Saturday, January 31, 2009

Michael Duffy, Michael Samaras, State Labor Conferences, Union powers, Tedium and Triantiwontgongolopes

After the most detailed, extensive, exhaustive, rigorous and painfully scientific examination of the data traffic related to this site, it has become painfully clear that the esteemed leadfoot Michael Duffy, columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, is like an albatross around the ancient mariner's neck.

A mere mention of the Duffster causes traffic to drop, people to faint, women to swoon, children to tug at the tails of cats. And yet this eponymous blog is named after this fearless defender of truth. People, as the man in Thank You for Smoking might have said, we have a marketing problem.

So it's come on people, as the sweet ocker loser from Adelaide Lleyton Hewitt, would say, come on. Or maybe it should be come on Duffy come on, because after an absence of a few weeks, he's baaack. But I'm afraid a little vacation, all play and no work, makes Jack a very dull boy indeed. 

Surely 'tis time to get out the good old axe, take a vigorous and hearty chop at all the world's evils, not least Peter Costello turning into a good old Elmer Gantry revivalist. But what does the Duffster do? Write a penetrating and detailed examination of the voting practices in state Labor party conferences: Double vote: a nasty secret that lets cronies control Labor's conference.

Oh no, say it ain't so Duffster, what about the readers? How can you spend an entire column working out that the voting is fixed, rigged, gerrymandered in Labor conferences? D'oh. This is politics baby, Balmain style, with a baseball bat. 

Now take the Liberals - please take the Liberals. They don't even bother with a conference with any class - when John Howard was in power they simply let him, one man, set the key policies and never you mind about this democracy nonsense. (And who can forget that master of state politics Joh Bjelke Petersen or our very own Liberal, run the bastards over, brown paper bag collecting Robin Askin?)

But with a mind numbingly tedious intent, the Duffster marvels at the 'great secret' of the ALP state conference, the double vote which gives 'a cabal of cronies' control, and allows the Duffster a fine flurry of cornball catastrophic conniptions.

"The double vote matters" says the Duffster because "conference matters". Sorry, I'm starting to yawn here. Must grit my teeth. Must face into the howling wind and the blinding snow. Must make it to base. Just a few steps further.

Then the Duffster steals extensively and shamelessly from an article by Michael Samaras, apparently a Labor party member, former staffer and now private sector wonk, who's written a piece on how to reform the party (the Duffy working on the shameless basis that Alan Ramsey used to filch large chunks of copy from others).

The shameless, slackarse Duffy, via his proxy Samaras, goes on to explain how unions dominate proceedings (what, no never, really?), and to moan about the fickleness of human nature and the lack of totally trustworthy sycophants, a deeply disturbing problem for union secretaries.

Samaras wants to reform the conference - reduce the union vote, allow union members to opt out of ALP affiliation, end double voting, inclusion of parliamentary MPs as delegates, the removal of policy and administrative committee members from delegate status, and an increase in the number of delegates from party branches in Labor-held seats (anyone in Liberal held seats can just fuck off, you didn't do your job???).

Sorry, nodding off there a bit are we? Well the Duffy Samara team reserve one last spray for the sad fate of their idols Morris Iemma and Michael Costa, and electricity privatisation, blaming Barrie Unsworth, Michael Egan, Stephen Loosley and Paul Keating, and their 'audacious hypocrisy'. 

It seems these vile, execrable, cankerous, cantankerous right wing Labor rats also abused the wonderful potential of the Labor conference as a free for all experiment in noble human democracy and did nothing to reform it. Duffy even imagines darkly that nothing will happen in the future.

Guys, take a valium. You're dragging the readership of the Herald (and this blog) down into the bog of profound tedium. The only way any political party thinks about reform is when they're voted out and they realise people have noticed the stench emanating from the swamp. There's a simple remedy - give state Labor some time in the wilderness. It required only one line, not a full bloody column pretending you've suddenly discovered what has been well known for years.

Then you could have spent the rest of the article explaining exactly how democratic policy making and conference attending and pre-selection fixing and branch stacking candidate endorsement works so well in the state Liberal party. Or better still, become fixated on Paris Hilton and the tendency to porn worship amongst eastern suburbs captains of industry.

Second thoughts, no, anything but that. Whatever, yes the briar patch, throw me in the briar patch, rather than make me read another Duffy column as tedious as this, be it about Labor bestiality or Liberal miscegenation or Paris Hilton's lack of underwear.

Sorry folks, the ice and the snow, it's all too much. Growing weaker, can't eat. Undemocratic tent pressing down on me. I'm just going outside and may be some time, but before I go, let's do our ritual scoring and it's a humdinger:

For sheer utter tediousness in subject matter and literary form: 11
For a bathetic desire to kick hapless clowns around in a redundant way as they line up like dominoes to fall to the ground at the next election: 11
For using nonsense about democratic reform as a baseball bat (or a piece of 2 x 4) on state Labor when a toothpick would have done the job: 11
For inducing comas in Herald and blog readers around the land: 11
For claiming that somehow Duffy and Alan Ramsey should be co-joined in the one sentence: 0
For sheer triantiwontigongolope weirdness and indifference to human suffering: 11

So at this point, let's conclude with a bit of a poem by that amiable larrikin C. J. Dennis, which might help explain the last scoring point and which reads best if you think of Duffy as the hero, the lead insect:

There's a very funny insect that you do not often spy,
And it isn't quite a spider, and it isn't quite a fly:
It is something like a beetle, and a little like a bee,
But nothing like a wooly grub that climbs upon a tree.
Its name is quite a hard one, but you'll learn it soon, I hope.
So try:

It lives on weeds and wattle-gum, and has a funny face;
Its appetite is hearty, and its manners a disgrace.
When first you come upon it, it will give you quite a scare,
But when you look for it again, you find it isn't there.
And unless you call it softly it will stay away and mope.
So try:

It trembles if you tickle it or tread upon its toes;
It is not an early riser, but it has a snubbish nose.
If you sneer at it, or scold it, it will scuttle off in shame,
But it purrs and purrs quite proudly if you call it by its name,
And offer it some sandwiches of sealing-wax and sopa.
So try:

But of course you haven't seen it; and I truthfully confess
That I haven't seen it either, and I don't know its address.
For there isn't such an insect, though there really might have been
If the trees and grass were purple, and the sky was bottle green.
It's just a little joke of mine, which you'll forgive, I hope.
Oh, try!

Thank you C. J. And Duffster, please learn from him. Or at least try, oh tri, oh triantiwonti ...

No comments: