Solidarity not interference….
Conservative Home is not very happy about Harriet Harman’s recent trip to Australia to support the Australian Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard as she faces a nail-biting General Election on Saturday. The Australian General Election seems to have stirred-up alot of interest in the Twitterverse. At least partially it is down to the closeness of the race and, at least for Labour Party people, a wistful wondering at what might have been if Brown, like Gillard, had called a snap election upon his coronation instead of waiting or indeed, given the fate of Kevin Rudd, it may provide a pointer as to what could have been had Brown been deposed.
Apart from this, the election might have more impact on this country than you think. Gillard has caused something of a stir by suggesting that the end of Elizabeth II’s reign should be the end of the monarchy in Australia and it should become a republic. Although it will perhaps not be a huge shot-in-the-arm for the republican movement in Britain it may well re-open the debate and allow the demonstration of the hidden political power that the Crown and the executive wields through royal prerogative which cripple our politics and our democracy. So, that is certainly welcome.
It seems the economic debate is framed in similar terms to how it was over here although it seems Labor in Australia is laying more emphasis on further investment; pledging support for a massive investment in building a superfast broadband network and in other areas like education. However, on issues like immigration the Australian Labor Party is as depressingly conservative in its thinking as the British one. The only substantive difference between them and the Liberal-National opposition being between where to process boat-people.
At least in Australia the Liberals are open as opposed to closet conservatives. In what maybe a longer-term harbinger of things to come in Britain the main left-wing opposition to Labor comes from the Greens who are widely predicted to make a breakthrough and perhaps even hold the balance of power. Interestingly, although its website gives guidance on how to vote in any way the voter pleases it quite clearly prefers Labor and has a deal to recommend giving them the second preference in certain seats. Unlike Nick Clegg, Australia’s Greens do not have a Janus-face.
It’s unsurprising a site like Conservative Home cannot understand solidarity which is what Harman showed with her visit. Hopefully, the tradition of international solidarity will be something that Labour in Britain will rediscover as it is refounded.