Gould, Labor and the Greens (questions for Painter/McCann)

Ben Reid Ben.Reid at newcastle.edu.au
Thu Nov 14 06:35:09 MST 2002

[ bounced Tuesday, html stripped ]

Bob Gould's last typically wide-ranging (10/11) post on the DSP (via of course
Steve Painter and Rose McCann) was a mixture of half-truths, exaggeration and
quite simply differences in perspective. It's hard to really know how to
reply, except by saying there simply are tactical and strategic differences
between Gould and the DSP about when to employ a united front with Labor
forces... that's about it.

One section, however, is worth posing some questions around for Painter and
McCann. Gould in talking about the main anti-war movement committee in Sydney

"At the second big meeting there was a fair amount of manoeuvre and
log-rolling over speakers, with the expression of a certain amount of what
might be described as Green sectarianism against speakers who could be seen
as deeply involved in Labor politics. Some Green representatives and the DSP
grumbled quite a lot about having the president of the ACTU (national trade
union federation) Sharon Burrow, or the secretary of the NSW Labor Council
John Robertson (as the alternative as the ACTU reps aren't available) as the
possible trade union speakers because they were too closely identified with
Labor politics.

"But despite the crankiness of some of the Greens, a couple of Stalinists,
and the DSP, this sentiment subsided and the idea of Burrow or someone else
from the ACTU, and Robertson as the alternative, was adopted...

"In sum, the DSP, some of the Greens, and some of the Stalinists have a
grumpy, churlish anti-Labor posture at these meetings, but in practice they
break it down and don't push it too far, and a practical united front
emerges anyway...."

What intrigues me here is Gould's comments about the Greens and their
opposition to ALP speakers. In general when Greens in Australia speak at
rallies and so on and do actually get involved in these kinds of committees
that usually and (quite justifiably) spend a lot of time attacking the
ALP. For instance, in Newcastle John Sutton from the Greens used his entire
speech at a refugee rights rally earlier this year to attack the stance of the
ALP (which favors mandatory detention). Local ALP member Sharon Burrow has
played a game of giving some support to the local refugee rights campaign
while not publicly criticizing her party's policies. Sutton rightly used the
platform to "expose" her opportunism.

More recently the Greens won their first lower house seat on an anti-war and
pro-refugee platform in Wollongong. Far from being a grand united front with
Labor, the greens mercilessly criticised Labor's hypocrisy on these
issues. More generally Greens leaders like Bob Brown often refer to the
"Laborials" (conflating the conservative Liberal Party with the ALP) in his

It is rather obvious then that the Greens have employed a strategy of
"exposing Laborism" perhaps even more effectively than the DSP or the
Socialist Alliance. In contrast, sometimes our comrades have held back their
criticisms of the ALP. A number of times I've thought to myself "I wish we had
made that point."

So here are a few questions for Steve and Rose (and don't get Bob to answer
them for you):

1. Is it not true that all of the claims made by Gould about the DSP's
sectarianism to the ALP apply equally if not more so to your own party, the

2. If this is the case and most of Gould's criticisms apply equally to your
own party, why have you established a role for yourselves as transmitter of
Gould's ramblings on the internet?



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