Australian Labor Party and Iraq war

Shane Hopkinson s.hopkinson at cqu.edu.au
Sat Mar 29 20:11:19 MST 2003


Bob

I'd be interested in seeing your reply to the statements of the 
Labour Council website - though if anyone knows about why it was 
suddenly changed that would be interesting to. 

Notwithstanding Bob's individual orientation to the ALP I do think
that we need some concrete analysis of how this organisation works. 
Bob rightly points out that there is loads of dissent in the ranks of
the ALP and how this is playing out at the top level, my local labourites
insist that Crean is gone for all money but still seem to believe that 
they should bring back Beasley - all the while acknowledging that this 
shows what a mess the worker's movement is in politically and industrially. 

	>As a Socialist Left delegate from NSW at the 1971 ALP federal conference I
	>almost succeeded in getting an amendment carried for the abolition of ASIO,
	>the Australian political police. I've been a delegate and local leftist at
	>many ALP conferences and public gatherings over that 48 years, etc, etc,
	>etc.

In what way does this advance the socialist cause? I'm not being stupid and
demanding revolutionary change but all this ALP activism gets us where? 

	More recently, in the past two years, I was one of the initiators of the
	Labor for Refugees organisation, which rallied the majority of delegates at
	five of the six ALP state conferences in support of refugees.

Indeed - but then it didn't make the floor of the rules conference because the
'left' unions blocked it. How has this advanced people's consciousness inside
the ALP? What is their plan now with mandatory detention, except to wait for 
people to forget about the issue or introduce "mandatory processing"? The last
events listed on the website are from February.

	>Without those forces involved it's impossible to have a mass movement on the
	>left in Australia. Every feature that has emerged in the mass movement in
	>Australia against Bush's war has contradicted the Phil Ferguson-Peter Boyle
	>thesis that there's no essential difference between the Labor and Liberal
	>mass parties.

There are difference and the involvement of unionists and ALP rank and filers is
crucial but the leadership moved against the war because it was unpopular and as soon as
it started Crean retreated with the opinion polls. Now the question is what to 
do next? The Labour council had now attacked protest organisers. The ALP remains
in favour of the war - whatever the rank and file thinks.

	>In the Commonwealth parliament, the whole of the parliamentary Labor Party
	>voted against the war, and not one Liberal or National parliamentarian did
	>so.

So they are different presumably though the ALP are not in power so they can 
make an anti-war stance while at the same time doing nothing to build a
campaign to stop it. Quite the opposite.

	>It would be stupid and unnecessarily optimistic to blind oneself to the
	>forces in the Labor movement that would like to retreat from forthright
	>opposition to the war, but the presumption that they will automatically
	>succeed, made by Ferguson and to some extent Peter Boyle, is unfounded.

Well its seems to be turning the pro-war forces way inside the ALP. What will 
the anti-war forces do? What lessons will the rank and file draw? I agree there
are foces creating some waves in the ALP and we should seek to capitalise the
question is how to move the process forward.


Cheers

Shane

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