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Is Labor doomed for oblivion, or can Albo mount a comeback?

Bill Shorten took over as leader of Australian Labor Party in 2013 and resigned in 2019 after taking the party to two elections.

He won the leadership in a two-horse race with Anthony Albanese (Albo) under revised party rules: Rules that gave Albanese little chance of winning.

In 2016 he came within one seat of becoming Prime Minister after adopting a strategy of prematurely revealing major policies well before the election.

He also adopted a benign approach to the everyday swings of Australian politics. An approach that was seen as sensible by some and too light on by others.

He wasn’t expected to win in 2016 so his narrow loss was seen as exemplary. In 2019 he was in better shape and given the dreadful performance of the Coalition in office was expected to win in a canter.

Labor had led in the polls for the better part of three years. Shorten had turned the conventional wisdom on its ear by going early with new policies and shirt-fronting the government at every opportunity.

In many ways it was a radical approach to electioneering taking from the rich to accommodate a fairer and more equal society. Having said that, there were many Labor die-hards who wanted policy to be even further to the left. Conversely, others wanted more centre-right policies.

In short, Labor had done everything right. They were disciplined and loyal to their leader but when the crunch came, even with a set of policies that would make for a better society, their campaigning was terrible.

“The campaign, not the issues, was Labor’s Achilles heel, with the Coalition’s personal attacks on Shorten the final nail in the coffin,” wrote Peter Lewis in The Guardian.

A leak, however, from the committee appointed to reason why Labor lost, seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Shorten.

It is now almost 6 months since Labor experienced its night of soul-destroying darkness. All the untruths and scares told by a prodigious teller of fabrication by Morrison wasn’t enough to unseat him.

The accrued mistrust of Shorten together with union association and unpopularity reigned supreme over the lies and scare campaigns of the Coalition. It must have run deep.

Once again Labor was to experience the loneliness of opposition.

Having had a right-wing Opposition Leader who took them to the left they elected a left-wing leader in Anthony Albanese who seems intent on taking them to the right.

In the months that have past, Albanese has given members the chance to publicly speak up on policy. Some have, and I feel sure more will once the report into their election loss is released in the next week or so.

Moreover, this point in time Albanese seems to be taking the rather old fashioned tactic of laying low unless its otherwise necessary, upping the anti in the third year and releasing policy with only a few weeks or months to go before the election.

At this point it would be wrong not to release a climate policy, very wrong.

The perception of Albo was that he could ‘tuff’ talk to any conservative leader. He indeed unlike others knew how to lay a decent shirtfront on the government.

Initially, Party members wanted him instead of Shorten. Now that they have him and the shirt-front is nothing more than a powder-puff to the left cheek, they want more aggression. As if it resolves everything.

As the theory goes, Labor only ever wins when a person of charisma enters the fray. Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd were men of their time who had vision, excited the people with the possibility that they could achieve great things.

All had one thing in common. They dared to be different, even radical.

The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.

There are those in the Party, and those who support it, who long for the socialism of days long gone without a thought for the changes that have occurred in society. As if one thought suits all.

People scream out “retaliate with the truth”, but the fact is that accessibility or exposure to do so in opposition is limited to a 15-second grab on the nightly news.

Taken in totality, and in my view, there was nothing wrong with Labor’s policies for the recent election. It was just the way they were presented that was deplorable. A Hawke or Keating would have held society in the palm of their right hand and mellifluously told them the facts.

Had as much thought been put into how they were to sell them, and indeed defend the complications in them, they might have stood a chance.

As it was there were so many impediments that you could drive the proverbial truck through them.

Just as the government has a list of talking points to defend its policies, so too should the opposition have had to defend its own.

For example, when employment raises its head every Labor MP should know the following:

“In September 2013, there were 706,400 people unemployed (trend) or 697,100 (seasonally adjusted).

In September 2019, there were 718,000 people unemployed (trend) or 709,600 (seasonally adjusted).

They aren’t keeping up with population growth. Why does no one ever say in response to the jobs growth claim, that there are 12,000 more people unemployed now than when they took over?”

Tell it straight, tell it as it is and fix it.

I have gotten a little ahead of myself so let’s come back to the present. Labor is going through a period of self-examination with a new leader who hasn’t yet found his feet.

Albo is, however, making overtones of doing politics of the past whereas what is needed is something purer than the abrasive manner of the mouth that roared.

Albo should be using the phrase; “He’s loose with the truth” (about Scott Morrison) on every occasion he can, and keep on doing it until it sinks in.

And he should add; ”Just a clone of Trump” to a collection.

It is reasonable to assume that after his sucking up to Trump, Morrison is telling us that it will be the path of Trumpism he will be taking in the future.

At the moment Morrison is having a ball portraying Labor as a party of the past and that it is he and his party that are for the workers.

This impression is reinforced by responses to questions in this week’s Essential Report designed to get the first real take on peoples perceptions of Anthony Albanese’s Labor.

Morrison’s marketing experience – based mostly on slogans – comes through in everything he says and does. He understands the value of lies, repetition and misrepresentation.

It is a pity that Australian politics has degenerated to such a level, but it does however; give Labor an opportunity of rebirth, maybe as a “Common good party.” Dare to be different, and above all be progressive.

It would be a grave mistake to re emerge as just another centre-right party.

It seems to me that everyone wants an economy that is performing well.

However, when you are asking those who can least afford it to disproportionally support it you are not serving the common good.

When Joe Hockey was Treasurer he told the National Press Club: “The average worker works one month every year to pay for the welfare of others.”

At the time I wondered how many months the average worker worked to subsidise farmers, miners, tax breaks, negative gearing, franking credits, private and religious schools (religions don’t pay taxes), and retired politicians.

Fairness and equality of opportunity must be central to any Labor Party platform.

It is difficult to get a grip on just how Albo might rebrand Labor after its period of self-examination given that the opposition leader, given his confusing support for so many Coalition policies.

At the moment he is less popular than Shorten himself. If he doesn’t survive they could end up with a future leadership team of Queensland’s Jim Chalmers and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

So much depends on the attitude of the leader that it is even more difficult to predict how the party will brand itself without it being settled in leadership.

Let’s put that aside for a moment. Before any re-branding can take place the party has to be satisfied that the reason or reasons for the defeat have all been exposed.

Was it the unpopularity of Bill Shorten? Was it the policies or was it entirely the campaign itself?

For me it was the trifecta. Yes, Shorten was unpopular. No, there was nothing wrong with the policies – it was the leaders inability to articulate them, which of course bleeds into the conduct of the campaign.

Ask yourself would Labor have won with Albo?

A hypothetical question indeed. And truthfully I don’t know what Labor should do. It is too early. All I can do is offer some comments, ideas and suggestions, but I have always felt that cleaning up our democracy would be a noble pursuit and the first step toward regaining government.

I note that as I write the news community today, 21 October, are asking for more transparency in our government. It is true that we have a government of a “need to know” mentality, that hides things from us and is about as transparent as a black glass window.

When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.

Here are some thoughts on a Labor revival based on repairing our democracy:

  1. The Labor Party needs to rid itself of out-dated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead.
  2. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. In terms of talent, both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience.
  4. Labor’s pre-selection processes are rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out.
  5. There is a need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the union movement. Fix it.
  6. Our Parliament, its institutions, and conventions was so trashed by Tony Abbott and those who followed that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Fix it.
  7. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Fix it.
  8. Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills. Fix it.
  9. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Fix it.
  10. Question time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Fix it.
  11. Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. Fix it.
  12. Light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. It has debased the parliament and all MPs, as moronic imbecilic individuals. Fix it

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership.

In recent times we have had potential, but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest, and narcissistic personality.

The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.

People on the right of politics in Australia show insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers; with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

On the contrary, it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably. Fix it.

Bloggers more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society.

Truth in government as a principle of democratic necessity needs to be reinstated.

Fix it first and common good policy will follow.

My thought for the day

Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise.

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29 comments

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  1. Lawrence S. Roberts

    The image of Albo with two pots of beer rather sums it up.

    The drowning of the sorrows. The political class is on the nose worldwide.

    The absence of ready solutions has allowed the ascendancy of would be

    vociferous dictators who are really working for the super-rich 0.1%.

    Note: They continue to acquire more wealth at the expense of everyone else

    except The Political Class.

  2. Alpo

    A note of serious warning:

    a) Creative people tend to vote for progressive parties, including Labor.
    b) Creative people are very susceptible to the events in life that emotionally affect them.
    c) Creative people are easily drawn into the clutches of depression.
    d) A serious and unexpected loss can be disappointing enough to unleash a depressive response among creative people.
    e) Once you show some effects of a depressive state your mind doesn’t work well.
    f) If your mind doesn’t work well you are not really in the position to join the effort to recover from the unexpected loss.
    Therefore,
    g) Creative people who are likely to vote for the ALP when they are fine and in control of their emotions, should just take some time off after a serious emotional shock…. say nothing….. until they recover and then can rationally join the conversation.
    h) Labor needs cool heads at the moment…. and a bit of luck, such as a GFC-2!

    My post is not directed to anyone in particular, it’s just a general comment based on the reaction I have observed from some well known progressive voters across the internet.

  3. Kronomex

    Albo who?

  4. Alan Austin

    There is not much evidence that Australians vote according to their perception of the character or competence of the leader. Leaders come and go. The voters are not dills.

    There is considerable evidence that people vote in federal elections according to their perceptions of who will better manage the economy to benefit themselves, their immediate family and the nation.

    There is also considerable evidence that the mainstream media has succeeded in falsifying Labor’s record on economic management and also the Coalition’s record so that a large proportion of the voters firmly believe the opposite of the truth.

    This is why Labor has failed to win a majority of seats in the last four elections.

    If voters actually knew the reality regarding the economy under Labor, and now under the Coalition, Labor would win an election 100 seats to 51.

    There are strategies to change this. But first we must diagnose the problem correctly.

  5. OldWomBat

    Shorten was subjected to 7 years of continual attack by the lnp and the media without ever being found guilty of anything thrown at him. Right or wrong the shit stuck and we ended up with a vacuous thought-bubble as pm.

  6. Barry Thompson.

    Spot on Alan.
    Why is Labor still allowing Morrison to continually lay claim to better economic management?
    History shows that is bullshit!

  7. Wobbley

    I’m sorry but post-mortems re what should have been done are a waste of time while the msm and in particular Turdochs tentacles are entrenched everywhere. The fascists own every thing at the moment even your money, it’s theirs ya know? Nothing will change through the “ procedures” of the political process we have now.
    The unions are under attack, the media have abandoned the people big time, government agencies are as corrupt as the fascist scum who are “ in charge”, the corporations are quite happy to return the great old days when they and the fascists were very close bed fellows.
    The judiciary is constantly under attack when judicial decisions aren’t accepted by the right. Hypocracy and lies are a badge of honour and Labor seems to want to emulate the scum from the right. My solution? Hit the streets with huge numbers of mobilised individuals who are aware of the reality of our predicament and PROTEST!!!!! Shut the whole place down and make the extinction rebellion protests look like a picnic.

  8. George Theodoridis

    Just a small but noteworthy consideration. Hawke and Keating were dealing with a pop of 15mil people around their own age and largely from around their own birth districts and sense of humour.
    Since then all three phenomena have changed enormously.

    Alpo, the “creative people” have, I suspect and feel it in my bones, have left the country when Julia became PM and certainly by the time Turnbull took over. The last creative person would have left by the time Dutton took over Home affairs from Morrison.
    They either left the country or they’ve blown their brains, completely unable to see and accept that their country has become such dung heap of ideas and morality.
    One or two could well have done what Euripides and David Thoreau had done, go and live in a cave or the woods.

    Then, there is the Fukuyama’s view that we could spend a few minutes mulling over. Fukuyama is an idiot who thinks the USA is the Messiah of the planet, though not right now under Trump and that since the cold war had ended and, what he calls “Democracy” has won, History came to its expected end. (He tried to curl back from that stand with his next book but won’t go into that one now).
    His latest book is called Identity Politics and he asserts that people vote for those who are in line with their own identities: gays, pro lifers, pro climate, anti immigration etc -and only on those issues. They vote only for someone who will protect their “identity” (largely consisting of a single issue) and not for the whole bag of policies.
    I think this is probably true and, frighteningly, increasing in effect. It has become a well worn cliche but yes, people have lost trust in the political process, in the politicians who are paid many times more than they are for doing bugger all and see the theatre in Parliament becoming progressively juvenile and absurd.

    Creative people come to near puking point whenever they hear the word “Democracy” these days.

  9. Alan Austin

    The solution may not need to be quite so extreme, Wobbley.
    First, we accept that the issue is not the party leader. If it was, the Coalition would not have won in 1996 or 2013 or 2019.
    Then, we accept that perceptions of economic management are crucial in federal elections.
    Then, we recognise that the Liberal Party, the Murdoch media and the IPA systematically deceive about 20% of the electorate – enough to prevent Labor ever winning.
    Then we boycott the Murdoch outlets out of existence by targeting all their advertisers – who include Labor governments – bizarrely.
    This can work. It worked in the UK and succeeded in closing down Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World in 2011.

  10. Perkin Warbeck

    I know it’s unpopular to say it, but I knew Labor was goosed when Bob Brown’s caravan started. The Greens – which the ABC formula tells me I am sympathetic to – gave us Abbott PM and Morrison PM.
    Labor declines an alliance with the Greens for good reason.

  11. New England Cocky

    Welcome the the Fourth Reich where expenditure from the public purse is once again controlled by BIG BUSINESS manipulating willing political puppets prepared to accept personal pecuniary interests to ignore community social values while securing the future for corporations.

    Just as described in Garry Allen (1971) “None Dare Call it Conspiracy”, available on-line. Six (6) titles.

  12. marty

    The working class has kissed their ass and its not going to change soon, i’m sorry but voters ARE dills and its the working class that has swallowed the lies and bullshit, i’m constantly amazed in my workplaces how incompetent people can operate and sometimes excel on the back of false confidence and total self belief when their work results tell a completely different story, yet all they have to do is tell their boss that they are doing a great job and they are believed at face value, all good until the truth comes out and the shit hits the fan, and when it does the blame shifting begins,sound familiar? The bullshit meter is broken,run down by years of media dumbing down and the end result is what we now have, politicians that are taken at face value, hiding the truth and blame shifting, i used to think that the working class had a good bullshit meter to see through this but i fear self interest and “aspiration” has killed that. they need a wake up not told that they were right and we need to listen.

  13. wam

    Well done, lord.
    Truth is such an accurate measure.
    In 2013 , Albo won the membership vote and lost the caucus vote. The winner came close twice but failed as opposition leader. If only he had told the truth, lord, he may have won the two queensland seats or the two tassie seats or even one each.
    But he didn’t and he lost.
    What do you think was the true purpose of the caravan? Tell the truth, lord. Was boobby’s plan to maximise the green vote? Did the greens increase their take from the AEC? How many of these dollars were from lnp and phon supporters? Am I the only labor supporter who cringes every time he hears the slogan ‘labor and the greens’?
    Thankfully, Albo is desperate to tell the truth but can’t get a true word in the media. . He may learn that a controversy sells and a well placed will have the autocuists salivating
    he could start with kaye’s
    Net debt at 31 August 2013 was $161,253 million
    Net debt at 31 August 2019 was $399,059 million
    ps
    Alan is suggesting voters are not dills that is a novel idea for you to consider, lord?
    But I wonder if he noticed labor’s victories have been with leaders with character and stature. Competent ‘nicies’ like Kim and Bill came close seconds
    Do something Albo. Not on the ABC try to stir on 7 or 9 and labor’s office and work on ridding the parliament of brandt.

  14. Lloyd Murray

    Albosleeze tell the truth you people are nuts😎✌️

  15. DrakeN

    Alan Austin @8:06

    ” The voters are not dills.”

    From wherever in Hell’s name do you draw that conclusion?

    Firstly the concept “The voters…” is nonsense. They are not an homogenous mass; nor are they an educated constituency.

    A sufficiently large portion of the voting public are, ipso facto, complete and utter dills otherwise the existing effectively two Party system would not exist and the mental midgets who control them would be starving in the gutters of poverty which they have themselves created for a large part of the community.

    Donald Horne’s “The Lucky Country”, half a century old as it is, remains as true to the body politik today as it did then.

    We remain a country of forelock tuggers, hero worshippers and voluntarily subservient drones – with very few notable exceptions other than at Extinction Rebellion rallies and ‘childrens’ school strikes’.
    As a society our understanding of reality and values was, is, and probably always will be extremely superficial.

    “panem et circenses”

  16. Joseph Carli

    A consciousness of kind sympathy to the aspirants and holders of petty bourgoise political philosophy now are the governing class of Australia in BOTH major parties…..the wage earners are screwed!

  17. Anon E Mouse

    The calls for unity and shouting down of anyone who dared comment that Shorten was not popular and maybe un electable as PM have gone by the wayside. Unity was an illusion.

    In Nth Qld coal areas, those seats that supposedly lost Shorten the election, Setka’a CFMEU were actively running a social media campaign pushing the Lib lies of death taxes and pension taxes. How very anti Labor of the CFMEU. CFMEU are supposed to be lefties, like Shorten, so why did they shaft him? What demonic pact led one of the strongest unions to spread right winged lies and propaganda? I can only imagine what kind of paybacks were given there.

    Something smells off in the Labor party, but it isn’t Albo.
    Albo has been the only one, since Rudd’s non-factional stance, who has been game enough to stand up to the likes of Setka.
    To my way of thinking Albo has been doing a lot

  18. Fred Goldfish

    Many of the blue collar working class have become “contractors” like the Qld miners in the last election.They have been hoodwinked into thinking they are in a special category.They chose self interest instead of what was best for the country.Give me Labor any day.

  19. Keitha Granville

    Goldfish, that’s it in a nutshell. Seems interest. To many people voted for themselves alone, not for the country, not for the poor, not for the planet, not for the refugee. For their own selfish self interest.. I am sure it is true that we all look at the “what’s in it for me” page during a campaign. That’s not going to matter one is when the planet burns or drowns.

    Albo is not the leader they need right now. He is not an orator, not tough enough, not charismatic. Labour needs Hawke or Gough right now, else we are doomed to years in the wilderness with the fascists at the helm.

  20. Phil

    Albo has two chances of winning the next election Buckley’s and SFA. His performance in the parliament has been nothing short of abysmal, someone should tell this ‘Liberal Lite ‘ Morrison and the coterie of gibbering baboons masquerading as a government, are the enemy. Yes I can just imagine Albo, inviting some of these pathological liars, spivs, shysters and other assorted limp dicks to his sons or daughters wedding. Yes there’s Albo I can picture it vividly, carrying around the drinks and nibbles tray and serving these bastards who wouldn’t piss on Albanese if he was on fire. Yep there’s Albo with much heavy guffaw telling Dutton what a splendid job he was doing. Not to mention Morrison who he would be having deep philosophical debates about religion late into the night. I just hope the Labor party doesn’t lets this go on and on like the Shorten saga. If Albo has the fortunes of the Labor party in his heart he should fall on his sword and give the job to someone with the nurries to win. The public is on to it, this time they will not listen at their peril.

  21. Barry Thompson.

    That assessment of Albanese is a lot of tripe Phil.

  22. Zathras

    When the price of coal inevitably drops as a result of mines like Adani dumping even more coal onto a declining international market and the “contractor” coal miners start losing their jobs in places like Cessnock and they finally realise Morrison never had any plan beyond becoming PM, maybe things will change.

    Morrison himself is behaving more like Trump every day.

  23. Phil

    That assessment of Albanese is a lot of tripe Phil.

    Bullshit. Go back to sleep. I am an active retired union member my telephone doesn’t stop ringing with disgruntled members, like I said go back to sleep.

  24. Douglas

    Social media had a huge port to play. My facebook friends run at about 50/50. The right side constantly shared the death tax, financial better managers stuff but those on the left never posted anything about the bullshit the LNP were spouting.

    It makes me wonder what the software that Ashby wanted from the NRM was capable of.

    Does anyone know?

  25. Barry Thompson.

    Phil, an active retired union member. I am so impressed. I guess that makes you an astute political analyst.
    Most of your posts are rants Phil. I prefer to deal with cooler heads.
    Any further response will be ignored.

  26. Phil

    Phil, an active retired union member. I am so impressed.

    Well I knew you would be, being such an impressionable know all and expert in political science as yourself. Chances are, it is odds on you are probably an office cleaner somewhere .But I digress. My posts rants as they me be are still better than , the mind numbing nonsensical schlock that you put to print. Now like I said, go back to sleep. If anything in the world happens that may interest you and wont get you over excited and too stimulated, I will wake you up. Obtw the new box of Mr Sheen is in the cleaning cupboard. I have also put the new handle on the mop.

  27. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    John’s positive thoughts were confirmed by Albo’s headland speech at CEDA: Thanks for your interpretations, John.

  28. Kronomex

    If they keep Albo as leader then their chances of getting in a slim to none. He’s bloody useless and is more of a boon to the LNP than bane.

  29. Pingback: It wasn't a miracle at all - -ALP review » The Australian Independent Media Network

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