The Northcote by-election and the results of the gay marriage postal survey, especially in western Sydney make me wonder if the ALP isn't trying to cover too many demographics and therefore failing to serve any of them well.
The Labor Party has to ask itself is it trying to cater to:
- Cashed up inner city trendies in seats like Prahran, Melbourne and Northcote that have already fallen to the Green Party.
- The traditional Australian working class in less wealthy outer suburban seats who feel threatened by many "progressive" policies advocated by the upper-middle class. This demographic are the sort of people who were members of unions a few generations ago.
- New migrants with socially conservative views. (Seats with lots of Orthodox and Maronite Christians, Muslims and Chinese were almost the only ones to vote NO in the survey and the great majority of them were Labor seats.)
These three groups have strongly held views that often conflict with each other and I'm not sure the ALP can serve these three groups without bitter feuds and splits. In short, they can't be all things to all people
Not that the Liberals are much better, they used to be the party of small business people (John Howards dad ran a servo), but they've always been polite to big business as they needed to get funds to balance the ALPs big donations from affiliated unions. And, with the advent of a "Religious Right" in Australia, their Conservative/Libertarian faction admit they've jumped into bed with a group they disagree with, while the "Moderate" Faction is all at sea as they don't know how to deal with a group trying to invade their party who are strongly opposed to most things the politically centrist Moderates believe in.
I suspect the mid sized parties are the only ones who really know who they are catering to. The Greens to a wealthier inner city demographic and the Nationals to the battler farmer and farm services demographic. By contrast the Liberals are a bit confused about things and Labor are completely bewildered. As tonight's Melbourne Channel 2 news said, "the curtain is closing on two party politics"
and I reckon the ALPs naive approach of trying to appeal to everyone will only speed this up.