The recent resignation of Daniel Andrews as Premier of Victoria has thrust the anti-democratic dynamics of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) into the spotlight once again. Amidst the chaos that ensued following his departure, it's clear that factionalism remains the primary force within a party void of policy development or vision.
The Labor Party has always had a troubled history with democracy. To borrow from Margaret Thatcher, socialists don’t like people having choices because they might not choose socialism.
Of course, this lack of respect for democracy won’t draw the attention of ABC hack and pro-Labor campaigner Anthony Green, who quickly points out his flawed and biased views of other political parties' ‘lack of democratic political process’.
The events surrounding the selection of Jacinta Allan as Victoria's new premier shed light on the complexities inherent in Labor's loose approach to democracy.
In the wake of Daniel Andrews' resignation, tensions ran high in the ALP's caucus room. As reported in The Age, anonymous Labor MPs revealed that intense emotions and verbal attacks marked Andrews' final party room meeting. The ‘F’ bomb was used a lot.
The dispute revolved around the choice of Jacinta Allan as leader and Tim Pallas as deputy, both from the Socialist Left faction. Ben Carroll from the Right section threatened to challenge the leadership, triggering the potential for a protracted ballot of Labor branch members.
Heaven forbid Labor’s rules be adhered to, and the rank and file of their party have a democratic vote on the leader. The last time this rule was evoked, Labor branch members chose Anthony Albanese, but right-wing numbers man Bill Shorten had his parliamentary colleagues overturn the result. Of course, crickets from Anthony Green’s corner.
What became evident in the nasty Victorian power struggle was not only the personal stakes involved but also the broader issue of factionalism's impact on the democratic process within the ALP. Factionalism, a long-standing feature of Labor/Liberal politics, overshadows the principle of open, democratic decision-making.
In the Victorian instance, factional allegiances were pivotal in determining leadership succession. Again, crickets from Anthony Green.
The heated caucus meeting and the reported outbursts from Daniel Andrews highlighted the discord that can arise when party machinations clash with the democratic ideals that political parties pretend to uphold. Does Labor still pretend to uphold democracy?
While internal disagreements are common in any political party, the ALP's factional landscape often adds a layer of complexity to these conflicts. These internal disagreements are usually determined by suspending ‘democracy’ as the faceless men enter their backrooms.
In the aftermath of this tumultuous period, Jacinta Allan was sworn in as Victoria's 49th premier. Her leadership and the stability of her government have been called into question from day one. She started as a weak leader who advocated for the suspension of democracy to get what she wanted.
As we reflect on these events, it's essential to recognise that the ALP, like any political party, grapples with internal tensions. All parties experience internal pressures.
The delicate dance between factional interests and democratic principles is an ongoing challenge. It serves as a reminder of the complexities inherent in Australia's political landscape, where the pursuit of power must always contend with the ideals of democracy. The best way to resolve it is to never vote for a political party that suspends democracy for factionalism. But Anthony Green will tell you the opposite.