Crisp, LF: Federal Labor Party

LF Crisp

The Australian Federal Labour Party 1901-1951, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1978; first published 1955

Classic account of Labor’s first half century, written by a man who headed a Commonwealth public service department at the age of 32, was a favourite of Prime Minister Chifley, a large figure in the relatively small pond of Canberra ALP politics and an increasingly old-fashioned presence in a modernising Australian National University during the 1970s. But this book and others he wrote were basic texts for a generation of students.

Crisp’s conclusion (p. 298) about Labor’s lack of progress by 1951 towards its then objective (limited public ownership) is interesting for historical reasons. His verdict on some of the reasons for that lack of progress could be seen as timeless: ‘the Party has been infirm of purpose and spirit, spasmodic of effort and perhaps too ill-equipped intellectually in some directions to ensure continuity of success where advances have been initiated’.

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