In recent days Anthony Albanese has announced major shifts in the policy and ideological stances of the Labor Party, ditching leftovers from his predecessor Bill Shorten. The Labor leader has come out strongly in favour of continued support of coal exports and abandoned his party’s brave target of reducing Australia’s total carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.
Despite these changes being clear moves to shift Labor toward what John Howard used to call “the sensible centre”, the Greens and left Labor supporters have repeatedly attacked Albanese, claiming these policies fail to fight climate change.
The Greens have taken to social media to claim they are the “real opposition”. Instead, they are the lunatic fringe.
This is a smart move by Albanese.
By forcing a shift away from policies and stances that cost Labor votes in key seats and with key demographics in last May’s election, Albanese has forced Labor to begin to finally acknowledge where they went wrong.
Albanese’s move towards a focus on pragmatism and more accurately gauging public opinion is an important step for Labor, as it continues to attempt to build its credentials as a strong alternative to the Morrison government.
After the Coalition’s near-defeat in 2016 and the subsequent instability Labor still steered left, ignoring that the ideological narratives they publicly advocated were incompatible with the values of much of middle Australia.
With such a commanding lead in the polls for so long it likely seemed like a harmless enough thing.
But by failing to adequately publicly distance itself the elements of the “woke” and politically correct ideology middle Australia generally has little time for, Labor ended up entwined with the “loony left” in the eyes of some of very voters it needed to convince in order to win.
If Albanese’s push to pursue a more considered approach to policy based on reflecting the views of a majority of Australian’s is just the first step in transforming Labor’s political stances, that should give the Coalition pause.
Over the last seven years, the Coalition has enjoyed the fruits of Labor misjudging public opinion on key issues in multiple election cycles, ultimately resulting in three Coalition victories.
If Albanese has finally begun the soul-searching Labor needs to recognise the true sources of its defeats, Australia may finally have a real political contest on its hands after years of politics dominated by both the Coalition and Labor shooting themselves in the foot.
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