Forget TomKat; the split of the year might ALP-v-Greens
So after months of tensions and simmering resentment, the ALP at the weekend indicated it needed some time apart to consider the future of its relationship with the Greens.
In a battle between its head and its heart, Labor’s head started calling the shots, finally admitting what outsiders have been able to see for ages, that entanglement with the Greens is not good for Labor. It’s an emotionally abusive relationship where the Greens have exerted more influence than should have been allowed.
But as divorces go, this one could turn out to be very messy. No dignified exit for this departing party. Labor is determined to air more dirty laundry than one of Charlie Sheen’s exes.
It didn’t have to be this way.
At the last election Adam Bandt became the only Greens member of the House of Representatives, after knocking off his Labor opponent in the inner-city leftie enclave of Melbourne.
During his campaign, and during the 17 days of national torture as we awaited an outcome from the hung parliament, Bandt never wavered from his commitment to support Labor in the event of a minority government.
He was never going to go with Tony Abbott. Of all the cross-benchers, he was the one who Julia Gillard could count on from the start.
And yet the accepted rhetoric on the Carbon Tax, which has done the Government so much political damage, is that Gillard had no choice but to buckle to Greens demands on it.
Terrible things have been said about the Prime Minister and her acquiescence to the former Greens leader Bob Brown. And now Brown is gone and all hell has broken loose.
Labor’s head started talking, firstly in the form of NSW Labor boss Sam Dastyari, who described the Greens as “extremists not unlike One Nation” and declared that no matter what Gillard thought, he would move a motion to quash the current preference arrangements, what up to now have automatically favoured the Greens.
Then bossy unionist Paul Howes joined in:
The lessons of the past show us that splitting the forces of progressive politics plays directly into the hands of the Tories. It doesn’t strengthen the progressive cause; because the Greens have shown they’re not above doing dirty, undemocratic deals with their Liberal mates.
That’s why Labor must fight the Greens with all its might. Labor and the Greens are not two sides of one coin. The Greens’ political class is fundamentally opposed to jobs, and Labor is not. 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.
Now they’re piling on.
NSW Opposition leader John Robertson for one.
And now Greg Combet.
Tony Abbott says it’s a confected stoush to undo the perception Gillard is a Greens puppet.
But you don’t get the sense the Greens are going to take it well. The Greens know preferences are what keeps them alive.
Bandt was maintaining his upper-hand rhetoric this morning, telling ABC radio:
Every time that the Labor Party says that their future lies in being more like the Coalition, I think another Australian decides to vote Green. Why would they possibly see it to be in their strategic interest to have more of Tony Abbott’s MPs in the lower house and the Senate? Because that’s what they’re advocating and that will just hasten the return of Work Choices.
It seems to me to be a very odd strategic assessment and one that I think is going to ultimately increase the primary vote of the Greens.
It’s not over yet, but if they’re going to hold this relationship together it will take more than a weekend getaway.
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