Charles Richardson, writing in today’s Crikey, gives the ALP some valuable advice on how it should deal with the “threat” of the Greens:
The plain fact is that the election will not be decided in the inner city. It will be decided by Labor versus Coalition contests in marginal seats, and anything that draws Labor’s attention and resources away from them threatens its chances. But the Labor machine’s operators are concentrated overwhelmingly in the inner suburbs, and so perceive the Greens as a much bigger problem than they really are.
Just pause for a second to consider that – it’s a very good point. Whilst, if it wants to win government, Labor needs to look at the Labor/Liberal marginals and concentrate on those, and whilst it will still be able to form government even if it loses some inner city seats to the Greens, the people who are making the decisions within the party can’t be so sanguine about those electorates because they’re the individuals whose specific seats would be lost!
Of course those people would rather the party lost government than that they personally lost their parliamentary entitlements.
Any Labor MP who says the Greens are analogous to the DLP, or “a greater threat … than the Liberal Party”, is either lying through their teeth or has parted company with reality in a big way. As the federal election has just demonstrated, a high Greens vote is more of a problem for the Coalition than for Labor, and on current trends the Greens will soon be threatening inner-suburban Liberal seats as well — a more serious problem for the Liberals, since they are much less likely to win over the Greens as partners in government.
For years now I’ve been criticising the Liberal Party’s spinelessness when it comes to dealing with the Nationals — the way it almost invariably rolls over and capitulates to National Party demands. But Labor’s 2006 strategy represents the opposite extreme of how to deal with a potential junior partner: unrelenting warfare that wastes badly-needed resources and that even on its own terms tends to be counter-productive.
The inner-Melbourne voters (I am one of them) who now support the Greens are less and less responsive to the sort of lurid allegations that people such as Stephen Newnham have been peddling. As Fyfe says, “It’s a bit like a man who says to his wife: ‘You fool! You’ve run off with a dangerous idiot who has hoodwinked you, now come back immediately’!”
Quite. As a lefty voter, I find the ALP’s sudden feigned interest in representing us rather than letting the Greens do it, quite disingenuous. Sadly it is beyond obvious that they don’t actually want to implement any policies with which I agree, or which I think are important – they just want my vote. If I gave it to them, and the Greens went away again, the ALP would go back to completely ignoring me and taking me for granted. Even more than they do now that they’re trying unconvincingly to persuade us back from the Greens.
Look, Labor, just go and fight with the Liberals for those major party swinging voters. It’s the only thing you’ve ever actually believed in, clearly. Let the Greens mop up your left flank and then negotiate with them in parliament. You’d be doing you, them and us all a huge favour.