Senator David Feeney, a leader of the rebellious Ambition Faction in the Victorian ALP, known unkindly to its critics as the Taliban Right, has launched a training school for young would-be members of this fractional group.
After splitting from Labor Unity, the Feeney grouping has struggled to hang on to the reins of its former influence with a surprising lack of cohesion among some of its component parts at times.
Documents obtained by VEXNEWS suggest the Labor School Winter Program is an attempt by Feeney to obtain control of Young Labor in Victoria through young proxies who are either aligned to him, the Shop Assistants Union or in some cases the National Union of Workers.
A union that has previously been linked to Feeney, the Health Services Union is also involved. The HSU was once well-known for employing a large number of Young Labor women, although most of them fell out with the union and are considered to be aligned with theÂ Labor Unity group now.
Some of the Taliban – egged on by Feeney when in occasionally combative moods – have been active in a “naming dispute” over their group as they claim to also be called Labor Unity, although the short-hand Taliban has perhaps unfortunately caught on.
This played itself out at the otherwise uneventful ALP State conference at the weekend where some youths of inner-city appearance were seen tearing down official Labor Unity signs outside meeting rooms.
LU’s rapid response came in the form of highly-trained peace-keeper Sam Rae, whose New Romantic haircut was fooling no-one as to his potential ability to keep the peace by all means necessary. Labor Unity’s signs remained in place under his stewardship and eagle-eye. Rae works for a federal cabinet minister and is actively involved in the Labor Unity secretariat.
While generally peaceful relations are being maintained within the Victorian Labor factions, some patriots are concerned that aggressive thrustings by Feeney’s cohorts in Young Labor might lead to division and rancour where it is least welcome in a dual election year in Victoria.
A member of the Feeney group, who preferred not to be named, said we were probably reading too much into the creation of the Feeney Interns and that it’s important to keep a steady flow of well-trained party activists coming through.
They say the involvement of unions, even those who are not aligned with the Taliban, like the Transport Workers Union, Fair Work Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation suggests the Intern programme should be welcomed by all groupings.
UPDATE 4PM: While there are competing views on these matters, no one could question Senator Feeney’s willingness to confront his critics. Feeney takes aim at them and even the messenger, VEXNEWS. We are of course source-driven, independent and supporting of patriots in all factions, fractions, parties and movements wherever they might be found. For all that, with very little notice at all and with pressing matters of state to which he needed to attend, the Senator took time to respond and we appreciate that.
It is fair to say that he thinks VEXNEWS hasn’t got the story completely right. He opines:
Well, your usual editorial policy is obviously in force. And as usual it’s unhelpful. [VEXNEWS: A few ‘Taliban’ backers have long held that VEXNEWS takes sides on the question of internal feuding within the Labor Right, that’s of course not true as our sources in the Feeney compound could attest. We speak truth to power.]
This program aims to involve people and institutions from across the Party and community, and in particular from across the Labor Unity [VEXNEWS: read the Feeney grouping] faction, for the purposes of training and enthusing young members of the Party. [VEXNEWS: Fair enough too and few would dispute Feeney’s genuine interest in supporting Young Labor over the years.]
Mercifully, I understand that Young Labor has not been divided and split by the squabbles in the senior faction. [VEXNEWS: Our sources in the Labor Unity group dispute this, saying that Feeney involved many of his young neophytes in FEA ballot-feuds in recent times, forcing them in a sense to take sides when they preferred not to. Quarantining Young Labor from all of these things has not been possible it seems, according to sources familiar with the matter.]
I hope Young Labor remains a forum where all LU aligned activists co-operate, irrespective of their “elders” failing in that fundamental task.
As for the LU “naming dispute”, well, it’s irrelevant to this program.
This “naming dispute ” is your obsession – not mine. That’s why “Labor Unity Inc” was registered – and why there has been no response to this juvenile provocation. [VEXNEWS: We admit that conflict – especially petty conflict – is our obsession. If it bleeds, it leads. This much is true. What Feeney might be less than candid about is the level of pre-occupation in the Feeney compound about the “naming dispute” which is nearly enough to leave us in hysterical laughter at times. This is what led to Labor Unity’s little conference signs being ripped down and to Feeney’s talented trooper Stephen Donnelly putting out emails as the “one and true Labor Unity”. Feeney is right, it does cause us a little mirth, from time to time.]
Your Orwellian and partisan coverage of these matters may cause you mirth, but they reinforce the fact that on these internal ALP matters VEXNEWS and the truth are strangers. [VEXNEWS: Feeney knows I am a huge fan of Orwell and is clearly cynically appealing to this bias]
How is it that the majority of the Labor Unity faction can be described as “rebels”? [VEXNEWS: Feeney is a student of history and is aware of the phenomenon where the majority of ALP branches and members in the 1950s were punted and then called splitters. Feeney refers to the numbers on the Labor Unity Executive prior to the ‘Taliban’s’ departure from that faction. Faction insiders tell VEXNEWS that while that executive has been replaced, even on the old numbers a majority stayed with Labor Unity and a minority departed. There was one vote in it apparently. You wouldn’t think it matters but clearly to some of the politicos it does.]
Where, aside from in your vicinity, is any grouping within the Victorian ALP described as “Taliban”? [VEXNEWS: It’s not a term I have used at all but it is common usage, we understand. We suspect it’s been imported from the NSW Liberal faction feuds.]
How is it that you concoct a version of events that has me “splitting” from Labor Unity? I have always remained loyal to the faction and the determinations of its duly elected Executive. [VEXNEWS: Feeney appears to be referring to that faction’s old executive, prior to it splitting in two, it’s certainly true Feeney was a moderating force within the ‘Taliban’ when it attempted to seize control of the Labor Unity group (and briefly looked like it succeeded before they were out-maneuvered], urging them to back off from some of their more blood-thirsty actions, including their repeated attempted necking of highly regarded State Secretary Stephen Newnham motivated by intra-factional malice.]