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Dynamic socialism: how progressives can win back the blue-collar heartlands

In The Guardian (8.2.17), Tim Ayres reproduces his recent speech to the Fabians Society in which he outlines an economic vision for Australia – including low-interest loans for manufacturing investment and an inheritance tax to fund capital grants for young people.

‘I want to start in Abermain. It’s a town of about 2,500 people in the Hunter Valley, about 8km from Cessnock. It started as a coalmining community in the early 20th century and slowly became a commuter town for blue-collar workers in the Hunter industry.

‘It has always been a Labor stronghold but, at last year’s federal election, something shifted. In the federal seat of Paterson, One Nation won 12.8% of the vote – the highest in any seat outside of Queensland. In a result that is surprising but not unique, the majority of One Nation preferences in Paterson went to Labor. In Abermain, they won 16.27%.

‘Once a stronghold of mining, industrial and energy employment, the Hunter Valley now has the second-highest rate of youth unemployment in the country, second only to rural Queensland. Towns like Abermain are the ground zero of Hanson’s appeal and there are plenty of similar blue-collar towns and suburbs across New South Wales.

‘… The rise of Trump and the far right is, I believe, a clarifying moment for the left. In the course of a single year, global politics has been transformed. We live in extraordinary times.’

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