Monday, August 05, 2002

There are reports that Federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean is facing an internal revolt over his drive to reduce union control in his Party from 60% to 50%. His own internal faction is reported to be organising a "revolt" against the move.

Call me cynical, but I refuse to believe that the Labor Party, which has some of the most skilled political operatives in the country, will deliberately throw the election by insisting on a vote that will cost the Opposition Leader his job.

Unless ….
The entire thing is stage-managed from the get-go to make sure that Crean gets to have a victory, in an internal rule reform that will do little to change policy, but looks hairy-chested to the punters.
Or …
The NSW Right Wing faction has decided that Crean in unelectable, and this is their chance to cripple him, so that one of their own can get the job.

I go for the first option, and predict that there will be a dramatic last-minute compromise that will let Crean look like a winner, regardless of reality.

He needs a win to dent the Prime Minister's popularity at home, and it's obvious that the coming war with Iraq will be very popular at home. That action will be done by this time next year, clearing the decks for Howard's retirement in favour of Treasurer Costello. Crean will be unable to stand against a "generational change", and to step aside in favour of another Labor aristocrat will not help.

So playing at ructions in the union-party relationship makes sense, as it doesn't require any actual policy reform, and the Head Office has enough clout and enough Byzantine rules to get around anything the State branches can throw at them.

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