BILL SHORTEN — if a report in Fairfax papers is to be believed — appears to have totally lost the plot in his quest to become ALP leader; now advocating quotas for gays, lesbians, aborigines and God knows who else, Shorten’s vision of the Labor Party seems to be one rooted permanently in opposition.
The Fairfax press is reporting this morning that Labor leadership aspirant Bill Shorten is proposing to “broaden the party’s quota system” to include gay and lesbian candidates, aborigines — and God alone knows who else — in an endeavour to “improve their underrepresentation (sic) in Parliament.”
The article — by Fairfax Immigration correspondent Bianca Hall — offers useful insights into the otherwise turbid and turgid thought processes currently occupying the minds of some within the ALP bunker. We’ll return to the remainder of her article shortly.
But I would make the rather obvious observation that if this is Bill Shorten’s brilliant plan to restore Labor to government at any time — not soon, but ever — then for now at least, the political prospects of Anthony Albanese are shining more brightly by the day.
Most readers will recall the look we took at Shorten, in this column on Friday (and for those who didn’t see my piece, it can be accessed here); the story Fairfax is running on Shorten today simply adds to the case against his suitability for leadership.
It seems in the ALP that if you’re gay, lesbian, female, aboriginal (or a unionist) there will be a place at the table for you: a parallel universe in which chosen minorities and blocs are elevated above all others, disproportionately feted, and showered with favour not on merit or experience or capability, but on your status as a member of an anointed cabal.
If you’re anyone else, you can go to hell.
As I wrote on Friday, people are fed up with the modern ALP obsession with minorities, quotas, and reverse discrimination: and if this is perceived to be the way forward for the Labor Party, then those who perpetrate such sentiments in Labor ranks have clearly failed to heed one of the most glaringly apparent messages from their election defeat.
Shorten’s advocacy of expanding quotas, however, simply aims to entrench the problem.
There is a majority in the community: over 18, eligible to vote, and fitting few (if any) of the stereotypes or labels deemed worthy of a “quota place” by the kind of approach Shorten advocates.
Menzies called them the “forgotten people;” Richard Nixon called them “the silent majority,” and I have to admit I prefer the latter descriptive because it is precisely how this group behaves.
They don’t march down La Trobe Street or Pitt Street or across King George Square carrying placards, chanting slogans, disrupting law-abiding people and engaging in malicious mischief, violence, and/or criminal damage.
Once pushed beyond the limits of their tolerance, they simply show up at the ballot box, and quietly but lethally make their displeasure known.
One of the great similarities between the Labor defeats of 1996 and 2013 is that both the beaten governments engaged in this obsessive pandering to minorities, legislating political correctness to ridiculous extremes, and simultaneously eroding personal freedoms whilst disenfranchising the very majority in the community that is pushed aside in the process.
Still, if the Fairfax piece is indicative, then it seems Shorten and his prescriptions for the ALP are predicated on telling the voters they are fools — always a dangerous pastime — and this brings us to the rest of Hall’s splendid article.
I have always said that I don’t give a…er, damn… 🙂 whether you are male, female, black, white, straight, gay, from Mars or whatever: if you’re the best candidate for the job, you should get the job.
This is as true of politics as it is of any other situation or circumstance.
I recall, in the early-mid 1990s, the Liberal Party had 10 of the 26 councillors on the Brisbane City Council; of those 10, eight were women, and whilst two of those eight (in my view) shouldn’t have been there, nobody could argue that the other six — at the minimum — weren’t the best candidates who presented for preselection.
Even if those two possible exceptions had been beaten at preselection by men, a majority of the spots would still have been filled by women.
I raise the point because it goes to something I have consistently argued in this column, and especially where Labor’s nonsense about quotas and tokens is concerned: it is more important (and a far worthier and more valid enterprise) to focus on improving the calibre of people who stand for preselection than any system of quotas will ever be.
And handing out a seat here to a woman because she is female, or a sinecure there to an Aborigine because he/she is black, or any other such conduct is demeaning, offensive, tokenistic and — ultimately — counterproductive.
Regular readers will know such tokenistic rubbish enrages me to my core, so I will resist the urge to say more.
But returning to the Fairfax piece, the wider vision for Labor attributed to Shorten hardly inspires confidence or excitement.
Most beaten political parties experience an immediate spike in membership; defeat brings people who are “enraged” or who “should have joined sooner” out of the woodwork. If Labor is excited about 1,100 new members, this reality should temper that excitement.
Shorten’s “vision” for a “younger, more dynamic organisation” sits at odds with the fact that mainstream parties across the democratic world are disproportionately reliant on membership blocs in senior citizenship to even operate effectively in their communities.
How Shorten envisages Labor attracting “small-business people, tradespeople and farmers” when Labor is not only irrelevant to these groups but has wilfully antagonised them for many years will be fascinating.
I promise to give Shorten a fair hearing in this column in the unlikely event he ever enunciates anything substantial on that point, but I suspect it is — like much of his pitch — just a slogan, and a glib one at that.
And to attract and retain more members, the redoubtable Shorten advocates offering “discount memberships for union members, students, pensioners and people out of work.”
As campaign pledges go, it must seem clever to offer Labor members exactly what it already offers to those groups and present it as a new initiative. It could work, too: if Labor members are as gullible and stupid as the proposition inherently assumes they are.
Offering union members discounts, however — given the disproportionate influence they already wield within the ALP — is absurd, and simply cuts the admission price for those wielding the snouts and desperate to shove them into the trough.
Anthony Albanese mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and he has his faults.
But he does (as far as a left wing Labor MP can) seem to have a world view that is at least grounded in reality, if not at least in realism.
And whilst I think he’d be easy meat for Tony Abbott and the Liberals (and I confess, I would love to see “Albo” become Labor leader), it’s fast becoming apparent that Bill Shorten is an electoral and political disaster looking for a position from which to strike.
If this nonsense is the best Shorten can do, Labor should make Albanese its leader; if that leadership is commissioned for the short term only, it must find someone more credible to lead it out of the wilderness — however distant, of course, its return to government might be.
Bill Shorten is a red herring. No more, no less.
Labor, if it endorses him, will learn this — to its cost.