Lost in the hub-hub of Labor’s National Conference was an election result which lays bare the true state of Australia’s oldest political party. The historian Troy Bramston has reported that in the ballot for Labor’s national presidency only 11,665 party members bothered to vote. This represents an average of 78 members for each Federal electorate, evidence of how the ALP has become a virtual party, its grassroots crushed by the concentration of power in the hands of union-based factional chiefs. Its traditional strength, the network of activists in working-class communities, has evaporated.The ballot also raises the question of what happened to the other 20,000 members supposedly on Labor’s books. In his role as a born-again democrat prior to the National Conference, Kevin Rudd repeatedly called for the party to ‘open its doors to the 35,000 members who make up our heart, our hands and our soul’.