On Op-Ed in the flagship conservative rag today bemoans the demise of it’s author’s perceptions of a once great Australian Labor Party.
What Michael Thompson fails to appreciate is the forward march of social perceptions of what he calls ‘class’ in twenty-first century Australia. In his book, “Labor Without Class: The Gentrification of the ALP” which is now over a decade old, he bemoans the movement of party sentiment both politically and socially to a ‘progressive’ left, to the detriment of what he terms the ‘socially conservative’ arms of the party. I read that as being the party’s right, perhaps I’m incorrect. The no-gay-marriage; Australia-for-Australians; hawk-and-spit-on-the-ground-blue-singlet-wearing-union-member rank and file of the 1960’s ALP. The ALP of half a century ago, mired in internal squabbling over religion, ideology and it’s own brand of conservatism which kept it out of power for 30 long years. The party which disdained the educated, the academic in preference to the lower-middle class 8:30 to 5:00 worker supporting a wife and 2.1 kids. That party, thankfully, has been left behind by history and so it should remain.
The twenty-first century ALP is a far broader thinking organisation than that which Thompson yearns for a return to. A more socially responsible political party, albeit, still searching for the equivilent to Chifley’s ‘light_on_the_hill’. That the search is on-going, I believe, bodes well for a political party which is continuing to evolve. Social evolution in politics is vital if the movement is to remain viable into the future. That ALP pre-selection and nomination is no longer purely union-based is another sign of societies evolution. Unions in the main continue to behave anachronistically, as opposition to the ‘bosses’ under the guise of supporting betterment for member/employees, yet those employees are failing to believe what the union movement promises in ever increasing numbers. Why? Because the class divides Thompson believes still exist, don’t. Ideological divides exist just as strongly as ever, but social class systems have broken down, atrophied. People are smarter than to believe in the ‘working class’ dogma of the sixties. This is why membership of the party now comes from an educated, astute and aware populace, which is why the party now has more lawyers & doctors than so-called ‘working class’ navvies who’ve come up through union organisation ranks.
If Thompson does live up to his claim, and fails to renew his party membership, then good luck to him. We all make our own decisions, and frankly, with his aged view of social responsibility and so-called social conservatism, the party can well do without him & his kind. They are dinosaurs, consigned to a previous epoch and so they must remain.