Missing the Oxygen of Office. "Beyond Belief: What Future for Labor?", by John Button. [review]
John Button’s prognostications on the state of the Labor Party have already attracted substantial discussion. Coming little more than six months after Labor lost the federal election — and also lost a good deal of self-respect — he has caught the moment in the political cycle when doubt sets in. "Beyond Belief" claims that Labor is now at the lowest ebb of its hundred years in Australian politics. As an historical claim, this seems dubious. Its present electoral condition, a few seats short of a majority in the Commonwealth parliament, and holding office in every one of the states and territories, is far stronger than in earlier periods in the wilderness, both between the wars and during the 1950s and 1960s. John Button recalls Jim Cairns holding the faithful at a cold outdoor meeting in 1955; but that was in the aftermath of the Split that kept Labor in the wilderness for a further seventeen years and that led one commentator to ask whether the ALP was doomed to "Labor in Vain"?