Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Told you so…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-11-19

Many pundits in the mainstream media have expressed some surprise at the way the Liberals have lost their ability to stay on message, and develop spin that appeals to the electorate.

Given that the team hasn’t changed much, and it’s highly unlikely that they would have lost their abilities, the pundits should consider that the Libs are throwing the match.

More than six months ago (2007-05-08) I raised the possibility that the Libs might want the ALP to win this election, so the ALP got the economic odium when the Howard/Costello mismanagement of the economy strikes home.

The Liberal Party approaches the natural lifespan of 4 or 5 terms of office, and has enough smart strategists to choose opposition at the most advantageous time.

More than three months ago (2007-09-12) I raised the possibility of the Libs spending the most effort in "safe" seats.

What will be very interesting is to see whether Lib spending (either by pork or advertising) is designed to save seats that have under or over a 4% buffer: working to keep marginals in the hope of victory, or merely ensure they maintain blue-ribbon seats to avoid a complete rout and have enough numbers to be a workable opposition party.

My musings seem to have been borne out:

  • The Libs have been poor general campaigners, have focussed on seats with a 5% buffer (e.g. TV advertisements that talk about local candidates in "safe" seats such as Steward McArthur in Corangamite). 
  • The general advertisements seem almost designed to be stale and ignored.

Mind you, it was interesting to see Costello open up a storefront promotional office near the corner of Glenferrie and Wattletree Roads in
Higgins, next door to my local caffeine supplier.  Although Costello has an 8.8% buffer, and is unlikely to lose, he will be trying to avoid becoming too red-faced by the "next Prime Minister" suffering a swing against him.

Higgins is a very interesting seat, as it defied the swing to the government in 2004.  Family first was near the lowest in the country (well below 1%) while the Greens were near the highest (well above 10%).

  • It has a fairly "downmarket" end (Prahran, with housing commission towers, lot’s of pawn shops and electric guitar shops – so you can guess the demographic) that actually swung to the government last time.
  • An extremely wealthy capitalist part (Toorak) that will always vote for the pro-predator party
  • The highly-educated and less wealthy Glenferrie Road end that swung against the government last time because of the "Doctor’s Wives" phenomenon.

I’d imagine that Prahran will swing back strongly to the ALP because of IR issues, while the Malvern end will continue it’s movement to non-ALP non-Liberal parties both in protest at the social and environmental destructiveness of the Liberal Party, and because they realize that the economy is in dire trouble (every newsagent keeps The Economist, Quarterly Essay, Quadrant, Dissent …).

So, it’s an odd election: it’s almost like lefties should be hoping the regressive conservatives win – so the s**t hits the fan while they are in power.


4 Responses to “Told you so…”

  1. Droo said

    An interesting opinion David. However, to my mind, it relies to much on the trope that the Liberals and John Howard are brilliant political strategists and electioneers. I dispute this view and I think there are many who would also disagree – whatever success the LNP have had relied on opportunism and disarray in ALP ranks.

  2. JM said

    “let’s lose this one so the other side will be blamed” is an old trope that comes up every election, often within the ALP as the old stagers put off the arrival of earthly paradise one more time.

    It’s wrong. As one politician once said “s**t happens” (Harold McMillan – his actual words were “events dear boy, events”).

    What matters is that you hold power when the s**t hits and demonstrate how your world view better protects your people than the other side does.

    So you say disaster lies around the corner? Who do you want to handle it? Your side or theirs? Silly question, isn’t it – vote to win.

  3. Dave Bath said

    JM: I’d rather Labor handle the fallout from the US recession. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the economy needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, and that will take 10 years: only the ALP has a program for that.

    I’m not suggesting the ALP should try and lose, but that the Lib strategists and tacticians seem to have lost their skills shown so brilliantly in recent elections, have a long term interest in losing this one. The conjunction seems interesting.

    What I think the ALP should do is outlined within this post.

    Whether individual members have the same interest is moot.

  4. […] (Dave Bath, 2007) […]

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