02 August 2010

Lose the strategists, Julia

The latest Newspoll puts Labor’s primary vote at 37 percent. No-one is suggesting that it is a rogue poll.

This means that the great Labor strategists – the Mark Arbibs, Karl Bitars and Bruce Hawkers of this world, the ones who really understand politics – have notched up a remarkable achievement. In under three years they have managed to detach from the Australian Labor Party the entire centre of Australian politics. The party that won a landslide victory in November 2007 and had stratospheric levels of support for two years thereafter is now in a position where only its rusted on supporters – the ones who would vote for the proverbial drover’s dog – are planning to vote for it.

These people actually got paid to do this, and in Mark Arbib’s case got rewarded with Ministerial status (note that I did not say a Ministerial job).

One of the first casualties of this outcome should be the notion that the way to maximise the vote is to promise as little as possible in order to offend as few as possible.  That might work in the western suburbs of Sydney, but nationally it is a bust. Focus group-driven non-policy has nothing to offer.

Indeed the absurd time-buying notion of the Citizens’ Assembly to come to a position on climate change is probably a strategic rather than a tactical error; I for one could never take seriously again anyone who thought that that was a good idea.

The idea of running presidential campaigns also deserves some scrutiny. The Newspoll also shows that 50 percent of the electorate would prefer Julia Gillard over Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, but 13 per cent of those are apparently not planning to vote for the Labor Party.

Now we hear that the geniuses that created this mess are going to rescue Labor’s fortunes by focussing on Tony Abbott, reminding us of what he stands for and things he has said in the past.  They think that the way to make amends for insulting our intelligence up to the present is to insult it in a different way with a negative campaign targeting Tony Abbott. They are so confident that we won’t figure out what is going on they are even talking about it in public.  And as Tony Abbott himself said on Radio National this morning, the real Tony Abbott has been on display in the Federal Parliament for the last sixteen years.

I think that it is a safe assumption that the people who got the Government into this mess cannot get it out of it.

So lose the strategists, Prime Minister, and tell us what you stand for, what your plans for the future of this great country of ours might be. No-one is going to vote for Mark Arbib in a Julia Gillard face-mask.

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