The Labor Party’s lost my respect . . and my vote.

Didn’t there used to be a labor party somewhere around here? pic by Blog do Mílton Jung

I have stayed fairly silent on matters political of recent times within Labor.  Mostly because I don’t fancy the ‘debate’ about where Labor is going off the tracks, and the apologists, and the compromisers, and the horse-traders.

But, I must inject one comment into the current debate about Labor ‘values’.

Compare, and contrast the following two pages:

Now, count the number of times Labor describes itself as a progressive party– or progressive in intent.

“The Australian Labor Party is a progressive and democratic party consisting of individual members and affiliated trade unions who between them decide the party’s platform, elect its governing bodies and choose its candidates for public office.”

“Today, the Party is essentially a coalition that includes reformers, radicals, progressives, social democrats and democratic socialists united by a critique of the inequalities in society, a commitment to a more just and equal society, and the achieving of this aim by democratic means. And Labor members continue to work towards a goal of better services, greater opportunity and a fair go for all Australians.”

Noble ideas.  It would be something the Labor of old — the Labor Party my father was a member of as a waterside worker and unionist for 40 years — would be proud of.

Too bad it’s not true anymore. Just read the words of the damp squib of a leader:

“JULIA GILLARD: I’m not the leader of a party called The Progressive Party, I’m not the leader of a party called The Moderate Party, I’m not the leader of a party even called the Social Democratic Party, I am a leader of the party called the Labor Party deliberately because that is where we come from, that is what we believe in, that is who we are.”

And you wonder where Labor values have gone, when they are willing to dispense with – to jettison – all that is good about their collective viewpoint on progressive left politics, and instead embrace one value alone.  That of a collective, unionist mindset.

Bye bye progress, bye bye social democracy, bye bye moderates, bye bye radicals, bye bye reformers…

No longer admirable, but lost in the wilderness.

How must those who are on the progressive left lament such a terrible leader as Julia Gillard?

  • The leader who won’t show progress on marriage.
  • The leader who won’t show progress on truly universal equal opportunity laws.
  • The leader who won’t show progress on refugee policy.
  • The leader who won’t show progress on … well, not much nowadays anyway.

But she will show you conservatism:

  • Non-progressive views.
  • Backward views.
  • Insular views.
  • Narrow views.
  • Howard-esque views.

It’s shameful.  And it’s time someone with a spine and some real, progressive Labor values was leader.  Too bad it won’t happen.

Labor likes to point at people like Malcolm Fraser, and comment about how the Liberal Party has departed so far from the values of his Liberal Party as it lurches to the right.

But yet, Labor cannot see its own failure: its own lurch to the right. The lurch to a Labor Party that seems a distant unknown to the likes of Whitlam and Hawke.

And as a community, we’re expected to like this party.  To thank them for the tantalising taste of a morsel of almost-decent behaviour from government departments, while our kids suffer in schools where religious freedom to hate trumps their right to an education free of bullying and institutionalised shame.

We’re expected to revere them, because they’ve done ‘a bit’.  Just a ‘bit’.  Not too much.  And barely enough.

An expectation to thank them for the fact they might pass a law to remove discrimination by religious groups only when you enter a retirement home or aged care accommodation – a wonderful reward for half a century of ostracism, hatred, bullying, fear, closet-living and self-loathing from being a ‘filthy faggot’ until you reach aged care.

No, a truly progressive party would protect our most vulnerable – that’s not just seniors, but our juniors.

Actually, it’d be everyone, if they were truly about progressing Australia to an inclusive society where some groups aren’t carved out the special right to hate and discriminate: because they need to claim they have rites which dictate they hate and discriminate.

And, so therefore I am left in a state of despair.

Despair because I know what the Liberals offer – and at least they’re up-front about the spartan world they offer.

Despair because I know what the Labor Party offers – and doubly, because they are smug in expecting I should like their piss-poor governance.

Despair, because we should be better as a nation.  As we drag behind the rest of the western world: the laughing stock among the civilised nations as our government wallows in its incivility.

And you expect me to respect Labor?

That I should be thankful that you can’t remove your head from your arse and make us progress on gay issues?  Or refugees?  Or social welfare?  Or a just society?

Respect is earned, not demanded.  Labor has lost my respect: it has lost the respect of a fair whack of my family and close friends.  A lot of my family were willing to believe Rudd deserved a chance in 2007.  But they rarely spoke of Labor or Liberal in 2010.  I suspect in 2013, it will be the same or worse for Labor.

My dad used to refer to John Howard as an ‘evil, four-eyed, lying bastard you can’t trust’.  Now Julia sports a new disguise.  If he were still alive, I reckon Julia would cop a similar description now.

And Laborites will whine, bitch, moan and complain that my family – and I – don’t know what’s good for us.  That a vote for a minor party is a ‘wasted vote’.  They’ll prance around the threat that we’ll get what we deserve if we stray from Labor. That the BOGEYMAN is coming.

Isn’t the Bogeyman of Tony Abbott coming because they lost their way?  They governed poorly?  They were opportunistic?

Labor will blame the disloyalty of the ‘core’ voters.  The voters it always just expects to vote for it.  The voters it takes for granted.  The voters who want progress. The last gasp, of a desperate party, seeking desperate votes, in a desperate attempt to cling onto power.  Why, I’m sure there’ll be some reffo-bashing yet to come…

Labor has itself only to blame.  It is no longer progressive – it is conservative.  And I grieve for Labor.

Rest in peace, party of progressive politics, of hope, of the future, of freedom, of the social good.

You lost your way, stumbled into your own grave, and now you are wailing like a banshee as voters shovel sand over your carcass.