Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trouble Brewing

The circumstances of Rudd’s removal are a graphic exposure of the thoroughly worm-eaten character of both the Labor Party and the entire system of so-called parliamentary democracy in Australia. The Labor Party long ago ceased to be a mass political party in any meaningful sense of the word, but the depth and breadth of the gulf between it and the lives and concerns of the mass of ordinary people have never been so clearly demonstrated.

The leadership challenge was not decided by a move from the caucus but by a tiny handful of unknown factional bosses and union bureaucrats responding directly to the demands of powerful corporate and financial elites for a revamping of the government.

Not only did backbench MPs have no idea of the events on Wednesday evening, Cabinet members were in the dark as well. As one minister told the ABC: “I am sitting in my office watching all this unfold on TV. I have no part in this and no idea what’s going on. This is madness.”

Much has been made of the collapse in opinion poll support for Labor as the underlying reason for Rudd’s demise. But the opinion polls reflect more the impact of the media on popular consciousness than any genuine social or political movement. When key sections of the media and the corporate interests they represent backed Rudd, his opinion poll ratings reached record highs. Once he lost their confidence and their support was withdrawn, his opinion poll rating, and that of the Labor Party, fell accordingly.

The ousting of Rudd—the only time a Labor prime minister has been removed during his first term—was not carried out as a result of a movement of the working class, but by key sections of the financial and corporate elites.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott knows a coup when he sees one :