The Left has eaten itself for the past few weeks. The anger on Social Media regarding the decision making of Labor will have dire consequences. One consequence is the Liberals in Government for six, nine or twelve more years, or Armageddon; whichever comes sooner. For the Left to stop eating themselves alive; the Left have to make a choice about what type of opposition they support and Labor has to listen.
This Is It for the Next Three Years
For the next three years, the construction of the lower house is that The Coalition holds power and the Opposition Labor Party does not have the numbers to prevent any Bill passing in the lower house.
For Bills to pass in the Senate the Liberals can pass Bills by securing the support of three of the six right-wing individuals from the Crossbench.
In the Senate, the Liberals hold power, with Labor and Greens parties on the left and a six-person crossbench. the Six person Cross Bench are all Right Wing parties or Individuals. With one posing as a Centre party. The Cross Bench all hold right-wing ideologies. These ideologies span from Christian Conservatism, Nationalism and Centrism.
Political Risks for The Left
The risk for the Left, with the Right wing Cross Bench holding the balance of power, is they hold the power to trade anything they want in exchange for their support to the Government. The Right Wing Cross Bench ONLY hold no power if Labor or the Greens side with the Government.
Have a think about this. Go Wild! Have a good hard think about what trade-offs the Cross-Bench will make. Especially with Christian Conservatism and Nationalism, It could be anything from cuts to social security, defence spending, racist legislation, abhorrent Asylum Seeker (yes even worse) legislation, criminalisation of abortion – anything.
The Left has two choices.
We must decide right now; which type of opposition we prefer, by framing the long term consequences in the context of the left’s power and position in parliament. This is a very serious issue. Power exists in the construct of the environment and that environment’s rules enables who holds power and when. To get through the next three years, we really need to think hard about this.
But first of all, we need to settle some myths.
Labor Opposition Myths
Labor is the Opposition. They do not have the Power to implement their policies, strategies or ideas. The only party who can do that is the party of Government.
Labor does not have the numbers in either house to block any Bills or Legislation.
If Labor and the Greens join together, they do not have the numbers in either house to Block any Government Bills or Legislation. (So when the Greens tell you this. They are lying).
ALL Bills are written by the Government. ALL Bills debated and considered are written by the Government, unless the Government allows a Private Members Bill.
No Bills put before Parliament will be written by Labor, unless Labor secures passage to do so from the Government or via the Senate.
The content of the Bills by the Government are the Bills that need to be debated, and they are not based on the ideological position of the Labor Party; even if they pass with amendments. The amendments are from the ideological position of the Labor party only.
The Lower house holds no power for the Left. To hold power bills must be passed and progressed to the Upper House for Debate. This is the only house where a small amount of power, may be held under the right conditions and strategy for the left.
When the Greens make an amendment or put forward a motion and Labor does not support it; history almost always shows that this is not because Labor is against the “idea” per se; but because of a variety of reasons, including raising the motion in the wrong Bill, or using the wrong procedure in the Senate etc., This is an often used tactic by the Greens (power construct again here folks!) to position themselves as the Left Power. However, if you boil it down, they really are just treating us like idiots, because they know only the nerdy political freaks read the daily Senate Journals.
Choose or the Left Dies
At the rate of how fast the left is eating itself over the last few weeks, those on the Left who seek to divide us will see the left divisive and dead. I have watched a lot of friendships disintegrate on social media the last few weeks. We have a choice presented by the two major left parties below:
Greens most used option: Concede ALL power to the right-wing Cross Bench nutters by blindly protesting. Shame Labor for not conceding all power to the right-wing crossbench and misrepresent this to the voting public as “Labor voted against xyz” and flailing about fawning over words like ‘capitulation’. This option is to satisfy ego and create a false construct of power. It is not an option used that can protect the people in the current construction of this parliament. Conceding Power to the right is the exact opposite of solidarity.
This is the short term thinkers option. This is normally intrinsically motivated to satisfy ego and power.
Labor’s most used Option: Work with the Government to try to implement amendments. This secures support for a Bill, with sufficient amendments to provide protections to society, that is better than the raw Bill put up by the Liberals. This is based on the understanding that if amendments are not secured by the Labor party, without holding the balance of power, the amendments will be insisted upon by the Right Wing Cross bench of Christian Conservatives, Nationalists and Centrists. This choice prevents the right wing nutter trade-off.
This is the long term thinkers option. This is normally extrinsically motivated as considerations are about preventing the worst possible outcome for the people.
Scenario-Based Risk Management
The above choices can be explained via scenario-based strategic planning. Within this type of strategic planning, the focus is Best Outcome Scenario, Expected Outcome Scenario and Worst Outcome Scenario.
The Worst Outcome Scenario in the makeup of this Parliament is the Right Wing Cross Bench holding the power to negotiate and trade off with the Government for support. To prevent the worst outcome a contingency plan needs to be put in place.
In the case of this parliament, the contingency of the Greens Choice by conceding power and blindly protesting fails; as it allows the worst case scenario outcome. All it does, it makes people “Feel” like someone has stood up for them, but in reality, they have done the opposite by handing power to most extreme and radical of those in power who seek to harm them.
In the case of this parliament, the contingency of the Labor Choice by negotiating amendments is the only choice to gain any power. This is either via Government agreement or convincing the Cross-Bench to support the amendments.
Accepting the Ugly
With the makeup of this parliament, where the right wing hold power, as the Left, we must accept the ugly choices in this scenario. We must question ourselves upon every single debate of every single Bill:
Q1) Did Labor do all they can to secure amendments to provide protections in that Bill?
Q2) If Labor blindly protests, or votes down a Bill, do we accept the consequences of conceding the power to the Cross-Bench to negotiate all wishes, desires and trade-offs to secure their support for the passage of that Bill? Do we concede power as the Greens do always to Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts, Jacqui Lambie, Corey Bernardi, Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff to decide on our behalf?
The Left Holds No Legitimate Power
For every single scenario in Parliament for the next three years, the above choices are our choices for what type of opposition we want for every single Bill and every single debate. This is because the Left holds no legitimate power in this parliament. The Government also holds no legitimate power on their own due to the makeup of the current Senate. However, based on the ideological leanings of the Cross-Bench the legitimate power is more likely for the Right-wing Government than the Left.
The only way for the Left to gain legitimate power is to via amendments and negotiations with the Government and Cross-Bench to support this power. They have no power via protest or stamping their feet and saying NO! alone.
Short Term vs Long Term
Currently, the left is eating itself because of the strong desire to see the opposition just say NO! to the Government on everything. As argued above, the constraints of power in parliament, this is not as straight forward as it seems. As in Paddy Manning’s article in The Monthly; he speaks to the fact how the Greens will use this to their advantage. My argument in this article is that whilst I agree, with most of Paddy’s arguments, it is also up to us to decide if we want to ignore the parameters and constraints of opposition in the current parliament, and insist on protest and concede all power to the right-wing crossbench. Or we take the complexities into consideration.
We MUST decide if we want to allow the constructs of power in this parliament to divide us, or if we want to get behind Labor by thinking about the questions above. Dividing us, as the Greens always, always seek to do, only gives more power to the Right. (As we have seen as a result of their anti-Labor campaign in the last election via Stop Adani – it suffocated every other single important issue like work rights and healthcare and divided us all).
We MUST decide if we want Labor to be a protest party and adopt the Greens Choice of political strategy and concede power to the Right wing Cross Bench or do we want them to stand up for us and fight via amendments. There is no in-between. Blindly protesting does not enable negotiation power for amendment agreement making. Voting down bills in the lower house does not create the avenue for negotiation in good faith in the upper house. Sadly, decorum is stiff and boring and procedural, but it is still a thing.
Why Labor Needs to Combat Greens as Well as the Government
I know which choice is in the long term interest of all of us, and it is not misrepresenting using the only avenue to gain power via amendments as capitulation.
As socialists (well I am) we should be looking at the worst possible outcome for the most vulnerable. Protecting the most vulnerable in the makeup of this parliament does not include playing games and conceding all power to the Cross-Bench nutters via the Greens Choice.
It is trying to gain the only skerrick of power available to protect us by trying to amend bad legislation and eradicate the power of the right-wing Cross bench nuttery.
The improvement that Labor could make is to start hammering and keep hammering the power constructs of the current parliament. Stop using political words and speak to the people straight. We can take it.
Labor needs to sit the Greens on their backsides, by pushing them to explain their reasoning via the choices available right now and remind voters that the Greens hold no power and by blindly protesting they give ALL power to people like Pauline Hanson.
Labor needs to really push the Greens and be very vocal about WHY the Greens are too lazy to do any of the hard work in convincing the Cross-Bench to oppose the Liberal Bill or support Labor’s amendments. They need to insist that the Greens explain themselves to voters on this.
If Labor supports a Bill without securing amendments, they need to really explain loud and clear to the public, what the alternative risks the crossbench posed by allowing the crossbench to negotiate the Bill without Labor’s support and why Labor could not accept that risk. Once again, we can take it.
Getting a bit angry sometimes would also bloody well help. People out here are starving for real emotion. They need to feel protected and stood up for, and Labor needs to do that WELL with the cards and choices dealt by the voting public.
I choose Labor.
PS: I hope now I have (hopefully) demonstrated the choices and construction of this parliament in terms of power, how the three-year campaign by the Greens against Labor via Stop Adani, was never in our long term interest, but always, always in the short term interest of the Greens. And now we are suffering for it.
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