The Liberal party finally has something to celebrate, with their most senior elected official, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman winning re-election easily and the Liberals getting a majority on the City Council for the first time in many years. But despite this story in the Oz, the news is not all good for the Liberal brand.
* Newman’s success was largely a reflection of his personal popularity. A good point for the Libs is that this popularity is largely due to his promise to fix traffic congestion through road and tunnel projects, an issue the Liberals probably have an advantage on in general. A less good point is that it remains to be seen if the plans will work – this approach hasn’t been hugely successful elsewhere
* In Townsville, Labor copped a hiding but the conservative candidate Les Tyrell didn’t run under the Liberal label
* In the Gold Coast mayoral election, the Liberal Party spent a fortune but their candidate finished third with 26 per cent of the vote. There’s an outside chance that he could get up thanks to the vagaries of preferences but it looks pretty unlikely. Joe Hockey calls this a “great result” but if so, I’d hate to see a bad one.
All of this is relevant to the issue of whether the Liberals and Nationals should merge under a new name. I suggested the day after the election that this was inevitable, and copped some flak for it, but the idea of a merger is certainly alive now.
The remaining objection to a merger with a new name is that it would lose the value attached to the Liberal “brand”. My reading of the council election results is that this value is either zero or negative. Popular conservative candidates can win without the Liberal name. On the other hand, even in natural Liberal territory like the Gold Coast, the party label alone can barely attract a quarter of the votes even with a big advertising push.
Given general agreement that the obvious choices of NatLib and LibNat are uninspiring at best, I’ll throw it open to readers to suggest a new name for the merged party. The winning entry as judged by me will be announced in a later post.