Flat White

Labor learns the limits of identity politics

11 November 2019

4:05 PM

11 November 2019

4:05 PM

As usual, Shakespeare said it best:

The weight of this sad time we must obey

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say….

There is now no hiding from awful, unimaginable truth for Labor. With the Emerson-Wetherill report “How Could We Lose That Election (But Did)” is now public and what was brushed over or ignored in overwhelming confidence, even arrogance, before the poll has now been made clear.

And to many, the most bruising truth is this: the tribes that always bolstered Labor ranks, the Greens, unionists, Get-Uppers, militant feminists, NGOs, all who saw themselves as beneficiaries even post-election and hastened to put in their claims dragged Labor down making defeat inevitable. Ordinary people took to heart the message that this was going to be very expensive if Labor won.

History is replete with examples of confidence in strategies that were simply unworkable. Think “The Maginot Line will always hold” or ”Singapore is an impregnable fortress.” 

As Jay Wetherill pointed out, his voice slow measured and sounding somewhat teary, “Sadly for us, at this election, we presented a public policy agenda that paradoxically frightened the very people we were trying to support”


All that door knocking by the Friends of Labor didn’t work, people were nervous of the big-spending visions and a Labor leader who seemed to be, well, walking both sides of the street at once. One Labor heavyweight summed up the May defeat as the ‘Three C’s – coal, Catholics and Chinese.” Which may explain the current hounding of Gladys Liu.

At the National Press Club on Friday and on Insiders yesterday, Albanese drew Labor as ‘the Party of aspiration’ and franking credits were binned, and his next step would be vision statements and the insistence that Labor “must be an inclusive Party”, and (perhaps most surprising to viewers, he insisted that ‘Labor was ‘the natural party of government for Australia.”

It sounded like Labor turning Liberal-lite — especially the ‘party of aspiration’.

Get over it.

You were outgunned and outplayed, the Coalition ran the better social media campaign and Australians of migrant heritage responded because they understand the dangers of rampant socialisation of the state.

Let me let you into a little secret. Asian-Australians are wary of Labor’s vision of fair shares for all. They work damn hard, doing jobs Anglos feel too entitled or are too lazy to front up for and they don’t see why free riders should benefit.

Asian Australians understand socialism. They’ve experienced it, either themselves or their families. They understand how it works. They just want a fair chance to get ahead for themselves and their families. They want to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, the same way Anglo-Australians do. They don’t worry if you don’t want them in the same clubs as yours, just as long as their children have the same opportunities and go to the same schools as your kid

Would it surprise you that I’ve heard a Chinese acquaintance say she admired Pauline Hanson who had worked in a fish and chip shop before entering politics?

But perhaps the most honest and pragmatic opinion on Labor’s loss came not from the shadow cabinet but from Labor’s ex-PM, Kevin Rudd, Kevin from Queensland, here to help.

Talking to Lech Blaine from The Monthly, he said, “The Greens couldn’t give a flying fuck about people going through radical structural adjustments. Whereas we’ve [Labor] got to be equally concerned about them as we are about the planet.”

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