Downfall


downfallLast Sunday in the ABC shop I saw this book for sale. My immediate reaction was that the book was a little premature, however I thought I might get it and read it anyway.

Aaron Patrick is with the Financial Review and clearly has read and researched – as journalists do – the spiralling tale of woe that has assailed the Labor Party these last few years.It was interesting reading the book as the events of the week unfolded, and the relegated revived, seemingly somewhat dependent on Bill Shorten having switched camps. Bill Shorten now seems to have followed in the tradition of the 16th Earl of Warwick and can now be described as a kingmaker, (though one journalist described him this week as a queen slayer)

The book deals well with a wider Labor than simply Federal Labor and has a big look at the star players in the yet to be concluded saga of the Doyle’s Creek “training’ mine and a litany of other issues that consumed the NSW Parliament. Also covered are issues connected with the AWU and Julia Gillard‘s role in setting up funds that ultimately diverted funds from the Union for other that the stated purposes. Asked to comment on the issue the former Prime Minister simply stated that some of the material was wrong. Craig Thompson, the ‘independent’ member for Dobel also rates reasonable mention. The right honourable the former speaker Peter Slipper also stars in the book.

The return of Kevin Rudd suggests there is another chapter.

The major tenant of the book is that in all the analysis that goes on there is a considerable avoidance of the Elephant in the Room – ethics.

Patrick argues that Australians, for all our casualness do not like things that are not straight, fair-dinkum, and true-blue.

I kind of figure that I am fairly on top of a lot of these things, (as a sideline observer) and I did learn quite a bit from the book, filled in lots of blanks and understood things I had wondered about – like why Julia Gillard as stayed opposed to Marriage Equality.

Aaron Patrick has some background in the Labor movement and that equips him well to write as he clearly understands what the factions are and how they operate – something which many of us don’t always get.

I suspect that there more to write in this book for quite a while, and indeed perhaps it is another book. A number of individuals from inside Labor have seemingly tarnished or trashed the brand. Part of this comes as a result of the structural identity of the Labor Party, which saw its identity as the Unions Political arm. As the effectiveness of the Unions over time since the 1890’s improved, and legislation to protect works improved so the compelling need to be part of the union diminished. Union memberships are at all time lows as a percentage of the workforce, and seemingly Unions have become far more simply the staging platforms for the Political Careers of many Labor Politicians. This means that the Labor Party in crisis may indeed be a reflection of a union movement in crisis.

The light on the the hill needs to be tendered and cared for – for it is not meant to be merely a marketing slogan

Kevin Rudd’s return to the leadership of the Parliamentary Labor Party – and the office of Prime Minister – seemingly suggests that there has been a game change in the mind of many electorates. For some reason many Australians resented the way he was deposed (even though it was not unlike any others).  The election (which now may or may not be the 14th of September)  will seemingly be a contest rather than a walkover. Kevin Rudd will need to convince the electorate that things have changed in a period when Parliament is not sitting.

In the meantime I think the book is a good read, though clearly the political landscape can have significant changes in a short period of time, so it has limited currency.

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