||Issue No. 206||05 December 2003|
A New Mark for Labor
Interview: Muscling Up
Unions: Thinking Pink
Bad Boss: Global Bully
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
History: Young Blood
Industrial: Living For Work?
International: Fighting Together
Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Review: Human Racing
The Locker Room
Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
A New Mark for Labor
Without doubt this is a bold decision to move to a new generation of leadership, to a man with few formal ties to the trade union movement, who has built his reputation on framing a 'Third Way' political roadmap, that sometimes smacks of a cross between the Fourth Dimension and the Second Coming.
Workers Online readers should be no stranger to Latham. We've interviewed him, argued with him and stuck him in the Tool Shed, but we've always found him frank, fearless and prepared to have a go.
For those who are fast to paint Mark Latham as right-wing and anti-union it is worth flicking through our interviews with him in Issues 10 and 96.
What these conversations show is that Latham is committed to an ongoing role for unions, one of the few working examples of the mutuality that he sees as the engine room of a functioning society.
He advocates unions operating closer to the workplace, rather than as big, monolithic institutions - a position totally consistent with the approach a large number of unions have adopted.
He believes the amalgamations of the late nineties were the 'wrong call' - an opinion that is increasingly being seen as mainstream within the union movement.
And his disdain for the factional system within the ALP and his desire to cut through outmoded ideological lines would gain growing support amongst unions, sick of cancelling out each others power for their factional masters.
In the Latham world view, government should be seeking partnerships with organised communities, who drive the agenda from the grassroots, rather than simply an institutional provider of services.
It is a model that fits well with modern unionism, empowering and resourcing groups of workers to make their lives better, rather than delivering centralised one size fits all approaches from on high.
Workers Online has never been shy to bag a Labor MP, indeed it is an important part of our brief in creating a voice for unions within the movement and the broader community.
But it is rarer that we give the ALP a wrap. So here it is. Federal Labor with Mark Latham in charge, the hard-hitting Craig Emerson in IR, and the likes of Julia Gillard, Lindsay Tanner and Kevin Rudd in the engine room is beginning to look like a team worth barracking for.
Yes, there will be debate and disagreement about policy, but the sense that the seven-year period of political hibernation is at last coming to an end is worth celebrating.
Our call to the union movement is to re-embrace Labor, after all, we have nothing to lose but the Howard Government.
This will be the last regular Workers Online for the year. Our Holiday Special will be posted in the week before Christmas.
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