Kate Lundy: supported Bill Shorten. Photo: Jay Cronan
The names Linda Kirk and Kate Lundy mean very little to most Australians.
Both women have been lucky enough to represent the ALP in the Senate; both have been demoted for getting the answer right on the Labor leadership.
It is true that the absolute discipline that characterised the bad old days of Labor has weakened.
Kirk's sin was to defy Right faction instructions and support the Kevin Rudd-Julia Gillard challenge against Kim Beazley in 2006. Labor went on to win the 2007 election under the leadership she favoured.
For her superior reading of voter sentiment, Kirk lost her job.
Lundy, a gifted communicator and a minister in Gillard's government, is the latest example of Labor's outdated factional churlishness. She backed Bill Shorten as leader while her faction, the Left, backed Anthony Albanese. For that, and even though Shorten was successful, she has been denied a place on his frontbench.
Tanya Plibersek, on the other hand, backed Albanese, and she was promoted to deputy leader - Shorten's deputy leader.
If you think factions and their capricious power are a thing of the past, think again.
It has been correctly pointed out that Shorten would not have won if caucus votes had been in line with strict factional allegiance, because the Right's parliamentary majority would not have been enough on its own to account for the 60 per cent support for Albanese by Labor's rank-and-file members.
Nonetheless, Shorten's win was the direct result of a strong factional order, particularly within the Right, which largely held together and benefited from a sizeable breakaway of Left mavericks.
It is true that the absolute discipline that characterised the bad old days of Labor has weakened, but it is also true that Shorten was able to rely on factional lieutenants to marshal all but the very last few votes needed to prevail.
That factional fraying got Shorten elected.
In changes agreed to under Rudd (mark II), selection of the frontbench has been returned from the party leader to the caucus.
That was part of a re-democratisation drive, yet it has actually re-energised the factions, which promptly set to work carving up the meagre spoils of opposition - such as they are.