And now it’s time for the last candidate who I will be reviewing for this election! Sean Brocklehurst is one of two Socialist Alliance candidates contesting this election (the other is in Geelong), but since he is the one in my electorate – boy, is he in my electorate, there are flyers everywhere! – he’s the one who gets reviewed this time around.
His tagline is “Community Need, not Corporate Greed”, and he uses it every chance he gets. It’s a good tagline, but it’s reaching drinking-game status in my slightly-obsessed little world…
Since Mr Brocklehurst has his own election site, and since the Socialist Alliance have a *lot* of policies at the federal level, I shall stick to reviewing what Mr Brocklehurst has to say about himself – which, since he has his own website and also appears to be a journalist for Green Left Weekly, is plenty! For a more detailed look at Socialist Alliance policies, I refer you to my review of them earlier this year.
Mr Brocklehurst’s How to Vote Card is much as one might expect – Greens, Labor, Independent Francesco Timpano, Liberal, and Family First. Straight left to right, in other words, in best socialist style.
He attended the Leader’s interview, and expressed his support for duplication of the Upfield line. I’ve been hearing this around a few candidates – is now the time to confess I’m not sure what it means? (I’m guessing that we currently have a single rail up towards Upfield, so that only one train can be in that section at a time, but I might be wrong.)
Mr Brocklehurst also attended the Fair Food Forum in Coburg, where he stressed the need for food justice and to keep the Coles and Woollies duopoly from squeezing out small farmers and small shopkeepers. His priority is sustaining natural resources, and he is opposed to genetically modified organisms. He also wants to prioritise protecting fresh water, and provide funding, resources, and training to farming communities, to help them transition to sustainable agriculture – while also encouraging national agricultural self-sufficiency.
Mr Brocklehust also wants to encourage farming co-operatives, farmers’ markets (yay!), and urban ‘city farms’ and permaculture gardens, to produce more food in cities and large towns, and increase agricultural education in schools and universities. He will also expand projects like Food Bank, develop fair trade policies, increase foreign aid aimed at self-sufficient and sustainable food production practices, and guarantee a living wage for farmers who produce sustainably.
(I think we are back to the sustainability drinking game, here…)
Mr Brocklehust’s blog is quite extensive. He seems to have almost as much difficulty not going on and on about politics as I do… perhaps even more. I’m not sure I can do him justice, but I will try. In his election launch speech, he talks about the history of the unions, and the need for them to be revived in the modern day. He tells us that in the Victorian Election, the Socialist Alliance has five key platform:
1. Opposition to the East West Link. This goes side by side with a major expansion of the public transport network including a railway line to Doncaster and one to the airport, expanded train and bus networks, and more rolling stock. “Public transport should run all the time and be completely free. Building and expanding this network would create many local jobs in construction and manufacturing.”
I love this idea, but I am not entirely convinced of its economic feasibility.
Also on transport, the Socialists want to improve bike infrastructure and – oh my – bring car factories into public ownership and convert them into train, tram and bus factories. Thus, the workers do not lose jobs, sustainable public transport is possible, and we get to stick it to the Man in the form of rich car companies. It’s a win-win-win.
2. Stop privatisation of public housing, and build ‘tens of thousands’ of new public housing blocks.
The Socialist Alliance does not improved of ‘stealth privatisation’ through social housing, which doesn’t offer the same security to tenants, and which also allows associations to pick and choose tenants, often excluding the most disadvantaged.
3. A full reversal of cuts to TAFE, and reopening of all closed TAFE campuses. Is this even possible? Surely some of the TAFE campuses have now been repurposed?
4. Immediate climate action, including shutting down Hazelwood, and building up wind, solar and thermal power.
Mr Brocklehurst and his colleagues are also anti-fracking, and definitely concerned about climate change, which they tell us is “already killing hundreds of people in extreme heatwaves each year”.
5. Reversal of cuts to health and education, and instead expand these sectors.
Unsurprisingly, the Socialist Alliance supports the ambos in their quest for proper pay, castigating the Napthine government as “anti-worker”. I don’t think the Napthine government cares, actually. They are very unhappy with the government offsetting pay rises with loss of working conditions, including requiring country paramedics to agree to be removed to another part of the state for up to a month. In general, the Socialist Alliance is not happy with the Liberal Party’s treatment of workers in the public sector. (If this surprises you, you’ve clearly never read anything written by a socialist…)
I love all these policies, but they do kind of feel like the Greens on speed. With a bit more of a traditional working-class, we-the-people sort of slant. The weirdest moment is the part where they want public housing to be available to anyone who wants it, not just the very poor. I’m not sure I understand why or how that would work – perhaps I’m just not socialist enough.
Moving away from the five key policies, we have a few other bits and pieces both from Mr Brocklehurst’s blog and from the Green Left Weekly.
Mr Brocklehurst expresses solidarity with Kurdish Resistance fighters against the Islamic State, and is concerned that Turkey has opened its borders to ISIS but not to the Kurds. He is also inspired by developments in liberated Rojava, which sounds like an egalitarian paradise:
We have seen a glimpse of a new world there as communities have organised themselves democratically, inclusively and without religious or ethnic exclusivity, and revolutionising relations between the genders in the process. The high proportion of women in the Kurdish resistance is not coincidence. It reflects that feminism is, along with other progressive values, part of the Kurdish revolution. This revolution has withstood violent attempts by the Syrian government to crush it and aggression from other opposition forces. For it to be annihilated by the IS, who are small-minded intolerant thugs manipulated by imperialist interests, would be a tragedy for the whole of humanity.
I have to say, I have absolutely no idea about the politics of all this, but it does give you a feel for Mr Brocklehurst’s values.
The Socialist Alliance and Mr Brocklehurst support the Reclaim the Night marches, and released a statement on sexism and domestic violence, which they are against. And which they feel is fostered by Capitalism, bless their Socialist hearts:
Capitalism fosters the oppression of women. Unequal pay and the fact that women still do most the unpaid labour of raising the next generation of workers mean extra profits for big business. Politicians promote the traditional family and the corporate media sell sexist, exploitative images of women. Girls are sexualised from a very young age.
Stereotypes abound that assign men power, aggression and dominance and portray women as passive, submissive and subordinate. In this social context some men see women as their property to use and abuse.
I think they do actually have a point about sexism and oppression being systemic issues rather than individual ones, but I’m not sure capitalism is the key driver here. Sexism has been around a lot longer than capitalism has.
The Socialist Alliance advocates an educational approach rather than a punitive one, and wants to put resources into better street lighting, late night buses and family violence services.
Brocklehurst has also written several articles slamming East West Link and Tony Abbott’s selective approach to corruption – he feels that the Government goes all out to prosecute unions for possible corruption, but has no interest in a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank “to investigate how thousands of people were stripped of their life savings as a result of fraud by dodgy financial planners working for the bank,” or into building companies that routinely underpay workers or shut down without paying workers and then start up as a new company.
He feels the Government is out to break the unions in general, and I think he probably has a point.
And here I will stop, because really, I could go on all night in this vein, and I think you get the picture. Which is a very consistently socialist one, painted in shades of red with just a few highlights in green… Sean Brocklehurst is pro-worker, pro-environment, and pro-public transport, which are all big ticks for me. While I am dubious about the whole capitalism / sexism connection, he does get points for understanding that sexism is systemic. I’m not sure whether he’s going to get my vote ahead of the Greens, but he’s certainly going to be in my top two on Saturday.