Thursday, September 01, 2011

Not blogging the bookshelf

A follower of this site is also the blogger of Blogging the Bookshelf

It is normally a relatively free flowing and eclectic collection of quotes lifted from various sources.

More recently he has been embedded in Ross McMullin's history of the ALP Light on the Hill. For something I am writing I went off in search of the book - I have borrowed it from Macquarie Uni but definitely will find my own copy now (Abe books have a few).

Two quotes of quotes I found interesting;

1. Quoting Henry Boote editor of the Australian Worker in 1905

The movement must become consciously socialistic ... It must drop all pretensions to be statesmanlike and continue to be agitative. Discontent is still the divine gospel; we are all doomed as soon as we congratulate ourselves.

(This was in the context of whether the ALP should seek to govern in coalitions. As stated though, especially the last sentence, it is very descriptive of the NSW Right.)

2. Chifley to the NSW Conference 10 June 1951, after expressing hope that the defeats of 1949 and 1951 had "not discouraged members of the Labor Movement from fighting for what they think is right, whether it brings victory to the Party or not." He accused some ALP members of

trying to get over as far as possible to the right without becoming opposed to the Labor Party ... we had examples in the past 15 months ... of people shifting their ground. No one has any admiration for people who shift ground ... You have to be quite clear about what you believe in, whether popular or unpopular, and you have to fight for it ... if I think a thing is worth fighting for, no matter what the penalty may be, I will fight for the right, and truth and justice will always prevail.>/em>

(The context was the decision of the Federal Executive to change its mind from opposition to support of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Chifley's and Evatt's opposition to the Bill was not formed on the basis of support for communism but for the process employed of declaration and the removal of political rights.

The quote is one the likes of Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar should pay attention to - look what the stance on the ETS did to the party!)

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est


Tim said...

Cheers David.

'Tis an excellent read. As you will have guessed, I picked it up with the explicit intention of deepening my understanding of the party's thinking about the strategy of moving from a minority advocacy party to a party of Government.

While you've picked out a quote about the importance of ideological integrity in those early days, I thought the emphasis from the Party's strategists at that time (eg Watson and Hughes in particular) was in using their minority block to deliver practical, tangible reforms for their supporters (also electoral reforms for the party). It was noticeable that they consciously avoided taking stands on philosophical/ideological points and focused on progressively building support through real reforms.

It's a particularly interesting insight in the context of debates within other parties about prioritising issues like BDS, Anzus etc...


David Havyatt said...

The important point you make is how the ALP used its negative vote to achieve tangible outcomes. The fact remains that the "Australian settlement" which was fundamentally the initial policy aims of Labor was really introduced by the first Liberal.

And Rodney Cavalier in Power Crisis repeated a statement in a Fabian address that Robert Menzies was further to the left than any existing ALP Minister. Menzies introduced much of the ALP policy as a means to retain Government.

Achieving objectives does not necessarily mean occupying the Treasury benches. Equally ideological purity without attempting to convince the public to support you (the disease of the modern left) is futile.

Decide what you stand for and persuade people to support it; not find out what people want and offer it.

The difference between the Crosby?Textor spin to ALP spin. The former found points of resonance and used them as a sprinboard to their own position; the ALP tries to find points of resonance and make it their position.

Probaly the NBN is the only place where the ALP has done the former - and it is in desperate need of help on that now too!