â– Attempt to disrupt the deal by splitting the Socialist Left
â– Attempt to pick off smaller groups; or
â– A public campaign of disruption and carnage
â– Managed and negotiated surrender where their MPs and other interests are protected.
DIVIDE THE SOCIALISTS
The challenge with splitting the SL is the people in the strongest position to do it, Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin and SL faction secretary Andrew Giles have emerged as strong supporters of the peace deal.
That isn’t to say there aren’t divisions in the Left. The CFMEU have felt excluded and alienated and treated like lepers for a long time, partly because of their public reputation impacting on their internal political clout. They very nearly split off from the Left to join with Dean Mighell’s rebel group the Union and Community Alliance. But whether the CFMEU’s alienation would extend to voting with a faction comprising people who avowedly hate them for patriotic reasons is considered highly unlikely by most party observers.
“This about Martin Kingham venting about what he gets internally from the Left, which to be fair isn’t much. There’s a big gap between that and voting with the Shop Assistants Union. I’m not sure they’d ever live it down in Left circles. So it’s not impossible, they have four POSC votes and might like to split off from the Left to trade them around but if you had to bet you’d bet on them sticking with the SL,” one Left observer reported to VEXNEWS.
The Metals division of the Manufacturing Workers Union have also been speculated about too. They have a lot of votes but the trouble is that they can really only be exercised with the blessing of the national office, run by Dave Oliver, Kim Carr’s close mate.
The national office controls the purse-strings of the union, a structure created by those centralising communists who used to control the Metal Workers. So while the big Left union’s senior officials might sing “What about me?” in the shower when contemplating why some people’s girlfriends and spouses get bumped into Parliament and others don’t, these issues seem all a matter of negotiation within the Left.
If the state officials were to attempt to undermine Kim Carr, it is highly likely that Dave Oliver would bring out his baseball bat of teamwork and walk around their conference table in the style of Robert de Niro in the Untouchables where Al Capone discussed the benefits of ‘teamwork’ before fracturing a skull or two.
The national office has intervened many times in the political affairs of the Victorian branch and in other states, including blocking Martin Foley’s attempt to bump off Erik Locke as ALP State Secretary, which had state officials supporting it but was opposed nationally.
On another occasion the national office even appointed all of the state branch’s ALP State Conference delegates. Most importantly of all it controls the money so the state branch is allowed a certain amount of latitude but not if it strays into counter-revolutionary thought offending the national office’s close integration with the Socialist Left leadership.
For many of these Lefty union blokes, Lefty cred is just as important as having beer served at a frosty temperature. Voting with the Shop Assistants Union, as much as this correspondent loves their patriotic ways, does seem likely to assault one’s lefty cred.
That said, there are reports that the representatives of some of these unions will be meeting among themselves this week. It will be interesting to watch.
SPLINTER THE SPLINTER GROUPS
The other approach was to work with the smaller factions like the Ferguson Left and some or all of Dean Mighell’s faction UCA. There was much VEXNEWS comment traffic about that. However we understand these groups to be very enthusiastic about the deal.
Mighell is said to be unhappy about the SDA’s attitude over the Kororoit by-election where it is rumoured Michael Donovan pushed for the disaffiliation of the Mighell’s union after they supported the failed candidacy of Lard Lord Les Twentyman against SDA darling Marlene Kairouz. Feeney is known to have similarly advocated a tough on Mighell policy after the unionist promoted Greens political party candidates in the 2007 poll.
However, there are said to be divisions in the Electrical Trades Union part of the CEPU and the Plumbers. So perhaps that might play out in getting Dean Mighell to play footsie with the NUW/SDA group but it does seem rather unlikely.
IF THE BOSS GETS UP YOUR NOSE, PICKET
Some say that those who were “shut-out” in the deal could respond the way the Socialist Left do when they don’t get their own way, with public outbursts and protest.
While it is true that many in the NUW/SDA coalition have been inclined to leak to the media to destabilise, they will certainly not be inclined to act like the Left with public stunts and such. These are for the most part backroom boys who understand that it is only the completely powerless and hopeless who need to resort to such antics. They’ll be hopeful they can swing better results by persuasion.
All parliamentary players will be mindful that ministerial advancement depends on the Leader seeing them as playing a constructive role. And whatever the NUW and SDA are known for, being loudly rebellious in Party matters is not usually their strong point. They usually prefer to be quiet but deadly, like some of Dean Mighell’s legendary farts in the Comrade’s Bar (only kidding).
ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
Another response could see what one wag in our comments section called the “Left Right Out” faction stepping up to negotiate remaining outcomes in a peaceful and friendly way.
VEXNEWS understands that Senator David Feeney, who enjoys the respect of many in all parts in the divided Right despite a nearly two year long dummy spit dispute with his former best mate BillÂ Shorten, could be leading the way in an attempt to reconcile the divided groups.
Feeney has convened a meeting of the NUW, SDA and his own sub-group for today that is expected to give him authority to pursue a reconciliation between the divided Right.
Because some elements of what was agreed between Labor Unity and the Left have been kept a well-guarded secret, these negotiations won’t be easy but they certainly can’t hurt.
Feeney is an occasionally dormant leader of a sub-group of FEA activists and the leadership of the Health Services Union. His active return to the factional fray could help that group take a more disciplined approach than it has exhibited in recent times, including regular press attacks on the Party secretary Stephen Newnham, ratting on Labor Unity candidate in the Corangamite preselection and so on.
He could also emerge as the spokesperson for the NUW/SDA group in its dealings with Labor Unity, although some wonder how they might work given his history with them.