I watched in horror, as many others did, as the Australian Labor Party replaced Julia Gillard with the previously disposed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
A few nights prior to this, and with an informed foreboding of what would happen, I watched Alastair Campbell being interviewed by a starstruck Emma Alberici on Lateline and noted his comment about how Rudd had been an unstabilising factor in Gillard’s term as Prime Minister. We can only imagine how things may have been different if that internal interference had not been present.
But this is not yet enough spewing forth about Rudd overthrowing Gillard or the general actions of Labor. It was more about what the whole thing caused me to do next.
It made me turn off the television, switch off the radio and not look at a paper. All I really needed to know I could find in my beautiful aggregated group of people I follow on twitter. I could avoid the hypocrisy of the media now singing the praises of the Australia’s first female PM. I could avoid the hokeyness of Rudd’s measured yet condescending tone as he seemed to speak on behalf of me, when he didn’t. I could avoid the poll results which I never believed in anyway. I turned it all off because I knew how it would play out and it has. (My mother has insisted on ringing me, often, to say, ‘So, you know this happened…’)
Apparently now Labor will come close to holding Government, or at least there will be a hung parliament. ‘Most important thing is to keep Abbott out of the top job,’ seems to be the mantra. ‘Oh yes,’ we all reply. We’re back on track they say. There are a gang us walking away from this blind obedience shaking our heads.
But stepping back from it all, I now have this great sense of being left out from the party. Literally. And no, my subscription has lapsed more than once and not renewed on absolute purpose more than twice.
When people buy a membership to a sporting club they happily part with their money because that club provides them with something they can almost feel. It represents part of their being, or their lifestyle, or their belief system or their hopes. It forms part of their day to day and allegiance remains important.
I remember when the ALP 2010 election review was released and I read the report as the presser went to air. There was the continuous mention how the Party needed to get more members and the distinct lack of emphasis on what those outside of the party would need in order to get onboard. I found the commentary of the presser strange because surely you didn’t need a review to come to that conclusion. Membership = money. Money meant you had cash to campaign, particularly if you were in opposition at that time (they weren’t).
But upon further reading of the report I became very aware of the recognition that Labor needed to engage more deeply and even acknowledge that its supporter base, and potential supporter base, was changing. To embrace this acknowledgement would mean ramifications at the very heart of the Party and its traditional structure, and decision making processes. Now, in mid 2013, I don’t think much has changed.
This latest round of high jinks may well put Labor in a position to indeed win the next election but I want to know about the slice of us Labor voters who are still sitting there shaking their heads about this behaviour. But we’re constantly reminded that WE need to get on with it and just stop Tony from getting in the Lodge. We’re told what WE have to do. We have no opportunity to tell Australian Labor jack shit. Because they aren’t listening. This is not a new thing. You’re either in the Club or not. And that is entirely different from being in the Party.
For me personally, I’m disappointed, overall, that politics in this country has diminished to suit the mediocre, pandering to the ‘what’s in it for me’ sentiment, the fear politicking and the flogging of the populist subject matter in order to bring power.
We think we are something here in Australia because of our laid back lifestyle, our beaches, our ‘have a go’ attitude. But sometimes I’m just plain embarrassed at how insular we are; how great we think we are when really we’re just a disconnected backwater on a big chunk of land slapping our backs and making out we’re something special, mate. Hey, whaddya reckon?
If we look further, we see that really the world looks at us quite differently than we look at ourselves. The international media commentate on us like we are the spoiled brats of the western world; basically doing very well compared to other countries economically, free of war or famine, no rioting in the streets, health care and welfare intact, banking regulated. Happy days you’d think but no. We moan and people can hear us loud and clear.
They look at us, they write about us. But most of us never know they do because we can only access a Murdoch published paper or watch sensationalised television shows that tell us what we have to eat, or what we should be angry, scared or laughing about. We use our sport to say that we’re actually brave but often we’re not. And we complain about our teams if they lose. Boo hiss instead of ‘Carm on Orzie’.
During recent times of disaster in Australia I have seen the spirit that I love in people; those reaching out and helping others, showing compassion and support, god, even open displays of emotion. But the sad thing is that often we need to suffer so much pain to understand that really we are just part of a bigger community and the strength of that community is only built by the connectedness of the people.
It is the word community that has seen me vote Labor since I was 18. The word community features 54 times within the ALP’s 2010 review document. When I cast my vote I do it to include a wider range of people other they just myself. I was taught from an early age that I was only one part of a much bigger thing. For me now, I see Australia moving further right in terms of its politics and further right, in my eyes, diminishes the reality of community. But with Labor acting like the middle child of the Australian political parties, I wonder how long I can hang onto something that is increasingly less representative of my values. My Labor vote at this election will be more about the fact that I cannot fathom an Abbott led government in this country and less about being rusted onto Labor or truly support the direction of the party.
I want to vote for something that is progressive and takes in the values of all generations. As the Greens pick up momentum from the next generation and those who value social policy being back on the agenda (as I also do), I wonder where this recalcitrant middle child will end up. I want to be proud of this country once again and part of something powerful because it has foresight and principles. I want a middle class that gives those who have nothing hope that there is something more. I want fairness delivered squarely and evenly and not paid for and distorted by industry groups and lobbyists. I want some transparency but most of all I want some backbone. Maybe I hope in vain. But most of all, I want a reason to vote Labor other than to stop Abbott from gaining power. And I want Labor to give it to me. Yesterday.