Reds under the bed, rats in the sewer

Saturday, July 4, 2009 - 10:00

The Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly have upset the apple cart again! While articles in the Australian accuse GLW of being in bed with the "hate-filled" Hamas, the muck-raking ALP factional blog Vexnews blasts an "extreme left ALP candidate" for being a secret member of the "virulently leftist and anti-semitic" Socialist Alliance.

I can't overcome my strange addiction to facts, so I made some enquiries. I am told that nobody at GLW has been sleeping with Hamas (but then they would say that, wouldn't they).

And the ALP member Vexnews attacked is not a member of the Socialist Alliance, unfortunately. The Socialist Alliance also has Jewish members and is anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.

But never mind these small details. The truth, as important as it may seem to us, is an obstacle in mainstream politics. This brings me to the Australian Labor Party.

ALP politics is dirty. Indeed, it's quite obscene. Most of it should be X-rated.

Contact with ALP politics should come with the following health warning: "Engaging in ALP politics will seriously endanger your integrity, honesty and ability to deliver to the working class."

I'm sure a lot of Australians would agree with me as they recoil from yet another political scandal, another lie exposed or a kick-back unearthed. From Wollongong to Brimbank council, corruption is endemic and branch-stacking practised with impunity.

An ALP branch that hasn't had its numbers artificially inflated for factional purposes could be called an aberration — or maybe even an endangered species.

As well as manipulating migrant communities and shovelling money from the public purse into private business accounts, the ALP machine isn't even very nice to its own. Its members have no qualms about knifing each other in the back, sometimes even in the front. Punches have even been exchanged on the odd occasion.

Supposedly all this internal warring is related to a difference in politics within the ALP — a tug of war between the right and the left. On a closer look, it is quite clear that there is hardly any political basis to factions in the ALP. But that doesn't deter the warriors — remember, don't let pesky facts get in the way.

This is where Vexnews comes in. Andrew Landeryou, the website's editor and a supposed ex-member of the ALP right faction, knows the game. Vexnews is a vicious gossip blog catering to ALP members and unionists.

It is designed to discredit anybody who dares to think of political options outside the ALP machine and its big business agenda. It poses a permanent loyalty test: you are either with us or you will cop it.

And what better weapon for Vexnews than good old-fashioned red-baiting? Anybody who dares express sentiments different from a class-collaborationist viewpoint in the ALP is vilified as a communist or socialist or, to make it really hurt, an anti-semite.

It's not a new weapon in the ALP's arsenal but certainly one that is again beginning to rear its ugly head more often. As the betrayals of the Rudd government accumulate, critics have to be shut up.

Rudd's sell-out on Work Choices has angered many rank-and-file unionists, including ALP members, and the ALP and union hacks know that. How much longer will they have to keep on convincing workers to hand over union money to a party that keeps stabbing them in the back?

The ALP's attack on the Socialist Alliance is a little symptom. It is aimed at discrediting potential alternatives that put workers before parliamentary career ambitions and business interests.

There will be many more attacks from the ALP machine as the Socialist Alliance and other progressive forces help build an alternative to Labor that's really worthy of workers' trust, support and hard-earned dollars.

Vexnews's squalid red-baiting confirms that, while there's still a long road to travel, we're headed in the right direction.

[Margarita Windisch is a national co-convener of the Socialist Alliance.]

From GLW issue 801

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