Very interesting excerpt about the ALP’s first professional campaign director from Stephen Mill’s new book!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Steven Mill’s new book The Professionals (what are you waiting for?) you can enjoy a short excerpt on the rise and fall of Labor’s first party professional Cyril Wyndham on the Inside.org.au website here: http://inside.org.au/the-rise-and-fall-of-labors-first-party-professional/#sthash.13QPtIMP.dpuf
Here’s a short ‘excerpt of the excerpt’:
Wyndham established Labor’s national headquarters in Ainslie Avenue in central Canberra; they were recalled by one journalist as “a small, ratty office suite at the top of the world’s most ancient lift.” The party’s “grand plans for an adequately staffed national secretariat” to support Wyndham were never delivered. In 1967 the full staff complement was “Cyril plus two” secretaries. But Wyndham lived up to the “mighty atom” billing. He was an impeccable shorthand typist and minute keeper, and immediately improved the party’s administrative efficiency. He analysed voting statistics to trace shifts in popular sentiment at national and state level. A fluent pamphleteer, he articulated the party’s case against communism and the National Civic Council, both at the direction of the federal executive, and promoted the party in lengthy articles in public journals. He wrote speakers’ notes, “to see that everyone was speaking the same language in Western Australia and New South Wales.” He also became an articulate internal critic of party attitudes and structures – showing the courage that he had advocated years earlier, no doubt, to advise his employer about right and wrong. In a speech to the Young Labor Association in 1965 he attacked those who “prevaricate our policy, indulge in the futile exercise of factional strife, and behave like a collection of political delinquents.” In 1968 he reportedly told the Labor Women’s Organisation that aspects of the party were “ridiculous, absurd and criminal.” Most ambitiously, he embarked on the difficult and dangerous task of reforming Labor’s antiquated national decision-making structures. The so-called “Wyndham Plan” was a wide-ranging proposal to enlarge and reconstruct the federal conference and the federal executive, provide rank-and-file members with direct input into the federal party, improve party finances, and broaden the party’s appeal to women and young voters. Under the existing rules, it was the executive, not the popularly elected parliamentary leaders, who essentially determined party policy – as had been dramatically highlighted in March 1963, when a special national conference was held to deal with the Liberal government’s proposal for a joint US–Australian military base at North West Cape in Western Australia. Arthur Calwell and his deputy, Gough Whitlam, had addressed the thirty-six delegates at Canberra’s Hotel Kingston, urging them to accept the base, but they had no say in the conference’s deliberations, and no vote. Instead, Calwell and Whitlam were photographed outside the hotel at midnight as they waited to hear the outcome. The Daily Telegraph’s front-page splash condemned the incident as “the all-time nadir of Labor parliamentary leadership.” Menzies coined the “faceless men” tag to deride the powerful and anonymous figures whom he accused of running the Labor Party. A key element of the Wyndham Plan was to include the parliamentary leaders on the federal executive.
And here’s where you can buy the book and enjoy it all at your leisure: http://www.blackincbooks.com/books/professionals