My recent open resignation from the ALP has two groups of recipients.
There is the small group of administrative staff and anyone in the party office who is interested, that makes up the formal recipients. The signed copy of my resignation is still in the mail to them, along with an additional PS pointing out that there were a few hundred reads of the on-line version at the time of signing off.
Then there is the Internet using public – you. A lot of you, at least going by the usual amount of traffic that comes to this blog. My most popular post is one addressing a creationist canard about “new information” not arising from mutation and the misrepresentation of Richard Dawkins to pretend they had him stumped. That’s at about 1460 views after seventeen months – this isn’t a high profile blog. My resignation seems on the cusp of passing the 1000 mark, probably within the next couple of hours and it hasn’t even been up for 48 hours.
I’m a bit gobsmacked. Ordinary figures for the big blogs, but not for this one!
Of course, it’s not all about me, nor is it that people have just gone and discovered my blog. There was a particular political issue and an opportunity to send a message to the government. An issue that clearly people care about.
I’ve received quite a bit of kudos over this, both in the comments and at forums and the like where the post has been cited but I think that there are plenty of pats on the back to go around. People have thanked me for making a stand, I thank people for caring about our democracy. That’s the way we keep it working after all!
Now, on to a few of the points people have raised here, there and everywhere. I’m not going to be able to respond to everyone, but I’ve noticed some similarities in people’s concerns so hopefully I can get a nice spread of the issues.
From the comments on the post…
Paul writes: “Either the ALP becomes a social progressive party again as they were under the likes of Whitlam and Dunstan or the Liberals ditch social conservatism and become a true liberal party.”
I think there is a Keating criticism of the then Liberal opposition, that I think is applicable to Labor and indeed the way politics is done these days. “No framework of policy, no philosophical binding… Just a whole lot of mish-mash, unconnected motions.” – Paul Keating responding to a censure motion (1994).
Piecemeal, Popperian reform has a whole lot more going for it than what we have now, and what the Howard years offered. At least Popperian piecemeal can address established, discrete problems of large magnitude (through reform rather than revolution – which is the point). Take Labor on emissions goals and promised broadband – it’s not that they are impossible goals or that the party is too broad a church to cooperate, it’s just that there are no underlying, pervasive, recognised principals of governance to guide the party in getting its act together.
After all the navel gazing of 1998-2004, one would have hoped that the party had this worked out already. But no.
Michael writes: “The Newton episode demanded some sort of slap on the wrist, which suggests Rudd fully agreed with the way it was done.”
I’m not sure that one can draw that conclusion, but I think at least one can say that the PM sees fit to trade off an act of principled leadership for some other political end. Which of course is also entirely unacceptable. I’d suspect political cowardice before full agreement.
Dennis writes: “A mandatory censorship is merely a form of “guilty until proven innocent”. The whole country is treated like a bunch of criminals in order to curtail a disproportionate minority of individuals who abuse it.”
Or if you really want to get down to the nitty gritties, prone to Type I error. Which I rather strongly suspect is an epistemological shortcoming of many of Conroy’s (and Fielding’s) supporters.
Lesley Dewar writes: “I have published a post that shows the complete absurdity of the Clean Feed rules. It would have the site from which I sourced the link BANNED… Australians have the right to view these pictures and to appreciate this art.”
Banned unless people opt out of the voluntary tier, or if the involuntary tier becomes more restrictive which is of course a possibility. I suggest people do go and have a look at Lesley’s link. Some very nice photography. Well worth your time.
Gorgon writes: “Now we have the option to vote freely…”
I’ve always voted freely. And spoken perhaps freely to the point of carelessness. I can remember being at a location of polling in an electorate where Labor had done deals with Family First, and I guess I, in my ALP gear, spoke too freely with the Greens advocate about how crap Family First were in front of voters all day. In front of silently fuming Family First members (or Paradise Community Church draftees at any rate) as well. All entirely unintentional of course. 😉
I accidentally (ahem) didn’t follow the ALP how-to-vote card either.
Angus Grogan wrote: “Fantastic work Bruce, Labor = history.”
I don’t know about that. I think the philosophically bankrupt nature of the party at large will cause it some woes in future, and likely shorten its tenure in government, but the party is monolithic. Indeed, the Howard Government lasted twelve years in power with an incoherent political philosophy, through opportunity, dirty politik and the appearance of cohesion under their leader (when really they were a powder keg of volatile ideologues held together under pressure – and how they have exploded!)
There are a few good eggs in the ALP still though, who unlike me are in a position to make some difference in the quality of political thought within the party. But I can see their work being frustrated by a party that for the most part, doesn’t get what its own culture has become and doesn’t get what problems it faces. I wish them luck!
From a few comments abroad…
Mike at Whirlpool writes: “My compliments to Bruce for a well written and passionate posting relating to his feelings as to how the A.L.P. is performing. As a member myself I can understand why he feels that he must resign from the party.
I have only one question for him and others of the same ilk.
Can we do more to rectify this idiocy from within or from the sidelines?”
I won’t name them, I don’t know if that would be doing them any favours, but there are people in the Australian Labor Party that I very much want to stay there. People of intellectual substance and influence in the party. People with the ability to influence the direction the party takes.
They currently don’t have the ascendance in the party, but they have time. Let’s hope they don’t get worn down!
I like to think I’m a person of intellectual substance, but I know I don’t have the capacity to help the party from within at least not as much as a can from the sidelines. This is in part because of my abstinence from the formal side of the ALP and also because of the specific way in which the party compromises the way I operate.
Not that my objective is to help the ALP. My objective is to do my little bit to help the country and make the world a better place. Previously, some of this was done through the party but that’s obviously no longer tenable for me.
In answer to Mike’s question, I think it’s a case of recognising why you are political active, then asking in what way you can best reach those goals (without in the process inadvertently betraying them) – in or out of the party.
In response to people who have found their way to my open resignation post via Reddit, I say…
Thanks for the kudos, and your concern on the issue is to be applauded, however I’m not, nor have I ever been a politician! Though wouldn’t it be nice if a Labor senator was to resign in the senate over our concerns! Or at least a revolt from the backbenches.
Fhew! Okay, I’m beat! Feel free to continue the discussion without me for a while!
Thanks again, folks.
P.S. Oh, and before I go I’d better start waving the flag!