“We are fools if we do not understand that the public has had a gutful of what currently passes for much of our national political debate” – Kevin Rudd discussing the need for major reform within the ALP.
Kevin Rudd is correct in saying the general public is not happy with the way policy is produced by the federal Labor party. Policy should not come exclusively from the Prime Minister and Cabinet (nor the Leader of Opposition & Shadow Cabinet).
We are also unhappy with the ‘pledge’ binding OUR representatives, both MPs and senators, to vote in accordance with policy produced in this fashion. It goes against the democratic principals which once made the ALP a truly progressive party of the people, by the people, for the people.
Until recent decades Labor party policy was produced by the party’s mass membership. Members, who numbered in the hundreds of thousands, were directly responsible for suggesting, debating and approving the party’s policy platform. Once the policy was democratically approved, ALL party members were bound to it under the Labor Party Pledge. This produced a strong unified front around policy which was truly representative of the party’s membership and support base.
In this context, the Pledge ensured MPs and Senators actually acted as representatives of their support-base. Today, this is no longer the case.
The ALP are no longer a people’s party.
Over time the production of policy has become undemocratic, monopolized by Party Leaders and their chosen allies. It is then dictated to other MPs who are bound by the pledge to support it, or leave the party. There is nothing democratic about this system and it leads to bad policy. Shit, if the Prime Minister Julia Gillard had put her Malaysia suggestion to the typical support base of the Labor party she would’ve been eaten alive. Truly, the Labor party leaders have lost touch with their support base.
What needs to change?
Kevin Rudd has suggested where this change should start. Below I will give a basic outline of his suggestions. Please have a read and if you agree perhaps try find a way to let Mr Rudd or the Labor party know that you support this reform agenda.
Here’s my take on Kevin Rudd’s suggestions (source):
1) The party needs to be fully democratised. Full voice should be given the membership of the party, including a direct say in all of the parties policy positions.
2) Party members should directly elect candidates for important posts such as:
a) The National Secretary (the person most responsible for the Party’s organisational activity and community involvement)
b) The National Executive (the chief administrative authorities and party cabinet members)
c) Delegates from their communities Labor branch to the National Conference of the ALP, in order to ensure members get a real, direct say on the party’s policy decisions.
3) A full national debate should be held on proposals regarding other critical positions requiring direct member elections, and other options for further democratic reform of the Labor party.