Labor May Be Turning On Itself 24 Hours Before The Election

You absolute muppets.

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Perhaps inspired by the House of Cards-esque political mayhem sweeping across the UK, the Australian Labor Party has descended into a bout of leadership speculation on the eve of the federal election.

Clearly the ALP couldn’t handle the fact that their sister party in the UK was hogging all the leadership speculation attention, with an attempted challenge against UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn under way, so they decided to do what they do best and kick off an internal leadership struggle.

Over the past week Labor figures have been busy leaking to journalists what could happen after this Saturday’s election. Most pundits and commentators are expecting the Coalition to be re-elected, which means there will be an automatic spill of the Labor party leadership following their defeat.

There have been a number of reports over the past few days suggesting that if Labor leader Bill Shorten doesn’t do well this election (by winning at least 10 seats), he will be challenged by factional heavyweight Anthony Albanese.

Today the Herald-Sun quoted a Labor MP who claimed Albanese’s supporters were actually trying to undermine Bill Shorten’s campaign. “Albo’s people are doing their best to reduce the number of seats Bill can win,” the MP said.

An artist’s impression of the Labor party

Albanese narrowly lost out to Shorten in Labor’s 2013 leadership contest. Although he secured a majority of the vote from party members, more MP’s backed Shorten, delivering him the numbers to secure the leadership. Over the past three years Labor has had a stable leadership team and there’s barely been a peep of leadership speculation.

The increased leadership speculation on the eve of the election reflects two things. Firstly it means that Labor MP’s have accepted that they are going to lose on Saturday and are already planning for what happens next. It also shows that some Labor MP’s don’t care about the negative political consequences of leadership speculation if it helps them win an internal Labor party battle.

We haven’t written this article to feed leadership speculation for the sake of it — Labor MP’s are doing a good enough job of that on their own by leaking self-interested bits of gossip to the media. The fact is the election isn’t over yet. Given how close the race is likely to be in a swag of marginal seats across the country, as well as the Senate, it’s completely bonkers that Labor MP’s would deliberately undermine their own election campaign by leaking leadership stories.

Australia’s system of Parliamentary democracy, as deeply broken and flawed as it is, only really works when we have opposition parties to hold the government to account and provide an alternative. The latest Ipsos poll shows that 50% of 18-24 year olds are voting for the Labor party. They deserve a Labor party that is focused on representing their values and ideals, not a self-interested one that is already obsessing over internal factional feuds before the election is over.

There will probably be a leadership battle in the Labor party after the election. If Albanese wants to challenge Shorten he’s more than entitled to do it. But right now the focus of all Labor MP’s should be on winning the election, not knifing each other in the back. Lift your game.