A Dangerous time for Labour

Bill Shorten has had a dream run. He and Labour have done an excellent job at doing nothing and letting Abbott self-destruct. In this role Shorten has proved himself to be an expert, but whether this is by design to take maximum advantage of Abbott’s death wish or natural talent coming to the fore is, at this stage, unknown.

After Tuesday, no matter what the outcome of the LNP (maybe) leadership spill Bill Shorten and the Labour party will have to start doing things. Things like developing policies that work and the people of Australia want. After a year and a bit of semi-silence from Labour the Australian people will want to know what the alternative to extreme right politics is.

Abbott needs to be Labour’s example of what not to do. I hope and expect that the Australian people have gone past voting for the junkyard dog because of it’s ability to destroy a government. Abbott may have shown that he can smash and destroy, and gain power through lies and half-truths but the junkyard dog was never going to convert to a warm fuzzy family friendly pet.

Labour needs to learn the lesson from this and understand that there is politics, and there is good government, but the two do not mix. Rudd and Abbott were both politically vicious and ruthless but never had what it took to govern for the people. The time is here for Labour to stop the politics and construct future policies for this country in unison with the people and for the people.

Good governance is not coming up with smart ideas and telling the people that is what must be done. Good governance is about listening to the people who elected them, (and those that didn’t), and finding the path that leads to fulfilling the peoples wants and needs in a sustainable manner. These wants and needs are not confined to self interest and personal gain but also who we want to be as a nation. Gross National Product is a very poor indicator of the health of a nation.

There are many people in Australia who deplore the Australian concentration camps at Manus Island and other places. No healthy country incarcerates a minority people without any charges being laid and leave them with no legal or human rights, or any hope of freedom. Presenting the slow murder of the soul as being the only alternative to dying at sea is a political expediency of the most vicious and cynical kind. There may be those who object to the term Concentration Camp but that is what Manus Island and the other ‘Offshore Processing Facilities’ are. Bill Shorten, please have the backbone to say out loud that Rudd led Labour along a path to hell when he reintroduced Howard’s inhumane policies. Bill Shorten, Rudd made a mistake and you need to fix it.

Rudd also totally messed up over climate change. Abbott’s ‘colourless odourless gas’ is destroying our habitat. One lesson that the human race is that when a species habitat is destroyed the species dies. We have caused the extinction of many species by destroying their habitat and the least we should have learned is that not combating global warming could have dire consequences for our future existence. There are those that seem to think that the human race, and Australians in particular have a divine presence that is not subject to nature, but they are mistaken. Australia as a land mass that is extremely vulnerable to climate change and we as a people may have to make radical changes to our life style and expectation for our future if we do not start making massive changes now to our attitude about climate change. It is probably too late to avoid the results of climate change but whether this means a bit of fender bending or being dead on arrival depends entirely on our nation being willing and able to act now to avoid the worst of outcomes.

If Labour does not address the real issues of past decisions and change the direction of many of its past policies someone like Malcolm Turnball or Julie Bishop will tear them apart at the next election. They might get lucky and have Scott Morrison continue the downward spiral of the far right into oblivion started but Abbott but it would be a mistake to rely on dumb luck to get Labour through the next eighteen months.

It is time for Labour to stop playing politics, admit past errors and develop clear and inclusive policies for the future well being of both the individual and the country. The big question is ‘are Bill Shorten and the Labour Party up to it?’

Labour and the Unions need to get a divorce.

The trade unions are supposed to care about things like work conditions. It is a liability to that ideal to be aligned with a political party. Both Labour and the unions would be better off if they got a divorce.

There is nothing political about work conditions. Do you have to have socialist leanings to want our workforce to enjoy safe and rewarding conditions? I don’t think so. Our workforce is not divided across political lines.

The old days when the manual workforce being defined as poor Irish Catholics and Labour voters, and the owners of capital being defined as English Anglicans and conservative voters are long gone. But we continue to define politics along outdated ideals.

Having Trade Unions being seen political entities gets in the way of real discussions on work conditions. Sitting down to discuss work conditions with a group of Unionists who call each other ‘Comrade’ is unlikely bring positive results.

I am of the opinion that many (but never all) employers have a real interest in having good work conditions for their workforce. But militant union leaders who see everything in terms ‘them and us’ trash this accord.

And for the Labour Party it would also better off.

You do not have to be a trade union person coming up through the ranks to care about people. Again there is no reason why someone cannot own a business and care about people. There is no bar to a person in a position of privilege caring about those who are less fortunate.

The real problem is that our political structures create divides. They polarise the community. Some people care and some do not. That is how it is. But this is not across a wealth divide. You cannot say that being a member of a political party makes a person good or bad.

Trade Unions do not work at their best when everything is seen through a political prism. Issues like work choices does not have to be a political issue to trade unions. The membership wants work choices or they do not want work choices. Trades unions do not have to be aligned with a political party because that means that they might have to support a raft of issues that are not good for the workforce.

Being apolitical would serve trades better than dogmatic adherence to the party line. Already there is no correlation between the way workers vote and their membership of a Trade Union.

Similarly the Labour Party needs to be open to all who believe in democracy for all. I have never been a member of the Labour Party. Partly because I can never understand how an organization can operate with left factions, right factions, centre left factions, centre right factions and Marxist factions and the Micky Mouse Society. Come on please. You either believe in championing democracy or don’t. There is no such thing as selective democracy.

All the discussion on how many votes Bill Shorten bought to Rudd is an example of why Labour and the Trade Unions need to get a divorce. In a democracy Bill Shorten would have delivered Rudd one vote, but the union factions distorted reality.

I have a lot of time for Bill Shorten. I think he could offer so much more if he was not shackled to the Union factions. And the Trade unions could become more effective if they dropped political allegiances.

That’s my little spray for today. Trade unions need to stick to what they were formed for and are good at. The Labour party needs to stop being an extension of the Trade Union movement and become be a grouping of people who want to advance democracy for all.