08 July 2012

Labor and the Greens

There were two pieces today on recent chafing within the Greens-Labor relationship worth noting. The better-written one was the amateur blog, the second was a tendentious smear of bullshit wiped across a paper fit for no better purpose.

First, Drag0nista's long thin streak of conventional wisdom, where she shows the weakness of her case by being most insistent.

When one of the major parties is strong it draws votes from left and right, from its major-party opponent and from fringe parties. When a party is weak it loses votes left and right.

When Hawke and Keating were in office the Coalition lost votes to Labor and to far-right anti-immigration, anti-economic-rationalist parties. Under Howard, Labor lost votes not only to the Libs but also to the Greens. It's not an either/or proposition for Labor to win votes from the Libs and Greens; they must win votes from both.

The tensions between the Greens and Labor display the uneasy relationship within all parties between machine operatives responsible for fundraising and preference allocation, and the parliamentarians who have to cut deals. The Labor-Green machine operatives must work against one another but their parliamentary representatives need to do a better job of working together, because the alternative is that both lodge only symbolic objections to policies they cannot block.

The by-election for the Victorian state seat of Melbourne is one aspect of the trial run for the ALP’s Victorian campaign, not the Federal campaign. Victorian Labor was blindsided by the Libs last time and they have a chance to show what they have learned, if anything.
The ALP isn’t trying to win progressive votes from the Greens, they’re trying to win the middle class, middle income voters who are parked with the Libs but are uneasy about Abbott. They’re also trying to win progressive voters parked with the other/independent category who find the Greens too extreme.
These people sound exactly like the sort of people who had voted for Howard up to 2007. The idea that they could simply vote for middle-class welfare, then vote for an apology for Aborigines/measures against carbon pollution/[insert your progressive Kevin07 idea here] was appealing and - if Gillard offers something similar, but with the credibility that Rudd came to lack - it sounds like the best of all possible worlds for a Labor victory in 2013 (with the Greens continuing to hold balance of power in the Senate).

The idea that Greens-Labor are at one another's throats falls down on Drag0nista's home turf: the ACT. There are two House of Reps seats there (both held by Labor) and two Senate seats (one held by Labor, one by a Liberal). The Greens have a chance of picking up a seat in the ACT - but which Labor MP is most vulnerable? None of them - the Liberal Senator, Gary Humphries, is most vulnerable, because he goes to his constituents with the politically difficult message that a vote for him is a vote for at least 20,000 job losses in the capital.

Since the last federal election, votes take no path. They are cast, counted, some candidates become members of parliament while others do not, and then at some point another election is called and votes are cast, etc. To place too much credence in polls is to make the political equivalent of the mistake counselled against by Kenny Rogers: "You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table/ There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done".

Polls cannot and do not measure the twists and turns of politics. Nobody who has followed Australian politics for any more than a single term of Parliament has any excuse for getting carried away with polls, or with the occasional spat at moments of tension.

Then there's this half-witted effort in the Daily Telegraph, written by someone with no persuasive skills and no respect for those who read what he puts out.
Labor must turn on the Greens and destroy them
Backroom boys can turn on one another like so many snakes in a sack, but for the Prime Minister her deal with the Greens is what keeps her in power (and by extension, what keeps Howes on government boards and other lurks). The very headline contains the essence of the failure of judgment that undermines the credibility of the whole article, if not the credibility of Howes himself.
If the Greens had their way, I doubt NSW would ever win the State of Origin.

There probably wouldn't even be a State of Origin - we'd just sit around with Queenslanders and play pass the parcel.
If you ever wondered what Howes does at AWU executive meetings with Bill Ludwig, there's your answer. The State of Origin contest in rugby league began in 1980, when Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister. Is Howes going to credit the Coalition for one of Australia's great sporting contests, or are we done with this silly attempt to link sport to politics?
They are able to use their political leverage to pursue extremist agendas, and to implement policies that are both socially and economically damaging.
Lots of lobby groups do that. Another example is that pig-nosed dill who wants to tie workers to non-jobs making stuff in factories that nobody wants to invest in, so that Australian manufacturing gets this reputation as some sort of sheltered workshop rather than taking the chance of a small, high-quality industry where people are open to joining the union but puzzled as to what it might offer them.
The Greens are most successful, and therefore the most dangerous of the fringe parties - the left-wing version of what Pauline Hanson's One Nation party did to the Nationals' vote. They have carefully built a political brand based on social conscience and concern for the environment. The benign, smiling face of Bob Brown convinced many that the Greens and Labor could co-exist as two sides of a harmonious progressive political movement.
This is wrong on so many levels.

First of all, Hanson came and went within the lifespan of the Howard government. The Greens came out of Tasmania, once (with NSW) the strongest state for Labor, and all the flatulent outrage we have seen from Howes has been done. Brown spent most of his career being demonised - he's only "benign" because successive generations of politician (many of them smarter than Howes, and with more substantial records of public service) looked stupid for doing so.

Why didn't Howes look at the failure of successive generations of Tasmanian politicians in taking on the Greens, and avoid the same lazy positions that led them to failure? Does he really think he's so special that he can ignore the lessons of history, simply because he wasn't part of it?
But beneath the marketing spin, the Greens are run by hardliners who believe they know better than anyone else.
... just like the scions of NSW Labor.
Political campaigning will become the domain of wealthy individuals. Naturally, this suits the Liberals. Surprisingly, it also suits the Greens.
NSW Labor spent a decade-and-a-half taking Joe Tripodi's mates out of Centrelink offices and seeing them through to significant property portfolios, done in such an overbearing and clumsy way that the Greens gained that indispensable quality for any political movement - a point. Surely Labor did that so they could call on them in their hour of need, no? And if not, how is this anyone else's problem?

Then he tries into invoke Labor history: I wish he'd learned some first.
The ALP has been down this path before. We dealt with Billy Hughes ...
No you didn't. Hughes became the longest-serving Federal MP and was the longest-serving PM when he died, spending most of his career outside the ALP.
We dealt with the divisive Jack Lang ...
No you didn't. Lang remained a force into the 1940s and Paul Keating brought him back into the Labor fold. Howes' dreams of Australian manufacturing as a series of sheltered workshops full of people unthinkingly renting their jobs from the AWU could not be more Langite.
We dealt with Joe Lyons and the United Australia Party in the 1930s ...
Wrong way around: Lyons and the UAP thrashed a one-term Labor government such that Curtin and Chifley lost their seats, and they stayed in office for the rest of Lyons' life.
And then we eventually saw off Bob Santamaria and the DLP in the 1950s.
Not in the 1950s, not in the '60s, and he was still a force in the 1970s; when Santamaria died he was given a state funeral by John Howard.

Thank goodness Howes and the others who run what's left of NSW Labor are such good haters - they're not that great at the actual politics.
The Greens do not support working people. They would rather we all squat in share houses in Newtown than work in real jobs that actually make things.
Make what? Coffees for Paul Howes and Sam Dastyari when they waddle up Sussex Street in search of a clue?

Newtown and other inner-city suburbs used to have lots of manufacturing jobs. It wasn't the Greens who forced them out, the Green vote rose in those areas as those jobs retreated. Those areas are full of Labor Left people who preselect Labor Left MPs who do factional battle with clowns like Howes and Dastyari, and who engage in subtle strategies to maintain Labor representation ahead of the Greens, except where Sussex Street cannot resist sticking their oars in and guaranteeing Green success.
... NSW Labor General Secretary Sam Dastyari's proposal to adopt a policy of not automatically preferencing the Greens ...
What a fence-sitting, two-bit, namby-pamby proposal that is. After all Howes bluster about State of Origin, Jack Lang etc., I was expecting a lead-up to a firm, strong statement of principle (or the principle-veneer you get from NSW Labor). Instead, there's a bit of hand-wringing - not so much a step in any particular direction but an embarrassed shuffle on the spot.
Labor has an obligation to stop extremists who threaten our democracy.
They can turn on that arseclown Howes for a start. Labor could and should get rid of him tomorrow, all without the need for a byelection. Either he'll wake up to himself or he'll walk away, talk about a win-win solution.

Labor and the Greens have to work together. They need to let off steam from time to time, but they must do substantial work together. The Coalition won't work with anyone for the greater good, so stuff them until they wake up to themselves. They have adults in both ranks, and together they can lift the debate (on refugees and so many other issues) in ways that other parties can only follow.


  1. My favourite part of Howes' moronic piece was when @greenat16 called him out on the baseless State of Origen extrapolation, and was told "@greenat16 just quoting your policy sunshine"

    Classy stuff.

  2. Howes really is a clown. Surely he won't win nomination for a seat in Federal Parliament? Labor will really be on a downhill trajectory if he gets up.

  3. You're delusional, and the problem with your critique is that when it comes to politics its every party for themselves. why should Labor bend over backwards to endorse the Greens when doing so loses them votes from the centre?

    Ultimately the person who votes Green is hardly likely to preference against the ALP if they want their preference to have any value so its entirely reasonable that the ALP should be less forgiving of the loopy policies of teh Greens

    1. I have explained my position in detail, and however much you wish I was deluded just saying so won't work. You are not on Idiot Radio here, fella.

    2. derrida derider19/7/12 3:03 pm

      I'm a lifelong Labor voter, Iain, but in the last NSW election that is exactly what I did - and I was not alone. And on present performance I'm likely to hold my nose and do it again at the next Federal election - and again I won't be alone.

      I'd rather a moderately competent and honest government that takes the country in a direction I don't particularly like than a bunch of crooks and clowns. So its vote 1 the Greens - yes they're definitely economically naive, but they are honest. And vote 2 the Libs - vicious reactionary populists but they can't be worse than vicious reactionary incompetents.

    3. Your assumption that an Abbott-led govt would be "moderately competent" makes no sense. It would be worse than the incumbents, not better.

  4. When I read this piece of trash I thought "can't wait to see what Andrew Elder makes of this" and I wasn't disappointed.

    Pity though that NSW Labor (and much of it in Vic where I live) are impervious to facts and reason.

  5. So, the ALP doesn't want the preferences that flow through from Green primary votes? That's the message I take away from these clowns. What a load of ridiculous macho posturing.

  6. swearyanthony9/7/12 11:25 am

    Nici: a pile of ALP hacks yesterday were of the opinion "fuck the Greens, we'll always get their 2nd preferences" which is borderline political malpractice. If, for instance, Abbott was rolled by Turnbull, I suspect the ALP might find themselves in a bit of a pickle.

    The "Newtown" sledge in Howes idiotic piece really summed it up. Hurr hurr ferals. I am guessing that line made the other Sussex St boofheads laugh. In the real world, Tebbutt and Albanese are hardly safe from losing their seats to the Greens. In what used to be ALP heartland territory. Disclaimer: I think Albanese is an effective politician. But you're voting for a party, not a candidate.

    Meanwhile, the Vic ALP are preferencing Family First in Melb ahead of the Greens. Stupidity. No one who's impressed by them preferencing FF was even vaguely likely to vote Green ahead of the ALP. It just makes the Vic ALP look petty, and annoys the remaining rump of progressives. And of course previous clever Vic ALP preference deals to fuck over the Greens gave us Fielding and some DLP halfwits.

  7. I think the best bit is that Howes entirely misses in his 'we defeated this/that' diatribe is that the rise of Green parties is a global phenomenon. Its not some unique phenomenon that woke up in Australia and can be put to bed in Australia, but god it'll be hella funny watching them 'try'

  8. I think you flatter Howes by calling him a halfwit, Andrew.

    Aside from that minor quibble, another excellent piece of work.

  9. Howes is a dog to the ALP cause. He didn't even pass year 10. He is everything that is wrong with the ALP and he's a mate of Bolt's. Who is this dog? The man who put the current PM in power.

    1. He's a despicable right-faction hack who cut off his nose to spite his face. He and his ilk ought to be expelled from the Labor party; lets see these double dealing hacks get their own party off the ground without all the credit accumulated by a more progressive labor now past. No, they'd all have to go to their natural ideological home and join the Liberal party.

  10. I think Howes has delusions of being the second Hawke

  11. Andrew, I don't agree completely with the assertion that the Greens need to work with Labor. They should be prepared to work with whomever will achieve their policy objectives. In some cases, that's definitely not going to be Labor.

    As I've stated over at Drag0nista's blog, the Greens humanist side has completely overridden their environmental side. As a result of that, they made the same mistake Labor has done and they're trying to out-Labor Labor in the same way Labor is trying to out-Lib the Libs.

    The Greens need to give up their pretensions to main political party status, it's not going to happen (certainly not on any reasonable time frame). They should be more like the Democrats were in keeping the bastards honest. As long as they're tilting at windmills trying to 'replace the bastards', they're going to fail, because the game of the bastards is not to achieve any policy objective (because they don't have ideologically based policies any more), it's to win power for power's sake.

    1. But they are a main political party with 32 members of parliament around the country.

      And what is wrong with being humanist when the other parties are clearly racist bigots.

    2. @Anonymous - aggregating state and federal parliamentary numbers doesn't make them a main player. They are not going to have a Green PM or Premier, especially in one of the big 4 states, in a very, very long time. They currently occupy the same sort of niche as the democrats used to. Trying to be one of the majors means going for power rather than principle, we've already seen behaviour from them falling into the whole spin trap. They can't become a major without compromise, it's axiomatic. Do you think either the Liberal or Labor parties get into power being true to their beliefs? God no, both of those 2 parties have policy positions that are in direct conflict with their foundation principles.

      As for the humanist side, firstly, humanism is a core value of the left of both the Liberal and Labor parties. It's pretty mainstream to try to be nice to people, particularly the poor and disadvantaged. But environmental issues are marginal in both majors. The Greens were founded as an environmental party and that's where their strength lies because they don't compete so much on that.

      The inherent conflict comes from the fact that our environmental issues are almost universally caused by human beings. Looking after human beings has, as an inevitable consequence, harm to the environment. If Ms Hanson-Young wants to bring in a heap more migrants, I hope she's prepared to hop into a bulldozer to clear all the land for the houses for them to live in, the schools for their kids etc. The Greens slip and slide around this fact, nobody ever nails them on it. As long as the Greens are all about intensely humanist policies, they are ineffective as an environmental party. All the motherhood statements in the world about sustainable development won't fix that.

    3. Lachlan Ridge14/7/12 7:15 am

      Rubbish. You can't be a humanist and be a slave to market forces as market forces inherently work against people who are economically vulnerable. Yet both the ALP and the Liberal/National coalition both bleat the market is good mantra as an article of faith. I think you're conflating humanism with capitalism as if they're not inherently contradictory. Your dribble that humans and the environment are an either/or dichotomy is so intellectually flawed and shallow that it doesn't bear responding to. Stick to advertising copy cantbeeffed, we're trying to deal with society here. A society that exists within an environment strangely enough.

    4. Lachlan, if it's so flawed, I'd like to hear some substantive arguments in favour of the thesis that an ever increasing population is not bad for the environment. And without the gratuitous ad hominem narks - if you have an argument, play the man, not the ball.

      As long as everyone is an adherent of the growth mantra (and that includes the Greens as well as the Liberal and Labor parties), then I can only see the environment coming off second best. I live in SE Queensland, and every day I drive past more and more cleared native bush to make room for more Metricon homes. Koalas were made locally extinct in my area just under 2 years ago and are heading that way in the rest of SE Queensland and NSW northern rivers, given the number hit by cars and attacked by dogs in addition to continuing habitat loss. One orchid species became extinct last year to build a new housing development and 2 others are in an area so restricted that they cannot survive long term.

      Take a trip to Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos and see the wholesale clearing of rainforest. A group of friends of mine discovered a bunch of plant species on several mountain in The Philippines a few years ago, most of which are now extinct - the mountains to which they were endemic have been completely cleared. The level of biodiversity in tropical rainforests is so high because many species can be endemic to a single locale or mountain, which makes any land clearing almost certain to cause extinctions. This scene is repeating itself daily.

      If you don't see plant and animal extinctions are an environmental issue, then that's your prerogative. I do. But I recognise that the vast majority of humans aren't particularly fussed by it. After all city people live in environments where most local endemic species have been wiped out - just look at the bird species in Sydney compared to what lived there 250 years ago.

      Have a look at the NSW Dept of Environment's list of threatened plant species (it's massive). Then multiply that about 5 fold for Australia and god knows how many times for the global picture. It's incredibly grim reading.

      Humans can coexist with the environment but it would take a complete revision of our society, probably including either ditching or revamping capitalist concepts to the point of not being recognisable. Every immigrant settled in Australia adds to our population, growing populations need more houses, which need more bush to be cleared and more extinctions to occur, it's axiomatic because it's happening right now. Capitalism depends on economic growth, which in turn depends on population growth. I can't see change happening until it's forced on us.

      As for humanism and the market, the market is simply a means of resource allocation. It doesn't allocate resources equitably, so yes there is a conflict with looking after all people, but both major parties have policies to try to address these to varying degrees. However, resource allocation is still a vexed issue even outside of a market structure when resources become stretched, or when particular resources are in limited supply. Sometimes helping one person axiomatically hurts another.

    5. Lachlan Ridge17/7/12 10:01 am

      Refer to my post below about 'Teh Greens' and learn something about the world outside Southeast Queensland. My critique was of your ridiculous dichotomy, not resource allocation, which is the very definition of economics. Strangely there is one parliamentary grouping in Australia that has rejected the growth paradigm, and it ain't Labor or the coalition.

      Yes, the whole planet faces the problem of seven fish and eight mouths, but strangely history is littered with examples where societies have totally ignored limits to growth, and guess what happened? Read Jarod Diamond for the spoiler. It's why Liberal Democracy is toast old son.

      I come to this blog because it is informative and insightful, not to have my intelligence insulted. Fairfax can do that for free seven days a week if I ever chose to return to their websites. Please avoid adding to the hubris with hand wringing nonsense. Oh, and read Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London if you want to understand humanism. I think you're getting your Mill and Hobbes mixed up.

    6. derrida derider19/7/12 3:14 pm

      Absolutely 100% agree with Cantbeeffed. I vote Green for the environment and for their honesty. Unfortunately the last shades into naivety, but that's better than dishonesty shading into corruption.

      Most of their "social justice" stuff is meaningless at best and self-defeating at worst, they seem utterly unable to recognise some vested interests while excessively fearing others, and as a professional economist I don't think they have a clue as to how to further Australians' material prosperity (though of course one wing of them wants to wish away that prosperity - to which I answer be damned careful what you wish for ...).

  12. What I find interesting with this Andrew are the terms being used to describe the Greens – "loony", "irresponsible" and "reckless" to name three.

    This is exactly the same language being used in the City of Sydney Mayoral election to run the narrative that Clover Moore is a dangerous, anti-business radical.

    What's disappointing with this language are the number of commentators who seem to accept the idea that anyone standing against the corporatist me-too Liberal and Labor parties is an extreme radical.

    It's also interesting that once again the ALP has decided to play the Liberal Party on the LNP's home turf.

    Rather than agreeing with the Libs that the Greens are "dangerous radicals" the ALP could have been making the point that the NSW O'Farrell government is being held hostage by tiny parties who owe their entire Parliamentary existence to coalition preferences.

    As a political outsider, I've ceased to be amazed at the dribbling incompetence of well paid men like Dastyari and Howes who have spent their entire lives inside the party machines.

    Given this institutionalised ineptitude is bipartisan, it's going to be a very interesting election next year.

    1. Whilst I agree the demonisation of the Greens is happening as you state, they haven't made life easier for themselves. Politics is the art of compromise - if they're not prepared to compromise they should stick to being a lobby group and not aspire to be a major political party. I admire them for trying to stay true to fundamental principles, but politics is not a pure business - seriously, what is? I've spent my professional life as a deal maker, negotiator and conflict resolver - if you're not prepared to compromise you're not in the game. My word for those I've encountered who haven't been prepared to compromise: bully.

  13. Ian Milliss10/7/12 11:10 am

    Swearyanthony hits the nail on the head. The ALP is relying on getting Greens preferences no matter what, the same sort of abusive relationship approach they have to all their long term supporters "hey you can't leave me because you've got nowhere else to go so cop this ... whack!"

    They could get a nasty surprise if the Libs suddenly dump Abbott just short of the election and Turnbull sails in while the honeymoon is still on. I suspect quite a lot of Greens would support a Turnbull led Liberal Party on the basis that at least they wouldn't be any worse than an ALP controlled by the NSW Right.


    1. You know what, Ian, they [Greens supporting Turnbull] just might be right - except that if Turnbull got to be leader, he'd still most likely be captive to Liberal Right to some extent.

    2. Ian, I think you're dead right about that. Bandt made a big mistake saying that the Greens would have supported Labor anyway. That stance assumes things about both Labor and Liberal that aren't necessarily true, and certainly not fixed in stone. A truly small 'l' Liberal party would look like tree huggers compared to the NSW Labor right.

  14. It's not just Howes, as bad as he is. The ALP is riddled with this kind of self-destructive thinking.

    Whenever the ALP feel stuck between the unions on the one hand and the Greens on the other, they always bash the Greens first, under the pretense that they cannot do without the unions' support and that the Greens and Greens voters are hardly likely to cozy up to the Coalition. What, and... the unions are?? In fact, come to think of it, didn't the forestry wing of the CFMEU openly campaign for Howard in 2004?? The same election in which clever Victorian Family First preference deals yielded Steven Fielding, the senator who voted over and over and over again with the Coalition and did everything he could to stymie the ALP's signature 2007 policy piece, unwinding WorkChoices?

    And now, just when they've finally bedded down the carbon tax, in the face of unrelenting opposition from the media and everyone else, they decide that the best people to suddenly pick a fight with are the party that by its very name stands for environmental sustainability first and foremost. Way to present an image of stability and confidence in what you're doing, guys.

    My god. The stupidity of the ALP is absolutely unfathomable. I hope they win the next election because Abbott. But shit like this is a stark reminder that they really don't deserve to.

  15. A decent article. The author deserves to be congratulated for independent thought and the courage to express those thoughts and insights publicly. I see many comments here apparently made by people thinking inside the bourgeois mainstream media box; thank reason for the internet and social media those of us thinking for ourselves have somewhere else to go for a good read.

  16. Howe's piece was absolutely woeful and is yet further confirmation that any labor figure who is popular with News Ltd columnists is probably helping to lead the party to ruin.

    Gillard and Rudd both led broadly decent governments but have been so gutless about the fact that it's entirely meaningless. The path to salvation, if one exists isn't to spout more anti-green News Ltd catchphrases and hope you'll sound more authentic than the party to whom they come naturally. They need to own their achievements and forcefully make the point that they've been governing in the national interest for five years and confront the fact-free sludge that Abbott so lazily throws at them.

    1. You raise a good point. Labor's narrative, as others have noted numerous times, is always couched in terms of the Liberal party, and now the Greens. I think it was Malcolm Farnsworth who commented on Twitter recently on an interview that Gillard did recently where she referred to Abbott numerous times. Now they're doing it with the Greens. Why can't they just talk about themselves and their achievements rather than drawing attention to others? So defensive.

    2. Lachlan Ridge14/7/12 7:06 am

      The ALP do this because the best thing they've got going for them is Tony Abbott.

  17. Lachlan Ridge10/7/12 6:30 pm

    Part One:

    I worked with Paul Howes at Trades Hall in Sydney about eight or nine years ago when Howes prime responsibility was operating the photocopier and other menial tasks and wandering up to the roof with that other apprent bastion of intellect Peter Lewis for some unspecified activity that seemed to leave them both listless, if somewhat jovial, in the afternoons.

    Lewis is now a director of essential media communication (small caps, e.e. cummings style) the media and polling outfit that includes Liz Lukin from the Victorian ALP right who have sold themselves as Svengalis around the labour movement and pocketed a truckload of coin designing the Your Rights At Work astroturf. Lewis himself told me in 2004 or 2005 (after a Trades Hall christmas dinner) that he enjoyed "being a puppetmaster" rather than a front man. He and Howes are close.

    Howes rose spectacularly (and rediculously for those who knew him) through the AWU ranks after a series of factional blunders by the Ludwig group opened up a Bradbury when those in front of him fell over, and the alternative would have been Russ Collison - a man who literally cannot put his tie on (think a stupid version of Russ Hinze, but without the daughter). The job was initially supposed to go to Matt Thistlethwaite when Bill Shorten entered parliament, but Thistlethwaite ended up having to save the NSW Branch of the ALP from Mark Arbib (and has been rewarded with a senate seat since).

    So Howes ends up, absurdly, as National Secretary of the AWU (which in a federated union is a lot less serious than it sounds). His profile owes a lot to his rabidly Zionist media officer Andrew Casey; famous around the union movement for his Pravda style rants when he was running media for the Miscellaneous Workers Union (the ALP left's version of the AWU, a union with a self perpetuating dysfunctional leadership that will never be rolled by the rank and file and would probably make the HSU look like pocket money).

    So Howes is a clown in the eyes of all that have been up close and personal with him. It is yet another indication of our mainstream media fail that they can't see through this hopelessly-out-of-his-depth political child. Christ, Crikey had him on the front of their most powerful unionists list, which caused much mirth in the real world. The reality is Howes isn't even listened to by his own state secretaries, let alone politicians not in need of a photo opportunity.

    The AWU's big political powerbase was Queensland state politics. Remind me how many seats the ALP have in the Queensland state parliament? There isn't a Federal MP anywhere in the country that would win or lose preselection on the say-so of the AWU except, ironically, Kevn Rudd! So Howes can go back on the roof of Trades Hall with Peter Lewis for all we care in the real world.

  18. Lachlan Ridge10/7/12 6:31 pm

    Part two:

    That all said there isn't many people that understand the Greens. Until recently in NSW the dominant faction was filled with ex-ALP left people who had steered the party for years on a democratic socialist course (even the environmentalist Ian Cohen MLC had described himself as a socialist). This faction had driven a lot of the grassroots democratic structure of the Federal party (that, f'rinstance, stopped Brown backing the Telstra sale, which the Tasmanian Senator initially supported). In Tasmania the situation is a lot different, with the politicians very much directing the party and other states in various shades in between (and depending on what's at stake and the quality of the MP).

    In very recent times a more pluralist (in a political sense) grouping has emerged in NSW around Kate Fahrmann, the Senate candidate for 2013. This grouping - associated with ex-Brown staffer and former essential media communication (emc) employee Ben Oquist (is the circle starting to square? Fahrmann's partner Paul Sheridan is an associate director at emc) - is a lot more open to Democrats style split tickets and not issuing preferences at all (as happened in some seats in the last Federal election in NSW), so the idea that the Greens are guerre fixe for th ALP is far from the truth. Also, Greens preferences are decided locally in seats, so the idea of whom the Greens are going to preference outside the Senate (and it is in the tight House of Reps contests that Greens preferences matter) has got naff all to do with Bob Brown or Christine Milne.

    This newly ascendant grouping in NSW is pushing a 'beyond right and left' ideology that borrows a bit from here and a bit from there. It's terribly middle class, like the party it emanates from, which makes Howes attacks even sillier. David Bradbury MP in Lindsay is going to need Greens preferneces to get over the line and Howes rant is exactly the sort of thing that will piss off the Nepean Greens and see them prefernce the Liberals just to be contrary (imagine how lonely being a Green in Penrith is).

    And the other thing that is little understood by about four in five Australians is that the big red button issue for the Greens is not Tasmanian Forests (or even climate change) - it's refugees. The Greens position on asylum seekers saw the parties membership surge in 2002, and it's when their vote began escalating to electable levels. Anyone who has been involved with the Greens knows this.

    And as one poster above noted, the Greens are a global phenomoena that ain't going away as long as liberal democracy remains on life support.

    Nevertheless Howes will end up in the Senate, or in Ed Husic's seat of Chifley before I die.

  19. Lachlan Ridge10/7/12 6:33 pm

    Part three:

    In other news, which in any other universe would be newsworthy, The Australian's Literary Critic, Geordie Williamson, is to stand for The Greens in the Blue Mountains City Council elections. That's right, an employee of the Sun King supping at the table of the great Satan, Bob Brown. If the mainstream media didn't spend so much time working out that it's pants first, then shoes, they would have been on to this. But alas, there was no press release so it obviously didn't happen.

  20. As a lifelong ALP supporter, the thing that is so insulting about when the likes of Howes and Dastyari enter the ideological waters is that they are asking us to believe that when they were young impressionable they would have chosen Labor over the Greens because their views were more fully represented by the former, rather than blind ambition. In other words, they are asking us to believe if there was more of a chance of them climbing the greasy pole through the Greens than Labor they would have gone Labor, because organised labour is where they are at. Yeah right.

  21. peter warrington11/7/12 11:26 am

    Great stuff, Lachlan. The links to the Wilderness Society in NSW (Oquist) and Tasmania (Bob) also fascinating. I knew Ben, before he was a superstar etc etc

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