Power: Give It & Grow It
Political power doesn’t work the way most people presume.
Underpinning those recommendations of the Bracks/Carr/Faulkner Review rejected by Labor’s National Conference last year and not implemented by National Executive and the Leader (the secret http://bit.ly/tPmRlD and the public http://bit.ly/vlfisv), is the proposition that if the Labor Party is to survive, power must be shared or devolved.
Unconvinced that future political prosperity mandates empowering members, many of Labor’s leaders, warlords and chieftains saw off those proposed reforms, many of which are now before Labor’s State and Territory Conferences.
Most made this decision because they mistakenly equate the empowerment of members with reducing their own power.
In politics, devolving and sharing power don’t necessarily involve reducing your own power, because power doesn’t come out of a single-sized bucket. Giving away your power paradoxiocally grows your power in three ways:
- If you invest some of your power in building everybody’s power, then there’s more to go around, and you should end up with an equivalent or larger piece of a bigger pie. It’s the same logic that drives smart businesses to spend money on training, ostensibly just a cost, but in reality an investment in future success; if you invest your power in things that grow the Party, or improve it’s capacity to win, then you’re not draining your power, your investing in keeping and growing it;
- Investing power in building Labor’s standing in teh community, and electoral success, has the same impact; and
- Australian Labor Party members will acknowledge and reward those who show them respect, who empower them, and who involve them meaningfully. Even a cursory reading of the Bracks/Carr/Faulkner Report will demonstrate that’s what’s sought by members, and the status of any of the leadership figures who deliver can only increase.
Labor Party leaders – Parliamentary and machine – who support the empowerment of members, earn more power for themselves – it’s that simple.
Too many in Labor’s leadership think of political power as a zero-sum system: it’s not, and thinking of it the wrong way is part of what’s killing Labor.