The other shock news of yesterday, of course, was Lindsay Tanner’s sudden announcement that he was going to retire. As expressed here on a number of occasions, I’ve not been a fan of Mr Tanner’s – he may well have been moderately “progressive” in the ALP, but he also regularly ran misleading smear campaigns against the Greens based on cynically capitalising on ignorance about how the preference system actually works. He voted, as do all ALP members, for very conservative positions, and to defeat progressive legislation from the Greens (eg the political advertising ban, or marriage equality).
So I can’t honestly say that I lament his passing all that much. (I lamented his descent into dishonesty in order to save his political skin a lot more.)
But it’ll be interesting to see who the ALP puts in his stead to try to recover progressive votes from the Greens in Melbourne. Odds are that the ALP will put up someone very, very left-wing – someone who still believes that the ALP can become progressive if people work at it from the inside. That is of course incredibly naive – the point of the ALP putting up progressive candidates is to gain progressive votes that it can then ignore internally – but some people still think that the two big old parties are immutable fixtures in our political landscape and the only way to achieve anything is to work from within, even though everyone who’s tried that before them has either given up or sold out.
And it’ll be their best chance of winning the seat. With a green-sounding candidate from the party of the first female Prime Minister, against a Liberal leader even more conservative than John Howard and with a campaign that will be designed to confuse voters into thinking that, somehow, contrary to all logic of how preference voting works, if they vote Green they might somehow help Abbott against their will (even though that’s impossible) – they might be in with a shot.
That’s what I suspect will happen. But what do I know? Until yesterday, I thought Julia Gillard was actually a sort of lefty.