Adam Bandtâ€™s fanatically anti-Labor attack-group, the Greens, are now having to face the consequences for some of the more outlandish statements of their candidates who could barely open their mouths without denigrating their Labor opponents.
As they verged on the kill-zone of knocking off at least four Labor candidates, the Greens party brought out every sleazy old political trick, making tens of billions of dollars of uncosted promises, lying about their opponents taking tobacco industry donations when they hadnâ€™t and accusing them of generally being corrupt or unethical. If you throw enough mud, it sticks. And the Greens run a very dirty operation indeed.
The vicious nature of the operation was probably the last straw that broke the camelâ€™s back of tolerance and Greens party appeasement within Laborâ€™s Left.
Optimism informs much of how we assess things but we think a realistic assessment of the Labor Leftâ€™s view of the Greens party right now is that they regard them as an enemy comprising deceitful and manipulative middle-class and rich foes who seek to destroy the party of the unions and replace it with an environmentally focused and very socially libertarian party that doesnâ€™t care much about jobs or living standards.
This is a huge shift in attitude. Previously, as we have complained, while Labor moderates and most Liberal patriots had clarity about the Greens party, Laborâ€™s Left seemed blind to their true nature. They felt constrained in criticising them, even rebutting the Greens anti-Labor campaigning seemed beyond many Lefties. It was as if the Greens partyâ€™s brief shining moment of coolness had left them startled and frozenÂ in the glare.
BROKEN HEARTS IN MELBOURNE
Nothing like losing an election to focus the mind.
The loss of Melbourne to an anti-Labor candidate was very confronting, even traumatising, for the Labor Left. Theyâ€™d tried to do the right thing, they put up a highly accomplished lefty woman who was very nearly the boss of the ACTU and who walked away from a very lucrative job in Workcover rather than one of their factionally active candidates. They ran hard to the Left, very seldom criticising their opponent who himself never missed an opportunity to denigrate Labor as sell-outs intent on crucifying asylum seekers, construction unions and the environment.
Adam Bandtâ€™s election on Liberal party preferences shocked the Labor Left toÂ its core.
An extremist, irresponsible and ugly alternative to them had stolen their heartland and broken their hearts. It seemed to us that they might have truly lost their way for a time, preparing for inevitable defeat in the equivalent state seats and refusing to go after the Greens as they themselves were attacked by them despite their survival being at risk.
But slowly and surely they warmed to the task. Our own view that campaigning to the left of the Greens party is silly is not exactly the Labor Left view, they did it their own way and you canâ€™t fault their result.
Todayâ€™s report in the Age newspaper that so vigorously championed the Greens party cause is an expression of just how far the Labor Left have progressed on this issue.
No only making apologies or excuses for the Greens, they are pissed.
Labor Left MP Bronwyn Pike, viciously targetted and smeared by Greens extremists, got a smashing result in her seat of Melbourne against catastrophe candidate Brian Walters SC who was imposed by the party hierarchy on doubtful local branch members.
She has publicly called on Labor to look at putting the Greens party last on HTVâ€™s as a result of the partyâ€™s fanatical anti-Labor attacks.
â€œThey [the Greens] are no friends of oursâ€¦â€ Bronwyn Pike
The game has changed. The Age continues:
Veteran Labor minister Bronwyn Pike, who survived a bitter fight against the Greens for her seat of Melbourne, has told The Age it is time for the ALP to look at following the Liberals’ lead and put the Greens last.
”That will have to be a discussion, because they [the Greens] are no friends of ours,” she said.
The return of a Coalition government in Victoria showed that the Greens had to be careful what they wished for, Ms Pike said.
”They have really seen their role – and I certainly saw this during my election campaign – as just making this undifferentiated slur on the Labor Party,” she said.
”Whatever we did was never good enough for them, because they are absolutely so pure that they felt it was appropriate to cut flesh off us at every point.
”Now they find themselves with a government that I would have thought is a little further away from their political ideology than we were.”
Ms Pike said the Greens had shown – in their attacks on her and their record of sometimes voting with the Coalition in Victoria’s upper house – that they deserved no favours from the ALP.
Asked if Labor should consider putting them last on its how-to-vote cards, she replied: ”We will have to seriously look at how we deal with that, and I think that will be an important lesson out of this election.”
Affluent inner-city seats where the Greens party might outpoll the Liberals include federal seats like Higgins, Goldstein, Victorian state seats like Hawthorn, Kew and even Brighton.
At this stage, Laborâ€™s decision to do that would be mostly symbolic. And a huge statement to Laborâ€™s heartland about how it sees the Greens party for what it really is: a highly effective political fraud operation that ought not be represented in Parliament at all, let alone in the house that forms government.
It is electorally a no-brainer, associating with the Greens is going to become increasingly politically toxic as water and power bills continue to surge and cost-of-living pressures soar.
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
But itâ€™s more than that, itâ€™s a symbol of how Labor regards the Greens. The Greens style themselves as vaguely sympathetic to the Labor side of politics when in truth they are as fiercely anti-Labor in their rhetoric as Tony Abbott on a calm day. The Greens style themselves as wanting transparency and accountability despite hiding the costs of their outlandish promises which if implemented would drive the nation or state into insolvency and cost jobs. The Greens pretend theyâ€™re on the side of working families when any cursory examination of their policies reveals that theyâ€™d be slugged horrifically with massively increased costs and soaring unemployment.
Labor needs to communicate these self-evident truths. The Libs can rip into the Greens on taxes and irresponsibility but no-one quite does class war about workersâ€™ rights like Laborâ€™s Left and the simple truth is that the policies of the Greens party would represent a massive attack by the wealthy elites on working people.
If Labor canâ€™t identify this and prosecute the case, no-one can. It looks like theyâ€™re about to start.
While the preferences debate is important, the important debate for Labor is what is its strategy with the Greens. Are the Greens a morally superior allies in the same lefty cause who deserve every hand-out and assistance and appeasement measure or is the Greens party a fundamentally dishonest and anti-Labor party that aims to â€“ in the words of the elderly Greens party leader Bob Brown – â€œreplaceâ€ Labor â€œbastardsâ€ that deserves an appropriate punishing response?
And while many in the Labor Left have moved on from trying to appease the anti-Labor Greens, it seems Greg Barber doesnâ€™t comprehend that once crossed the Labor Left is a fierce beast. One of the comrades told VEXNEWS this morning:
There is a huge anger about what the Greens have done. There are many reasons for the narrow loss of state government but no-one can doubt they were a factor. The lies theyâ€™ve told about us. The bogus undeliverable promises they made designed to show Labor up as never quite doing enough no matter how much we actually did. The constant anti-Labor attacks without ever a word of criticism at the conservatives. The vast resources they forced Labor to spend defending inner-city seats, hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been spent in the eastern suburbs. I know you think we were slow to act on the Greens but I think youâ€™ll be pleased where this ends up. The Greens party have unified the Left in common cause. Theyâ€™ve lied about our candidates, voted with the Liberals and Nationals and helped undermine Labor governments just once too often. The gloves are coming off. Adam Bandtâ€™s party is over.
The Greens havenâ€™t got the memo on this it seems. Barber posing what might once have been a perplexing question to The Age:
”Labor has a choice: do they want Liberals in, or do they want Greens in?”
I think heâ€™ll be hearing the answer on that loud and clear, real soon.