DEALING WITH LOSS: A divided right prepares to fight but while there's life there's hope

jfkfuneral It is said there are seven stages of grief:

â–  Shock/disbelief

â–  Denial

â–  Anger

â–  Bargaining

â–  Guilt

â–  Depression

â– Acceptance

Those in the NUW group who had worked so hard to seize a working majority in the former Labor Unity executive had achieved a prized goal: power.

For the best part of the last year, they waved their trophy around like a club captain on Grand Final Day, triumphantly singing Queen’s anthem “We are the Champions.”

They declared open season on the Labor Unity ALP State Secretary, universally regarded as a highly effective campaign strategist, Stephen Newnham, white-anting him with a series of press articles, some even on the record from folks like Jeff Jackson at the Health Services Union. They then worked hard on winning over some of the Premier’s own staff to their plotting, pitching that the campaign will continue unless action is taken. They said they didn’t mind who Newnham’s successor was, it could be anyone of the Premier’s choosing, just not his friend the incumbent. Some in the Premier’s crew, who didn’t like Newnham’s style or coveted his job for themselves, found it a very tempted proposition indeed.

They wanted to neck Newnham because he wasn’t part of their sub-group. Simple as that. He was aligned to Bill Shorten, the former national secretary of the AWU, and the man loved to be hated by the NUW. And unlike Bill he was an easy target, under the previous factional alignments.

They had a majority in the majority faction and they intended to use it.

Preselections beckoned. Careers would be started, enemies sorted and thwarted, vengeance delivered and the emergence of new go-to men in the state caucus that the Premier would have no choice but to show deference.

It all looked pretty good.

There were dangers. But they were quickly discounted. A deal with the Socialist Left with Labor Unity’s leaders was ruled out as being too difficult for them to pull off because Andrew Giles, the SL secretary, would never agree. Giles and Robin Scott were too close to allow it to happen.

And then suddenly Shorten and his team took decisive action.

They negotiated a deal to protect “party stability.”

But as much as anything Shorten and his team pursued it to snatch back control of the moderate faction in the ALP. There is not much doubt they will succeed.

Confronting that reality is clearly going to prompt a grieving process for those who’ve suffered considerable loss.

Keeping in mind that the loss is not about losing seats or whatever but losing one’s grip on the steering wheel of events in the ALP.


There are many mourners clearly now in denial. Initially shocked and appalled by their factional brothers pursuing a deal that excluded them, they are now talking up an increasingly bizarre set of circumstances where they say the deal could unravel.

It won’t.

Hopes seemed to be pinned on Socialist Left union bosses repudiating their own faction and voting with Senator David Feeney and the SDA, two delightfully conservative entities.

That’s not a plan, it’s a pipedream.

Yes it is true that cheeky, greedy and grasping Comrade Dargavel of the Metal Workers desires muchly to be returned to Club Fed and Chairman’s Lounge(where he was once an accidental MP for a while) rather than accept a gig in Spring Street. Fair enough that he’s trying to use the half-threat of ratting on the Left to get leverage for that position but seasoned observers say it’s purely about using the NUW group to get what he wants from under the warm but stinky blanket of the Socialist Left.

And even if this fantasy of gutting the SL and stealing its unions could be made real, it’s a terrible look. It’s one thing for Labor Unity’s leaders to do a cross-factional party peace deal, it’s another thing entirely for the NUW/SDA to seek out unlikely bed-partners in the form of trade union militants and frequent subjects of investigation by authorities, in the form of the construction division of the CFMEU.

One leading player in the NUW/SDA group told me winning over the hard Left’s unions was “not ideal” but emphatically asserted it was possible.

It disturbs their narrative that they opposed a deal with the Socialist Left. They clearly only oppose a deal with the Socialist Left that they’re not driving.

Their ideal outcome it seems is to wind back the clock to the Happy Days when they could have a majority on the LU executive and LU Admin caucus and rule the roost. It’s all part of denial because whatever happens now there’s no going back to the previous structure, as far as Shorten’s backers are concerned.

It is not unreasonable to expect when the illusion of a possible deal with the world’s worst union leaders is ruled out that the next phase will be anger.

And that’s the problem. The NUW/SDA group contain some smart dudes who are just as capable of destroying all they see around them as the next man.

Problem is that their interim leader Senator Feeney is not a destructive type. He will be very keen to distance himself from such outbursts which could include public disharmony including continued press briefings and even a bit of HSU style direct action. Perhaps HSU operatives will be armed with a lemon meringue pie to “pie” Labor Unity convenor Bill Shorten in a public gathering. To quote Homer Simpson “Mmm, pie.”

If these public flare-ups continue though Feeney will be blamed for them, so that could provoke anger all round and set back his legitimate ministerial ambitions in Club Fed. He has mostly and not unreasonably previously been able to distance himself from some of the NUW Group’s worst excesses.

According to some, a looming battle emerges in the Health Services Union, an important part of Feeney’s base. Feeney supports his old friend, Secretary Jeff Jackson who enjoys the strong support of the union’s staff. Jackson’s opponent, branch President Pauline Fegan has a majority of the union’s Branch Committee of Management. Both sides claim popular support among the members.

Fegan is supported by a number of people within Labor Unity who have a beef with Jackson. The current feuding within the Right could well play out in the HSU as well with Fegan finding herself with many new allies from people who would be willing to support anyone but Jackson.

Fights over unions always provoke more anger in the ALP than anything else. Indeed the last time the NUW disgraced themselves was when its supreme leader Greg Sword sacked Feeney for his alleged involvement in helping the Jacksons win control of the union from forces aligned to Sword.

So assuming there isn’t a negotiation that leads to a peace settlement within the Right, there’ll be anger by the KFC bucket full.

Next stage they say is bargaining:

Bargaining, although it may seem like a strange stage, is something that a lot of us do and has its roots in “what could I do to reverse the loss”, “take me instead”, this is quite natural and is an observed stage of grieving.

What will this mean in the Right Fight? Who knows, perhaps a serious negotiation over how the moderates will relate to each other beyond pointless quests to win 50%+1, winning over one union secretary over another, scheming and plotting about how to lord it over people you won’t even speak with or look in the eye.

VEXNEWS is optimistic they can get there. We pray they do. Certainly the best and brightest of the Right in the form of Shorten, Richardson and Feeney are well equipped to resolve some differences by bargaining. Whether they really want to do so is the issue.

But how do those who were singing “We are the champions” a month ago now live with a new set of arrangements that so dramatically reduce their power and put Labor Unity’s Convenor Shorten so firmly in the driver’s seat in their group. Even writing those words is a provocation to these people who get very hot and sweaty at the mere mention of Shorten’s name and now insist it is Pope Feeney not Pope Shorten who is large and in charge of the faction.

But truth is truth. They were like bratty kids tormenting the purebreed horse Shorten’s Pride while it was being spelled in the top paddock. Jumping on it, pulling its tail, having a laugh until the thoroughbred gave them one swift kick in the private parts leaving them in the dirt reflecting that they perhaps ought not have provoked or underestimated the stallion in question.

Will that realisation equip them to cut a deal with people with whom they have much in common aside from personality clashes. Ask Shorten about Israel. Ask Feeney about Israel. Same view. Ask Shorten about crooked Evan Thornley. Ask Feeney about crooked Evan Thornley. Same view. Ask Shorten about the tossers in the Premier’s office who start factional bushfires in the midst of Total Fire Bans. Ask Feeney too. Same view.

They much in common. And much to work with should they want to do so.

But we suspect the temptation be a malicious micro-faction could be overwhelming. 30% doesn’t buy much but it is enough to cause trouble with.

Perhaps while all of that’s going down, some of the brethren will feel a little guilt and shame and stupidity. Guilt that their lack of caution prompted their majority faction to become divided.

In this case blaming themselves for their loss probably wouldn’t hurt. It is certain that the cautious and sensible people who signed up a cross-factional deal didn’t do so lightly or without not so much provocation as a need to combat the certainty that their group had been hijacked by folks who while moderate and righteous in their politics kept acting like extremists shooting their Kalashnikovs in the air.

The next phase is depression. The NUW group are still a fair way off that phase. They play hard and for keeps and have been through a lot of battles in the past so the depression won’t be a big long term factor.

Many of their troops are glum and confused as they reflect on their own errors or errors made on their behalf.

Some – like Nazih Elasmar MLC – a good and gentle man who has pledged his support to Robin Scott in return for filling the supposed Theophanous #1 northern metropolitan vacancy – will do their best to opt out of the dispute. In Nazih’s case study, we are left to ponder whether the deal will be off if they can’t deliver the #1 position or whether he’ll settle for the marginal #3 spot he currently occupies and stick with Robin’s crew. Who knows what will happen. But we do know that the dilemma, the conflicts within, including within one’s own base of supporters in branches, will be the fuel depression in many parts of the divided Right.

The final phase of grief about loss is acceptance. That’s a long way off even the most pragmatic of players.

Our well-worn grief management book advises:

Acceptance of reality need not be synonymous with capitulation, humiliating defeat. There is a difference between accepting what is inescapable – like death, when you’re dying – and cowardly surrendering when you could have fought more. And acceptance need not mean losing your integrity – it can sometimes be quite the opposite. Acceptance is not betrayal.

Acceptance is about using the lessons we learned in life to come to terms with the realities of the world, on our own terms.

Sound advice for all those dealing with the troubles of the world.

We can only hope the silly aspects of the pre-acceptance phases are kept to a minimum. The former executive of Labor Unity – formally dissolved yesterday – purporting to act on behalf of anyone other than themselves would count as silly. We understand that Senator Feeney sought their formal backing but this probably ought to have done more diplomatically. They could have authorised him to act on their behalf without issuing fatwas like exiled Ayatollahs. It was a mistake, however unquestionably well-intentioned Feeney’s motives are.

It made them look like the indelicate, thundering extremists they are keen to deny they are. Every action, every word, everything will be closely scrutinised and considered carefully.

As this group, many of them firm friends of this publication in freedom who will always have our patriotic support, reach for acceptance, many mistakes will be made. Hopefully patriots will keep these errors to a bare minimum, realising that you don’t get to pick your enemies, that the only folks you need to negotiate peace with are foes, that what goes around comes around and that there’s no such thing as permanent friends just permanent interests.



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58 responses to “DEALING WITH LOSS: A divided right prepares to fight but while there's life there's hope

  1. no hope

    its too little to late!

  2. Tom Cargill

    I am not in denial. I will get my seat one day before 2026

  3. Lizzie

    Dito. I’m looking good for the fourth spot on the Senate ticket.

  4. Jacinta

    But what about mio!!! it isnt fair!!!

  5. anonymous

    feeneys faction avereted a disaster by saving kororoit and the west from the suleymans clan.I dont think they can be thanked enough and whether you are left or right if you have any conscience and half a brain you could see the disaster that could have been , had some quick and decisive intervention not been made.Shorten is pure and simple an opportunist for stitching up a deal with the left and ensure “stability” for the ALP proper, but he was a key supporter of the Suleymans.enough said.

  6. Anonymous

    Maybe we could ask ‘Big Della’ on pointers for sorting out factional stoushes!

  7. Anonymous

    Feeney needs the HSUA to pull the splinters out of his rear

  8. Julie

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.

  9. Shoppie

    I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.

  10. Anonymous

    Just another day in the saga that is Labor Unity ! And to think that Feeney and Shorten were once allies in the fight against Osama Tim Holding and the NUW extremists! I recall that even Andrew Landeryou himself was part of the anti-NUW forces. Senator Conroy must be thinking “WTF?” for having supported Feeney for so long, only to be stabbed in the back. Apparently as it turns out, Senator Feeney is just another careerist willing to sell out former friends and allies to further his own political ambition.

  11. Anonymous

    Just another day in the saga that is Labor Unity ! And to think that Feeney and Shorten were once allies in the fight against Osama Tim Holding and the NUW extremists! I recall that even Andrew Landeryou himself was part of the anti-NUW forces. Senator Conroy must be thinking “WTF?” for having supported Feeney for so long, only to be stabbed in the back. Apparently as it turns out, Senator Feeney is just another careerist willing to sell out former friends and allies to further his own political ambition.

  12. Natasha The Despoiler

    The conservative right is dead in this land. Yippeeeeeeee!!!!!

  13. Billy, don't you lose my number

    It’s official – all non-right unions are meeting on Friday morning to form a new faction.

  14. My ticket

    yeah, and they would tell you about it! Its official, all the right wing unions have split and formed two factions. Now that sounds more likely.

  15. Anonymous

    Richardson, Shorten and Conroy did a dirty, sleasy deal to hand control of the ALP to the Socialist Left and nothing you can say Andrew can excuse that

  16. punjab

    Julie sounds more like Lisa Carey… could it be she…

  17. Anonymous

    Richardson, Shorten and Conroy are a disgrace for their dirty, sleasy deal

  18. Anonymous

    The old anti-communist officials of the AWU and the Ironworkers and the Carpenters and Joiners Union would consider the current behaviour of the AWU officials an absolute disgrace. They should hang their heads in shame at their disgusting behaviour

  19. My Point of View

    On behalf of the National Civic Council, I must disclose some confusion in the narrative of Senator Feeney.

    On the one hand he condemns the global deal with the Socialist menace. We concur.

    Yet on the other he simultaneously seeks his own deal with Maoists and criminals from the CFMEU, Workers First stand-over merchants from the AMWU and their running dogs.

    This is nihilist moral gymnastics.

    There shall be no Papal knighthood available for those committing the sin of bearing two faces…

  20. Natasha The Despoiler

    I love watching a bonfire… burn, burn burn – all of you.

  21. Anonymous

    The AWU are the disgraceful people who have sold out their friends who will burn

  22. Natasha The Despoiler

    Burn proletarian conservatistas – burn.

  23. Anonymous

    Does everyone know that Cesar Melham used his personal vote to vote for Marlene Kairouz in Kororoit and not Natalie Suleman. I bet you didn’t tell Bill it was one of the votes that got Marlene across the line

  24. Anonymous

    Has Michael Danby told his constituency that the people who voted on his behalf in Kororoit voted for the militant Moslem against the Lebanese Christian. I wonder what they may think of that.

  25. Anonymous

    Marlene won the local vote in Kororoit by two votes – nice to know Cesar’s vote was one of the two

  26. Anonymous

    If Cesar had voted the other way the local vote would have been equal.

  27. Anonymous

    I am sure the Jewish community would be quite happy for Michael Danby to vote for a militant Moslem against a Lebanese Christian. I am sure he will publicise it in the Jewish media before the next election

  28. Marlene

    Thanks Cesar for giving me a majority in the local ballot

  29. Patriot

    Everyone thanks Cesar for the critical vote which won Kororoit for the true patriots

  30. Natasha The Despoiler

    Just burn…

  31. Patriot

    Cesar – you know who you should be supporting. It is not too late to turn aside from the path of evil.

  32. Natasha The Despoiler

    Stoke it up and burn.

  33. Patriot

    Cesar Melham, Michael Borowick and David Cragg – you know that the path the AWU is going down is morally wrong. When are you going to examine your conscience and decide to do what is morally right?

  34. Natasha The Despoiler

    You all deserve this self immolation. Burn.

  35. Anonymous

    Marlene lost the local ballet by 20 odd votes. she won the POSC due to the SDA doing the deal with the NUW, the fergs. Lets get things right fellas.

  36. Bennelong

    Newsflash: unions meeting on Friday to form a new group. All unions not exclusively in the Right to attend. Unions attending represent over 20% of the Vic ALP branch. Don’t let Kim Carr, Alan Griffin, or Bill Shorten know. Over and out.

  37. My ticket

    wow thats a secret meeting hey. shhhh lets pretend its true

  38. Barry Hunter

    Hey guys Koroit was a small stoush – widening the row to involve the whole of labor unity, to the point of wrecking friendships and basically a force of moderation is not the answer. Wise heads need to prevail. What about the membership in the FEAs – what must they think of all this. Both sides have done themselves no credit. Of for the days when the Broad Group was acually powerful. Please lets have a broad group meeting and not stop meeting until this whole mess is resolved.

  39. Chairman Carr

    Cahairman Carr knows everything. My agents Giles and Griffin have transcripts off their discussions.
    They are not leaving – i am purging them.
    i now have a re-educated AWU and TWU and 2 lapdogs (Bill and Steve)to play with.

    Kim Carr
    Chairman of the SL Polit Bureau
    Paramount leader of Alan Griffan, Anrew Giles,70 pe r cent of the victorian ALP and master of Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy.

  40. Chairman Carr

    Cahairman Carr knows everything. My agents Giles and Griffin have transcripts off their discussions.
    They are not leaving – i am purging them.
    i now have a re-educated AWU and TWU and 2 lapdogs (Bill and Steve)to play with idont need sl unions.

    Kim Carr
    Chairman of the SL Polit Bureau
    Paramount leader of Alan Griffan, Anrew Giles,70 pe r cent of the victorian ALP and master of Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy.

  41. Rupert

    Olive branch in Victoria’s Labor alliance

    Rick Wallace, Victorian political reporter | January 21, 2009
    Article from: The Australian

    FORCES behind the new majority Left-Right alliance in the Victorian ALP are prepared to readmit some of the banished forces excluded under their contentious “stability pact”.

    It is believed the new grouping — formed by a surprise alliance between part of the now divided Right and the Socialist Left — is prepared to extend an olive branch to two of the three key abandoned groups.

    The move follows pressure from Rudd government cabinet ministers Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson for a broader deal, which was revealed in The Australian yesterday.

    While those in the majority deal — of which The Australian has obtained a copy — would allow forces aligned with Senator David Feeney and the shop assistants union to return to the fold, they have vowed never to readmit those aligned with the National Union of Workers.

    The chunk of the Right aligned with federal parliamentary secretary Bill Shorten and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, which is in the deal, blames the NUW for the attempted “lynching” of state secretary Stephen Newnham and remains resentful over a previous split when the NUW sided with the Left for a time — a move that, ironically, they have now emulated.

    The new deal — news of which broke last week — puts Mr Shorten and Senator Conroy’s section of the Right in alliance with federal Industry Minister Kim Carr and the rest of the Socialist Left, and it has radically divided the party into the haves and have-nots.

    Although it doesn’t authorise mass slayings of those excluded, it preserves the majority of the future spoils for the estimated 70 per cent of the party it covers.

    Its backers say it creates the stability demanded by Premier John Brumby and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard during pre-Christmas crisis talks about ending feuding with the now-split Victorian Right.

    But a source from one of the excluded groups said there was no evidence of the promised stability, and the deal was coming unglued.

    “It’s chaos out there — this ‘peace in our time’ deal is unravelling and these guys have tagged Brumby and Gillard with it,” he said.

    The problem for those trying to break up the deal is that they hail from the far Right of the ALP, while the dissidents they need to court are mainly militant unionists from the Socialist Left — making for a case of strange bedfellows.

    A source within the banished forces, but not from the NUW, said that while there were constructive discussions yesterday about healing the divide, a peace deal without the NUW was not acceptable.

    “A lot of senior members of the Labor Unity group are looking to heal the schism and find a workable mechanism for the future,” he said.

    “It’s understood that those mechanisms have to include a commitment to due process and fair play. And it is generally accepted that the task is to have all of the traditional unions of the Labor Unity group working constructively in the short term and harmoniously in the long term.”

    The secretly negotiated deal is designed to divide key seats between the participants to avoid damaging preselection battles and branch-stacking contests in the lead-up to federal and state elections.

    A source from within the Left unions opposing the deal — which include parts of the AMWU, the CFMEU and several others — said he still expected it would fall apart and the alliance could not command enough support to control preselections as it hoped.

    He said the deal was flawed because it protected all but the longest-serving MPs outside the ministry and denied the party the opportunity to renew itself and field the best candidates.

    But the political wing of the Left believes it actually offers greater potential for renewal as some of its MPs, such as state energy minister Peter Batchelor, were hanging on when they wanted to quit because if they vacated their seats before the deal they would hand them to the Right on the strength of the numbers on the ground.

    Having carved up the seats between the Left and the Right, the deal leaves each side to decide their candidates among themselves, but urges them to do it as soon as possible this year.

  42. A Feeney Patriot?

    Liam O’Brien should stop posting comments questioning the moralality and decision-making of his AWU employer, Borowick and Cragg.

  43. Liam O'Brien

    Save me, Obi-Wan Kefeeney.

    You’re my only hope.

  44. DF

    Sorry mate, you’re a liability when I’m trying to appear conciliatory. Come to think of it, you’re just a liability.

    It was also my unhappy duty to have to instruct your mate Conrad to stop sacrificing goats in the hope Newnham will get the arse.

    Unfortunately, I remain unsure as to whether or not he followed my direction. I was told the message would be passed on, but that work is rarely accomplished by him at the HSU after he returns from his afternoon toad-licking break.

  45. Liam O'Brien

    Okay mate, fair cop….but if you can’t have me rehabilitated politically, is there hope for Carla instead?

  46. DF

    There’s no way I can say this nicely in public mate.

    I’ll send you some interpretive origami and an explanatory note instead.

  47. Liam O'Brien

    Okay cool, origami, that’s like totally awesome and stuff.

    If you do it on one of your with compliments slips and address it to ‘Mr. Liam O’Brien’ and then cross out the ‘Mr’ and right Liam in pen, it’d like totally make my day.

  48. Beaver Moustache Man

    Mr anonymous errol flynn Donnelly.Throwing a few little racist bombs into the mix.Wow,you must really be dazed and confused and desperate.Just accept it Charlie errol flynn Donnelly,everything you touch you fuck.Billy boy has done you over bigtime.You should stop listening to mongy forehead Thow.

  49. =)

    look we been hearing all your whining and crying for the past week. Just face it you are now in minority. All you can do now is sit back and HOPE that you don’t get screwed pre-selections. So all you SDA/NUW members stop whining and getting all your electorate officers to post comments it’s not going to help. Let me assure you there is much more to come you scumbags

  50. Real LU

    I wonder what the LU members out in Batchelor’s seat are thinking. Having worked hard to get the numbers in his seat – he will merely pass the preselection on to yet another communist. Well done guys.

  51. Real LU

    Real LU 15:55 is a self appointed imposter. They are not the real LU. I’m the real LU. I elected myself.

  52. Michale Vechovic-Jones

    Neither RLU#1 oe RLU#2 are on the list for tommorrow nights meeting. Too bad. I got my invite and will report back tomorrow night for vexnews

  53. Lee Tarlamis

    Could you blokes please order me a family sized double cheese meat lovers thick crust pizza and 2 bottles of coke, ta mate

  54. Garth Head

    The only split we need concern ourselves with is a banana split. Or twelve.

  55. anon

    Garth & Lee what a dynamic duo, is there any truth they are both trying to get on ‘The Biggest Loser’?

  56. africa

    I like this Banana split Yogurt on the top.By the way is Feeney Ban ki moon or Pope!!!!!!Anon letme now..You have news.

  57. africa

    Is [deleted] work for marline as deal for 2days aweek!Is he work as Taxi driver for CASH in the hend!!For tax Purpose.How much he gets from counsil lets investigate!!Game is on.Let expose This.Pigs fly At Hume..

  58. Silver Top Cabs

    no [deleted] doesnt work for us.. well not on the books

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