I’ve been too distracted to comment on the Victorian election to date and that’s saying something, ‘cos I loves me a democratic process. So I figure it's time to get all political on yo asses.
There were no enormous surprises. No unexpected seats were lost, the swings were insubstantial. All-in-all a pretty mediocre end to what was a remarkably low-key campaign.
But the one thing that caught my attention was the behaviour of the "Left" parties towards each other.
The clash between Labor and the Greens has really been quite fascinating.
I was brought up in a staunchly Labor family. We have photos of my parents in their 30s bedecked in "It's Time" t-shirts and emblazoned with face-sized Gough badges. My childhood front garden often bore the ALP placards in the lead up to elections, both State and Federal, despite our location placing us firmly in Liberal strongholds.
But despite the obvious political leanings, what lay at its heart was not loyalty to the Party as such, but a belief in the doctrine. Labor stood for social policy, support of the underpriveleged, environmental responsibility, health and education. Labor parties did not believe in running massive surpluses. Public funding would be used to support public infrastructure. Government was not a business, but a mechanism for supporting the population - public servants in the most literal sense of the word.
Few people can deny that the Labor Party has drifted a fair way from this foundation, a fact borne out by the seemingly identical policies released by the two major parties during the state election. Labor is now about big surpluses, business advantage and half-hearted environmental policy. Deepening the Port Phillip Bay channel, building roads with public funds and then adding "user-pays" tolls, slowly abandoning their planning guidelines to allow bigger and more profitable private development, no support for progressive policies like same-sex unions, an end to old-growth logging or genuine strategies to tackle drug abuse.
And yet the venom with which those loyal to Labor have attacked others who have drifted to a party that now actually represents the old Labor ideals is extraordinary.
Labor does not represent what I believe in any more - and it's not me that's changed.
There is an argument that is frequently batted around that goes thusly: There are only two parties that can take power in an election - Labor and Liberal. Labor is more progressive than the Liberals, therefore, if you consider yourself progressive, a vote for anything other than Labor is not only a loss for the left, but a victory for the right. The extension of this is that if you disagree with Labor policy, but see it as the lesser of two evils, then you must still vote Labor.
As a consequence, the Greens came under sustained and intense attacks from both the left and the right, particularly in the last couple of weeks before the poll. It's actually astounding that they managed to maintain their vote from the previous election.
The Labor Party spent most of the final week of campaining bitterly accusing the Greens of making preference deals with the Liberals in a desperate attempt to scare away any left-of-centre voters who may have been considering a change. But then they turned around and said it was all the Greens fault. It's the Greens who are fracturing the left, the Greens who are responsible for Bronwyn Pike almost losing her seat, the Greens who are to blame for the reduced majority.
Labor has drifted so far from it's socially-progressive roots that many people simply cannot justify voting for them. It's not the Greens fault that I agree with their policies. It's not the Greens fault that I am increasingly dismayed by what Labor stands for.
If the Labor Party is as concerned about the Green vote as they seemed to suggest during this election campaign, then they need to start looking very seriously at their own policies and their own culture. It's not the Greens who are fracturing the progressive side of politics, Labor has left it's supporters with no other options.
Here endeth the rant.