On Sunday we had the sight of Michael Kroger (Liberal), Cassandra Wilkinson (sensible Labor) and Andrew Bolt (well, Bolt-ish) all agreeing that the ALP should write off inner-urban seats, stop pandering to the Green mindset, and start thinking about people who can’t afford to summer in Tuscany.
Tony Maher of the CFMEU is having a go. Paul Howes, fresh from attacking NIMBYs in Rozelle on behalf of Benny Elias and Rozelle Village, calls the Greens the Left’s One Nation. John Robertson in NSW and Daniel Andrews in Victoria are piling on.
What does it all mean?
Much as I’d like to believe it’s a Damascean conversion to Wilkinson-like rationality from the ALP’s hard nuts, I fear it is little more than electoral manoeuvring. Will they push out the hard left and accept the loss of Balmain and Marrickville as Wilkinson suggests, all for the sake of re-connecting with middle Australia?
They might try. But in doing so they’d lose a large part of their activists and energy base. The current ALP can’t play the competent, get-things-done card and won’t be able to for a generation. They can’t play the equity card because people are awake to how much damage they have done to lower socio-economic groups over the past decades, primarily through Green and social engineering, but also through lousy economic, public service delivery and development policy.
And they can’t play the character card, because, ahem, laughter isn’t necessarily a vote-catcher.
An ALP without its nutty left would be a collection of whatever-it-takes careerists, union hacks and a couple of gadflies banging their heads against politics-over-policy prejudices.
But as writers on the Centre-Right tend to do, I’m quite happy offering advice to the ALP. Do giveaway Marrickville, Balmain and Melbourne. Write off the green moralising, stop pandering to well-fed senior public servants and Fairfax employees, and the country will thank you for it. Put them last on the how-to-vote and I’ll be fighting for the Liberals to do the same.
It might split your movement in two, you might find yourselves becoming Liberal-lite and being locked out by the Liberal’s equivalent of Hawke-Keating, but you’d be doing the country a favour.
If not for the long-suffering sensibles in the Inner West.