As you can probably tell by the profile and accompanying photo, my name is David and I am a young, cis-gender, white male. To a lot of people on the far Left, these characteristics, ipso facto, wholly and entirely invalidate my opinions and analyses on all things diversity-related.
Luckily for me, I have two factors in my favour:
- I’m on the Left’s side.
- The Labor Party that I know and love is not one that would silence me based upon one or more traits over which I have no control.
Now, whilst I could spend the bulk of my allotted time trying to reconcile a belief in cultural libertarianism with the far Left’s betrayal of political inclusion – upon which we all once agreed – I won’t. I don’t think, particularly at university, that it is always productive to buy into conventional partisan hatred when, at our cores, we are all flawed in some way.
Instead, dear reader, I’m going to try to prosecute – in a few short words – the case that the ALP is the only party that has truly embraced diversity.
Although diversities of sexual orientation and gender are all central to the ongoing Labor story, there are certain forms of diversity treasured in Labor that you simply won’t see in the parties of the far right or left: ethnic, socio-economic and intellectual.
Let it be known that, although I would speak positively about what Labor has accomplished in the way of sexuality and gender diversity – acknowledging that there is always still a way to go – I have come to terms with the fact that to speak on behalf of those affected by these issues is a bit too indulgent. To those of the Right who think that I should have eminent domain over discussion on those issues as well, I’m definitely not sorry to have let you down.
The feature of the far left that I have most taken issue with in my day is its ethnic homogeneity in Parliament. I think there is an inherent irony when the side that claims to stand for all ethnic peoples has such an issue ensuring those very voices are heard in its caucuses. The ultimate irony, of course, is that the race card that the far Left on campus so often loves to play in day-to-day arguments is most appropriately geared to tear to shreds the fabric of the Greens’ and others’ Parliamentary representatives.
I have asked the editors to attach a photo of the Greens’ Federal Parliament caucus for context. These aren’t shopped, cropped or edited and, unfortunately, this isn’t a meme either.
Now whilst the Greens ought to be given some reprieve given their lower election success rates, their inability to find a way to incorporate those very perspectives into their caucus is sickening to me.
Now, this is not to say that we don’t all have work to do in this field, but it’s just a bit embarrassing to see the Greens as the very embodiment of all that they despise in the white-washed patriarchy (see, above).
As an immigrant, born in Romania, with English being my second language, I have never felt at home in the side that claims to be the shining light for people like me.
Where I have felt at home is the side of politics with 44% (approaching 50% by 2020) female members and quotas aimed at remedying the remaining ethnic imbalances as we move deeper into the 21st century.
My Party is the one that has pioneered paving the way for Indigenous leaders to serve their communities on the highest stage, with 3 Federal Indigenous leaders elected or re-elected this past cycle.
There will always be a need for community leaders to not be marginalised, but have their voices amplified in our houses of government; take Pat Dodson: Yawuru man, former Chair of the Council for Reconciliation, Roman Catholic priest, Sydney Peace Prize laureate, John Curtin Medallist, professor, orator and inspiration.
This, as an example, is the type of voice that ought not be marginalised in our houses of government.
Some of the most inspiring and trailblazing figures – of any party – have been Labor members from ethnic backgrounds. Michelle Rowland, current shadow Communications Minister and USyd Law alumnus, is of Fijian descent. In 2013, Ed Husic became the first ever Muslim to be sworn into the Federal frontbench. The fact that these two figures are the closest MP’s to my home geographically, I hope, gives you a strong image of what Labor does as much as for what it stands for.
A diversity of socio-economic backgrounds is the founding diversity of Labor.
The common Young Liberal stigma against Labor, and one that frustrates me to my core, is the unfounded assertion that Labor is somehow at odds with the interests of Australia’s wealthier classes because we stand for the ordinary Australian – the other 98%, if you will.
My favourite thing about Labor in this respect, at least from the inside, is that nobody feels left out for their socio-economic background. Whether rich or poor, I have never seen a person looked at funny for where they come from or what their parents do – funnily enough I have been asked by Young Lib friends what it is my parents do, but I cannot recall a single time where my closest Labor friends have even implied an interest in it.
I think perhaps the best demonstration to me of this vast breach between other parties and the ALP was the 2016 Federal Election. Speaking casually with campaigners for the other major candidate in front of the Blacktown Pre-poll Booth, one campaigner told me they only knew of one volunteer from their entire side that was actually from the electorate. Chuckling to myself, I passed off my campaign material to Paul (from Riverstone), who was running the Labor campaign, said goodbye to Geeth (from Blacktown), another one of the campaigners, and took a break for lunch.
From this I ask myself: how could any party that can’t muster local campaigners to speak with blue-collar voters from Western Sydney put any case to ordinary Aussies? This image, of drop-in campaigners working for a drop-in candidate toward what was very much a drop-in appeal to voters they never really understood should upset all of us.
At least I say this until I see the following chart of Sydney electorates and sit slightly more comfortably.
Aside from drawing any fiery link to Champaign-socialism or an out of touch right-wing party, I aim to extrapolate that Labor’s policy is reflective of a party that works for all people, rather than being a ‘Robin Hood’ protest party or being a party that only works for the upper echelons of society.
When I see this image of the seats Labor gained and retained this past Federal election, I see hope. I see ordinary communities who cannot get by without a government that fights for their rights at work. I see ordinary parents voting for their children’s rights at school, their family’s rights at the GP and in hospital, and their own rights when they grow old. I see ordinary people taking their dreams into their own hands and voting for the advancement, and not the regression, of their own society. Every time a new family is locked out of the housing market, a social subset is facing discrimination or a big polluter is eroding the Earth’s climate without a market valuation mechanism accounting for it, I see a Labor policy there to remedy the injustice. I see those who are working toward a better life everyday voting accordingly. I see them voting not to spite or hinder those on the other side of track, but to eliminate barriers to an equality of opportunity that will grant their Western Sydney children the right and reason to dream the same dreams as a child from the Lower North Shore. And, whether or not our Liberal friends would like to admit it, this Labor vision is slowly eating at their heartland, which is as much a body of dreamers as ours.
Every time a new family is locked out of the housing market, a social subset is facing discrimination or a big polluter is eroding the Earth’s climate without a market valuation mechanism accounting for it, I see a Labor policy there to remedy the injustice. I see those who are working toward a better life everyday voting accordingly. I see them voting not to spite or hinder those on the other side of track, but to eliminate barriers to an equality of opportunity that will grant their Western Sydney children the right and reason to dream the same dreams as a child from the Lower North Shore. And, whether or not our Liberal friends would like to admit it, this Labor vision is slowly eating at their heartland, which is as much a body of dreamers as ours.
Labor’s policy works best because we are an organised party of the masses.
With views that range across the progressive spectrum to the centre, Labor is a penumbra for political discourse and intellectual debate. The Labor agenda, luckily for us, is not guided by ideologues and, unlike the Liberals, has not been hijacked by the farthest fringes of our movement.
The political dialogue that occurs both in the senior and junior levels of the party, thankfully, results in a prime ‘highest common factor’ that ultimately becomes Labor policy. Youth Council and Young Labor caucuses and discussions are a conduit for this.
Young Labor, as the ultimate form of activism, is the most effective means to an end of palpable policy reform where you actually fight to elect people standing for what you yourself believe in.
The Liberals, on the other hand, seem to be unilaterally dominated by ultra-conservatives in caucus and rank and file, which water down the more legitimate voices of the Moderates. The establishment Greens, on the other hand, seem to be constantly under attack from the far left in its rank and file – so much so that it is no surprise why they fail to ever get their election promises off the ground.
This ideological struggle on both sides effectively hampers the parties’ abilities to deliver pragmatic policy. Whilst I am sure this publication will offer you a lot in the way of political nuance, I think this is the most important message behind my spiel: everything we see on the political fringes that takes the form of a struggle for power simply manifests as debate in the ALP. This is what Labor is about. This is the type of diversity that sets Labor apart from the political fringes. This is the multifaceted diversity that we need to see more of. This is Labor.