Perhaps because of its outrageous early ‘70s sexism, one of Britain’s most important ural films, The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, has been consigned to the memory hole.Unscrupulous PR man Rimmer lusts for total power. Commissioned by a lacklustre PM, he arranges an event on a North Sea ship. When the PM falls overboard and drowns, Rimmer emerges as the hero (having pushed the PM himself).
Through the ranks of an artless political party, the ruthless Rimmer rises to the top. As PM he uses populist referenda to bypass pesky parliamentarians and ministers. Eventually, as he originally planned, the public long to make him Dictator, when they are forced to endless ballots. In a pre-digital age, a red alarm on every TV set summons them to endless votes. One goes off at 4am,’Do you want the rubbish picked up at 5am or 7am…?’ The perils of ultra-democracy.
Outgoing Labor party president Mark Butler has called for ‘more democracy’ in the ALP. This must not be used as pretence for following the Jeremy Corbyn model of UK Labour. Australia Labor has, following Kevin Rudd’s special conference in Balmain, a 50/50 mixture of membership and parliamentary components to elect Federal Labor’s parliamentary leader. That is the right mixture. Of course it is quite reasonable to say there should be a component, even an equal component encouraging genuine rank and file participation for Upper House or Senate pre-selections.
However when examining internal party democracy in Australia, as Troy Bramston pointed out in the Australian last week: ‘Butler chairs Labor’s 21-member national executive… The numbers are evenly poised between the left and right factions… Butler, a member since 2000, has often voted to take decisions away from party members.’
During Butler’s incumbency, the ALP National Disputes Tribunal and the National Returning Officer both refused to validate the exclusion of members from voting in Victorian upper house preselections. I publicly opposed this deeply undemocratic move. Butler and his left faction voted down the recommendations of their own Returning Officer and internal disputes process to give branch members the right to pre-select their representatives. Both had said that denying members votes was against the letter and spirit of the ALP’s own rules. Actions speak louder than words.
Going down the Corbyn road, UK Labour has descended into policy madness, such as the stalled hearings on whether to expel Ken Livingston over his front page bigotry, that ‘Hitler was a Zionist’. The power of the extreme-Left can be directly traced back to the lack of balance in the recent changes to the party’s internal election structures.
In the past, equal colleges of MPs, trade unions and rank and file members had a say in choosing the leader. That was abandoned foolishly by the failed Ed Miliband as a sop to mates to explain his disastrous 2012 defeat. Under his ‘ultra-democracy’ rules, parliamentarians have no role. 30 parliamentarians can nominate the prospective leader, as happened with Corbyn, but many were charity votes… never expecting that he would be elected.
Corbyn was always a fringe dweller, until his surprise election as leader, having never held any portfolio in his 20 years in parliament. A few years ago he was paid to appear on Press TV (Iranian) and Putin’s propaganda arm, Russias RT. Now thanks to the ultra-Left, pseudo-democratic structure of UK Labour, ministers have only an equal vote to any Trot who joined under the new membership fee of 3 pounds! Theoretically, UK Labour has 520,000 members, a ‘mass party membership’ about which idealists and ideologues salivate. In fact, Momentum is now the party within the party, organising extremists to vote at the endless meetings and ballots needed to vote for national executive positions, for selections for the House of Commons and even council candidates. Thanks to the new system, Jon Lansman, Momentum’s boss, and two other long term extremists were elected to the national executive. Now the extreme-Left has a majority, including a new national disputes chair, herself suspended until recently for extremism. Like the beast that works its way into the belly Alien-style and takes over the host, Momentum is taking over UK Labour.
New, average soft-Left members tire of these wearying manoeuvres. Of course, this is what Momentum (Corbyn’s stormtroopers) knew and predicted: that they and their satellites would soon dominate the party structure, and will patiently place their clones in the Commons as opportunities arise. The communists, for that’s who effectively they are, have captured the party. The leadership are targeting 50 moderate members of for de-selection. A similar attempt to take over the Labour party occurred in the ‘80s by Momentum’s predecessor, the Militant Tendency, but was defeated by courageous MPs and trade unionists led by their centre-Left leader Neil Kinnock.
The facts of the Momentum takeover of UK Labour are barely known in Australia. We hear only the superficial adulation of Corbyn by his mates in the media parroting his ‘surge’ of support, his mass party memberships and his popularity with university students.
Tory leader Theresa May’s hopeless, boring and unusually long election campaign squandered her vast lead in the polls over Corbyn at the 2017 election. Now Momentum, via its echo-chambers in the mainstream and social media, hail their empty vessel Jeremy Corbyn as a genius. ‘He won 260 seats’ and ‘did not go backwards as expected’ they cry. Yet Corbyn’s result was 50 seats short of a majority and is pathetic compared to Tony Blair, who won 418 seats at his great election victory of 1997.
No, Mark Butler, we do not need Corbyn rules in Australia!
Yes, there is a cheap superficial appeal of people being notionally included, but the Corbyn path on policy, international affairs, and party structure is the path to political suicide. For all of our faults, and the many faults of uncharismatic party leaders, one of the great things about Australia is that both major parties pursue common sense policies. While you may disagree with Shorten on negative gearing, cost of health insurance, or penalty rates, Labor is not dominated or manipulated by far-Left cuckoos.
For the sake of all Australians, as Oppositions inevitably get into government in a two party system, we must never travel down the Corbyn crooked road.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues