June 16, 2005
Obviously I was not at the Queensland ALP conference. My information came from a combination of an email from one of the Labor for Refugees leaders in Queensland, sent to my friend Jenny Haines, a Labor for Refugees activist in NSW, and from reading the Brisbane Courier Mail.
My point about Green Left not having a journalist at the NSW Labor Party conference concerns a general approach to the labour movement and class struggle.
Even in quiescent times, the NSW Labor Party conference is the biggest representative gathering of the labour movement in Australia.
Firstly, for the DSP leadership to devise the idea of having a union fightback conference on the same long weekend as the Labor Party conferences in Queensland and NSW was a piece of short-sighted sectarianism dictated by their desire to boost the Socialist Alliance by attaching the Fightback event to the front end of it.
The negative feature of this sectarianism obviously is that the Fightback conference became a gathering almost entirely of Victorian unionists, because most trade union officials in NSW and Queensland would be at the state Labor conferences.
Those considerations obviously don’t matter to the DSP leadeship, as against the narrow organisational interests of the DSP and the Socialist Alliance.
Despite the deformations imposed on the old Communist Party by Moscow and high Stalinism, the old CPA and the old Trotskyists took the ALP state conferences very seriously, because of their experience of those conferences as arenas of struggle.
Tribune, the CPA newspaper, always had a journalist present all weekend, moving around the conference, getting stories and trying to get a picture of the dynamics of the event.
Incidentally, Tribune had a staff that was a little smaller than the GLW staff is now, but its coverage of Australian labour movement affairs was in-depth and thorough, although it was influenced by Stalinism.
Failure to take seriously the big state Labor conferences underlines how far the DSP is removed from the workers’ movement, and the tragedy is that it’s largely a self-imposed isolation.
In answer to Jon Strauss, no I wasn’t present at any of the trade union delegates’ meetings, but quite a few of my political friends and associates were, and took a vigorous part in those events, as you well know.