Michael Berrell keeps asking his idiot question, on the Green Left discussion list, demanding some kind statement from me as to whether members of the Labor Party should campaign for the expulsion of Costa and Iemma if they don’t carry out policy.
This is humbug and pure demagogy from Berrell, who makes no secret of his sympathy for the right-wing, twilight zone, ex-Trotskyists of the World Socialist Web Site. The WSWS says people in the trade unions and the Labor Party campaigning to defeat the electricity privatisation are in some secret way fighting to defend it.
Berrell’s oh-so-leftist contribution to the struggle against electricity privatisation is to demand that we move more or less immediately to demand the expulsion of Costa and the premier. At this stage of the battle, that pseudo-demand from Berrell is a diversion and a disruption, insofar as anyone takes any notice of a chameleon who support the twilight zone ex-Trotskyists at the same time as distancing himself from them a bit.
The struggle at this stage is to build a campaign involving the labour movement, the trade union movement, the Labor Party and the community with the aim of defeating the privatisation proposals at the coming Labor Party conference. If we defeat the proposals, which we possibly will, the question of how to enforce the will of conference then arises. At that point there may be some relevance to the Queensland example that Berrell cites.
To overload the current battle with some flamboyant proposal for the expulsion of the premier and treasurer would be helping to do the bidding of Costa and Iemma for them. They would use loose talk of that sort to distract attention from the issue of the electricity privatisation and try to paint the ranks of the labour movement who are fighting the proposal as crazy disrupters. To that extent, the high-school debater and political dilettante Berrell is helping Costa and the other forces supporting the privatisation.
Why should Berrell care anyway? The cyberspace socialist renegades he touts say that workers should leave the trade unions and they imply in their nasty leaflets that the struggle against privatisation will inevitably be defeated.
Berrell and twilight zone mates might consider this: Mark Aarons, who has worked as an adviser to Bob Debus in complex industrial negotiations and conflicts with the Fire Brigades Union, and who is held in rather low esteem by that union, to say the least, has suddenly come to light with a magical proposition in a new book edited by Robert Manne, which purports to be a left platform but is really a right platform in the main. Aarons’ proposal is the eternal proposition of all forces of reaction, that trade union influence should be eliminated from the Labor Party, in this instance so that the Rudd government shouldn’t be trammeled by undue influence from what he calls “the trade union secretaries’ club”.
This build-up of reactionary attacks on the unions is directly related to the battle over electricity privatisation in NSW and to the increasing pressure from the unions on the Rudd government to quickly and fully honour its electoral pledges to dismantle Work Choices.
This clamour against trade unions and their officials is strikingly similar to the defeated Howard government’s attacks on “trade union bosses”, etc.
Tonight on ABC television’s Lateline, Aarons touted his reactionary proposals and despite the usual camera tricks of presenting John Robertson side-on to make him look sly, Robertson gave an excellent account of himself defending the influence of unions in the Labor Party as a major defence of workers’ rights.
The rather pompous Mark Aarons is clearly going to become the darling of the bourgeoisie for a while in the battle to break union influence on the Labor Party.
Berrell’s twilight zone pseudo-socialist mates are part of the anti-union, anti-labour continuum, offering their little peashooter, alongside Aarons and the rest, saying workers should leave the unions and electricity privatisation is inevitable.
For all his voluminous meanderings about Labor electoral history, Berrell is either quite cynical or he really hasn’t got a clue about how struggles proceed in the broad labour movement.