As expected, it looks like the ALP will be preselecting someone from the left of the party in Melbourne – and it looks like they’re going for someone who’s not physically dissimilar to the new Prime Minister, to maximise the association in the minds of voters:
FORMER senior union official Cath Bowtell is the front-runner to become Labor’s candidate for the inner-city seat of Melbourne, following the shock resignation of Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.
The Age believes Ms Bowtell has the support of key state and federal ministers in Labor’s bid to hold off a Greens challenge.
Ms Bowtell, WorkSafe Victoria executive director, was instrumental in the ACTU’s campaign against the Howard government’s WorkChoices policy that helped deliver the Kevin Rudd government in 2007.
You can see the campaign now: they’ll make the election about WorkChoices (one of the few issues remaining where they differ from the Coalition), and try to imply that the best way for Melbourne voters to prevent that from happening is vote for Ms Bowtell, campaigner against WorkChoices. They’ll dishonestly imply – or flat-out assert – that a vote for the Greens somehow helps Tony Abbott. And they’ll try to pinch back some of the feminist vote attracted to a female candidate and a female prime minister – even if they’re as conservative on the issues as the rest of that party.
It’s obvious what they’re thinking:
Insiders say Bowtell was in any case the preferred choice, partly because she is highly regarded in Labor circles, but also for what it suggest about the viability of progressive women within modern Labor.
…as opposed to actually representing the concerns of progressive women within Modern Labor.
Cath Bowtell: I can change Labor from the inside! I really can! I know all those other lefties have tried and failed, but I can do it!
Which they won’t do. They won’t change the “politics as usual” approach of the big old parties. They won’t stop pandering to right-wing conservatives like the ACL. They won’t propose more compassionate, rational policy. Ms Bowtell won’t vote any differently in parliament to anyone else in the ALP – she’ll have a voice in caucus, and that’s it. (And we all know how much the ALP listens to “left” voices in caucus.)
As Greens candidate Adam Bandt points out:
”People will look pretty closely where she takes the party on climate change and the treatment of refugees,” Mr Bandt said. ”On both of those questions the signs from Gillard are worrying.”
So politically aware progressives won’t be fooled by the change in salesperson: they’ll be well aware of the ALP’s nasty conservative policies on refugees, climate change (although expect the ALP to muddy the waters by continuing to pretend that the ETS was “better than nothing” and it’s the Greens who killed it), marriage equality and so on. But those who’re only slightly engaged and just want a change from the same old men in Canberra – they’re Labor’s targets.
The question is, how much of its vast campaigning war-chest will Labor unlock to destroy the Greens with their traditional misleading smear campaign instead of fighting the Liberals – even if by doing so they help elect Tony Abbott?