Opposition has a lure like crack cocaine to some Labour activists, writes Helen Liddell

I turn my back for five minutes – well, four and a half years – and meerkats rule the advertising world and the Lib Dems show their true colours. Enough to  make me turn around and head back to Australia.

Those halcyon days with Labour Governments in Australia and Britain did help us leverage a progressive agenda together on the world stage. Who can forget Kevin Rudd, within days of his election as Aussie PM, signing the Kyoto protocol, neutralising the last alliance the Bush administration had on denying climate change.

 The financial crisis saw Brown and Rudd redefine world economic geography by creating a more meaningful G20 with the world’s emerging nations instead of the Rich Man’s Club of the G 8.

Labor chose the first ever woman Governor General, a human rights lawyer at that – and she took her oath of office wearing the purple of the suffragettes. Some Sheila.

Kevin and Gordon have exited stage left – Kevin ousted in double quick time by a Party stunned by an electoral turn around at warp speed, and Gordon ousted by a country that couldn’t take a politician without kerb appeal.

The speed of the change in Labor leader in Australia took even the ALP by surprise, but it does make our own rambling leadership  contest look not unlike the 30 Years War, and in the place of the battle of ideology, we have endless newsprint consumed with the psychology of sibling rivalry.

Labour doing what it does best: navel gazing. We wallow in it, one of the great joys of opposition – not.

Opposition has a lure like crack cocaine to some Labour activists.

While we were contemplating the belly fluff in 18 long years of ideological purity, the Tories laid endless working class communities to waste.

So what are we doing now? How’s your belly fluff?

As a born again Parliamentarian – I took my seat in the Lords last week –  I am appalled at our supine acceptance of some of the most blatant gerrymandering British politics has ever seen. 

We lost the election, but the Tories and the Lib Dems did not win, they have no mandate to limit the power of Parliament to chuck them out, and the Cameron mini me, the Clegg Bite, either does not believe in collective responsibility or is too lazy to read his brief before Question Time.

The Lib Dems keep reminding us all politics is local, well it is time to turn the screw, they need to be brought up about the consequence of their dalliance with the Tories.

Let’s pour what little resources we have into the constituencies of those Lib Dems who are in Parliament because their voters did not want the Tories. Tell their voters about the schools that will not be built, the Big Society that could bring the power of the busy body to bear on the services of local communities. Remember the Work House? The Parish? They were run by local do-gooders.

Then we have voting reform, I have watched AV at work in Australia, the odd  alliances  that lead to some very strange bed fellows, and the  Australian Senate, which uses a variant of AV, was able time and again to block Rudd’s plans for an Emissions Trading Scheme.


 Because the Government has no majority in the Senate and the balance of power is held by two independents, both from one man parties, one called the “ No Pokies Party”.

The House of Lords has its failings, not least that the Lib Dems insist they are a separate Party in everything but voting.

God forbid we should see the balance of power here held by the Strictly Come Dancing Party, led by Vince Cable.

On August 21, Australia goes to the polls and no Get Out The Vote there – voting is compulsory, some polling places open two weeks before the election and the result is known within an hour of the polls closing in the East at 6pm – when they are still voting in the West.

The first Leaders Debate has already had to be moved to accommodate the finals of Master Chef.

Lots of Labour strategists and policy wonks are already on their way Down Under, presumably to tell our comrades in the ALP how NOT to do it. Maybe we should just send Delia Smith.

But a Labor victory will mean at least one good thing will come out of 2010. And a voice from the Valleys will be heard on the world stage. We need at least one sound voice!

Helen Liddell, Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, was High Commissioner to Austrlia from 2005-2009

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One Response to “Opposition has a lure like crack cocaine to some Labour activists, writes Helen Liddell”

  1. Michael Phillips says:

    Not what we need.
    Helen Liddell has returned to our shores after 4/5 years of high society living in Australia. The former Australian High Commissioner, and now, Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke has got herself settled in the House of Lords and now presumes to tell us how it all went wrong, how it is still going wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it.
    As anybody who reads the above article can tell, the woman speaks, but she says nothing. She did nothing for Scottish Politics last time we had her and she won’t do anything this time either. I, for one would personally be very happy if she would “turn around and head back to Australia.

    (this comment has been slightly edited)

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