Democrats roll dice again

If the past 48 hours hasn't been bad enough for Democrats, for the local variety it has just got a tad worse. The latest rearrangement of the deckchairs upon the Titanic sees the Skipper and his First Mate swap possies. The next leader will be Senator Lyn Allison, whilst Senator Andrew Bartlett will assume the deputy's position.

This is an inevitable move more than it is a desirable one. With only four Senators remaining after July 1 next year, there was little choice but for Allison to assume the leadership position. Stott Despoja wouldn't want it, Murray wouldn't win it and Bartlett was damaged goods. It's a painful but necessary question to ask whether the decision to elect Andrew Bartlett as leader in 2002 was the right one. Ariontheweb must confess his interest in this one - I was working hard inside the party to help Bartless beat Brian Greig for the top spot. Alas, the Bartlett leadership was a disappointment, and probably a mistake.

The task for the Democrats is a monumental one, and one that no leader - Allison or otherwise - would be able to achieve. The party brand name is seriously damaged in the public mind, and no amount of spin and new faces can change that. In the minds of most voters, the Democrats are associated with conflict, division, indecisiveness and the GST. All of those labels will remain with the party.

As a former staff member (briefly) of Senator Allison, I wish her well - it would be wonderful if the Democrats could return to the balance of power role in 2008, and they will be infinately more responsible than the Lib-Nats who will soon have it. In reality, however, the party is scampering around on its last legs, and the vet may soon be moving the curtain around to protect the racegoing public from seeing the splatter of blood in the final moments.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Well, it is a sad time - now - for the Democrats. But bear one thing in mind here - by 2007, those Australians who voted for a Coalition majority in the Senate will be asking themselves "What have we done?" I suggest that Australia in 2007 will be a far nastier, more divided country than any other time in our history. There may - I think will - have been a level of civil action in our streets akin to the Vietnam war years, given what I see as nothing less than Legislative wantonness by the Coalition. God help workers, university students, women, the gay and lesbian community, Indigenous Australians....on and on and on.....

If Lyn Allison can somehow put together a perception that the Democrats - maybe re-badged, re-marketed - with a raft of new ideas - are vital for a return to some form of Senate scrutiny/legislative responsibility (forget the past eg. gst - its a bloody foreign country without visa access) then there is some hope. A long shot, but if the will is there, events of the coming years may, just may, enable this to happen. Given the Greens are the new fairies at the arse end of the herb garden -and didn't they fail to match their "We are Gods and we are going to take all before us " rhetoric - a centre party is necessary to fill a political vacuum .....a re-invention of the Dems could be the solution?
Tom J.
( an informal voter in 2004, and a former Dem who went across to Labor, recoiled in horror at just how elitist and faction controlled and undemocratic they really are and got the hell out of there.)

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