We need a hero

Tug of warI need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night. He’s (or she’s) gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight. I couldn’t agree more with this article by Josh Bornstein in Crikey. The Left need a hero. But I don’t think we need a completely new policy platform. I just think we need to be reminded what we’re fighting for. Labour versus capital.

I’ve written before about the need for progressives in Australia to unite. Before the election, I hoped that progressives would see the risk of Abbott as too great, and would unite to keep him out. I thought this was more important than in-fighting and sniping between different groups on the Left. But alas, it didn’t happen and unfortunately it’s still not happening.

In a particularly characteristic debate I had this week with a type of Tweep that represents the problem with the Left, I was told, after writing about my outrage at Cory Bernardi’s comments and the lack of genuine condemnation from Tony Abbott:

“Perhaps you enjoy being perpetually outraged or something. Fine, carry on…”

This implies that I am outraged about Bernardi for my own entertainment, not because, lo and behold, I am incredibly outraged. It also implies that my outrage was exaggerated, that it was unimportant and that it did nothing. Apparently we should ignore members of our parliament who disparage groups of our community because, you know, that’s just what they want. To be criticised. Actually I don’t think that’s what they want. I think Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott, and the rest of the Liberal National Coalition, wish that this sort of outrage on the Left would disappear so that there wasn’t always such a fuss when they tried to bring the country closer to their ideal state. And that’s what the Left need to come to terms with. Everything in politics is about what sort of society we want to create.

When I asked this Tweep what he would prefer we were all talking about on Twitter, other than condemning Bernardi’s remarks and reminding the community that Bernardi’s views are not acceptable, nor to be tolerated, I was told we should be discussing single mothers on Newstart. What a HUGE coincidence. This person wasn’t interested in criticising Bernardi. Because he wants people criticising Julia Gillard. And this is the problem with a huge number of people on the Left, who are definitely over-represented in my Twitter feed, who are no doubt representative of a wider group in the offline world too.

These people don’t want a hero on the Left to unite progressives to help us bring about crucial policy reform. They want to bitch about the problems with the Left. The Gillard Labor policies they don’t like. It’s always the same. Single mothers on Newstart. Asylum seekers. Gay Marriage. No matter that Gillard is no longer the Prime Minister. No matter that the single mothers on Newstart policy was Howard’s policy. No matter all the other policy successes of the Labor government that these people conveniently ignore. No matter that Abbott is now Prime Minister, and yet these politically engaged people still want to spend their time discussing the Gillard government and what’s wrong with Labor, and the Rudd vs Gillard debacle, with their overarching argument being that politics is shit, and everyone is as bad as each other, and it doesn’t matter who you vote for because you’ll get more of the same.

What comes with this attitude is also some more underlying arrogance that will be very familiar to people who discuss politics on Twitter (again a group representative of a wider community outside of social media).

  • People who are outraged are hysterical and wasting their time.
  • Supporters of Labor are too partisan and are ‘barracking’ for their team.
  • The policy successes of the Labor government don’t count because they had some policies that these people didn’t agree with.
  • It’s cool to be smug, emotionally distant from policy outcomes and to sit on the fence at every opportunity you have to differentiate Labor from Liberal.

So back to my mention of the sort of society I want. I am not afraid to say that I do barrack for the Labor Party. And I’m sick of people implying that this barracking makes my opinion less valid, because that is bullshit.

The reason I barrack for the Labor Party is because I have a very clear vision of my desired outcomes from politics. And I can say with absolutely certainty that Labor will bring me closer to my desired political outcomes than the Liberal Coalition will. It’s really that simple. Big picture stuff. In the great tug-of-war between the interests of labour and capital, there are too many who should have their hands on the rope of the labour side who are instead too cool for school. They are off in another playground, using their rope to skip. I’m sure they’re getting very fit from this activity, but they’re contributing nothing other than a personal sense of satisfaction. And without all progressive hands on the rope, the right-wing side, capital, is winning.

Abbott’s only been in power for four months and every day we are learning, with alarming speed and scale, just how different a country Abbott wants Australia to be, at the other end of the continuum from the Australia I barrack for. We now have a climate change denier in power. We have environmental regulations being dismantled. We have culture wars over the national curriculum. We have secrecy over the actions of our government in managing asylum seeker arrivals. We have cuts to social welfare targeting the disability pension. We have right-wing-cronies being given public office and business lobbyists being handed the keys to the budget. We potentially will see a user-pays system replace universal healthcare. This is just a snapshot and shows just how much outrage does need to be assembled to fight this Abbott vision for Australia.

I’m not going to stop fighting, or barracking as some people call it. The Labor Party is not perfect. No political party could ever please everyone all the time. But while the Left fixate and fragment to bicker amongst ourselves, and while the smug ‘I’m above this outrage stuff’ put down those who are trying to reinstate the policies we want, some progressives are not just taking their hands off the rope, they’re getting in the way of people trying to fight the fight on our behalf.

I still find it hard to come to terms with the fact that this country elected Tony Abbott. With the economic success of the previous Labor government, and the urgency about taking action on climate change, we’ve ended up with the least beneficial political party in power at the exact worst time for this country. It’s a disaster. There’s no other way to describe it. Perhaps I’m wrong about needing a hero. I was thinking someone needs to find a way to unite progressives, to get us back on track, fighting for the policy outcomes that bring the country closer to our ideals. Perhaps we don’t need one hero. Perhaps we need many. We need many more heroes and many less smug assholes. We need heroes with hands on the rope before Abbott’s government pulls us so far to the right that we’ll never find our way back.


  1. Victoria! – for heaven’s sake!! How could you have forgotten ALREADY that we never – never, never, NEVER – elect anyone? We never have. What we do is DE-elect parties, if they’ve given us the shits to a sufficient degree. With the exception of those on the Really Redneck Right, nobody wanted Tony Abbott to be P.M. I mean, how could you?! No: we felt the need to let the ALP know just how pissed off we were with Bill Shorten having set off the long fuse. And then what they do? – they elected the bastard numero uno. Give me strength.

    • You were pissed off at Shorten and so needed to be rid of Rudd, Gillard, Combet and any number of no hopers in the ALP as well?

      Really? It was the infighting of the ALP. Their inability to implement policy without failure. The fact that they couldn’t or wouldn’t admit the blindingly obvious – that they were out of their league.

      You’re probably right that a fair amount of the swing probably came against labor than for the coalition, but the same is true for most times when govt changes.

      • Indeed I was being totally simplistic, and uttering an opinion far more reflective of my attitude today and of that time. I should’ve said that we had a need to let the ALP know we saw clearly their priorities …

  2. Well said Victoria. Progressives need to maintain the outrage. Keep barracking. Taking the fight to the Tories. We don’t have the power, money and influence that the wealthy supporters of the right have. We need to use Twitter, Facebook etc. Keep it up and stay as mad as hell.

    • The war chests of the unions are at least as powerful as anything the conservatives have – and are used far more liberally. look back to the 2010 election, and despite wanting a change of govt, business didn’t put much into that election.

  3. Victoria, I too am at a loss to understand why progressives have not united, to be a force against the Abbott Govt. Both Gillard & Rudd have left politics now, it is time for those little twibbons showing support for one or the other were removed from Twitter profiles to begin with! Much was made of the good or bad personalities & policies of both leaders, mostly heated up by a heavily ‘right’ biased media. That Labor supporters believed it as well is to our detriment.
    If I want to continue my lifelong support of Labor I have to be prepared to accept the team in place at the moment & work towards making it even better. My political beliefs were forged from listening to my old Grandfather, who picketed on the waterfront against sending iron to Japan, by ‘Pig iron Bob’ & the tales of the defiant Jack Lang. United we stand divided we fall, are not just words, they are the reality of what will continue to happen if Labor people do not accept the reasons for the 2013 Election defeat & move on without recriminations.

  4. Maybe heroes are to be found in the community itself. Maybe one with the ability to drag the public behind them, demanding that governments actually listen to them.

    Yes, one that can convince this government, they better begin caring about what we think. Moreover, what we will allow them to do.

    Thankfully we now have a outlet, that can allow us to question all they do. We must used it to the fullest extent, looking for new ways to make it more effective.

    All we need to do, is firstly care, and then let that fact be heard.

  5. One does not have to belong to any group or party to be outraged. To believe so, is offloading our own responsibility.

    If one does not like what the party is doing, join and attempt to change.

    At the end of the day, it depends on what we all do and say, in a democracy.

    Abbott can do nothing, unless he has the majority in his party behind him. This is what makes the present situation so frightening.

    • It is frightening that the majority of the government disagree with your worldview? That the progressives got a kicking at the last election?

  6. Heroes and Dictators. Good to see you are still firing up on all cylinders Vic. For the love of me I cannot understand why 50 precent of the Australian Electorate fell for Mad Dog Rabbit lies, feed daily by mainstream duopoly media enhancement and oh those daily poll monsters. But they fell for the biggest con of all times.

    Tony Abbott will never be able to Stop the Boats but Rudd the Dud did with the policies regarding off shore boat refugee detention publicised to world that no one who comes by boat to Australia will not be able to land on Australian soil. Thus restricting the ability to apply for refugee status quo under the United Nations Charter for Refugees. Abbots tow back the boats has now been grounded on a reef somewhere in the Timor sea around the East Indian Archipelago. Indonesia has broken off all dialogue and assistance with Australia on any such possibility. And now the United Nations is conducting investigations on Abbotts policy to do such acts contradicting the Refugee Charter. I’ve been down this track before with the Case of Hirsi Jamaa and Others V Italy in the European Courts of Human Rights. So we shall wait and see what the United Nations does do about Abbott and Morison philosophy for towing back those two boats and leaving them abandoned in Indonesian waters. These two Oligarchy Heroes they are not.

    Yes we all were told that Mad Dog Rabbit and Co would dismantle climate change policies as they don’t believe it is real. Attack the vulnerable and impoverished Australian citizens to give to the rich. Dismantle all Workers Unions by letting go our manufacturing capabilities. Then their White Australian philosophy reintroduction into the National School curriculum are just some of those wind back initiatives so ingrained in Rabbits mind. I cannot find any hero worship here.

    Then there is this rebel Cory Bernardi going off into red neck land while criticising Julia Gillard who was the real hero of this land and saved Australia from falling off the cliff while Rudd the Dud stuck the boots in for he forgot to tie his shoelaces up and tripped and fell on his pride.

    Unfortunately Australia will never have another Julia for a long time and she is the only one who had the guts to stand up for Australians while the rest of Australians fell for Abbotts lies.

    Anyway Australia is in for a rough ride through this culture war on the disabled and poor the average working class and pensioner battlers will lose everything under this Abbott Government.

    • How many arrived by boat, and how many drowned before Rudd undid most of what he enacted in rolling back the pacific solution in trying to stem the boats?

      And why will Abbott fail when Rudd only went halfway to the full solution?

      The manufacturing in australia and going offshore has a great deal to do with the unions gold plating their agreements, making it uneconomic to manufacture here. How is that the coalition’s fault?

      • Bob. Then why don’t you include all those refugees that have drowned in the Mediterranean sea too. Oh, then again why not include all those people who have drowned in Australian waters, like professional and amateur fishermen or women to be political correct. Then there is the odd yachting sailors and anyone else who venture out to sea on small vessels into Australian waters you stupid fool. I know what Bass Strait and the Tasman Sea can dish out fella when it cuts up rough, been there and done that in my life time

        At least Rudd was given a mandate to relax the laws on refugees as part of the Labor policy at that particular time and your loving Johnny Howard lost his job to the Labor contender Maxine McKew. Rudd romped it in didn’t he. Then when Rudd seen what was happening he put in place the policy your Abbott is using now. His proposal has been sunk. Rudd slowed the boats back again. Didn’t he. Julia Gillard had the best proposal but your Abbott knocked it back because Malaysia was a racist country and not a signature to the Refugee Convention. Another silly idea from Abbott as Indonesia is not a signature to the convention either.

        Oh and all that fear that we were being swamped by illegals by Abbott who was playing the Klu Klux klan Race Card thus bringing out the Red Necks of this world feed to them Shock Jocks daily spun the awful disgusting hate against those refugees. Wasn’t it and I bet you are one of them Red Necks. So go sing it on the mountain and someone might listen but I doubt it on this forum.

      • @help man over board: Australian politicians aren’t responsible for policies enacted in the Med. You didn’t answer the question as to how many drowned before the completely foreseeable results came from the change in policy.

        Other drownings didn’t result from policies attracting people to take long blue water journeys in unseaworthy vessels without adequate safety equipment. If professional fisherpeople were drowning due to inadequate safety measures, it would take all of no time at all for those safety measures to be enacted for all boats.

        If the malaysian solution was so fantastic, then the greens would have supported it. It was only a partial solution.

      • there was no plus for the Greens in supporting it-They are politicians and they do politics- I know some people do not recognise this – think they are somehow above the fray- but they are just as down and dirty as the rest.

      • Here is your answer on how many refugees have drowned. Mr Bob LNP

        Firstly let us compare how many boat people had died during the John Howard years while he was at the helm. The figure has been estimated to be 746 refugees drowned. While it is not known if this number should be more than what Philip Ruddock had actually recorded, for Ruddock didn’t record if any boats sank on the way at all. It was only when outside media sources had informed Australia that one ha sunk with mass of life lost through drowning that we know about the SIEV5.

        There were approximately 12,664 suspected illegal entry refugees of Afghanistan origan, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group, while Iraqis, Iranians, Chinese and Vietnam, Sir Lanka ethnic minority including mostly Tamils. Burmese Myanmar refugees who had been dispossessed of their land just like the Tamils who had the same brutality levelled at them a well and in the end defeated. Just like the Australian Aboriginals who had suffered the same fate under British law, then by us Anglo descendant immigrants that followed who helped dispossessed them from their land.

        The Coalition Government database records 746 reported deaths at sea in their attempts to reach Australia out of the 12,664 recorded suspected illegal entry asylum seekers who tried. Thus the risk factor for SIER’s coming to Australia y boat lands this holistic death total by drowning percentage at 5.89%. thus the Coalition figure is much higher than the Rudd and Gillard government deaths by drowning risk factor of 2.28%. Those 31,211 SIER’s that did make it into detention under the veil of the Rudd Gillard government, 862 drowned at sea. these figures shows that it was safer to come here under the Rudd Gillard Government than during the Coalition period.

        John Howard’s Pacific Solution SIER’s numbers slumped dramatically because over 6 million Afghans returned home from around the world during this period is only one factor. While relative peace had occurred in some of those violent conflict areas like Iraq and Somalia which had caused those large numbers to rise again under the Rudd Gillard government period. There is only one ay to stop the boats is to make sure that peace around the world is maintained and not be engulfed by brutality of war and conflict by evil dictators.

      • HMOB: if you seriously believe that it was completely coincidental that when the pacific solution was implemented worldwide peace resulted in fewer boats, and that when the pacific solution was dismantled war broke out and people were on the move, then you might want to be careful in how you respond to Nigerian emails. Your credulity is showing.

        A working policy was dismantled. With the completely predictable outcome that a massive rise in boats would occur, along with deaths at sea. And hubris prevented admitting fault and reinstating any elements of the pacific solution until the 11th hour.

      • You can say what you like LNP lover as it is a free world. I went and did some research and Fact Checking which you have not done have you Mr Bob LNP Troll.

  7. Victoria – Don’t you realise that you’re one of the heroes? Because with your writing and your activity you’re a way-shower so you’re out front already. Now – deep breath – get your Superwoman cloak on and wear it with pride.

  8. One can’t go past George Lakoff’s book (Moral Politics: how liberals and conservatives think) to get an insight into the problems we face…
    (to save confusion, I have changed the following: conservative = liberal, progressive = labor, America = Australia)
    . “Labor needs to understand that there is an overall, coherent labor politics which is based on a coherent, well-grounded, and powerful labor morality. If labor does not concern themselves very seriously and very quickly with the unity of their own philosophy and with morality and the family, they will not merely continue to lose elections but will as well bear responsibility for the success of liberals in turning back the clock on progress in Australia.
    Liberals know that politics is not just about policy and interest groups and issue-by-issue debate. They have learned that politics is about family and morality, about myth and metaphor and emotional identification. They have, over twenty-five years, managed to forge conceptual links in the voters’ minds between morality and public policy. They have done this by carefully working out their values comprehending their myths, and designing a language to fit those values and myths so that they can evoke them with powerful slogans, repeated over and over again, that reinforce those family-morality-policy links, until the connections come to seem natural to many Australians, including many in the media. As long as labor ignores the moral, mythic, and emotional dimension of politics, as long as they stick to policy and interest groups and issue-by-issue debate, they will have no hope of understanding the nature of the political transformation that has overtaken this country and they will have no hope of changing it.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s