Peter Hartcher argues that Anthony Albanese could be, like Jeremy Corbyn, the candidate of ‘authenticity’ (‘Why Albanese benefits from UK result’ SMH 13 June pages 16-17). This misunderstands the Corbyn phenomenon in the UK. His authenticity comes from having stood outside the mainstream consensus on austerity and war for 35 years. Albanese was at the heart of the Rudd and Gillard neoliberal Labor governments and their austerity. He is not a Corbynista. He is, to continue the British analogy, a Blairite. ‘Austerity Albo’ is part of the problem, not a solution.
Hartcher also says that because of compulsory voting in Australia, unlike the UK, there is no need to mobilise young voters, the people who turned out in their millions to vote for Corbyn and his promises of a fairer, just society. This assumes young people are locked in Labor voters, no matter what the ALP does. As voting trends over the last decades show, Labor is losing support across the age spectrum, including young voters.
Not only that but the sort of gung ho young people the Party is attracting as members are, to generalise, self-promoting, self-interested neoliberal hacks. Young people who want to change the world do not see the ALP as the vehicle for progressive change. A radical program similar to that of Corbyn and British Labour would enthuse a layer of young idealists and activists, with the potential to bring them into the Labor fold. However, can you seriously imagine Shorten or Albanese arguing for free Universities, nationalising major sectors of the economy, making Medicare a real public National Health System, funding public education at the expense of rich private schools, opposing participation in the latest US disaster in the Middle East and elsewhere, and taxing the rich till their pips squeak? Me either.
The ALP is no longer a party of social democracy. It has moved from being a capitalist workers’ party to being a CAPITALIST workers’ party on the way to becoming a capitalist party. The time has come to stop looking for saviours within. No amount of CPR is going to revive the moribund Australian Labor Party.
– John Passant, CLA member, Kambah ACT