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John Passant

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

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Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Gillard or Rudd? Labor fights over its executioner

The battle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd is a consequence of Labor’s degeneration, not its cause.

This struggle between two neoliberal nobodies is not about policy. They agree on the fundamentals and general direction of Labor as a neoliberal party, reflected in the move over the last 30 years or so from being a capitalist workers’ party to a CAPITALIST workers’ party.

This shift from social democracy to neoliberalism is a result of the fall in profit rates across the developed world. The general consensus among left wing writers is that profit rates are now about half what they were in the halcyon days of the 1950s and 60s.

There is less social surplus for the state to expropriate and redirect to the working class through spending on public services for workers without impacting adversely on the straitened exploitation process. In fact much of the surplus that is taxed is now used  by the state to prop up capital.

As a consequence of this decline in the availability of a social surplus  for pensions, public health, education, transport and the like, Governments of the left and the right have attacked such spending and presided over a massive shift in wealth from labour to capital as ways to address falling profit rates.

This is as true of Labor in Australia as it is of Pasok in Greece.

For  example in Australia the share of national income going to labour is at its lowest since records began to be kept in 1964 and that going to capital at its highest (or thereabouts).

It is Labor and the trade union leadership who have been decisive in ensuring this shift of wealth to the rich has occurred.

The OECD paper Divided we stand released in December last year shows increasing inequality is the defining monument of the last few decades in the developed world. 

Neither Gillard or Rudd offer alternative visions, different world views, about the way forward for Labor and the nation. Neither ever side with the working class.

The battle is purely about electability, of perhaps, more realistically, who has the best chance of avoiding a complete rout at the 2013 election?

This is not 1968 when Jim Cairns stood against Gough Whitlam on a left wing platform, and only narrowly lost by 4 votes, 38 to 32. 

That is because the ALP is no longer a social democratic party. Thirty years of neoliberalism have destroyed its membership, its support base and the quality of its parliamentarians.

The battle between Gillard and Rudd is a fight over who is the best executioner to lead Labor.

The electric chair or lethal injection are the choices facing the ALP in this ‘leadership’ struggle.



Comment from dl
Time February 20, 2012 at 1:15 am

Maybe the decline in Labor’s electoral popularity is in part a response to the widespread decline in trade unionism in general, and manufacturing/ heavy industry in particular, throughout Australian society. I read an article in The Age a while ago that posits that Labor should start to position itself as party of the Aspirational Class. I personally don’t believe that Labor should do this, but the fact they are in a crisis concerning their support base hasn’t only been noted by me. It appears to be a similar pattern to that of working class Whites switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican party in the USA, several decades ago.

Their previous base in the working class having been eroded, and now they are Left to stand on the base of their otherwise lackluster economic & social policies, which is perhaps typified by their post 2007 ‘shift to the right?’ Contra to this, their change in their official stance toward Gay marriage may do a little to garner popularity from some more progressive voters, but otherwise, why would someone vote for Labor that is fielding right wing policies (particularly wrt Budget matters) when there’s the Liberal party?

I also think that the inception of the Green has also acted to siphon disillusioned voters away from the Labor Left. These are obviously more long term trends, as Labor’s unpopularity is amply expressed through polls on the 2-party preferred vote.

Comment from John
Time February 20, 2012 at 4:31 am

I think the loss of union membership and the decline of Labor go hand in hand. No struggle equals a shift in wealth to the rich. Tom Bramble has an article in Marxist Left Review about how this loss of manufacturing argument is overplayed.

Comment from dl
Time February 20, 2012 at 5:34 am

I’ll read Tom Bramble’s article later. I’m with you regarding struggle of inequality. It’s only going to get worse should nothing be done. I often fear that we are heading toward an Anglo-American style of economy, as opposed to our ‘more’ egalitarian one.

Manufacturing as a percentage of GDP is a funny thing, it seems to have declined on a steady, secular basis for the last several decades. It doesn’t appear to have be that amenable to Neo-liberal micro economic reforms, if you get my drift. I say all of this because Manufacturing/ Heavy industry have been historically associated with trade unions, and the consequential reduction of their share of our economy might be reflected in voting patterns.

Comment from Jolly
Time February 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I had always been a swinging voter, voting for the Party that had the policies that I felt was most deserving. I voted against Howard and when Rudd was so treacherously stabbed, I lost all respect for the Gillard-Faceless men’s Labor. I later voted for the Greens as did many of my friends and family. Now the Greens are set to do more economic damage than ever before. The Greens seem bent on painting as ‘demons’ the higher tax paying citizens.
Abbott, on the other hand, is absolutely nutty and so unenlightened (academic credentials do not equate with political intelligence). He is anti everything, except himself and his leadership ambitions. Rudd is popular but so wrongly and untimely assassinated. His comeback (alleged) to lead the rotten Labor will be a domed attempt as the public is simply SICK of Labor (not Rudd).

Nothing can save Labor! The bickering of Crean, the scheming of Richardson or the advice of Hawke-Keating can never resurrect the utterly tarnished current Labor. It is a party that must die and from its ashes (perhaps) may emerge a new, dignified, cohesive, and trust-worthy party for future considerations. Liberals need a M-Turnbull-type of person to lead it to a thumping victory. Abbott will (even if successful at the next election) disintegrate with the swelling disenchantment of the general public. I have lost all hope with all 3 parties. Not Labor, not Liberals, not even the Greens!! Anyone out there?

Comment from Mike C
Time February 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

We’re desperate for inspirational leaders who have bold and equitable policy solutions to reverse the wealth gap.

But what we get are tired neo-liberals who play their juvenile games in a broken federal system of government, chanting their mantras of ‘working families’ and ‘big new tax,’ expecting applause for the minor snips and tucks they make to the benefits bestowed on the wealthiest whilist not scaring the horses, happy to preside over the grand canyon between the super rich, rich and everyone else.

Pingback from En Passant » Gillard and Rudd: neoliberal nobodies in a party of political prostitutes
Time February 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm

[…] some of what I wrote the other day that still seems […]