Why didn't Labor fight?

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What is most disturbing about Labor's election loss, writes Bob Ellis, is that they didn’t fight with the weapons they had against the world's dirtiest fighters.

(All images in this piece by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au)

I DON’T READ THE NEWS much anymore.

It’s easier to watch a miniseries, or read a Clive James essay and sleep. I’m going to do some performing, reading Shakespeare on stage, and see at last, touch wood, a musical I co-wrote in a rehearsed reading.

I tried hard to save my country, but the Rudd team were unreachable and there you go.

What is most disturbing is how Labor people didn’t fight with the weapons they had against the dirtiest fighters in a century. They could have accused Morrison of treason, they could have used Abbott’s record of assisting pederasts. They could have arrested Brough and Pyne for conspiracy. But they chose not to.

They did this because they believed some Holy Ghost would cane them ‒ or frown on them ‒ if they did. You can’t win that way, the spectre told them, it wouldn’t be nice.

Better to lose. Better to lose.

A single sentence: ‘we will seek ways to bring down all small business rents by a third’, would have won it in a landslide — but...if we said that, Gittins or somebody might say, 'tut tut'. We’d win a million votes, sure, and we’d stay in power, but...the Holy Ghost might frown at us.

And the election was cheated and we don’t dare, now, say that. It’s not the way good children behave. It was cheated, hiding policies until after the blackout is cheating, but...we mustn’t use the weapons we have. We must fight with both arms tied behind our back — that’s all we’re good for.

Rudd especially believed he was ‘above’ all that.

He could’ve played the piano, just once, and saved eight seats. He could’ve compared his ministry, one by one, to Abbott’s and saved four more. But no, the Holy Ghost would frown on him and he sacrificed my grandson to a worse, unequal, world he might have been saved from.

Will the new Labor leader, whoever it is, have more fight?

Even now it’s possible to do that, by using the Senate numbers to make government unworkable, and force a sacking, but ... oh no ... Nanny might disapprove, we couldn’t do that. The Holy Ghost might frown. No Labor vote would be lost. We’d win back government, win, win, but we mustn’t do it.

‘The Labor Party,’ John Curtin wrote ‘is, was, and ever shall be, the handmaiden of capitalism.’ He wrote it in 1908, before he was in the Party. He was young, he was a socialist, but you see what he means.

Why not fight? Why not fight? It could have been won.

Why not fight?

Just asking.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License



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