In the wake of Queensland Labor’s epic defeat, I’ve been having a number of interesting conversations with friends and comrades about what it all means.
Those chats have not been about where the ALP and Anna Bligh went wrong. I distrust instant analysis, and I think it’s worth reflecting further on what was by any scale an event without adding to the attempts of the commentariat to reinscribe something actually significant into their normal narrative.
There is no doubt that there is significant disorientation and disorganisation on the left, and fracture lines around gender and class (also reflected obliquely in the Gillard v. Rudd Wars, as well as more directly in the tension between Labor and Greens) are at play.
It’s more important, though, to note that Campbell Newman, with his disdain for process, his early embrace of culture wars, his combative temper, and his perverse decision to deny funding to a major solar project on the grounds that the federal government had a carbon price (while later signalling a challenge to the legislation itself) represents the first wave of real Abbottism to hit the nation.
It would be a mistake for those outside Queensland to dismiss all this, and what occurred on March 24, as merely some particularity or peculiarity of Quinceland politics (though it is partly that). In reflecting on what has occurred, I’ve heard many say that our own complacency, our own incorporation into structures of governance, our own obsession with micro-differences on the left, our own sense of blocked forward movement: all contributed to this event.
We lack solidarity and we lack a sense of meaning in politics, and often, a failure to relate our lived experience to political economy as well as cultural politics is telling.
I will have much more to say, but let this be said: if our friends and comrades down South regard Queensland as an island, that in itself will be a major contributor to the Newman/Abbott project’s success nationwide. Tony Abbott is Campbell Newman for PM, and that should spur action, and shatter illusions.
More to come.