Mike Smith is the former general secretary of the Labour Party and he is also the President of the silly old Fabian Society, presently trying to find a 'gentler and kinder capitalism'.
Given that he consistently defended the neoliberal policies of the Clark Government I don't have much time for Smith. He's yet another one of those Labourites who has walked the well trodden path from liberal lefty to right wing defender of the 'free market'.
So it comes as no surprise that Smith has praised the new right wing leader of the Australian Labor Party, Julia Gillard.
Writes Smith on The Standard: : 'I met Julia Gillard once, at dinner with the Australian ambassador five years ago. She is not flamboyant, but she evoked the old saying about still waters that run deep. It was clear that she was leadership material.'
Smith doesn't bother to tells why it was 'clear' that Gillard was a Labor leader in waiting.
Nor does he deem it important to give us some assessment of her politics.
Rather he seems infatuated by her apparent personal qualities. He tells us that, among other things, 'she has a fine sense of humour' and has ' a devastating line in parliamentary put downs . Yes being quick with the one liners is an essential quality for any political leader grappling with the crisis of late capitalism. Nice one, Mike!
According to Smith, who clearly is angling for a job on the Women's Weekly, Gillard is also 'a good communicator', and 'patient'. Curiously he also says she is 'self aware'. As opposed to what? Being unconscious?
What Smith doesn't tell us is that Gillard's rise to the top has been aided and abetted by the right wing of the ALP and by big business which has long been dissatisfied with Kevin Rudd.
Big business cheerleaders like Alan Jones have described Gillard as 'one smart lady' and a lady 'who should be running the country'.
I'm sure Smith agrees with this assessment.
Let's make it clear. Gillard is not a liberal and she certainly isn't a socialist.
As one Australian commentator has written of her:
'Real Labor lefties split their sides laughing back then to see Gillard portrayed as a dangerous socialist, because they knew from experience that the ambitious Member for Lalor was about as pragmatic as they come … Her strategic alliance with first one right-wing Labor leader (Simon Crean) and then another (Mark Latham) swung her up through the monkey-bars of the parliamentary Labor Party and amassed her sufficient influence to anoint a third: Kevin Rudd.
“She does not intend to grow old as one of those Labor pollies of whom it is said that they could have made a terrific leader had they not had the misfortune to be from the Labor Left.'
The woman that Mike Smith says will put the ALP 'on the right path again' has been an arch-opponent of a raft of progressive issues.
She has also displayed a marked hostility to the trade union movement.
Gillard has boasted that Labor’s industrial relations laws has resulted in the lowest rate of increase in wages since 1998.
At last year's conference of the Australian Council of Trade Unions delegates heckled her when she rose to address the conference. Some delegates held up placards that portrayed her as Margaret Thatcher.
Her first act as Prime Minister has been to backpedal on plans to impose a 'super profit tax' on the mining industry.
This is the beginning of the sellout to corporate interests and it is little wonder that mining stocks shot up in price today.
This leadership change is all about saving the ALP from defeat in the coming federal election. The decision-making was made by the Labor power brokers and it has nothing to do with implementing changes that will directly improve the lives of ordinary Australians.
There will be no change in Labor's failed economic and social policies.
None of this though matters to Mike Smith.
His praise for Julia Gillard is atrocious but not surprising.