Another leadership change for ALP
As posted about here over the weekend, the 88 federal MPs and Senators of the Austalian Labor Party held a leadership ballot on Monday.
Incumbent leader Kim "Bomber" Beazley was beaten by 49-39 by Kevin Rudd, running on a "New Labor" ticket.
This follows changes of leader in 2001 (the first time Beazley was ousted), 2003 and 2005.
Both candidates are on the right of the ALP - Rudd is a big supporter of Israel who self-describes as "basically a conservative when it comes to questions of public financial management". The choice was mainly about style - age & experience versus a fresh start.
In his acceptance speech Rudd said Labor stood for "equity ... sustainability ... compassion'' and was the Australian party of "social democrats" and said:
"The bogus proposition, which has been put by those opposite for over a decade or so now, is that somehow we from the Centre Left of politics in this country and around the world have been disoriented by the fall of the Iron Curtain. Our movement for a century fought against Marxism, if you bother to read your history. We have had nothing to do with Marxism and madness. We have always seen our role as what we can do to civilise the market. That is where we come from as a tradition. Why do you think Keynes and the rest of them were called upon to try to save market capitalism from itself after the Great Depression? Because social Democrats believed that you had to have constraints placed around the market, otherwise it becomes too destructive indeed. "
The polls suggest that this change of leader will not impact on the 2-party preferred vote (in Australia they have a transferable voting system where most lower house seats end up in a run off between a Labor and Coalition candidate) but will boost Labor's first preferences share by squeezing the Greens and minor parties.
It may also have a big impact in Queensland, where Rudd is from, where Labor only holds six of I think 23 seats and needs to pick up a lot of marginals to win at a federal level.
The continued chaos at the federal level of the ALP, which has now been in opposition since 1996, contrasts with the state level where the ALP has been enjoying its most sucessful period ever electorally and where a lot of talented ALP politicians have chosen to focus their energy.