Flat White

Labor: the party of the workers – or the woke?

20 August 2020

2:16 PM

20 August 2020

2:16 PM

Labor might need to split into two separate parties if it is to represent workers as well as inner-city poodle pulling latte sippers, according to veteran parliamentarian Joel Fitzgibbon.

Admittedly, Fitzgibbon didn’t quite put it like that.

But he was clear that Labor would struggle to represent both workers and the privileged, tertiary educated, public sector employed elites who sneer at them while riding on their backs.

Okay, the shadow minister for agriculture and resources didn’t exactly frame it in those terms.

But he was alluding to how difficult it was for Labor to win the hearts of workers while spending all their time smooching the migrant, green and welfare vote.

What I think he meant to say was that his party was having a hard time appealing to both workers and to wokesters.

Here’s what Fitzgibbon actually said: “I just don’t know how we reconcile the difficulty of being all things to people in Melbourne, and another thing to a group of people living in central Queensland.

He told the Blenheim Partners podcast: “I am very fearful about how the Labor Party will manage … (to) juggle these two electoral bases and I do fear that, it won’t be in my time, but the party might end up splitting.”

The ­national Right faction convenor of the Party sounds like he fears that Labor has become so progressive they have left their constituents behind. And one can’t help but think he is right.

Moreover, it is increasingly clear that there is no pathway onto the treasury benches from the woke left of politics. The failure of the Greens to grow their brand makes this abundantly clear.

The working class — most of whom prefer continuity over rapid change, patriotism over national self-loathing, the nuclear family over an LBGTIQ+ alphabet soup and local attachments over contrived diversity –- could not be blamed for feeling as if the Labor Party is more likely to preach at them than to represent them.

It is now clear that working class Australians sit at the bottom of the identity politics hierarchy. The constituency the Labor Party was founded on is these days derided as ignorant, racist and patriarchal by the very people trusted to represent their interests. Oil and water.

Fitzgibbon’s warning comes as opposition Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers prepares to visit the Queensland town of Warwick where he will reportedly argue that climate change “isn’t some inner-city preoccupation”.

No doubt the people of Warwick will be excited to hear that it’s a United Nations preoccupation as well. But I digress.

It will be interesting to see how Labor’s plan to win back regional Queensland with a speech from someone with a PhD on the prime ministership of Paul Keating, representing a city electorate, and with a working life spent entirely in politics actually goes.

If Chalmers can convince workers that it is possible to leave their mining jobs for a career in renewables without being worse off — all while saving the planet — he might then explain that Father Christmas is real. And the Tooth Fairy.

But back to Fitzgibbon. What is hilarious about dividing the ALP so as to offer voters a choice between Labor and Labour is that the ALP already has a branch that panders to progressives — the Greens.

The Greens will never preference the Liberal Party so why Labor continues to push left in a bid to out-Green the Greens while alienating their traditional base makes no sense. But then, leftism never did make any sense.

Fitzgibbon’s observation that workers and wokesters are mutually exclusive predictably led to many on Twitter insisting that he was unfit to remain in the Labor Party — not for promoting fossil fuels but for espousing too much common sense.

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