Until 2016, Australian Labor had an online blog site The Labor Herald. There is a case to bring back the Labor Herald. This is due to the recent events of the past election, negative messaging about Labor and various debates developing from negative messaging on Facebook and Twitter.
Various debates have ensued about why Labor did not win the federal election. There are many good points to listen to and many not so good points to reject. Many people have put a lot of time and effort into formal responses. Some I have read online and some Labor friends have sent me their thoughts and submissions direct.
So much feedback shows there are many people passionate about Labor and despite the rhetoric of the right wing media and many Greens supporters sticking it to Labor on Twitter; at our core, we are a bunch of very passionate people who care deeply about workers rights, equality and fairness.
The other huge point I want to make and counter is the election isn’t a personal blow for us. The feedback I have read or listened to reflects a passion for other people and how losing the election will impact on other people. As a whole, we don’t worry about how the election impacts on us as individuals, but the workers, the poor and the disadvantaged. In a nutshell, that is who Labor is. We are greater than the sum of all our parts.
However, at the crux of all of these debates is “Labor’s intent” or “What Labor stood for” or “What Labor does or doesn’t believe in”. In short, a whole range of misinformation ensued from the right-wing parties. However, many on “the left” drove this. That is the Greens and their supporters, left-leaning swinging voters and “Left-Leaning Independent voters” (or so they think IND are left!). This is not a new problem. There are many news articles, social media posts, tweets, blogs, “independent’ news, all misrepresenting Labor and really pushing negative rhetoric about Labor.
Over the years this has culminated like an insidious contagion. For many non-politically aligned people, this resonates as Labor cannot be trusted. This suits the Liberals to a T. In Queensland when people believe they can’t trust Labor and don’t really vote LNP, they vote PHON. All this does is harm a progressive Industrial Relations agenda and that is all politics boils down to.
The problem is Labor did nothing to stop it. They are still doing nothing to stop it. I don’t know about you, but I find this incredibly frustrating. Especially when there is an abundance of tools to do so in modern society.
There are a lot of people on social media and blogs who are forever countering claims by the Media, right-wing politicians and in particular, sadly, increasingly so, by the other “left” party the Greens. These claims often misrepresent Labor. Decisions by Labor are often taken out of context. This has become increasingly worse since the election.
Labor should have a clear and concise messaging strategy. Do not just attack the LNP. Take note of the narratives going on, on social media as well, and counter what is being said. They need to pay equal attention to negative messaging about Labor from Liberals, Nats, LNP, PHON, Greens and Independents. They need to observe general conversations and respond to these in a concise way that is easily shared.
There are some really great MP’s like Murray Watt and Martin Pakula and Peter Khalil who do engage with people on Twitter. Doing so clarifies issues and they do this very well. However, there needs to be more than this. Twitter and Facebook are not set and forget advertising platforms.
A Working Class Voice
The Australian Labor Party is the party of the working class. The Labor party was borne of the working class. History cannot be changed. Unions have direct representation in the Labor party and put forward ideas and debate directly to the Labor policy platform. Unions support candidates.
Regardless of income, regardless of sector, regardless of collar colour, we are ALL working class if we have an employer, including the new contractors who contract to an employer, where they should be employees instead. We are ALL working class and at the mercy of employers when the Liberals implement laws to unfairly dismiss us, to casualise us, contract our labour or to replace us with foreign labour. We are ALL working class when we have to deal with an unfair, poverty-based, punitive Social Security system.
However, there is no working-class friendly voice in the mainstream media. Almost all newspapers are owned by the Murdoch Press in Queensland. Newspapers, Talkback radio, Television shows do not tell any stories from a working-class perspective. They highlight the right-wing perspective. Where a worker perspective is written, it always ends with the last word from the LNP. At best, we get a panel member and then three right-wing panel members for “balance”. The Guardian could be described as ‘left friendly’ but as a whole, it is friendly to the environmental left, not the working-class left, nor Labor.
There are some very good Independent News sites, such as the Monthly and Saturday Paper, however, these are subscriber based and many do not see these articles.
The stories of these people are missing like a huge black hole in mainstream media.
Social media is rife with misinformation about Labor. The right-wing cluster uses Facebook as the medium to spread misinformation and fear-mongering about Labor. The Greens and their supporters and some Independents use Twitter and blogs (including “Independent News sites”) to spread and try to really reinforce the message that “Labor has lost their way.” There are right-wing bloggers or “Independent journalists” with significant followings also spread this message.
The right-wing says that Labor is beholden to the Unions as if that is a negative thing.
The Greens say that Labor rejects the unions, are distancing themselves from the unions and that the Greens are the original Unionists.
Independents say not to trust major parties, knowing they will support the Liberals in power anyway.
There is a growing stigma on social media about partisan politics. There are very vocal Independent supporters, ‘left-leaning I don’t support any party’ supporters and many greens supporters with significant followings online. They really hammer that it is shameful to politically align yourself with Labor. Those on “the left’ who say it is shameful to support the party of the workers, see Marx rolling in his grave.
Regardless, the Greens, Independents, Liberals, Nationals, LNP and PHON are all singing the same chorus to really try to reinforce to voters that “Labor cannot be trusted and Labor does not care about YOU!” That is the central narrative from all of them.
Absolutely everything about politics boils down to Worker vs Capital. The “Capitalist Class” (Liberals) want to achieve an agenda where the “Working Class” (Labor) is used as the cheapest disposable commodity that money can buy (or engage it for free), or if many can’t buy it, they will make a law to make it so.
The current Liberal agenda for Social Security of poverty payments and RoboDebt, is an agenda where desperate people will start fighting to work for very low wages, in any conditions and unions will be positioned as a group who are stopping them from getting food on the table.
Everything else is white noise. Everything else is a distraction.
One Nation V Labor
The agenda of PHON – a close ally of the Liberals, is to make as much noise about social issues in a negative way as much as they can. They intentionally are perpetrators of racist debate and other negative messaging around social issues, to take the focus off what the Liberals are doing and intend to do with Industrial Relations and Work Rights.
PHON also creates outrage by saying that Labor doesn’t stand up for ‘battlers’ when Labor’s entire agenda is to do so. Whereby Hanson supports the Liberals and does everything to harm the working class and the poor. Pauline has the advantage of the concentrated attention of followers who do not seek out to read views from other parties. Pauline Hanson has been able to achieve this as she has successfully ingrained the distrust of “the left.” More on that at the end of the article.
Labor needs to address negative social issues sharply and shift the focus back to a Labor agenda. Labor needs to be forceful in explaining how voting for Pauline Hanson works against the workers and the poor. Not by attacking her, but by highlighting what she supports by supporting the Liberals and not Labor.
PHON seeks to not take Liberal or LNP seats as they have deals to support each other. They have an agenda to deplete Labor seats to weaken the stance against the right. Usually, this is by attracting voters who PHON does not assist by siding with the Liberals and Labor definitely would.
Labor needs to challenge media creating “them or us outrage” and directly respond to journalists Labor’s response to this and direct the issue back to Labor’s agenda. Labor should call out the reason for the outrage. Liberals benefit from this outrage. This takes the focus off the Liberals. In particular, their Industrial Relations, Social Security and Economic management. Labor should still give voice and support to the group being attacked.
To do this, Labor needs to go on as many right-wing talkback shows as possible.
Greens v Labor
The Greens’ agenda is more complex. The Greens see themselves as having the absolute right to hold the place of Labor in Parliament, without having to do any of the hard work, or achieve progress by way of concession and often painful decisions as Labor has over 100 years.
Labor has had to over many years, often give away some of their agenda. This is to achieve progress little by little via compromise. I guarantee the poorest amongst us understand this because that is a way of life. A small gain is better than nothing at all. However, those who have never lived this, not so much.
This has been the way of the unions too. Work rights didn’t come wrapped up in a pink bow and handed to workers. Union workers have died, gone to jail and have been injured to make even the smallest gain in Industrial relations over time. All because of laws created by the Liberal Party.
The Australian Greens
The Greens want what Labor has achieved through hard work handed to them in that little box tied with a pink bow. They think they can just untie the pink bow and they can claim all the hard work Labor has fought for and claim that they did it. They sell that they can achieve everything without concession or compromise. Greens insist everything is easy and Labor just hates us.
The Greens primarily attack Labor because they want to secure Labor seats. Some Greens believe that one day they will deplete Labor enough to be the major opposition and some Greens have voiced how they want to secure the balance of power. The Greens are not fussed if the right holds power, as long as they have ‘balance of power.’ The Greens agenda is to, like PHON, suffocate Labor’s agenda, but not with creating outrage about Racism, but by creating outrage through climate change.
Labor has very effective policies on both of these issues. Labor needs to sharply counter the outrage and in a direct and personal way possible, by speaking directly to people using the media available today.
Other Campaigns and the Federal Election
In the Federal election, we saw the political practice of creating outrage from both sides of the political spectrum. For me, it is a huge lesson to be learnt. It did not matter what Labor said in regional Queensland. “Stop Adani” suffocated everything. Adam Bandt announcing the Greens would force Shorten to close all mines in ten years, three weeks before election day, was frankly, idiotic and all that was heard.
This created mass fear because mining in QLD affects almost everything north of Gympie. Absolutely everything. Jobs, supply businesses, small businesses, population and what services we will get, including schools and hospitals, what funding we will get, house prices, etc., etc., etc., It is not a simple problem with a simple solution.
All LNP, PHON and Palmer had to do was take that fear and build messages around it. They tied Labor to the Greens about job losses and added some more negative scary lies about taxes. They would have been rolling on the floor laughing in their campaign meetings. What gold on a silver platter that was!
Immediate Demand and Culture of Fear
The PHON and Greens, in particular, have embraced the current culture of ‘immediate demand.’ People want everything now. Both parties insist that everything is easy to get now. Even if you don’t have the numbers in parliament. They have also embraced the culture of fear campaigning.
PHON strongly campaigns that we will all have our rights taken away from us by Labor and this affects our lives and it is urgent to get rid of Labor.
The Greens campaign that we will literally die because of Labor’s inaction on climate change and this affects our very existence and it is urgent to get rid of Labor.
Whilst the worker hating Liberals are lapping up all the power. Both of these parties and their messages against the workers’ party enable that to happen. Both of these parties’ campaign tactics result in preventing a progressive and fair industrial relations agenda. They prevent progressive and fair Social Security and a progressive and fair system of equality for all. Regardless of their ‘academic’ or ‘conceptual’ arguments about what they stand for. That is the result.
All voters are not engaged in politics. The constant negative messaging about Labor does and has had an impact at the ballot box. Labor needs to counter this on a daily basis.
Bring Back The Labor Herald
In the times of modern media, it is essential to bring back the Labor Herald, as just one medium to communicate the Labor message.
Labor needs to dedicate itself to posting frank discussion pieces on the Labor Herald. This is to counter negative Labor messaging in the mainstream media or social media. Regardless if this is from either the right-wing cluster or by the Greens. This does not have to be time-intensive. With the number of Labor MPs, state and federal as well as Senators, the workload could be easily shared around.
These pieces should not be clinical political speak pieces, but story-driven emotive pieces that speak to the people. They should explain very clearly the complexities in parliament and why Labor makes certain decisions.
Many people are simply not aware of the complexities of power in parliament. Due to the negative narrative, particularly by the Greens, people are truly believing Labor could have prevented X when there is absolutely no way to do so.
These pieces should directly address why certain amendments were made and what was the alternative option. If the alternative option was to leave a raw bill for two racists, a Christian conservative, two Liberal friendly ‘centrists’ and a Nationalist to negotiate on, then say so and explain what Labor’s concerns were.
In short, speak to us. Otherwise, Labor through silence enables negative messaging to flourish.
Other Social Media Tools
Every day there is negativity about Labor online. If Labor wants to win office, it is essential that every social media tool and traditional media tool possible is used.
By resurrecting the Labor Herald, Labor supporters can easily share articles on social media, including other blogs. This would counter the negative messaging from the right-wing cluster and the Greens.
Labor could expose tricks and deception. Particularly as used by the Greens, by highlighting the rules of parliament. At times, the Greens try to say Labor doesn’t support X. However, they have literally pulled a stunt to wedge Labor. An example is creating a motion in the wrong bill.
Facebook & Twitter
People who are distrusting of Labor and are looking to PHON and the Greens will not care to take in the views or ‘Like” a Labor Facebook Page or join a Labor Facebook Group.
Labor needs to copy the right-wing cluster and make a range of issue-based Facebook pages and Groups. Labor should address these issues from a Labor perspective. Direct communication by Labor could occur with this group. PHON attracts a high concentration of this group. They do not seek out other party Facebook groups or pages.
The over 40’s group predominantly use Facebook. Many of these people play games on Facebook. I am one of them. I had an onslaught of LNP and Palmer ads during Facebook games and online game apps. This is all messaging.
Labor politicians need to directly engage with people online on Facebook and Twitter. Many times, these are regular people who simply have questions they want answered. The mainstream media depicting everyone as an online troll is simply not true. Treat this no different to face to face engagement.
Message of the Day
Labor could produce a message of the day via a short video. It would take a few minutes to do a live feed video from a car, an office or home. Labor should take note of the daily concerns and negative messaging on Twitter and Facebook. They should use short videos every day to counter these negative messages and reinforce the Labor message.
In regional Towns, traditional newspapers are still a respected source of news. Labor needs to send regular articles to newspapers. Also, letters to the Editor on at least a weekly basis. Labor should counter negative messaging and reinforce the Labor message. Once again, using frank language and not political speak. Take note as to why Hanson is so successful.
We Can Do This
I think we can all agree that there are a number of factors that contributed to the Labor loss. However, I am a person who sees narrative and the impact narrative has on society and politics. This article and proposed solutions are driven by that.
The Liberals will put the country in such a bad state by the end of this term. We should see people return to Labor in droves. However, that is not what I want to see.
I want people to return to Labor in droves because they fully support Labor. That is Labor, a positive, progressive party, who places the worker and disadvantaged at its core.
I want people to return to Labor in droves because negative messaging by the right-wing and Greens has not flourished. I want people constantly talking about the Labor agenda and why we need it.
We can do this! Let’s resurrect the Labor Herald.
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