The recent stoush with the Greens points not only to the intellectual confusion of the ALP, but to a dangerous and growing divide within the party.
This is not so much a battle against the Greens, but a battle for the heart of the ALP, and Sam Dastyari's NSW Right is making its play.
The attack on the Greens was not to reclaim progressive votes but to reclaim the centre by rejecting the Left. It was not intended to reclaim the progressive reform mantle but to step back from it - by symbolically rejecting the reform they just enacted with the Greens (the carbon tax).
Some members of the ALP Left have expressed discomfort at the attack on the Greens. Why further alienate the very people who have been slowly leaking to the Greens? Why not embrace progressive reform, rather than machine politics? Dennis Glover made a telling contribution on this front yesterday.
It may be that Dastyari is confident of his numbers on this, that in the end the preferences swings-and-roundabouts will benefit the ALP, but it may also be that those aren't the numbers he's most interested in. This may be about who inherits the party after its electoral defeat.
"Labor must make an enemy of the Greens to win broad electoral support outside inner-city seats, with the minor party particularly vulnerable to attack over its asylum-seeker policy. Veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras has also urged Labor to direct its preferences to parties such as Bob Katter's Australia Party, the Democratic Labor Party and Family First ahead of the Greens."
"In an 'exclusive' splashed across the front page of today’s Australian, Canberra-based Sid Maher and Matthew Franklin reported 'internal ALP polling' that seemed to say Jennifer Kanis was doomed in her quest to hold off the rising Greens tide in the looming Melbourne byelection … this appeared to be a straight up destabilisation drop to white-ant Julia Gillard."
"The state by-election for Melbourne on Saturday week is now a head-to-head between the Greens' Cathy Oke and Labor's Jennifer Kanis - both good people. The Baillieu Liberals have snubbed Melbourne by not fielding a candidate, but they clearly want Labor to win, and so does Tony Abbott."
"Australia's relationship with Indonesia is at 'full throttle' and the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, was deluded to think he would strengthen it to the point the Indonesians would tolerate him turning back asylum seeker boats, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, said."