Murdoch, Labor and democracy: what's at stake?

Issue 
Jim Casey has a chance of winning Grayndler for the Greens.

With polls showing growing support for the Greens and independents, the powers-that-be and their media hacks are becoming increasingly hysterical.

For the 1% and their supporters, the prospect of the July 2 double dissolution election delivering a hung parliament is the worst of all possible worlds. Uncertainty threatens their profit margins and means political and economic chaos — a nightmare for the ruling class that has had it so good for so long.

The growing discontent with politics as usual has prompted the Murdoch empire to launch an extraordinary campaign to frighten people into staying with the major parties and not risk voting Greens.

The May 10 Daily Telegraph's screaming headline “Save Albo” — the federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese who faces losing the seat of Grayndler in Sydney's inner west to the Greens' Jim Casey — clearly drew the class lines.

At the national level, Murdoch is campaigning for a return of the Coalition government on July 2. But the Labor Party is his next safest bet — especially in lower house seats that the Greens could win, such as Grayndler, Wills in Victoria or Fremantle in WA.

On one level, the Murdoch media's election coverage is so steeped in hyperbole and so lacking in facts, that ordinary people could well be turned off from even reading it, let alone believing it.

But, with the pending recession, rising unemployment and a housing affordability crisis in the bigger cities, fear can overcome logic. This, plus saturation coverage of the “dangers” posed by the Greens, is the corporate media's big weapon against democracy.

When the “Save Albo” image from the Telegraph's front cover appeared on social media the night before, many thought it was a joke meme. But it was real — complete with articles attacking the Greens for daring to stand against the sitting MP. Given Albanese's history of aggressively attacking the Greens, the Daily Telegraph's efforts to imply he is the underdog was comical.

About a week before every federal election, Albanese has issued a flyer warning that a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Coalition. It is always carefully worded to avoid legal action. It is Albanese's last-ditch attempt to scare people, confused about the electoral rules, from straying from Labor.

Murdoch is using the same tactic, but on a much bigger scale. The corporate media knows there is mass confusion about the new Senate voting system, and are using this to scare people.

Casey has answered the various smears, including Albanese's efforts to cast him as a supporter of a Coalition government in preference to a Shorten-led Labor government.

Casey also explained how his comments on demonstrations had been taken out of context. He argues that parliamentary democracy is more robust with social movements and trade unions on the rise that are able to hold governments to account.

But this has all been grist to the mill. Notorious right winger Joe Hildebrand weighed in several days later — in the Daily Telegraph of course — arguing, bizarrely, that because the Greens have an ideology and goals they are “like fascists”.

“The problem with the Greens is that they are ideologues ... Like fascists, they conjure up absolute goals ... Indeed, they actually yearn for oppression in the hope that it will bring about the longed-for revolution.”

That Murdoch is so keen to run a dirty campaign for the so-called “left” Labor MP is very telling. It shows just how much the powers-that-be view the Greens as a major threat to their power in this parliamentary democracy.

Albanese's reply to Casey, also carried by the Telegraph, bore no resemblance to any left-wing position. He argued against demonstrations and described parliamentary democracy as the pinnacle. He said the problem with the Greens is that they reject parliament — even though the party is running candidates in this election in every seat.

Albanese is under a lot of pressure in Grayndler. Nationally, the Greens are polling at 15.5% and in that electorate the figure would be much higher. Grayndler is one of the most progressive electorates in the country, where campaigns for public transport, housing affordability, against coal seam gas, for climate action and rights for asylum seekers have been launched and continue today. For many people who are active in these campaigns, Labor has simply sold out.

The Greens' Jenny Leong won the state seat of Newtown in 2015 because many long-time Labor members and supporters switched from a party that has shifted to the right and no longer values grassroots democracy and extra-parliamentary action.

The battle lines are drawn, and Murdoch's alliance with the major parties makes it clear how much is really at stake.

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