European fascism & Australian liberal-conservatism

The Oslo murders recall an older Europe: an act of fascist terror committed against supporters of a left-wing political party, indeed because of the killers concern with government policy he was more likely to attack supporters of a moderate left party because he saw it as having an impact on politics. Continue reading

Rudd-Gillard and the end of old New Labor

How are we to explain Australian Labor’s woes? Some hints in an examination of British New Labour’s economic record by Duncan Weldon. He highlights how Labour’s model was unsustainable:

Remember the campaign posters in 2005? How the issue of the economy was dealt with? A near endless repetition of macroeconomic statistics – the longest period of unbroken economic growth in 200 years, the lowest interest rates and inflation since the 1960s, low unemployment. Much of this though was underpinned by an enormous credit bubble. Between 1997 and 2007 banks advanced £1.3 trillion of loans to UK residents – 46% of this went to financial companies, 12% to commercial real estate and another 23% on residential mortgages. Mortgage equity withdrawal in 2004 was around 8% of household post-tax income. 2006 was the last year that the old New Labour model of political economy worked – credit continued to flow propping up both asset prices and consumption and boosting the Treasury’s coffers to the extent that financial services firms alone contributed around a quarter of corporation tax receipts in 2006/07 (and 14% of total revenues). Continue reading

Listening to Labor’s true believers

The current malaise of the ALP has seen a recent upsurge of interest in primaries as a way to draw Labor supporters into participation within the ALP. But would this work? What do Labor supporters want?

None of the recent discussion about primaries considers the example of Tasmanian state politics. The Hare-Clark proportional representation system at the state level has enabled voters to choose between competing candidates from the same party. A critical view of PR was provided by Tasmanian history academic and ALP left activist Richard Davis in 1983: Continue reading

Lessons from Gerry Gleeson

Reading The Wran Era. The horrendous foreword by Mark Arbib recent NSW ALP secretary sets record for cliches per line and  explains much about the fall of the last NSW Labor government. The most interesting chapter so far are the recollections of Gerry Gleeson the head of the Premier’s Department 1977-88. Gleeson reinvented the Department from one whose focus was on protocol, ceremony and hospitality towards a focus on policy. Part of this was redefining the role of the Department: Continue reading

After the revolution: lessons from Latin America

What would a socialist revolution be like? Socialist Alternative has a view

If socialism is not Stalinism, it is also much more than a nationalised economy and a few more publicly run services. When we argue that another world is possible, we mean a world free of the class divisions and inequality of capitalism; a world in which all resources are directed towards enriching and bettering society and where production is determined by what the mass of workers want and need, rather than what will make profits for a tiny minority of CEOs and bosses as it is today.

Continue reading

Australian society in 1985

Recently read Graetz & McAllister’s Dimensions of Australian Society based on the National Social Science Survey of 1984-85 and other survey data. This is Australia before market liberalism and the transformation of the ALP. How did the patterns describe anticipate the future? Can we see signs of John Howard’s later ascendancy? Some interesting observations: Continue reading

The Left in West Bengal and NSW

At elections finalized this weekend the ruling Left Front was soundly defeated in elections for the Indian state of West Bengal. I previously discussed Indian Communism here. The Left Front had governed the state since 1977. If NSW Labor won one election too many the Left Front probably won more than one. This interview with a CPM spokesman sounds rather like someone in the NSW ALP even aspirational voters rate a mention. Continue reading

Canadian thoughts

Preoccupied by teaching but some hasty thoughts on the Canadian elections. Some attention from right-wing commentator James Allan who can’t work out why NDP did well, apparently voters think do highly of the Liberals that if they had criticised the NDP the NDP vote would have collapsed, if they respected Liberals so much than why didn’t they vote for them in the first place? Few things are sillier than those who would never vote for a party to proffer it advice, John Howard had a point in ignoring his small-l liberal critics. Labor should ignore those who call for a war against the Greens. Continue reading

Class, culture and Labor politics in NSW 1930-2011

Unfortunately there is nothing in state politics to compare to the Australian Election Study. However some aggregate analysis of NSW is interesting and shows how cultural politics has come to rival economic cleavages. I have developed a simple model to predict the two-party preferred Labor vote by electorate. The dependent variables are the portion of the workforce without professional qualifications (I take this as a measure of the modern working class and it is of more predictive value than tradespersons and labourers) and the portion of non-Christians taken as representative of cultural divisions. Social data was taken from the 2006 census. Continue reading