Saturday, 12 June 2010

Of factions, fads and ceiling wax: ALP Tribalism

To-day I was visitng my nephew's Facebook and a blast from my Queensland past put up its hand and said "Hey, remember me?" And I did.

Now I haven't seen The Blast for at least two decades I reckon and so a lot of water has gone under his bridge and flowed under mine as well.  So I looked up the limited information he allows the general public to see on his Facebook.  He stated his political views as Old Guard Labor. Well I never!!!  Will have to give The Blast a good talking to.

I know what he means very well.  The next generation down the good ol' family tree (i.e. my nephew)  knows what it means.  But who else in the younger generation would know what Old Guard Labor means?!

Now, if you search the intertubes you will find all sorts of references to old guards and new guards of all sorts, varieties, nationalities, and political persuasions.  How does The Blast think that his use of the term Old Guard Labor gives him some unique definition in this day and age?

The name reflects events that occurred in the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party four decades ago (before my nephew was a gleam in his parents' eyes).  Peter Beattie, who was a central figure in the aforesaid events as a member and significant leader of the New Guard, glosses over all this in his Wikipedia entry.  Jack Egerton was a central figure and his Wikipedia entry doesn't mention it either.

Few of that generation of the Old Guard are still around anymore.  Some have passed on to Workers' Heaven, some are quietly retired and few, very few are still active in political leadership in Queensland.  The only one that springs to mind is Bill Ludwig.

All the AWU officials (shearer's to a man - no women then except in office admin) in the Charleville and Longreach districts were proud and avowed Old Guarders.  I seem to recall (memory could be at fault) that eventually when they became members of the restructured Qld ALP after Federal intervention that they could show two ALP membership tickets - Old Guard and New Guard.

I don't know what faction Bill is in these days since Errol Hodder was part of the New Guard.  Anyway, whether it is Labor Unity (now the more or less proper name for the Old Guard), Bill is still in situ,  I guess he reckons he's keeping the numbers up for Joseph on the Senate ticket - and here I was thinking that Joseph would now be relatively secure enough to do that for himself.

So I will suggest to The Blast that he reflects on his factional nomenclature.

I suggest that we get rid of all these Right, Centre, Moderate, Left, Green Left,  Hard Left and so on names.  They are a bit passe I reckon.  I suggest that we need to include some genuine working class values based around one's place in that great web of life known as The Food Chain.  Here's how it works.

Some ALP people are far up the food chain.  What else can you say when a Labor Prime Minister like Kevin Rudd is a millionaire and has been educated abroad and speaks another language fluently.  His faction is The Upper Food Chain. 

There are genuine working classing heroes - who are they now? But we can think of those who once were.  Ben Chifley perhaps?  Eddie Ward?  We will put them in The Lower Food Chain.

Then there is a sort of middle path we will call - no not the Middle Food Chain but The Mobile Food Chain.  I think our Deputy PM Julia Gillard is a fit here.  Julia was born in Barry in Wales. Anyone who is a regular watcher of Gavin and Stacey knows that it is self-evident  what part of the Food Chain people from Barry are in.  Added to this Julia and her family were Ten Pound Poms. But Julia grew up to be a well-educated lawyer.  She joined The Left.  Good on you, Julia.  You had an accurate self-knowledge of your place in the scheme of things.  But, you see Julia, it was that lawyer stuff.  And now you're Deputy PM and there is a substantial portion of the Australian Body Politic which thinks you will be PM.  So Julia your place is The Mobile Food Chain because you are up there with the high-flyers these days and dressing and hairing accordingly.  We know you have not forgotten your roots.  That's why you are mobile between The Lower Food Chain and The Upper Food Chain.

Now, dear Networkers, to be honest, I think this revision of factional nomenclature in the modern Australian Labor Party is a work in progress.  So how can we work together to refine this structural intervention?  Where does the Feminist Food Chain fit or sit?  Where do the ALP's neo-cons, neo-Marxists, neo-Trots and neo-Greens sit or hit in the scheme of things?

And, above all, where does this factional set up sit when it comes to branch stacking and guaranteeing the numbers.  Can it do both or either?  Could it? Should it?  Please enter into correspondence by stimulating the comments section below.
Picture above from here

UPDATED COMMENT 
Friday 25 June 2010

Have received quite a bit of traffic to this post,
so I thought that, since events of national import
have since transpired, that I would update this.
Julia Gillard became Prime Minister of Australia yesterday.
Kevin Rudd had been tapped on the shoulder the night before.
It appeared to have come out of the blue.
Events moved quickly after the Thursday night meeting.
Next morning, Kevin Rudd did not nominate 
in the party room ballot.
Julia Gillard was elected unopposed as Prime Minister
and Wayne Swan was elected unopposed as Deputy Leader
of the ALP and, therefore, Deputy Prime Minister.
As it is said, a week can be a long time in politics.

From the point of view of this post,
there is one significant matter.
A bit of life in the old Ludwig yet.

Related Reading:
True Believers: The Story of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party

MissEagle racism-free Photobucket

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