Big and small targets
Tim Dunlop has raised the question of whether there are enough reasons to vote Labor, and the related question of whether Latham has adopted a small target strategy. Having taken the “Anybody But Beazley” line in response to the last round of the small target strategy, the latter idea is really scary.
In general terms, the notion of a small target strategy is refuted by Latham’s stance on Iraq, which I support. I think the occupation is now doing more harm than good and needs to be brought to a conclusion, or at least greatly scaled down, in the near future. Elections should be held before the end of the year, which would fit Latham’s timetable neatly.
More generally, I think the current talk of a small target strategy is due in part to the fact that Labor hasn’t gone after the government aggressively over Iraq, or even the travel scandal. This is a sound tactical decision, and doesn’t necessarily imply a small target strategy.
The big problem relates to tax and public expenditure and here the problem is not so much that Labor has a small target strategy as that it doesn’t have an agreed strategy at all. This is not surprising in itself, since, except at election time, the natural tendency of opposition is to say nice things to everybody without worrying about the budget constraint. But this won’t work well at an election. Labor needs to decide what it stands for, in particular on the general relationship between tax and services. I’ll be putting forward some proposals on this soon.
If it isn’t obvious, since the shameful events of 2001 (Tampa, SIEV X, Children overboard), there is nothing that would induce me to put this government anywhere other than last on my ticket. But I certainly hope for more from Labor than the almost-equally shameful capitulation we saw last time around.