Monday, July 20, 2015

ALP national conference: clearing the air?

Ned K.

The Murdoch press on the eve of ALP national conference is much in favour of the ALP cutting the historical link with unions.

On Monday 20 July the Australian featured an article with supporting quotes to this effect from four former ACTU secretaries or presidents. They were Jenny George, Simon Crean , Bill Kelty and Greg Combet. All four were quoted as supporting an ALP which would operate without any further pretence of being a party of the workers, like the Democratic Party in the USA. 

With union membership in the private sector down to 12% the big business interests behind Murdoch must think there is an advantage for them in having less union influence in the ALP as they think it will assist in the assault by big business on workers’ collective power and workers’ pay and conditions. If this is what the Murdoch press and big business are hoping, then why have these four so-called working class leaders not said something like the following:

"We believe that the national interest and union interest are identical. Unions represent not only the voice of current members at any one point in time in the highs and lows of capitalism. Unions are the organised collective voice of working people who constitute over 80% of the population.

“Mr Murdoch, did you not know that even managers have a union voice called Professionals Australia? 

“We the four former leaders of the ACTU call on all workers to join their appropriate union. Become active and adopt your collective majority policy on affordable housing, progressive tax system, fair trade, public health and education, secure jobs, Australia's independent standing in a shrinking economic world etc. 

"We urge you to send your collective views to all the budding politicians and to the ALP conference and judge how all of them measure up against your collective demands". 

This would earn these four former ACTU leaders some respect and give encouragement to workers, rather than saying things that make people like Murdoch purr like a contented cat that has licked a bowl of creamy milk!                                          

This coincides with the moves by a group of ALP “elder statesmen” to finally remove references to socialism and socialisation from the Party platform. 

In one sense these developments are a good thing.  They clarify the capitalist nature of the ALP and its essential service to the ruling class.

Today that is service in the first place to US imperialism.  Under Hawke and Keating, Labor stole a march on the Coalition parties by championing financial deregulation, competition policy and the removal of tariffs.  They have been the cheerleaders for the various aggressions conducted by the Empire over recent decades and have traded Australian sovereignty for US marine and air force bases.

Many workers still see the ALP as an alternative to the Coalition, but an increasing number are frustrated by playing “spot the difference” between the two.

Increasingly, the workers will support campaigns which centre on their own independent demands and their own independent agendas.

If the Labor Conference makes an honest declaration of which class the party serves, and which end of town it wants to be based on, then that will only assist workers in getting organised on their own terms and around their own demands.

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