Some of you are probably too young to remember, but a long time ago there used to be a political party known as “Labor”. That spelling is correct, incidentally its founders left u out of Labor in what can only be described as a moment of tragic foreshadowing.
The Labor Party was a fierce, passionate fighter, refusing to hold anything back when it fought its political arch rival—The Labor Party. Despite an epic, well-executed campaign, Labor lost this battle against itself and was relegated to the opposition benches. The opposition benches had been the focus of most of the parliamentary debate during the previous six years, but are now suddenly shrouded in a cloak of indifference.
In theory, no democratic government can operate without an effective opposition, and that has certainly been proven over the past few months. But if Labor wants to stand a chance of losing with a slightly higher profile in 2016, it needs to get its act together, pronto. These five suggestions should help dig them out of their current rut.
1. Elect a Leader
Hey, remember that exciting 2013 election in which Labor and the Coalition claimed to agree on nearly everything from carbon tax scrappage, to school funding reforms, to being equally inhumane towards refugees? Well all that build up was followed by the retirement of Rudd and a drawn-out contest between the two new leadership. This saw them carry on a whole bunch of debates in which they also aggressively agreed with one another on every issue. I forget who the two candidates were; I believe it was New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz and the Republic of Albania. But it’s 2014, so you should probably announce the winner—unless you have already—I assume if you had I would have seen the winner on the news or something; maybe a press conference, some sort of media appearance, anything. Hang on—I’ll Google it.
2. Introduce Mandatory Clapping
The Coalition’s majority means they can pass their policies through the House regardless of whether Labor even gets out of bed in the morning, so you have very little to barter with. However, we are fairly confident that the Government is only a few policies away from introducing an idea so reprehensible they won’t be able to handle even a public debate on the topic. And assuming they identify Labor’s Opposition as an entity capable of wielding a public debate, they may want to do some horse-trading to keep you quiet. So when they want you to go along with their new “Work Off Your Freedom” immigration policy/slavery revival, you could suggest a quid-pro-quo policy that requires all citizens to clap for five minutes each day. The Government will be so surprised that you want something so silly, they’ll go along with it immediately; not realising that Labor actually operates like the fairies in Peter Pan, and clapping will bring you back to life. The only flaw in this plan is finding a way to stop people from saying, “I don’t believe in Labor”. I don’t know how to get around that one.
3. A Wicked New Shadow Ministry
Where is it written that the Opposition’s shadow ministry must be a match for the actual one? I mean there might be a law or something. But who has time to look those up? Change your name to “The Ministry of Shadows” (unless Criss Angel has that term copyrighted) and give every minister a funky portfolio: Chris Bowen could be the Shadow Minister for Pranks, Stephen Conroy could be the Shadow Minister for Doge Memes, Penny Wong could be the Shadow Minister for Scoring Weed, Tanya Plibersek could be the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development. Sorry, are you disappointed there’s a serious one in there? Maybe you’re not ready for government again.
4. Do a Prequel
Remember that bit in Lord of the Rings when Galadriel is almost tempted by The One Ring, but then resists and realises she will “diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel”? In this scenario, Labor is Galadriel, the corrupting source of all power is a slight edge in a hung parliament, and the West is the opposition benches. Well, Labor, take a look at what Peter Jackson did after Lord of the Rings. Was he all “Hey, let’s make a sequel in which Galadriel is all diminished”? No! He made a prequel, in which Galadriel was as powerful as she ever was, and was hanging out with Ian McKellen and Hugo Weaving and a pre-evil Christopher Lee. I guess in this analogy Ian McKellen is Kevin Rudd, Hugo Weaving is Rhys Muldoon, and the pre-evil Christopher Lee is the pre-powerful-but-still-evil Christopher Pyne. Anyway, the point is that the next election should be run on pre-2007 issues. Did you hear the Coalition wants to introduce a GST? It’ll be a disaster. Run on that.
You know you’re considering it.
Follow Lee on Twitter: @leezachariah