Greg Milner at the Drum today thinks Labor is stupid for not moving to crush the Greens:
For too long, Labor has tolerated or ignored this threat to its Left-aligned voter base. Long perceived as a beneficiary of the Australian protest vote, the Greens were regarded as a harmless distraction, a repository of the disaffected, basket-weaving, economically illiterate far Left.
“Basket-weaving”, “economically illiterate”. Ah, so it’s that sort of “serious” assessment of the Greens.
Interestingly, Greg is close to identifying the actual issue, if only he’d excluded the words “this threat to” from the first sentence. Then he might grasp precisely why the Greens vote has grown – because an ALP chasing the right cannot effectively represent the contrary views of left-wing voters.
And what does Mr Milner suggest the ALP do? No longer be content with just ignoring the left, he wants it to do the work of the right and actually attack us!
Instead of criticising the Greens’ policy flaws, Labor has entered into a formal policy agreement with them. Instead of attacking the Greens as extreme-left fringe-dwellers…
I’m not sure why he thinks the ALP will grow its support from the left by overtly turning on us and our ideals. By patronisingly telling us we’re “economic illiterates” and mocking us for believing in things like equality. I strongly suspect it would turn the steady exodus from the left of the party to the Greens into an absolute flood.
And, anyway, the ALP has tried smearing and sidelining the Greens. It sidelined the Greens on the ETS and that’s how Kevin Rudd managed to lose most of his credibility. It regularly runs dishonest underhanded attacks misrepresenting their policies. And yet their vote continues to grow.
So it’s a difficult issue for the ALP Right. On the one hand, they never liked the lefties in their party anyway, and the more of them who leave, the stronger the right’s control of Labor. On the other, they do want the votes of the lefties. They want lefties convinced that they are the only ones who can defeat the slightly-more-conservatives, and that it’s better being inside a tent that completely ignores them than being exposed without any protection to the ravages of the overt right-wingers. They want tame, obedient, compliant lefties who don’t really expect to be listened to (ie, lefties who’ve spent time in the ALP) – which is why the Greens are such a threat to their power. A Greens-ALP Coalition, in which the lefties are in the Greens, out from the control of the right-wingers, free to advocate for progressive policies in parliament, is probably their worst nightmare.
But it should be something that finally gives the many lefties still left in the ALP a glimmer of hope.
I suspect there are many in the ALP who are cheering the rise of the Greens.