Why does the ALP suck at being left?

By Daniel Searson


The Australian Labor Party (ALP) have become a bunch of inward-fighting, brittle and sour factions trying to run the country based around short-term political goals since their 2007 electoral win. For those of you who don’t know: a faction is a number of members in a party that vote together based around a political ideology or strategy. Although there are many factions in the ALP, the majority of them usually vote and act in a Right and Left-wing factional bloc.

The theoretical benefits of being factionalised are that the ALP can encompass a broad church of political opinion and easily organise a definitive and comprehensive set of policies while having a decentralised leadership structure. The reality however is very different. There is a deep and debilitating cancer within the ranks of the ALP’s factions, tainting their ideology and resulting in their electoral woes.

Kevin Rudd’s rise and downfall worked as a catalyst for the ALP’s clouded ideology and chaotic factionalism. Rudd’s populist policy platform may have given him short-term political gain having won the 2007 election. However his “conservative economics”, “tough but humane” approach to asylum seekers, lowering CO2 emissions while trying to serve union interests and abandoning Australia’s duties in Iraq; lacked any sort of theme or ideology amongst ALP members, necessary for party discipline and conformity.

Rudd’s example is an indicator of why the ALP is losing their vote to the Greens. The Right faction’s focus on unions and economic globalisation is forming a wedge against their Left members and voters. The result is a serious political divide and a number of lost left-leaning ALP voters seeking a party more in tune with their views. A Party like the Greens.

You can only feel sorry for the ALP when the Green’s former leader Bob Brown says his radical party will inevitably supersede the ALP. The scary fact is that Brown is correct; the Greens have doubled their vote since the ALP’s been in office while the ALP’s slowly decays.

The ALP will lose the next and every subsequent election if they do not accurately portray the left in Australia. The ALP’s golden age of Hawke and Keating’s right-wing economic reforms are now far behind them. Unions are quickly becoming an issue of the past and if the ALP intends to serve union interests as well as their environmental ones then they will surely fail.


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