Me in today’s The Drum Unleashed on the ABC website, where I look at the collapse of the Greens’ strategy to secure Liberal Party preferences in some key inner-Melbourne seats. Just why is a Left party playing these games?
Since 2006 the ALP has hammered the fact the Greens are willing to do deals with the Liberals, a line specifically designed to stop traditional Labor supporters from crossing the Rubicon into Greens territory. As the wealth statistics above suggest, class remains a powerful social fact in modern Australia even if it has faded from official discourse. Yet for the ALP, crude class rhetoric about the Greens backing the Tories can help it hold onto its base, even if for purely negative reasons. This ties in with repeated (and unfounded) claims that the Greens represent a privileged, middle-class constituency, indifferent to the needs of working families. Despite the Greens’ protests that voters are smarter than this, or that there really is no difference between Liberal and Labor, the fact remains that they are in a battle for the left wing of Labor’s constituency, where class still holds real meaning.
Hence state candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters [pictured above], can admit amazement the Liberals would risk the election over ideology, yet in the same breath say he thinks “there is a certain logic in the grand conservative Coalition that we are now seeing between Labor and Liberal.” And then, not wanting to cruel potential deals next time, he can add, “How much that holds in the future we will see”. His mixed messages reflect a growing divergence between the kinds of voters and active members the Greens are attracting. The latter, like Walters, tend to be more conservative and seek rapid access to political power through moderation and deal making. Unsurprisingly, Electrical Trades Union leader Dean Mighell has pulled his union’s support away from the Victorian Greens after having backed Bandt to the hilt.