The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 272 15 July 2005  

Home Ground Advantage
American pollster Vic Fingerhut has been in Australia this week with a reassuring message to the labour movement - it's OK to stand up for what you believe in - and it might even win you elections.


Interview: Battle Stations
Opposition leader Kim Beazley says he's ready to fight for workers right. But come July 1, he'll have to be fighting by different rules.

Unions: The Workers, United
It was a group of rank and filers who took centre stage when workers rallied in Sydney's Town Hall, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: The Lost Weekend
The ALP had a hot date, they had arranged to meet on the Town Hall steps, and Phil Doyle was there.

Industrial: Truth or Dare
Seventeen ivory towered academics upset those who know what is best for us last week.

History: A Class Act
After reading a new book on class in Australia, Neale Towart is left wondering if it is possible to tie the term down.

Economics: The Numbers Game
Political economist Frank Stilwell offers a beginners guide to understanding budgets

International: Blonde Ambition
Sweden can be an inspiration to labour movements the world over, as it has had community unionism for over 100 years, creating a vibrant caring society, rather than a "productive" lean economy.

Training: The Trade Off
Next time you go looking for a skilled tradesman and can’t find one, blame an economist, writes John Sutton.

Review: Bore of the Worlds
An invincible enemy has people turning against one another as they fight for survival – its not just an eerie view of John Howard’s ideal workplace, writes Nathan Brown.

Poetry: The Beaters Medley
In solidarity with the workers of Australia, Sir Paul McCartney (with inspiration from his old friend John Lennon) has joined the Workers Online resident bard David Peetz to pen some hits about the government's proposed industrial relations revolution.


 PM Rallies on Spin

 Crafty Boss Bytes Staff

 Andrews Faces "Thuggery" Challenge

 Delta Blues

 NRL Plays Man Not Ball

 Boeing Hits Turbulence

 Whole Truth Eludes Rev Kev

 Correct Weight Caulfield

 Business Nervous Over IR Changes

 Last Weekend Gets a Lift

 Free Pass for Death Doctors

 Activists Whats On!


The Soapbox
State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson lifts the lid on ‘The Nine Myths of Modern Unionism’

The Locker Room
Wrist Action
Phil Doyle trawls the murky depths of tawdry sleaze, and discovers Rugby is behind it all.

To Hew The Coal That Lies Below
Phil Doyle reviews Australia's first coal mining novel, Black Diamonds and Dust.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

 Do It Yourself?
 The vision thing
 True Lies
 You C.A.N. Do It
 Water Works
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees



Home Ground Advantage

American pollster Vic Fingerhut has been in Australia this week with a reassuring message to the labour movement - it's OK to stand up for what you believe in - and it might even win you elections.

That such a message should be a revelation is a sad indication of where left of centre politics has gone in Australia - but it may also be reassuring that in this we are not alone.

Over more than three decades Fingerhut has been researching campaigns for unions and progressive parties in the USA, Canada, Britain and Germany - polling people on their perceptions of issues and the differences between major parties.

And what he has discovered is a sort of immutable truth - there are some issues that belong to the Right and others that belong to the Left and it's not about policy either. It's about language and the way you frame an issue.

As a general rule where the issue is about managing the economy or handling terrorism or keeping taxes low, Republicans and conservatives have a marked advantage, with more than two thirds of voters perceiving they are superior on the issue.

But bring people into the equation, particularly working people, and the numbers swing around. By merely adding the words 'for working people' to the question 'who is better at managing the economy?', Democrats pick up 30 percentage points.

Likewise change the proposition 'keeping taxes down' to 'fighting for fairer taxes for working people' and the issue goes from being a negative for the left to a positive.

It's early days, but the trends seem to translate into Australian politics as well. And if they do they add a new dimension to the 'accepted wisdom' that Labor needs to be stronger on the economy.

As Fingerhut observes, merely going out and engaging in an economic argument - even when you have better arguments than your conservative opponents - does nothing more than shift the debate onto their turf.

In other words, becoming a daily commentator on the current account deficit, employment figures and interest rates might get media, but if you do not draw the connection between economic indicators and people's lives you are not advancing your cause.

This is where the current campaign over industrial relations comes in - this is where the economy actually impacts on people's working lives.

Stripped of the fluff, the Prime Minister's pitch appears to be "if we are going to compete with China and India, then you will have to give up rights and drop your wages".

All of a sudden he is on our turf and, as the polls are showing, it is not a place he wants to be.

All of which means two things at this early stage of the campaign: Howard is taking a major political risk in pushing through these laws and, finally, Labor has an issue where they can play on their home ground.

Peter Lewis



*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 272 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online