Dear Australian Labor Party,

I’ve never voted for you.

And I only just realised it.

This is my third election. Ours is a two party system. I cheered when Rudd got in, and booed for years at the failure of Howard to fall in a well and die. But until I came back from the polls today, I hadn’t actually realised that every vote of my life – local government, Senate and Representatives, above and below the line – has been for the Greens.

In 1975, my mother – who was then the age that I am now, give or take a few months – protested the Whitlam dismissal. As a teenager, I found the shirt she wore to those rallies stored in a trunk in our attic. It’s bright yellow with black lettering that says: REJECT FRASER’S COUP D’ETAT: VOTE ALP. When the Liberals introducted VSU, I wore it to the protest rallies. One man of my mother’s vintage raised his fist in solidarity, grinned and told me to maintain the rage, just as Whitlam once did to their generation. I said I would, and feel as though I have.

But you are not my party. You have never been my party.

Because in my lifetime, you have never been sufficiently left-wing.

Possibly you should have taken notice when, earlier in the year, Gordon Brown’s Labor Party in Britain lost government to a hung parliament, which was resolved by a groundbreaking and very weird deal between Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats and David Cameron’s Tories. Tonight, even as the TV pundits are yet to call a firm result, it is clear that the same thing is about to happen here: a hung parliament, wherein the traditional Labor vote has been crucially splintered by a smaller, left-wing party that can never hope to take government.

Splintered, in other words, by voters like me.

I do not want Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister. Although I have only ever voted Green, should he triumph at the end of tonight – or tomorrow, or Monday, or however long it takes Canberra to sort itself into some semblance of order – my mother’s shirt will once again be brought out of retirement. I will go back to waving my fist at The Man, for all the good it does, and protesting the inevitably hideous decisions he will make. Should that future eventuate, the fault will, in part, be mine. I was content for the election to be decided on preferences. I voted Green.

But in all good conscience, I couldn’t bring myself to vote Labor.

It’s not just Conroy and his ludicrous internet filter. It’s not just the party line against gay marriage. Had she had any policies worthy of my enthusiasm, I would have welcomed the chance to vote for Australia’s first female Prime Minister. But I will not vote for the semblance of progress at the cost of its tangible equivalent, even if the cost is something worse. The Labor Party has forgotten that it is meant to be left wing, and by slowly sliding more and more to the centre-right in order to capture a handful of Liberal swing votes, they’ve completely abandoned a key voter base: actual left-wingers.

The swing to the Greens isn’t about Kevin Rudd, or even Julia Gillard. It’s about voting for what we believe. And right now, what the Labor Party believes is just a little too compatible with Liberal Party policy for my taste. Yes, I’d rather Gillard than Abbott any day of the week. But on the basis of policy, I’d sooner the Australian Sex Party ran the country – not least because they (a) actually have policies that (b) make a whole lot of fucking sense.

I understand that the buggery of politics is compromise. But not every whore has a heart of gold, and right now, the Labor Party has taken on a foolish sheen. When the supposedly major left-leaning party is competing for votes and seats with a smaller left-leaning party to such an extent that neither is fighting the right-wingers, perhaps it’s time to redraw the party line? Politicians are whores so that the rest of us don’t have to be, but if the Labor Party thinks we’ll vote for them out of respect for their pragmatic efforts to move further and further towards the right, they’ve got another thing coming.

Well, actually, we all do. Because there’s going to be a hung parliament.

I just hope someone learns from it.

Yrs sincerely,

Foz

Comments
  1. Kalliste says:

    Agreed. Although i did vote labor considered greens… This was the first election where it really felt hard to choose because there was no “good” option. I don’t know what i’ll do if abbott gets in though… Who were the people that voted for him? I’m yet to see any… Granted they probably all live in the wealthy suburb across the road.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Me too! I was really quite surprised, because everyone I’d met/spoken to was voting Greens or Labor. Then again, I live in Melbourne, which is now the only Greens constituency in Australia, so I guess I’ve been dealing with a biased portion of the population.

  2. Simon Watson says:

    Good read, cheers!🙂

  3. Romany says:

    Green here too, Foz.

  4. Dean says:

    “Should that future eventuate, the fault will, in part, be mine. I was content for the election to be decided on preferences. I voted Green.” – In our preferential voting system your vote for The Greens would have counted towards a full vote for Labor as long as you numbered Labor higher than the Liberals. The Greens HTV cards in almost all electorates reflected this. The only electorate this wouldn’t have happened is Melbourne and that is because The Greens won the seat! Good on you for voting for some real, progressive change. Labor has been taking advantage of the traditional left wing vote for too long.

    • fozmeadows says:

      I did put Labor higher than the Liberals, but in both instances, while I put the Greens first, I also put Labor lower than a number of other independent parties. Hence the guilt. But even so, given the chance to vote again, I wouldn’t change anything.

  5. Lance says:

    I was removed from the electoral role after a few years abroad. The embassy informed me of the regulation. I was formerly registered in Melbourne, but am now a citizen without the right to vote. As the yanks would say: “Go figure.”
    There is a marked divide between intelligent policy and the limited interests of the financial and, in Australia’s case, mineral interests controlling parliament. With the terrorist act, the implication is that the justice system is compromised by, ultimately, those same interests. ( In the U.S., the elite thugs guilty of state purchase appear to be corrupt Intelligence Service drug distributors, oil financiers and military industrial careerists and their financiers, not to mention poli’s.)
    I don’t need to over-emphasise the extent to which ‘news-ertainment’ funnels awareness and debate into fruitless but emotionally loaded distractions. Abo’s are petrol sniffin’ paedophiles; occupy their land with the military! Global climate variations are caused by CO2, so ‘we’ have to raise taxes, whilst the focus shifts away from unsustainable production per se.*
    That these groups together block other interests has been apparent at least for decades. The perils for the not yet dead, in passing through a time of disruptive change still ahead, also.
    Meanwhile, misinformed creatures of habit have to choose between existing off-the-shelf political brands,

    *In the interests of the entrenched elite thugs, driven in part by their perceived need to increase the number of transactions, necessarily lowering the quality of goods, which perception is one of a number of ‘cultural forces’ incubated through generations of privilege, justifying the dash for simple, paranoid military supremacy by each of a number of xenophobic cultural blocks, fuelled within by the egotistical desire for ‘status’, broadly speaking.

    • fozmeadows says:

      This whole election, I’ve had an e. e. cummings poem stuck in my head:

      Humanity i love you
      because you would rather black the boots of
      success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
      watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

      parties and because you
      unflinchingly applaud all
      songs containing the words country home and
      mother when sung at the old howard

      Humanity i love you because
      when you’re hard up you pawn your
      intelligence to buy a drink and when
      you’re flush pride keeps

      you from the pawn shops and
      because you are continually committing
      nuisances but more
      especially in your own house

      Humanity i love you because you
      are perpetually putting the secret of
      life in your pants and forgetting
      it’s there and sitting down

      on it
      and because you are
      forever making poems in the lap
      of death Humanity

      i hate you

      Sort of apt, don’t you think?

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