May 20, 2012

The glory days

Glad I knew, at the time, they were the best of years.  Glad I lived through them, otherwise I would never have believed that politics could be a force for social good, or visionary and exciting.

We who were there, still weep over what we've lost.
Like an old black-and-white movie they're back -- the greying yet fiery icons of a spirit now fading. Turning on the radio or going online became a hazard this week with 82-year-old Bob Hawke singing Solidarity Forever, former union chief Bill Kelty invoking "romantic warriors" as his theme, and Paul Keating spreading love and compassion throughout the great trade union dinner.
The moral of the week is that it's best to keep them locked up. Out of sight. On the loose, they're a box-office smash, compelling and capable of provoking a nostalgia deadly to any current Labor politician or union official.

Keating praised Kelty as the anti-narcissist with a national vision; Kelty explained the brilliance of the old Labor-union model with its high growth, increased productivity and falling unemployment; Hawke, rarely in the same room with Keating these days, "agreed with everything Paul said" about Bill before breaking into the most tribal of union songs.

It was a "back to the future" moment. A sweet dream before waking to the 2012 daylight nightmare. Hawke, Kelty and Keating are legends that only burn brighter with the years. It is fitting to celebrate their times and, even among those who watched them for so long, always compelling to see them again.
 The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. 

Labor and unions in uneasy embrace


  1. Seems a long time ago when the Labor Party actually stood for something. It would appear that they are realising this might be a problem. Realising does not mean doing something about it.

    No, there's no need to over-romanticise the party of those years and comparisons, as they say, are odious. Just ask yourself one question though. Had the party hacks and the media massagers of today (or then) come to Paul Keating during 1996 campaign and told him it was a good idea to front the cameras and declare that the "real" Paul Keating would now appear, just what might he have said?

    We all know that answer. Tells you much.

    The current bunch - both sides - are managed, poll-driven prats. And any nation whose favourite recreation is "The Voice", "Master Chef", "Australia's Got Talent", "The Block", et al deserves them.

  2. Anonymous11:06 PM

    ...and Wilfred dog.


  3. "Wilfred dog"? Is this The Dog Needs a Wife??

  4. No, we shouldn't over-romanticize, but fuck it, those years were so much better than the last four!

    Our parliaments - federal and state - are being conducted like 'structured reality' shows. The drama, the lies, the deals, the betrayals, exposure of the "real you" being urged on participants deemed to be hiding and pretending to garner votes.

    Remember The West Wing, the way it ended it's run by handing over to the real world, the ascent of Obama?

    Yeah. Well. We got the other shows.

  5. I loved the West Wing. Especially its first few seasons. Just finished watching Ed Harris (always watchable), Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore in Game Changer. A good film and somewhat sympathetic portrayal of John McCain. Then again, if ever a GOP politician deserved a sympathetic portrayal it is McCain. This is the man G.H W. Bush portrayed as having a bastard black daughter by some woman in his service (back in the primaries of 1999). It mattered not to the Bush campaign that it was a matter of record that this girl was an adopted African daughter. The public portrayal is all. McCain did not go negative then and did not (to my memory) during the 2008 campaign.

    Yes: mostly what you saw in the seventies and eighties was what you got. At least there was "reform". That (in)famous accord delivered: enterprise agreements and balanced outcomes. Wages growth actually (in "real" terms) was lower than inflation. Imagine that. It does seem good looking back.

    There is no guts beyond polling nowadays and that extends to the "Stop sign in a business suit" Abbott (thank you the member that I've forgotten). "Focus groups" determine campaigns and what you and I think is irrelevant.

    1. I do wonder, with all the focus groups, where is the group to tell the ALP that Gillard's lack of judgement and their policies are viewed dimly by the punters?

      A column the other weak outlined that the glory days were also splattered with unwelcome policies, and obsession with focus groups, etc. But the writer failed to notice that, back then, focus groups (used much less) didn't determine policy, only how best to communicate the policy. That's a major shift. Governments must set policy; how to sell it shouldn't require obsessive polling or market research. Communicating itself is a lost skill amongst our pollies, on both sides of the fence.

      No, it is all different now, and our pollies, are leaders, are well and truly responsible for lowering the tone and wrecking the best economy in the world right now. (Seriously: how could they have possible fucked up such a gift? Yet they did, they have, they are.)