howard s 2004 victory makes that obvious. ... Yes. This stuff is interesting. Concretely, it looks like individual
        Message 3 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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          "bobgould987" wrote:
          > If Howard gets in again, it is unlikely to lead to a
          > radicalisation, it's much more likely to lead to further
          > demoralisation and retreat of the left.

          Without a doubt.

          The aftermath of Howard's 2004 victory makes that obvious.

          > The major current project of the ruling class, that of driving the
          > unions out of the Labor Party (even if Rudd is making major
          > concessions to that pressure) is much easier said than done,
          > thankfully from the socialist point of view.

          Yes. This stuff is interesting.

          Concretely, it looks like individual unionists are being targetted,
          rather than "the unions" per se. Obviously we support their right to
          not be driven out of the ALP. That's not at all in contradiction with
          arguing that a break from the ALP is necessary. There is a difference
          between jumping and being pushed.

          ---
          I won't comment on Bob's "Pledge" proposals - if they get off the
          ground, that would be fine by me.

          Alan Bradley
        • glparramatta
          ... It goes without saying that Howard must be defeated, and Rudd government is preferable. But what do these ``pledge ites do if or when the ALP leadership
          Message 4 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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            --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "alanb1000"
            <alanb1000@...> wrote:
            >
            > "bobgould987" wrote:
            >
            > ---
            > I won't comment on Bob's "Pledge" proposals - if they get off the
            > ground, that would be fine by me.
            >
            > Alan Bradley
            >

            It goes without saying that Howard must be defeated, and Rudd
            government is preferable. But what do these ``pledge''ites do if or
            when the ALP leadership refuses to commit to such a ``pledge'' or
            backtracks later? What should be their reaction? Remain in the abusive
            relationship come what may, because the ALP really does love the
            unions till death do us part? Why would the ALP right (which is
            clearly for PPPs and privatisation) and the capitalist governments it
            leads take such posturing seriously if it not backed up a genuine
            willingness to confront them and mobilise the ranks politically, up to
            and including building an alternative? By all means attempt it
            (perhaps Bob can keep us informed what is being organised, so the left
            outside can offer solidarity) but what is the ``Plan B'' for militant
            unionists and socialists within the ALP?

            Norm.
          • alanb1000
            ... From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus ... As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, Sisyphus was compelled to roll a huge rock up a steep hill,
            Message 5 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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              "glparramatta" wrote:
              > but what is the ``Plan B'' for militant
              > unionists and socialists within the ALP?

              From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus
              ---
              As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, Sisyphus was compelled
              to roll a huge rock up a steep hill, but before he reached the top of
              the hill, the rock always escaped him and he had to begin again
              (Odyssey, xi. 593).
              ---

              Welcome to hell.

              Alan B
            • Tristan
              I am writing this in response to Bob Gould s constructive contribution to debate on the ALP and unions. I have been an ALP member for over 10 years now, and as
              Message 6 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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                I am writing this in response to Bob Gould's constructive contribution
                to debate on the ALP and unions.

                I have been an ALP member for over 10 years now, and as many rank and
                file ALP members would tell you, it's an often demoralising experience.
                Over the years rank and file members, and the ALP Left, have had to
                live with a succession of privatisations, including that of the
                Commonwealth Bank - against the party platform. We've had to live with
                the destruction of free higher education, an Accord that did not
                deliver to workers in return for wage restraint, ALP support for the
                1991 Gulf War: and now we have Rudd opposing pattern bargaining and
                proposing the maintenence of the ABCC. Then there's Labor's support for
                VSU, and the determination to privatise the rest of Telstra to aid in
                the creation of a part-private fibre-optic monopoly. (A public monopoly
                which can look to the public interest makes sense, but why not borrow
                instead of getting the private sector involved?)

                Against this, many in the Left, including myself, have perservered in
                the ALP. For me, my main form of activism today is promoting events
                and actions on the net, participating in major rallies and maintaining
                a profile as a freelance writer. Being a member of the ALP doesn't
                prevent me from engaging in this activism, and at the same time I
                contribute to Left influence in the Party.

                Despite the disappointments of the ALP on IR, many of the ACTU's
                proposals were accepted. The election of the ALP will be a step
                forward - even if it is 'one step forward, two steps back'. And the ALP
                looks to have adopted progressive positions on dental care, indigenous
                health and ending Australia's participation in the Iraq war.

                Despite this, though, the ALP platform commits the party to hold taxes
                down as a proportion of GDP. There's also Rudd's commitment to maintain
                a massive surplus, and the question of how spending will be maintained
                in the event that the mining boom ends; or in response to the
                additional health and welfare costs of an ageing population. We need
                more money for the states - for transport infrastructure, hospitals,
                government school teachers and infrastructure; and we need to restore
                pensions for the disabled and for single parents. We also need to
                raise pensions and wages to deal with increased power costs as a
                consequence of an emissions trading scheme. This is without
                considering that a carbon tax makes more sense than a market based
                schene. And we should look to resocialise communications infrastructure.

                I remember from long ago the old DSP line that the ALP is a 'prison'
                for the Left. Well, given that I have no parliamentary ambitions and
                don't have to hold my tongue, it's not a prison for me. But I think
                there are many in the Left who are uncomfortable with the policy
                direction under Rudd. I think the ALP Left needs to work out where it
                stands. Are we, or are we not socialists? Do we have any commitment
                to public ownership any more, or even to progressive redistribution
                thorugh progressive tax, the social wage, the welfare state...? If we
                do have such commitments, do we ever express them publicly, and does
                the Right compromise sufficiently to make our commitment to the ALP
                worthwhile. (I'm talking in terms of policy here, not just in terms of
                jobs)

                To begin with the ALP Left needs an independent profile and voice.
                It should have its own participatory website and maybe its own journal.
                And establishing committees to promote the ALP Left and also ALP
                branchs' involvement in progressive campaigns would also be a step
                forward. Left parliamentarians should strategically speak out on
                social issues to keep them in the public eye; to pressure the ALP Right
                to compromise on policy, and to relativise debate by making radical
                demands - and thus making progressive compromises seem 'reasonable'.
                This is the kind of role I see for the ALP Left, and this is the sort
                of thing I work for in the ALP.

                But the reality is that the ALP Left allows the discipline of the
                parliamentary party to silence, contain and marginalise it. And since
                so much of the broader Left has a great deal invested in the ALP - the
                result of this is crushing - and again, demoralising.

                I conclude a few things from this.

                To begin with, there is a need to reform the ALP and the ALP Left in
                the fashion I describe above.

                Secondly, I think there is a role in Australian politics for the kind
                of party that is represented in Europe by the Left parties of Germany
                and Sweden and the Socialists in Holland. If the ALP Left needs to
                compromise for the sake of discipline, it is a fair call to say there
                should be a formation outside of the ALP that can more readily lead
                debate, and lead a counter-hegemonic cultural struggle.

                Such a party would need to be aimed at the mainstream, and would need
                to be credible on economic management. This does not mean being
                conservative. It does mean realisitically assessing the balance of
                class forces, and the dynamics of the system, and only attempting what
                we're confident we can achieve - without sending the system into
                economic meltdown. With greater labour movement mobilisation we could
                fight for wage earner funds, subsidies and support for co-operative
                enterprises. Probably right now the ALP could get away with
                incremental tax reform, adding 1%-2% of GDP in new progressive taxes
                per term (ie: $10 billion to $20 billion) to pay for programs in
                health, education, aged care, transport, communications, welfare etc.
                But if the ALP will not lead debate, the rest of the Left might
                reasonably ask if it ought attempt to instead.

                I'm not arguing for union disaffiliation from the ALP, but I think that
                Left unions who find they cannot support ALP policy, and thus are
                already not affiliated, could consider supporting an alternative party.
                And I think there could be support from the welfare and social services
                sector also. I think there is a whole layer of people out there who
                would be attracted to a new Left party - people who have left the ALP
                or who don't find its treatment of rank and file members attractive;
                people who see the Greens as having the image of a 'single issue
                party'; unionists who'd like to see a party which was less equivocal in
                its support for organised labour.

                Assuming such a party could mobilise a whole layer of people not
                already involved in the ALP, the formation of such a party would be a
                very positive step. I'm not about to leave the ALP, and I don't think
                Socialist Alliance is orientated enough to the mainstream to form the
                crux of such a new formation. And I think the argument of 'wedging'
                unions and Labor neglects to consider the consequences of an ALP 'cut
                free' from unions, or the fact that such unions would simply be moving
                into the 'political wilderness' without a credible and mainstream
                alternative home. But even working within the ALP I'd feel a lot
                better if there was a credible political formation to Labor's left -
                which could lead debate, mobilise for popular campaigns in a way the
                ALP doesn't, involve activists who are disllusioned by or alienated by
                Labor, and act as a pole of attraction for the maintstream space to
                Labor's Left.

                Personally, I would love to see a Left Party/SPD coalition government
                in Germany, and already we've seen Social Democrat/Green/Left Party
                coalitions in Sweden. Perhaps, with much hard work, such a situation
                could arise in Australia also. And if it did, I don't think it would be
                a bad thing for a party to Labor's Left, yet still operating in the
                mainstream, to have leverage over a Labor government - perhaps even as
                partners in a coalition.


                Tristan Ewins
              • Ratbag Radio
                With all due respect to Bob Gould -=- and everyone knows how much due respect I owe him --what IF the trade unionsts want to really and truly cut their ties
                Message 7 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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                  With all due respect to Bob Gould -=- and everyone knows how much due
                  respect I owe him --what IF the trade unionsts want to really and
                  truly cut their ties with the ALP and Bob Gould says otherwise --as
                  he does always....How progressive is that?

                  Theres' also the issue that maybe, just maybe, the unions have very
                  good reasons for disaffiliating -- Look at the affiliate groups in the
                  Socialist Alliance, I'm sure Bob would approve of their actions and
                  insist that they all had just cause....

                  It comes down to a question raised on the New Matilda recently --
                  should the ALP dump the unions?

                  http://urltea.com/pik

                  On this list for years Gould has labeled as crazed anyone who even
                  suggested that the unions might consider leaving the ALP -- and now
                  when the issue is a lot bigger than this list Bob wants to close the
                  stable door.

                  Maybe if I can reformat the question this way so that you can get my
                  meaning:IF the unions started leaving the ALP, especially those of
                  some lefty substance, the VERY RATIONALE for socialists (such a
                  B.Gould) staying IN the ALP begins to whither very quickly. Their
                  whole raison d'etre crumbles.

                  The related question I think needs to be bluntly stated: what do the
                  unions get out of being affiliated to the ALP? You know what they get
                  -- they get what they got out of the last federal conference -- a sign
                  on statement for no strikee no start.

                  Back in 83 they got the Accord which besides destroying on the job
                  democracy and union organisation, rolled real wages back two decades.

                  However, IF the Labor lefts want to take up this issue and put up a
                  fight -- despite the fact that there's some dispute about who they
                  have to fight against -- then its all grist for the mill and it's
                  good to see that these people exist. But if the Labor lefts want to
                  go around to the union ranks lobbying them to stick with the ALP then
                  I think we should pass.

                  I think its likely that the richest PM ever (by default anyway) to
                  occupy the lodge may want to dump the unions from power shares in the
                  ALP. I think it's the case that the ACTU is trying to combat that by
                  posing relevant by selling out unionism...by being servile and passive
                  and self interested

                  So the exercise cuts both ways. The conundrum is that IF the ALP
                  actively begins to dump the unions what can the party offer the
                  bourgeoisie thats' organically different from what the Coalition has
                  on offer? The Alp's political niche is that it offers a way to dupe
                  working people by posing as a class aligned party. Take that away and
                  they are exposed for what they are -- another bourgeois party waiting
                  in line to rule the capitalist state.

                  dave riley
                • rogerraven
                  A useful critique can be derived from this example of disingenuous and self-serving Hard Labor propaganda. Fortunately such contributions have become
                  Message 8 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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                    A useful critique can be derived from this example of disingenuous and
                    self-serving Hard Labor propaganda. Fortunately such contributions
                    have become relatively uncommon on this list.

                    Firstly, it would now seem too late for any compromises. Any change
                    to resolve the tensions created by Rudd and Gillard between the party
                    and the unions will require an effective backdown by one side. If by
                    Rudd et al., it can and will be exploited by the Coalition; if by the
                    unions workers and progressive people will lose.

                    Secondly, "power versus principle" long ago became "power" at any
                    price, without any principle. A short time ago, Hard Laborites would
                    have been urging the election of a Beazley Labor Government, before
                    that Latham, now Rudd is the Anointed One. Beazley, like Latham, is
                    now at least forgotten and preferably an unperson. Such an easy
                    change in allegiances suggests neither consistency or principle.

                    Hawke reinforced the presidential style of campaigning and government;
                    under Rudd it has become infallibility in doctrinal matters - he can
                    dictate to anyone in the party about anything.

                    Secondly, there is no real dispute – except by Hard Laborite cranks -
                    that Rudd is genuinely and deeply opposed to socialism, allowing of
                    course for the individual capacity for self-delusion. He has said
                    that "I am not a socialist. I have never been a socialist and I never
                    will be a socialist."

                    Thirdly, to actively support someone so obviously opposed to leftist
                    principles is a dereliction of duty as well as being an elementary act
                    of folly. What is the point in replacing Howard with a clone?
                    "Trust us" is a message that politicians like Howard, Gillard and Rudd
                    have been using for decades; let us at last learn.

                    Fourthly, to combine a Pledge arrangement with "the election of a Rudd
                    government" (note well - NOT "a Labor government") is no more than a
                    shabby political con job. This disingenuous proposition focusses on
                    getting power for Rudd (plus an implicit endorsement of his anti-union
                    position), with the interests of working people being left to hope and
                    a "Pledge".

                    Once in office, K. Rudd and his supporters would be in a much better
                    position to implement truly anti-union policies. They'll have the
                    money and positions to give jobs to the boys and girls (Combet,
                    Harker, et al) and can rely on tremendous support from business and
                    the bourgeois media. Rudd already has Rupert Murdoch's endorsement.
                    Yet we are called on to use a non-existent "Pledge" to justify the
                    reality of a deliberate focus on the Great Helmsman rather than his
                    Party. Has this not been for decades the classic Hard Labor ploy for
                    using then betraying Labor leftists? Note Gould's focus on "the
                    election of a Rudd government" (note well - NOT "a Labor government").

                    Consider the subsequent fate of Mighell – who'd prior to this year's
                    ALP National Conference co-sponsored an open letter to conference
                    delegates urging them to reject Rudd's "Work Choices lite" and "defend
                    the right to strike". Despite telling the conference he was backing
                    the platform out of loyalty to Gillard and to help Labor win the
                    election (just as A-P Gould is calling on us to do), Rudd took the
                    first opportunity not merely to criticise him, but to force him out of
                    the ALP.

                    Consider the behaviour of one of K. Rudd's staffers (from Crikey)::
                    BEGINS
                    When it comes to a threat or two there is no beating Lachlan
                    Harris, a lawyer from Sydney who also learned his politics in the
                    delicate school of the NSW Branch of the ALP. Harris joined the staff
                    of front bencher Robert McClelland before moving on to help the shadow
                    Treasurer Wayne Swan who in turn lent him to a new Opposition Leader.
                    The bully boy style was illustrated perfectly in Alan Ramsey's column
                    of a few weeks ago detailing conversations with staff of the Sydney
                    Sun Herald who dared to run a story questioning the Rudd version of
                    leaving his childhood farm. It is worth reading this excellent piece
                    (see:
                    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/the-story-rudd-tried-to-kill/2007/03/30/1174761750893.html)
                    to get the flavour of the true character of those who advise the
                    quietly spoken and scholarly Labor Leader. This extract will give you
                    the flavour:
                    Walsh began phoning Rudd's staff at 8.15am. She tracked down
                    Alister Jordan and told him what their story was. The paper wanted
                    Rudd's response, she said. She emailed Jordan a list of questions. But
                    it was Harris who phoned 90 minutes later, "ranting like a lunatic".
                    Her "insulting" questions were "disgusting" and "impugned Kevin's
                    integrity". "How dare" she ask them. "Are you calling him a liar?" And
                    "Kevin's going to hit the roof". He was "so disgusted", Harris said,
                    he wouldn't discuss it any longer. With that, he hung up. Three hours
                    later, about 1pm, Harris phoned Walsh back in "the same feral,
                    belligerent mood". He went through a detailed time line of Rudd's
                    recall after his father's death in February 1969. However, it was
                    non-attributable, "on deep background only". And if the paper decided
                    to publish, knowing what they were being told, "we will regard it is a
                    deliberate malicious assault" on Rudd. If this happened, "we'll have
                    100 people ready to roll tomorrow morning to trash you and your paper.
                    ENDS

                    Back in February, quoting The Australian, "In his most explicit
                    disavowal of union ties since winning the Labor leadership, the
                    federal Opposition Leader said he had "never been close" to any union
                    and his leadership victory in December was proof unions had "much
                    less" influence over the party than most people thought. The
                    parliamentary party determines the alternative policy for the next
                    election, not the ACTU,..."

                    According to the WSWS, "The 2007 conference's final act was to pass a
                    resolution allowing the party's national executive to parachute a
                    series of "star" right-wing and ex-military candidates into
                    parliamentary seats. All remaining 21 pre-selection ballots in New
                    South Wales, the most populous state, were taken out of the hands of
                    local electorate committees. Having just expelled scores of members in
                    the Newcastle area who objected to the similar ousting of a long-time
                    MP at the state level, the Labor machine is moving to make such head
                    office interventions the norm."

                    Why should a Rudd in victory abandon methods that he would seem fully
                    entitled to believe won it for him? Any anti-Rudd Pledge or faction
                    would suffer the same fate as Mighell. To quote Kev himself "action
                    speaks louder than any words".

                    Fifthly, though, to have independents and minor parties again hold the
                    balance of power in the Senate would seem a very useful goal. It
                    would also be much more likely both to produce good laws and to hinder
                    bad ones.

                    While the insult "Feral Greens in a few places should be vigorously
                    persuaded to accept a preference deal with Labor for the general
                    good." is somewhat counterbalanced by the acknowledgement of
                    "thoughtless actions by the Labor leadership in Victoria", he
                    overlooks – presumably deliberately – that Family First won the last
                    Senate position in Victoria at the 2004 election because every party –
                    including the Democrats – had preferenced the Greens last. In
                    contrast to Labor, the Greens deserve no blame whatever for that.

                    Last but certainly not least, it remains a gross error to think of
                    elections as something won at election time.

                    Especially note that Rudd expressed similar views in the AFR six years
                    ago – presumably no-one who mattered thought then that it mattered;
                    now, when everyone can see that it does matter, it is too late.


                    A simple question for Gould: does he support and endorse a
                    socio-economic system in which the means of production and the
                    distribution of wealth are subject to social control, whether through
                    popular collectives or via the state? "Yes" or "No'" will suffice;
                    we'll take silence as a "No".
                  • alanb1000
                    I m getting a sense that people are missing the point here. Rudd ( Ruddism ) needs to be opposed - within the unions, within the ALP, where ever. I would go so
                    Message 9 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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                      I'm getting a sense that people are missing the point here.

                      Rudd ("Ruddism") needs to be opposed - within the unions, within the
                      ALP, where ever. I would go so far as to say *especially* within the
                      ALP.

                      We want that fight to be fought, and fought to the end. Win or lose.
                      Then we will deal with the results.

                      In that fight, we are not neutral. We want to see Ruddism defeated, and
                      we are firmly on the side of Ruddism's opponents, in this regard, at
                      least.

                      Of course, the biggest problem with all this is the high probability
                      that the fight won't be fought, or won't be fought to the end. I think
                      that sooner or later Rudd will have the facts of life explained to him
                      by ALP warlords like Bill Ludwig - probably after the election.

                      But if it is fought, the fallout could be interesting.

                      Alan B
                    • Shane H
                      Alan I get that sense too - the question is where is the working class in all this. Dave can say rhetorically what the effect of the unions leaving the ALP
                      Message 10 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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                        Alan

                        I get that sense too - the question is where is the working class in
                        all this. Dave can say rhetorically what the effect of the unions
                        leaving the ALP would be - Bob has proposed that it would lead to
                        further demoralisation - is Dave suggesting otherwise. Of course
                        Bob's claim that 'feral' Greens will sabotage a preference deal is
                        obviously disingenuous when he knows that it is the hard men of the
                        Labour right who would rather preference Family First or even the DLP
                        than the Greens (and then they can cite their lack of control over
                        the Senate as the reason the IR laws can't be changed.

                        I will reply to Roger separately re the class question.

                        Cheers

                        Shane


                        --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "alanb1000"
                        <alanb1000@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > I'm getting a sense that people are missing the point here.
                        >
                        > Rudd ("Ruddism") needs to be opposed - within the unions, within
                        the
                        > ALP, where ever. I would go so far as to say *especially* within
                        the
                        > ALP.
                        >
                        > We want that fight to be fought, and fought to the end. Win or
                        lose.
                        > Then we will deal with the results.
                        >
                        > In that fight, we are not neutral. We want to see Ruddism defeated,
                        and
                        > we are firmly on the side of Ruddism's opponents, in this regard,
                        at
                        > least.
                        >
                        > Of course, the biggest problem with all this is the high
                        probability
                        > that the fight won't be fought, or won't be fought to the end. I
                        think
                        > that sooner or later Rudd will have the facts of life explained to
                        him
                        > by ALP warlords like Bill Ludwig - probably after the election.
                        >
                        > But if it is fought, the fallout could be interesting.
                        >
                        > Alan B
                        >
                      • Shane H
                        Hi It was Dave who pointed out what an oppotunity all this might be for the Greens and has been collecting a lot of good ecosocialist material - so thanks for
                        Message 11 of 28 , Jun 5, 2007
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                          Hi

                          It was Dave who pointed out what an oppotunity all this might be for
                          the Greens and has been collecting a lot of good ecosocialist
                          material - so thanks for that. But as I said to Alan the class
                          question is being overlooked.

                          --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "rogerraven"
                          <rogergen@...> wrote:

                          > Firstly, it would now seem too late for any compromises.

                          This kinds of black/white thinking never leads us far. Its all about
                          the balance of forces not win/lose.

                          > Secondly, "power versus principle" long ago became "power" at any
                          > price, without any principle.

                          This is certainly true - but what do the working class make of it
                          all? Mostly they seem to me to be completely indifferent and much
                          more interested in 'Australian Idol' than the election results. As
                          Bob says those with any political consciousness will vote for the ALP
                          and the most political conscious recognise that - at this point - its
                          what we want as well. When they are elected workers will be better
                          off than they would be under Howard (not by much but still better
                          off) and then there will be a new struggle.

                          > Secondly, there is no real dispute – except by Hard Laborite
                          >cranks - that Rudd is genuinely and deeply opposed to socialism,
                          >allowing of course for the individual capacity for self-delusion.
                          >He has said that "I am not a socialist. I have never been a
                          >socialist and I never will be a socialist."

                          The only ones I have heard suggest Rudd might be a socialist are the
                          far-right - and Rudd's politics are not at issue. The question is how
                          many members of the working class think of themselves as socialists
                          and what the hell so we do about that?

                          > Thirdly, to actively support someone so obviously opposed to leftist
                          > principles is a dereliction of duty as well as being an elementary
                          >act of folly. What is the point in replacing Howard with a clone?
                          > "Trust us" is a message that politicians like Howard, Gillard and
                          >Rudd have been using for decades; let us at last learn.

                          Who is the 'us' in this? I expect most of us on this list see thru
                          the message of trust as the everyday ravings of bourgeois
                          politicians - as do most workers. Given that we have learned this
                          lesson - what do we do NEXT especially when most workers are
                          indifferent?

                          > Fourthly, to combine a Pledge arrangement with "the election of a
                          >Rudd government" (note well - NOT "a Labor government") is no more
                          >than a shabby political con job. This disingenuous proposition
                          >focusses on getting power for Rudd (plus an implicit endorsement of
                          >his anti-union position), with the interests of working people being
                          >left to hope and a "Pledge".

                          I'm not particularly concerned about strategies in the ALP but its
                          ridiculous to caricature ideas. Whatever Bob's faults the idea that
                          he endorses Rudd's anti-union politics is stupid. Ok so the pledge
                          idea is stupid, you say, so what are you suggesting? What ARE working
                          people hoping for out there and how do we tap into that?

                          > Once in office, K. Rudd and his supporters would be in a much better
                          > position to implement truly anti-union policies. They'll have the
                          > money and positions to give jobs to the boys and girls (Combet,
                          > Harker, et al) and can rely on tremendous support from business and
                          > the bourgeois media.

                          Yes bourgeois politics as usual - but thats a struggle in the future
                          since there's no viable socialist alternative being presented at
                          these elections (nor will there ever be such I suspect). The question
                          is what should we say NOW that positions ourselves for that struggle?
                          I assume thats what BG's pledge is getting at? What are you
                          suggesting?

                          > Consider the subsequent fate of Mighell – Rudd took the
                          > first opportunity not merely to criticise him, but to force him out
                          >of the ALP.

                          So what will Mighell do now? He has offered money to the Greens - and
                          has joined them in the past. This is encouraging for my Green project
                          but I think we can be pretty certain he won't join - and he'll be
                          back in the ALP 'in due course'. Why? Well either its because he is a
                          opportunist sell out or because he thinks, as a militant trade
                          unionist, that he can get the best deal for his members that way.
                          Maybe he's wrong about that but then someone should be explaining
                          that to him and his members (assuming we have the gumption) not
                          rabbiting on about how awful the ALP leadership is. They are a bunch
                          of right-wing thugs - you don't get to the top in capitalist politics
                          if you're not. So what?

                          There's a lot of theatrics around the Mighell thing and I am sure
                          there are limits to how many the ALP leadership can expel especially
                          on the grounds of a 'pledge' to defend trade unions, abolish IR laws
                          and anti-privatisation (assuming there is a core of support among
                          working class people for such things). If the ALP is elected there
                          won't be explusions of militant unionists unless the class struggle
                          really heats up - in which case expelling them would potentially
                          create a 'political centre' but now we really are speculating.

                          Cheers

                          Shane
                        • Rohan Gaiswinkler
                          Alan B: I m getting a sense that people are missing the point here.Rudd ( Ruddism ) needs to be opposed - within the unions, within the ALP, where ever. I
                          Message 12 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                            Alan B:

                            I'm getting a sense that people are missing the point here.Rudd ("Ruddism") needs to be opposed - within the unions, within the ALP, where ever.
                            I would go so far as to say *especially* within the ALP.

                            Me:

                            Are you saying that Rudd represents something new because I see him more as just the latest face to front Labor's steady and longterm slide towards pro-capital and anti-worker policy.


                            Alan B

                            We want that fight to be fought, and fought to the end. Win or lose. Then we will deal with the results.
                            In that fight, we are not neutral. We want to see Ruddism defeated, and we are firmly on the side of Ruddism's opponents, in this regard, at least.

                            Me:

                            Rudd defeated. Sounds good... but replaced by who exactly? Gillard? Would that represent a victory? I'm not trying to be smart here Alan. I'm asking this in an honest kind of way, not in a snearing way.

                            Alan B:

                            Of course, the biggest problem with all this is the high probability that the fight won't be fought, or won't be fought to the end. I think that sooner or later Rudd will have the facts of life explained to him by ALP warlords like Bill Ludwig - probably after the election.

                            Me:

                            What difference does it make who the captain of the ALP ship is when virtually all of the crew on board agree that the destination is "successful neoliberal Australian economy"?

                            I'm confused as whether the crappy ALP is the disease. Maybe this state of affairs is actually the symptom of a structually weakened Australian working class in the face of the global neoliberal assault by capial against labour?

                            But the trouble with putting it this way is that I sound to much like one of those, "This is the best we can get for you, comrades," ALP union bureaucrats.




                            ---------------------------------
                            How would you spend $50,000 to create a more sustainable environment in Australia? Go to Yahoo!7 Answers and share your idea.

                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • philip
                            rudd will do a republic second term ... best call for a women s legislature. social justice. philip [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            Message 13 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                              rudd will do a republic second term ... best call for a women's legislature.
                              social justice.
                              philip



                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Ratbag Radio
                              ... I m suggesting that demoralisation -- FURTHER demoralisation is inevitable -- unless there is a way out There are many options that could be demoralising.
                              Message 14 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                                --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Shane H"
                                <chen9692000@...> wrote:

                                > I get that sense too - the question is where is the working class in
                                > all this. Dave can say rhetorically what the effect of the unions
                                > leaving the ALP would be - Bob has proposed that it would lead to
                                > further demoralisation - is Dave suggesting otherwise. Of course
                                > Bob's claim that 'feral' Greens will sabotage a preference deal is
                                > obviously disingenuous when he knows that it is the hard men of the
                                > Labour right who would rather preference Family First or even the DLP
                                > than the Greens (and then they can cite their lack of control over
                                > the Senate as the reason the IR laws can't be changed.

                                I'm suggesting that demoralisation -- FURTHER demoralisation is
                                inevitable -- unless there is a way out There are many options that
                                could be demoralising. For Bob it would indeed be demoralising for a
                                union -- any union -- to leave the ALP, but for me it would not. So
                                you have to consider which POV you are framing. In the main I doubt
                                that there would be many unionists who would be miffed if their union
                                left the ALP. In effect ALP affiliation serves the primary function
                                to shepherd a career path for a few and enhance ALP coffers. The
                                ability of unionism -- let alone militant trade unionism -- to rule
                                anything inside the ALP hasn't been the case for a very long time
                                indeed. So why pay for the privilege that is not granted?

                                Without going back in time, its pretty obvious that Work Choices Lite
                                and the subsequent add ons engineered by Rudd and Gillard, are not in
                                the trade union interest no matter which way you try to sell them.

                                So why shouldn't unions tell the ALP they don't want a bar of it?
                                Thats' what they're there for, aint it? Its' a question of
                                independence -- something Bob Gould has forgotten all about.

                                However, it's too early to start talking up this disaffiliation option
                                because we don't know what gives. We also need to note that the push
                                is on in the CPSU to AFFILIATE to the ALP with as little regard to
                                consulting the ranks as the union leadership can manage. So theres' a
                                few balls in the air at the moment and we don't know which way they'll
                                fall.

                                But this discussion began because B.Gould formulated it as being a
                                attempt by the bourgeoisie to 'split" the ALP from its trade union
                                affiliates. Is that whats' happening such that little Ruddy and Julia
                                G are victims of a naughty class based conspiracy to deprive them of
                                their true believer co thinkers in the unions?

                                Bob must think we're a pack of fools. If there is this push, then
                                whose side is is Gillard and Rudd on? Not the unions -- can we at
                                least agree to that.

                                But for Bob, as soon as you enter the hallowed halls of the ALP, class
                                divide gets all mushy and dissipates into a consensual blob where you
                                aren't supposed to raise such matters.

                                You can't tell me that that isn't a recipe for demoralisation.Sue
                                Bolton said it here on another thread: workers attracted back to
                                voting Labor over the issue of Work Choices will be thinking again
                                because they can see such little difference between the ALP's IR
                                policy and Howards.

                                So you have to address the question that demoralsiation is already
                                setting in -- well before any union considers its ALP affiliation.
                                After so long campaigning against Work Choices & the hopes that that
                                activity raised we get a watered down version of it as the only one
                                the ALP is willing to offer.

                                And Bob says the way to avoid FURTHER demoralisation is to stick with
                                it. Why? What can possibly change inside the ALP that is ever likely
                                to make it a place where workers rights are going to be respected.

                                However, the games afoot -- I think something is brewing. Yheres' no
                                sure way it is going to go but, as I keep saying, it's a long time
                                before the poll.

                                As for the Socialist Alliance -- I draw your attention to what we are
                                doing now, which is trying to get another NDA off the ground over the
                                right to strike-- especially since Gillard insists NDA's like that
                                will be illegal under a Rudd Labor government...I think thats' the
                                best call, don't you Bob?

                                dave riley
                              • Tristan
                                ... wrote: re: the union affiliation to the ALP - I think this is a tough one to call. On the one hand, union disaffiliation from the ALP
                                Message 15 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                                  --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Ratbag Radio"
                                  <ratbagradio@...> wrote:


                                  re: the union affiliation to the ALP - I think this is a tough one to
                                  call. On the one hand, union disaffiliation from the ALP could
                                  provide an opportunity for unions to openly support the Greens, or a
                                  new party of the Left: parties who are more willing to defend the
                                  rights of labour and respond firmly to the threat of climate change.

                                  In the event that we had a new Left party, I'd like to imagine that
                                  with union support such a formation could finally actively campaign
                                  on issues of social wage expansion, provision of infrastructure,
                                  improvements to welfare, restoring IR regulation - with comprehensive
                                  protections for vulnerable workers, progressive restructuring of the
                                  tax system, even economic democracy... Such issues, at the moment,
                                  are marginalised even further than otherwise would be the case by the
                                  willingness of the ALP Left to allow itself to be 'contained' by
                                  Right-domianted processes.

                                  On the other hand, if we're only talking about the Greens there's
                                  still the problem of whether they can gain traction on any issue
                                  other than the environment. Already the AMWU and ETU are supporting
                                  the Greens without disaffiliating - but the Greens' statements on IR
                                  have received little coverage. At the moment the Greens are polling
                                  around 9%. At their strongest they were polling around 12%. This is
                                  a good place to start, but I can't help but wonder whether the Greens
                                  will ever make sufficient inroads into Labor's working class
                                  heartland. Also, even if they Greens won Lower House seats, this
                                  would probably be to the detriment of the ALP Left (presumably
                                  reducing its influence on policy), and would provide an opportunity
                                  only really if they managed to secure the balance of power. So you
                                  can see it's a very complex picture.

                                  Again - on the issue of affiliation: this is only meaningful if the
                                  ALP Left is serious about 'getting the numbers'. If the ALP did 'get
                                  the numbers', if would have to be careful in its method of
                                  leadership. It would have to placate the Right enough to ward off
                                  division - as the Right currently has to with the Left. It would have
                                  to grapple seriously with the realities of economic management -
                                  providing reforms that were not destabilising. But even while being
                                  careful and responsible - it would need a long term vision of what
                                  democratic socialist reform would look like. Anyway, I think I've
                                  said this before - so I'll move on.

                                  If the ALP Left was actually WILLING to take on the responsibility of
                                  leadership, it could realistically achieve reforms such as enabling
                                  pattern bargaining, restoring more comprehensive Award protection,
                                  establishing a co-operative development fund, achieving maybe $10b-
                                  $20b of progressive tax reform - ploughing the proceeds into health,
                                  education, infrastructure, aged care, public and community
                                  broadcasting, media diversification, welfare. The gains would be
                                  limited in the big picture of an economy valued at over a $1
                                  trillion - but they would be significant. More significant than
                                  anything we've seen since Whitlam. And they could be built upon
                                  during successive terms of Labor government.

                                  The question, though, is whether the leaders of the ALP Left even
                                  WANT to get the numbers, or whether they think they would stumble
                                  upon having to take the lead on hard decisions; or that their
                                  government would face destabilisation that would inevitably bring it
                                  undone. Perhaps they think it is better to push consensus politics
                                  in the ALP.

                                  If this is the case then they could do a lot better: the right to
                                  pattern bargaining and the abolition of the ABCC are pretty core
                                  issues. If the ALP Left is serious about increasing its policy
                                  influence on a large scale, and pressing for leadership of the party -
                                  then perhaps it would be worthwhile for unaffiliated Left unions to
                                  affiliate. Perhaps that could even lead to control of National
                                  Conference. But again, I'm not even sure all the Left is serious
                                  about getting control.

                                  The point is that affiliating Left unions such as the CPSU to the ALP
                                  makes sense if this will contribute meaningfully to Left influence at
                                  Conference and in the Parliamentary Labor Party... And if this will
                                  lead to real progressive policy outcomes for working Australians...
                                  But if there is no prospect of gaining further policy influence, then
                                  it begs the question of what the point of the whole process is. This
                                  is something that only ALP Left leaders can answer: but the decision-
                                  making processes are probably so centralised that you're unlikely to
                                  get a clear answer.

                                  Regardless of this, the ALP Left should not allow itself to
                                  be "contained" and "neutralised" by consensus or Right dominance. If
                                  we don't speak out it will only further and hasten our
                                  marginalisation, demoralise out members, dilute and ultimately
                                  liquidate our ideological base... Before we know it, we won't even
                                  know what we stand for anymore - because there simply aren't any
                                  forums left where we actually talk about what we believe...

                                  And if the Left continues to simply be 'contained' and 'neutralised'
                                  through ALP processes, then yes - forming an alternative party, or
                                  directing some union resources to the Greens - needs to be seriously
                                  considered.

                                  Tristan
                                • rogerraven
                                  ... Gould has repeatedly declined to answer my question as to whether he s a socialist, so it would seem very very stupid to reject the idea that he endorses
                                  Message 16 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                                    > Hi
                                    ...
                                    > I'm not particularly concerned about strategies in the ALP but its
                                    > ridiculous to caricature ideas. Whatever Bob's faults the idea that
                                    > he endorses Rudd's anti-union politics is stupid. Ok so the pledge
                                    > idea is stupid, you say, so what are you suggesting? What ARE working
                                    > people hoping for out there and how do we tap into that?
                                    >.......
                                    > Shane

                                    Gould has repeatedly declined to answer my question as to whether he's
                                    a socialist, so it would seem very very stupid to reject the idea that
                                    he endorses Rudd's anti-union politics. His whole approach is to
                                    work for concrete support for Ruddism on the basis of a vague
                                    suggestion of some so far nonexistent grouping. That is itself
                                    ridiculous - a caricature of any serious and sensible leftist position.

                                    Again, my point is that it is completely unrealistic to be a serious
                                    participant in an election if we only appear at election time. There
                                    has to be a continuing and publicly visible focus on at least a few
                                    key issues. Venezuela is not a key issue, nor is East Timor.
                                    Housing affordability certainly is, climate change certainly is.

                                    I've covered all that more than a few times in previous posts, which
                                    are all still there.
                                  • alanb1000
                                    ... him more as just the latest face to front Labor s steady and longterm slide towards pro-capital and anti-worker policy. ... I think he represents a cruder
                                    Message 17 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                                      Rohan Gaiswinkler wrote:
                                      > Are you saying that Rudd represents something new because I see
                                      him more as just the latest face to front Labor's steady and longterm
                                      slide towards pro-capital and anti-worker policy.
                                      >

                                      I think he represents a cruder than previously version of this.

                                      His openness about it makes it easier to fight, although the
                                      underlying problem is harder to address.

                                      > Rudd defeated. Sounds good... but replaced by who exactly?
                                      Gillard? Would that represent a victory? I'm not trying to be smart
                                      here Alan. I'm asking this in an honest kind of way, not in a
                                      snearing way.
                                      >

                                      The fight is the important part. It would require the ALP left to get
                                      their act together to a degree they haven't for decades.

                                      They might lose, but who cares? The worst that could happen would be
                                      that they all get expelled, and have to organise a new party... ;)

                                      Alan B
                                    • Ratbag Radio
                                      Federal Politics: Dumping the Unions By: Andrew West Wednesday 30 May 2007 It s been a long time since the Australian Labor Party
                                      Message 18 of 28 , Jun 6, 2007
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                                        Federal Politics: Dumping the Unions
                                        By: Andrew West <http://www.newmatilda.com/>
                                        Wednesday 30 May 2007

                                        It's been a long time since the Australian Labor Party was the Party
                                        of Australian labour.

                                        Ever since former NSW Premier Neville Wran and former Prime Ministers
                                        Bob Hawke and Paul Keating began `walking both sides of the street' —
                                        as the spin doctors described their simultaneous courting of Big
                                        Business and hoodwinking of Middle Australia — the ALP has been almost
                                        as much a corporate Party as the Liberals.

                                        With the solitary exception of WorkChoices, the interests of major
                                        corporations have increasingly prevailed in Labor's collective
                                        thinking over the interests of ordinary working stiffs — whether they
                                        wear blue, white or pink collars; whether they're paid $30,000 or
                                        $60,000 per annum.

                                        I'm still waiting for a prominent Labor politician to denounce the
                                        obscenity, the sheer immorality, of the $33.5 million salary paid to
                                        Macquarie Bank chief Allan Moss — a money shuffler who
                                        <http://www.smh.co.au/news/business/the-fineprint-a-33m-pay-cheque/2007/05/15/1178995158143.html>
                                        thinks he is worth 335 life-saving doctors. Even John Howard denounced
                                        his salary as `over the top.'

                                        So why keep up the pretence? Why maintain a formal relationship
                                        between the ALP and the unions, which is just as damaging for both of
                                        them?

                                        As a unionist of some 20 years standing, I believe in the unions'
                                        right to political activism, to influence and even pressure
                                        politicians for the benefit of working families. They have as much
                                        right as corporate Australia to get the best deal for their
                                        constituency. Even with falling union membership, unions still
                                        represent a good 20 per cent of the workforce, which is a far bigger
                                        cohort than the handful of obscenely paid executives represented by
                                        the business lobbyists.

                                        But unions are ill-served by a formal affiliation with Labor. Put
                                        simply, the Party takes advantage of union members, while sticking a
                                        thumb in their eyes when it suits the ALP politically.

                                        For example, at the 2003 and 2007 NSW State elections, the union
                                        hierarchy endorsed and campaigned for a Labor Government that had
                                        devastated the Common Law rights of injured workers to sue negligent
                                        employers. While Bob Carr and Morris Iemma's Governments took generous
                                        donations from the top end of town, especially the property
                                        developers, injured — often permanently maimed — workers were told the
                                        loss of a limb, eyesight or hearing was worth a desultory sum.

                                        In 2001, in response to the Carr Government's proposed changes to
                                        WorkCover, the Law Society of NSW highlighted
                                        <http://www.lawsociety.com.au/page.asp?PartID=475> the plight of a
                                        25-year-old machinist who, having lost two fingers in an industrial
                                        accident, would go from receiving total compensation of almost
                                        $300,000 to receiving … nothing.

                                        NSW Treasurer Michael Costa has never denied — or, more precisely, has
                                        never been able to deny — telling union representatives that he
                                        believes the State has 20 per cent more public employees than it
                                        needs. Once the Federal election is out of the way, Costa will bare
                                        his fangs.

                                        Thanks to Fiona Katauskas <http://www.fionakatauskas.com/>

                                        As a tariff-slashing Federal Treasurer, Paul Keating helped shrink the
                                        industrial workforce of the Illawarra from about 30,000 employees to
                                        about 9000, while raising its unemployment level to 10 per cent.
                                        Later, out of office and utterly unremorseful, he told the retrenched
                                        workers — mostly middle-aged men with limited skills, whose lives he
                                        had upended — to simply get other jobs
                                        <http://workers.labor.net.au/63/a_interview_keating.html>. The
                                        Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) squealed at the time
                                        but, come the next election, still wrote a cheque to Keating's old Party.

                                        Rather than forking over vast sums in annual affiliation fees and
                                        unconditional campaign donations to the ALP machine, unions would be
                                        better off endorsing specific candidates, including progressive
                                        Independents, who support a pro-working families agenda. Union members
                                        could study a candidate's record of support for employee rights, and
                                        their position on outrageous executive perks and tax lurks — then
                                        decide who truly deserves union endorsement. Corporate Labor flunkies
                                        need not apply.

                                        The current system of union affiliation works well for certain
                                        compliant union officials who hanker for seats in Parliament or
                                        well-paid, part-time sinecures on government boards. But it
                                        compromises the unions' ability to defend the interests of working
                                        Australians by, for example, opposing free trade deals that Labor MPs
                                        embrace but which destroy
                                        entire industries.

                                        Nor is this kind of union affiliation a useful relationship for the
                                        ALP, which can be characterised as representing a sectional — if
                                        worthy — interest. As the distinguished historian of Australian
                                        liberalism, Judith Brett, has explained, the strength of Robert
                                        Menzies's Party was that it could claim to represent /all/
                                        Australians, not merely one social class or interest group.

                                        A Labor Party with cordial, but informal, relations with the union
                                        movement could market itself as a broader social democratic coalition,
                                        attracting talent from outside the current narrow gene pool of former
                                        paid union officials (as opposed to workplace delegates) and
                                        ex-political staffers.

                                        In this current round of Federal Labor pre-selections, the cozy
                                        arrangement between the Head Office machine and union bosses endured.
                                        The pre-selection of ACTU Secretary Greg Combet for a Hunter Valley
                                        seat is easily defensible — his leadership of the campaign for justice
                                        for victims of the asbestos company James Hardie elevated him above
                                        the ruck to the status of genuine community leader. But you would have
                                        to work overtime to justify as good for Labor's image or in the
                                        interests of working families the endorsements of AMWU boss Doug
                                        Cameron, Australian Workers Union heavy Bill Shorten and Combet's
                                        ambitious Deputy, Richard Marles.

                                        Will Cameron, for example, pledge to vote against any free trade deals
                                        that destroy what is left of Australian manufacturing, even if it
                                        means violating caucus solidarity and risking expulsion from the
                                        Party? Will Shorten and Marles insist on a tax system that offers
                                        genuine relief to Middle Australia, while demanding their friends in
                                        the executive suites finally pay their fair share?

                                        In Keating's old seat of Blaxland, the NSW machine passed over one of
                                        the most impressive intellects in Australian jurisprudence, University
                                        of NSW Law Professor George Williams, in favour of Bob Carr's former
                                        staffer-turned-corporate affairs operative, Jason Clare. We all await
                                        his penetrating insights into the national debate.

                                        If Labor wants to be a Party of no fixed values or ideology,
                                        ingratiating itself with big business while populating itself with
                                        careerists from the union hierarchy, let it do so without taking
                                        advantage of the resources of rank and file union members.

                                        /Andrew West will be appearing at the Sydney Writers' Festival, in
                                        conversation with Radio National /Breakfast/'s Fran Kelly about his book
                                        /Inside The Lifestyles of the Rich and Tasteful/ (Pluto, 2006), a study
                                        of the clash inside Australia's upper middle class between
                                        `materialists' and `culturists.' 1:00pm, Friday 1 June 2007, The Mint,
                                        10 Macquarie Street, Sydney./


                                        About the author

                                        *Andrew West* writes regularly for /New Matilda/.
                                      • bobgould987
                                        By Bob Gould The lines are being drawn on pushing unions out of the Labor Party and Riley, Raven and their mates are on the side of the conservatives in this
                                        Message 19 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                          By Bob Gould

                                          The lines are being drawn on pushing unions out of the Labor Party and
                                          Riley, Raven and their mates are on the side of the conservatives in
                                          this battle. Ratbag Radio Riley and the curious man called Raven have
                                          made their views quite clear: it would be a good thing, not a bad
                                          thing, if the unions were pushed out of the Labor Party.

                                          That's also the view of the current DSP leadership, although they
                                          don't express it quite as crudely as Radio Riley.

                                          Riley posts on the GLW list as good coin a lengthy article by Andrew
                                          West, who I know quite well. he's a pleasant enough bloke personally,
                                          but he's clearly one of the technocratic centre-right figures in the
                                          Labor Party who want to push unions out of the party to free up Labor
                                          parliamentary leaders from the pressure exerted on them by trade unions.

                                          He's the author of a reasonable, mildly critical, biography of Bob
                                          Carr, but his technocratic parliamentarist views and hopes are quite
                                          clear in that book.

                                          He dresses it up with a bit of rhetoric about how he has been a
                                          unionist, but his core aim is to free Labor leaderships from trade
                                          union pressure.

                                          Kevin Rudd's staff is stuffed full of people like Andrew West, with
                                          similar views: get rid of the union incubus from the Labor Party,
                                          again dressed up in a bit of rhetoric about how unions would get a
                                          better deal for their members if they weren't tied up in Labor
                                          politics. Pigs might fly in some alternative universe, but in the one
                                          we inhabit, freeing Labor politicians of trade union pressure would
                                          leave almost no restraint on how far they would go to the right.

                                          No less a luminary than former Labor prime minister Paul Keating
                                          joined the anti-union push on Lateline last night, and this is
                                          reported with enthusiasm in the bourgeois press this morning.

                                          It is true that the divisions between the organised left and right
                                          factions in the Labor Party have diminished and become a bit confused,
                                          but the most conservative force in both the left and right factions
                                          are the parliamentary aspirants who want to get rid of union
                                          influence. Blind Freddy can see that about labour movement politics at
                                          the moment.

                                          The Murdoch newspapers, in particular, are in an absolute frenzy
                                          pressing Rudd and his supporters to push the unions out of the Labor
                                          Party. The Murdoch papers have taken to routinely referring to
                                          unionists as union thugs.

                                          The chronic and sclerotic ultraleft politics of the present DSP
                                          leadership are carrying them into the same camp as Andrew West et al.
                                          Dick Nichols recently issued an eccentric press release that baldly
                                          said the Socialist Alliance was the major force that had generated the
                                          struggle against Howard's Work Choices.

                                          Delusional ultraleft politics can take you almost anywhere, in your
                                          mind, but in the real world of the labour movment, that cautious but
                                          reasonably militant body, Unions NSW, is busily organising two things
                                          in its current campaign. A Unions NSW bus will visit eight or nine
                                          non-urban marginal seats over the next couple of months, helping to
                                          organise and train several thousand activists in its marginal seats
                                          campaign. At the same time, as part of the same campaign, Unions NSW
                                          is preparing a petition directed at Kevin Rudd and the Labor
                                          leadership with five or six minimum demands on trade union and
                                          workers' rights, in the most careful and respectful language.

                                          My understanding is that the five or six demands are very concrete and
                                          Unions NSW is aiming for, and probably will get, several hundred
                                          thousand signatures to this petition in NSW. Unions NSW, at least,
                                          sees no Chinese wall between organising to elect a Rudd Labor
                                          government and insisting that such a Labor government represent the
                                          interests of unions and workers.

                                          Riley and his mates are welcome to line up with Andrew West and his
                                          associates in trying to push the unions out of the Labor Party, but my
                                          choice is the trade union base of all the major Labor factions, which
                                          are asserting workers' prerogatives, interests and rights in the ALP,
                                          and insisting that a future Labor government defend the interests of
                                          unions.
                                        • Peter Boyle
                                          ... The DSP has been publicly campaigning - for years - for the trade unions to break from the right-wing, pro-neo-liberal, pro-capitalist Labor party and form
                                          Message 20 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                            bobgould987 wrote:

                                            > The lines are being drawn on pushing unions out of the Labor Party and
                                            > Riley, Raven and their mates are on the side of the conservatives in
                                            > this battle. Ratbag Radio Riley and the curious man called Raven have
                                            > made their views quite clear: it would be a good thing, not a bad
                                            > thing, if the unions were pushed out of the Labor Party.
                                            >
                                            > That's also the view of the current DSP leadership, although they
                                            > don't express it quite as crudely as Radio Riley.

                                            The DSP has been publicly campaigning - for years - for the trade unions
                                            to break from the right-wing, pro-neo-liberal, pro-capitalist Labor
                                            party and form a new party that really defends the interest of the
                                            working ! It's not a secret in anyway. It is the best thing the unions
                                            could do, whatever right-wing reasons part of the right-wing leadership
                                            of the Labor party may have.

                                            Who is the serial apologist for the right-wing ALP on this list (see
                                            below)? Bob Gould! You've proved to the list which side YOU are on.

                                            Peter Boyle

                                            Gillard boasts:

                                            "I ask you to cast your mind back twenty-four years. Then, as now,
                                            Labor's planned industrial relations reforms were the subject of
                                            criticism. When the Hawke Labor Government proposed sitting down with
                                            business and unions before the 1983 election to find a middle way out of
                                            the recession, the then head of the Confederation of Australian
                                            Industry, George Polities, accused Labor of having a secret agenda to
                                            socialize industry. [The SMH, 17 February 1983.] But as everyone now
                                            knows, all this mistrust and anger came to nothing.

                                            "Labor's reforms actually replaced centralized wage fixing with
                                            enterprise bargaining and helped kick-start a new era of rising
                                            productivity, profitability and employment. Immediately after Labor's
                                            industrial relations reforms, days lost from industrial disputes were
                                            slashed in half.

                                            "During that reform period the decline in trade union membership levels
                                            averaged 5 per cent per year, compared to an annual average
                                            fall of 2 per cent under the Howard Government. So much for the
                                            socialist revolution of George Polities' fevered imagination."
                                            http://www.alp.org.au/media/0507/spedlop300.php


                                            * * *

                                            Paul Keating says Rudd Labor not rightwing enough on IR:

                                            In an interview on ABC television last night, Mr Keating criticised Ms
                                            Gillard's understanding of industrial relations principles such as
                                            enterprise bargaining established under the Labor government in the late
                                            1980s and early 1990s.

                                            Asked how he thought Ms Gillard had performed, he said: "Not very well.
                                            Not very well."

                                            "She hasn't got it all wrong, but she doesn't quite understand, I don't
                                            think, the difference between the centralised system I inherited ... and
                                            the enterprise bargaining system of 1993, such a revolutionary change,"
                                            Mr Keating said.

                                            http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/keatings-got-it-wrong-gillard/2007/06/08/1181089277161.html

                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                          • Michael Berrell
                                            I caught the tailend of Keating s appearance on Lateline last night. A curious performance. His intervention seems timed to give Howard a leg up and provide
                                            Message 21 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                              I caught the tailend of Keating's appearance on "Lateline" last night. A curious performance. His intervention seems timed to give Howard a leg up and provide ammunition to those who argue that a Rudd Labor Government would be dominated by unions. This dovetals with Costello's line that a union dominated Rudd Labor Government would destroy Australia's prosperity.

                                              Keating reminds me of Gorbachev even looks a bit like him these days. Keating's policies were responsible for almost destroying the Labor Party and giving it ten long years in opposition. Keating's policies were responsible for knocking Labor's primary vote down from 50% in 1983 to around 38% where its languished since 1996 really since 1990.

                                              Despite attempts to construct Keating as some type of grand statesman, the type of person modern Labor should look to, the fact remains that he was electoral poison when dumped from office in 1996 and remains so. His sporadic interventions and appearances in the public media can only do Labor's chances harm.

                                              These days Keating is driven by a deep seeded personal animosity toward John Howard and toward those he feels would undermine the economic reforms of the 80s.

                                              He reminds me of Gorbachev in that Gorbachev too is feted as a kind of elder statesman who appears periodically in the public media to pontificate on international politics when in fact he's completely irrelevant and impotent and was at the time of his departure from office in 1991 deeply unpopular. Like Keating, Gorbachev all but destroyed and shat on the thing that nurtured him. Neither Keating nor Gorbachev should have the temerity to lecture anyone on anything.

                                              Bob's right about one thing. If Howard and the tories (Great name for a rock band) manage to scrape back in at the end of the year, and with the economy doing so well you can't write them off, there will be a major demoralisation on the left side of politics. One could be forgiven for wondering whether Federal Labor can ever get back in again. Certainly a defeated, demoralised ALP woul lurch to the right, ditching its opposition to AWAS and giving ammunition to those in the party who want to sever the party's ties with the trade union movement. Rudd has made no secret of the fact that he would like to transform the ALP into something akin to the US Democrats.

                                              The person most likely to emerge to challenge Rudd in the event of electoral defeat would be Lindsay Tanner which should tell some on this lift that the so called ALP left is just as culpable as the right on this matter.



                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • rogerraven
                                              Hard Labor agent A-P Gould, having unsuccessfully attempted to smear the DSP/SA using the Mighell transcript business, nevertheless continues his efforts to
                                              Message 22 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                                Hard Labor agent A-P Gould, having unsuccessfully attempted to smear
                                                the DSP/SA using the Mighell transcript business, nevertheless
                                                continues his efforts to create division within the left.

                                                Gould actually expects us to believe that a deeply anti-union ALP
                                                "leadership", having won power on the explicit basis that they intend
                                                to betray working people, will because of a minimalist "petition" give
                                                to the union movement all the things they told all their supporters
                                                they'd take away from it should they win.
                                              • Peter Boyle
                                                Our Common Cause Unions must act to end ALP backflips on Work Choices First, the big mining, energy, media and construction corporations’ lobbying campaign
                                                Message 23 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                                  Our Common Cause
                                                  Unions must act to end ALP backflips on Work Choices

                                                  First, the big mining, energy, media and construction corporations’
                                                  lobbying campaign has succeeded in getting Labor leader Kevin Rudd and
                                                  his deputy, Julia Gillard, to renege on Labor’s promise to abolish all
                                                  Australian Workplace Agreements (individual contracts) and the
                                                  Australian Building and Construction Commission. Then, all union leaders
                                                  from Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Greg Combet down have
                                                  remained tight-lipped for fear that, if they protest and Labor loses the
                                                  next federal election, defeat will be blamed on them. The union movement
                                                  must take urgent action to end the ALP’s backflips on industrial relations.

                                                  MORE: <http://www.socialist-alliance.org/page.php?page=654>

                                                  * Download petition for continuing the mass campaign in the streets
                                                  here: <http://www.socialist-alliance.org/resources/Petition_irnda07.pdf>
                                                  * Download Right To Strike leaflet here:
                                                  <http://www.socialist-alliance.org/resources/Leaflet_right_strike07.pdf>
                                                • Rohan Gaiswinkler
                                                  ... Bob, how does it feel to be seeking left-cover from the notorious NSW Labor Right? Feeling just a little painted into the corner are we? Rohan G Send
                                                  Message 24 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                                    Mr Gould:

                                                    >My understanding is that the five or six demands are very concrete and Unions NSW is aiming for, and probably will get, several hundred thousand signatures to this petition in NSW. Unions NSW, at least, sees no Chinese wall between organising to elect a Rudd Labor government and insisting that such a Labor government represent the interests of unions and workers.

                                                    Bob, how does it feel to be seeking left-cover from the notorious NSW Labor Right? Feeling just a little painted into the corner are we?

                                                    Rohan G

                                                    Send instant messages to your online friends http://au.messenger.yahoo.com

                                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  • Tristan
                                                    The problem with the debate we re having is that DSP contributers seem to assume that union disaffiliation in of itself is a step forward - without there
                                                    Message 25 of 28 , Jun 7, 2007
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                                                      The problem with the debate we're having is that DSP contributers
                                                      seem to assume that union disaffiliation in of itself is a step
                                                      forward - without there necessarily being a credible alternative to
                                                      labour as an alternative pole of attraction.

                                                      Personally I see the ALP Left as having three options;

                                                      i) either demand more in return for consensus in the party,
                                                      including the right to maintain independent positions on policy,
                                                      ableit putting formal party policy first... Evan Thornley suggested
                                                      that a more independent role for the ALP Left might be preferable
                                                      in 'Coming to the Party'. He noted that the existence of figures
                                                      taking a more radical Rightist position in the Liberal Party actually
                                                      gave Howard cover to move more gradually to the Right while looking
                                                      reasonable. Such a strategy could be combined with an effort to
                                                      reach consensus on the broad Left that affiliation of all Left unions
                                                      was desirable if it would lead to Left control of the ALP National
                                                      Exec, Conference etc... Here the Left would have to consider whether
                                                      it was really ready to lead with vision and responsibility, or
                                                      whether it was too afraid of destabilisation and a fear campaign
                                                      about 'the socialists';

                                                      ii) OR seriously consider regroupment outside the Labor Party in the
                                                      form of a new mainstream party of the Left, with a realistic program
                                                      of reform which unites the currents of liberalism, socialism and
                                                      social democracy of which the party is comprised. As I've said
                                                      elsewhere, with support from unions, prominent intellectuals, the
                                                      welfare sector, such a party could make a real impact;

                                                      iii) OR continue 'business as usual', with minimal policy influence,
                                                      attacks on the building unions and on the right of all unionists to
                                                      engage in pattern bargaining, no movement on expanding the social
                                                      wage, silence and demobilisation as a condition for unity and the
                                                      Left's share of the jobs...

                                                      The DSP is only really considering option ii) seriously, which might
                                                      be part of Bob Gould's objection, as I imagine he would prefer option
                                                      i), but is in no position to spur the ALP Left into action...

                                                      The reality is that most on the Left want to pretend everything's ok -
                                                      as getting Rudd elected after over a decade of Howard is all that
                                                      matters to them... A Labor government is the best prospect we have
                                                      at the moment - but let's remember the Left's past experience - being
                                                      sidelined, silenced and contained through successful tax cuts,
                                                      austerity, the future marginalisation of government pensions as a
                                                      consequence of the superannuation system, introduction of user pays
                                                      in education, privatisation of utilities, Government Business
                                                      Enterprises, the Commonwealth Bank, the wasteful duplication of
                                                      infrastructure between Optus and Telstra... And now we're going to
                                                      have a part-private monopoly in fibre optic cable infrastructure -
                                                      unless Howard does a deal with Telstra first - and we get a full
                                                      private monopoly with few protections for consumers...

                                                      But everything's not ok... And already Rudd's showing - with is
                                                      commitment to maintain the ABCC - that he only respects the binding
                                                      nature of conference in so far as he can use it to get his own
                                                      way... Personally, for instance, while I think I should be free to
                                                      campaign to expand taxation, I accept that we can't expand it as a
                                                      proportion of GDP until the next National Conference opens the way
                                                      for such measures... This is a bitter pill to swallow, but that's
                                                      democracy... But I could well see Rudd following the example of
                                                      British Labour and Tony Blair; just disregarding Conference when he
                                                      doesn't get his way...

                                                      So - what are we going to do? As I stated, we have three options.
                                                      It's probably best to leave any movement on building a new party
                                                      until after the election... But if people with real influence in the
                                                      Left decided on this path it would be necessary to begin private
                                                      discussions and planning. And even discussion on the issue could
                                                      spur Rudd to compromise - if he imagined he was no longer going to
                                                      get away with policy unilateralism...

                                                      Problematic as a Rudd government would be, we know the prospect of a
                                                      new wave of Conservative 'reforms' would be worse... Whatever we
                                                      decide, we should try, on the broad left, to reach agreement
                                                      first... The last thing we need is the Left self-destructing in
                                                      schisms and recriminations...
                                                    • Ratbag Radio
                                                      I think you are wrong Tristam. I doubt that anyone would project disaffiliation as the key marker for any new direction. Thats bit of a furphy. It should be
                                                      Message 26 of 28 , Jun 8, 2007
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                                                        I think you are wrong Tristam. I doubt that anyone would project
                                                        disaffiliation as the key marker for any new direction. Thats
                                                        bit of a furphy. It should be raised and debated but it isn't
                                                        something that in itself leads anywhere special. You have to have a
                                                        Plan B that follows if it is to mean anything. No one is saying otherwise.

                                                        But let's say thats' on the table because some unions have put it
                                                        there. It isn't a webified concoction sucked a out of a typist's thumb
                                                        here.

                                                        The core issue is NOW. And while I accept your 'new party' notions as
                                                        being something for consideration after the poll -- depending -- that
                                                        is nonetheless on the table because, you ,at least, put them there.

                                                        It is now that we have to address --a few months short of a federal
                                                        election --with some key issues looming up at us. So what can we do
                                                        now, today, to defend unionism from Kevin Rudd?

                                                        If we consider one of your options -- that the left should wage a
                                                        campaign in the party to roll this Ruddism back -- I have to say
                                                        thats' is a bit late. Don't you agree? The unconditional and
                                                        uncritical authority has more or less been handed to Rudd and Gillard
                                                        so I very much doubt that this left can or will rise to the occasion
                                                        within the party to change the present course. And IF Labor is elected
                                                        -- theres' not a hope in hell that this left will be able to change
                                                        things via inner party means. I think thats' self evident.A triumphant
                                                        ALP will have all this electoral authority to squash, disown,
                                                        marginalise and probably expel any dissent on IR matters gievn their
                                                        present fait accompli.

                                                        Whats' required is something else that can drive the sort of
                                                        perspectives we all agree on..and you have to look at something that
                                                        puts political pressure on Labor. If you say thats' not the way to go,
                                                        that we have to simply keep our powder dry and stall until after the
                                                        poll-- then I don't agree, and I think you can see that.

                                                        Something has to happen that is NOT contained by the ALP leadership --
                                                        that takes some of the industrial agenda out of their hands and that
                                                        of the ACTU heavies by challenging this franchise they are saying they
                                                        now own.

                                                        Another NDA? A campaign for the right to strike? What do you think of
                                                        that as a first up response? So let's get concrete. Let's consider
                                                        ways the Labor left and the left outside the party can work together
                                                        so that we aren't constrained by brutal categories.

                                                        Then later...maybe we can consider what our collective options are
                                                        after we've worked our bit to test the waters with a very relevant
                                                        struggle time.

                                                        But IF things move quicker than that -- unlike Bob Gould, let's not
                                                        try to sabotage them and roll them back.

                                                        dave riley
                                                      • Tristan
                                                        ... wrote: re: whether or not it s possible to roll back some of the more Conservative positions adopted by Rudd... It s worth remembering
                                                        Message 27 of 28 , Jun 8, 2007
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                                                          --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Ratbag Radio"
                                                          <ratbagradio@...> wrote:


                                                          re: whether or not it's possible to 'roll back' some of the more
                                                          Conservative positions adopted by Rudd... It's worth remembering that
                                                          Rudd and Gillard were elevated to power with the help of the Left.
                                                          This seems to have been the right choice since Rudd has been
                                                          outperforming Beazley in the polls ever since...

                                                          But I think the Left's negotiators should have made certain things
                                                          crystal clear to Rudd and Gillard prior to their challenge for the
                                                          leadership. To begin with, they should have emphasised that no
                                                          matter what mandate they felt they had, the mandate of the party rank
                                                          and file, provided by Conference matters most. Here, Conference was
                                                          clear that the ABCC should go. The Left should have also raised the
                                                          issue of pattern bargaining at Conference rather than letting it
                                                          slip, and allowing Rudd to unilaterally declare a policy. And it
                                                          should have emphasised to the Right that Conference support for
                                                          pattern bargaining was a key condition for unity in the movement in
                                                          the run up to the election.

                                                          The problem, now, is that it's hard to respond without discrediting
                                                          the leader. There is a desperate need for damage control. Factional
                                                          negotiators, and National Exec (behind the scenes), need to make it
                                                          clear to Rudd that he should make no more statements of policy in
                                                          contravention of Conference... And there should be an understanding
                                                          that if the ABCC is to remain until 2010 that its powers will be
                                                          wound back, as will associated sanctions against workers, and that
                                                          charges will be dropped after the election against those workers who
                                                          have faced the body's wrath. And while industry-wide industrial
                                                          action in pursuit of an industry agreement might be spurned by the
                                                          movement to avoid division and backlash, it should be asserted after
                                                          the election that the pursuit of common wages and conditions across
                                                          an industry is not 'illegal'. These compromises, negotiated behind
                                                          the scenes, could avoid costly blood-letting. If Rudd did not agree
                                                          to these terms it would be made clear that the labour movement would
                                                          find itself in a divided and fractious state after the election.

                                                          Meanwhile, I'm in favour of holding additional NDAs to press the
                                                          claims of the labour movement. And I think such NDAs, while pressing
                                                          for a Labor government, ought also mobilise people around claims that
                                                          go beyond Labor's platform. Dissolution of the ABCC is Labor policy,
                                                          and pressing this claim should occur as a matter of course.

                                                          But ACTU leaders should also make it clear that pattern bargaining is
                                                          a core right, and that banning pattern bargaining could have bad
                                                          consequences for workers. (ie: a 'race to the bottom' in wages and
                                                          conditions)

                                                          Such claims would have to be carefully balanced, however: against the
                                                          need to keep the movement mobilised around the aim of electing a
                                                          Labor government. The situation is complex; but people respond to
                                                          simple messages, and confusion can result in demobilisation,
                                                          Elections are not everyting, and the ACTU should be running a
                                                          campaign that goes beyond electoralism; but the election is in about
                                                          five months, and its outcome will be critical.

                                                          The problem I see is that outside the ACTU or state labour councils
                                                          the Left just doesn't have the resources to mobilise a credible NDA.
                                                          You'd really need tens of thousands in Melbourne and Sydney to have a
                                                          credible mandate for pattern bargaining and the aboliton of the ABCC.
                                                          To do this you'd need support across the breadth of the labour
                                                          movement. We can't do this without ACTU logistics; unless we have the
                                                          support, say, of a state labour council. The real challenge for
                                                          leftists is to win the debate at the level of the movement's
                                                          leadership, and to build a movement on the ground that can take
                                                          unions in a new direction. In the meantime, there's the option of a
                                                          petition: but GetUp and Labour Start rejected my proposals for a
                                                          campaign aimed at garnering support for a more progressive ALP IR
                                                          policy... Without these options, I just don't know where else to
                                                          turn.

                                                          Many people, including myself, feel we have to 'do something'... But
                                                          whatever we do, we need to be clear that we have the logistical depth
                                                          to succeed.

                                                          In the meantime, I will continue to argue against these policies;
                                                          with the hope of influencing the Left leadership to lean on Rudd to
                                                          provide a settlement that's more acceptable to all of us.


                                                          Tristan Ewins
                                                        • alanb1000
                                                          ... Yes, but... This IR stuff directly impacts on a whole bunch of people in the ALP. As such, I don t think this dissent can be marginalised all that easily.
                                                          Message 28 of 28 , Jun 8, 2007
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                                                            "Ratbag Radio" wrote:
                                                            > And IF Labor is elected -- theres' not a hope in hell that this
                                                            > left will be able to change things via inner party means. I think
                                                            > thats' self evident.A triumphant ALP will have all this electoral
                                                            > authority to squash, disown, marginalise and probably expel any
                                                            > dissent on IR matters gievn their present fait accompli.

                                                            Yes, but...

                                                            This IR stuff directly impacts on a whole bunch of people in the ALP.
                                                            As such, I don't think this dissent can be marginalised all that
                                                            easily. It will just keep coming back again and again.

                                                            That means that there is room for the ALP left to earn their keep
                                                            trying to organise and articulate it.

                                                            This dissent exists and will be expressed, in an organised form, or
                                                            not. Obviously the former is preferable.

                                                            And if the dissenters get expelled, too bad. If there is enough of
                                                            them, we can help them get organised outside the ALP...



                                                            Of course, what we do between now and the election is the interesting
                                                            bit.

                                                            Alan Bradley
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