As the ship heads towards the rocks, it's payback time.
Here the long-term battle between two former AMWU officials (George Campbell and Doug Cameron) gets an airing, along with some more public airing of the ALP's unsavoury party pre-selection processes. The AMWU has a lock on one of the ALP's NSW Senate spots, what branch members might think doesn't enter into it.
Meanwhile, union support for the ALP is apparently wavering as the scale of the looming electoral disaster becomes more apparent:
- The ACTU seems to be wavering in its support for Julia Gillard following the union body's polling which suggests massive swings against the ALP in the September election.
The union movement has a problem. It prefers Gillard because she is close to the union movement (largely because she needs a support base in the ALP) and Rudd really doesn't like unions very much. On the other hand, an Abbott Government with control of the Senate (a distinct possibility on present public and priivate polling) would be seen as an existential threat for the union movement by the ACTU.
Do they stick with Gillard, or try and save themselves by switching to Rudd and saving a few seats and a few precious Senate positions?
- The NTEU (academics) have donated a million dollars to the Greens in response to cutbacks on universities by the Gillard Government as part of its plan to fund the Gonski reforms.
This emphasises again that for non-affiliated unions there is a viable alternative to the ALP on the left.
Presumably, the NTEU hopes that the money will help the Greens retain a strong position in the Senate and be able to block some of the bolder deregulation of higher education that Abbott and Pyne appear likely to pursue.
The prospect of a government run by a bunch of right-wing former student politicians is very bad news for the NTEU.
- In the Australian, Troy Bramston has a piece pointing out that the union affiliation to the ALP has been a 50 year problem that Whitlam himself tried to do something about back in the 1960s.
Bramston makes some good points but falls for the sleight of hand that suggests that union affiliation is somehow consistent with the vision of the ALP as a genuine 21st century centre-left party.
In my view, the ALP can remain close to unions (and other community-based organisations) without being owned by them.
Privileging unions through affiliation can only happen at the expense of non-affiliated unions, other community organisations, and individual branch members.
That is the point of affiliation.
There's a rubicon here that needs to be crossed.