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ISO No excuses for Greens not preferencing Labor

by Tom Barnes
[International Socialist Organisation]

Richard Di Natale is right that the Greens' IR policy is vastly superior to Labor's. They continue to present a real political alternative to Rudd's "me-tooism" in the election campaign. That's why Socialist Worker encourages our readers to vote 1 Green and 2 Labor.

A big vote for the Greens will send a message to Labor that we won't accept a continuation of the Howard government's policies.

But there is no getting around the fact that the resurgence of Labor's fortunes under Kevin Rudd makes it much harder to increase the Green vote than in previous elections.

Now that Labor is "electable" again, many of the people who voted Green in 2001 and 2004 will be strongly inclined to vote Labor this time.

At the same time, Kevin Rudd's campaign is hardly inspirational. This creates an audience for the Greens among those working people who want to vote against Howard but who do not trust Labor.

But it is a very tough audience to win over. Doing so will require a shift in the Greens' strategic thinking.

Campaign focus

For a start, we need a Greens campaign that focuses on WorkChoices. Of course, climate change is also a massive issue that we need to campaign around. But the media will try to stereotype the Greens around this "single issue", while Labor will try to convince voters that its policies can tackle global warming.

Campaigning hard around WorkChoices and the need, as Richard Di Natale argues, to abolish it root and branch can help break out of this media-imposed straitjacket.

Secondly, the Greens should not get drawn into a tit-for-tat, seat-by-seat preference war with Labor. We need to see the Greens preferencing Labor in every seat, whether safe or marginal.

Let's be clear-the fact that Labor is even considering a preference deal with Family First, or any other crackpot rightwing party, is a disgrace and a sign of the party's degeneration.

But Green preferences should be about increasing the Green vote, not punishing Labor's betrayals. Regardless of the intention, open-tickets send the message that the Greens are ambivalent about who they want to win the election.

In this context, Richard Di Natale's argument that voters will preference according to their own values is a red herring. Most convinced Greens voters will preference Labor anyway.

The bigger concern is the hundreds of thousands of working people who are flocking back to Labor. The Greens must side with this anti-Howard mood, while arguing that we don't have to accept Labor's rightwing policies. The approach should be something like, "Dump Howard but send a message to Labor".

At first glance, open-tickets seem like an acceptable response to Labor's unprincipled tricks. But it is a dangerous strategy that threatens to shrink the Green vote and undermines our chances of building a leftwing alternative to the Labor Party after the election.


1 Com:

Dave Riley | August 29, 2007

Anyone reading this comment from Barnes would be led to assume that it's a standalone position without much context -- and that is that for most of the last so many years the ISO has been an affiliate of the Socialist Alliance and in exiting the SA earlier this year did so with the criticism that the SA was too hard on the ALP.

Now we get an ISO outlook which prefers to support the Greens unconditionally while lamenting the fact that the Greens will not offer  direct preference to the ALP across the board. In supporting the Greens the ISO has done so knowing that aside from criticism from the sidelines -- it has no means to impact on Greens policy.

This becomes especially confusing with Barnes' final comment:"At first glance, open-tickets seem like an acceptable response to Labor's unprincipled tricks. But it is a dangerous strategy that threatens to shrink the Green vote and undermines our chances of building a leftwing alternative to the Labor Party after the election."

I find this most strange. What "leftwing alternative" is Barnes referring to?The only "leftwing alternative" I can see here advocated is that of the Greens. Is Barnes suggesting that the best coming together on offer -- on the left of Labor -- is the Greens? Should the ISO give up its standalone status and get in there so that next time this preferential handicap is not replicated?Or at least, we others should follow Barnes'  inference and all join the Greens to enrich the apparent only left wing coming together on offer?

That's what it sounds like even if it may not be  what Barnes intended to advocate.

The irony is that only a  few short years ago -- 2004 --the rest of us in the Alliance had to drag the ISO into preferencing the Greens ahead of the ALP! And that stage, nonetheless, the ISO preferred electoral vehicle was the SA . Now freed of that handicap formatting its electoral perspectives we get this from Barnes.

What seems likely to be an obvious statement, the ISO will this time around ignore the Socialist Alliance in the face of their enthusiasm for the Greens. The game will be to try to foster and reach those voters who are keen on supporting the Greens and that anything else 'further left' won't happen or is a mug's game.

Mind you it isn't easy to pimp for Labor from the left, as"  Labor is even considering a preference deal with Family First, or any other crackpot rightwing party" and this is "a sign of the party's degeneration."

I wonder where Barnes has been that preference deals are all that Labor offers as a sign of its apparent recent 'degeneration'? Maybe the SA should have called the ALP  a political 'degenerate' rather than being so harping on its political shortcomings.

But then if the Greens have a better industrial relations policy than the ALP -- I have to hazard the opinion that the Alliance has a much better industrial relations policy than both of them while being a dedicated and active proponent of the campaign against Work Choices from Day One!

But I guess thats' neither here nor there when you are supposedly politically passe...or being ignored.

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