Learning from my mistakes

If you engage in commentary for an extended time on any issue, but particularly on politics, you’re bound to get things wrong. In such cases, there are a few options. The most common is to double down, grasping at any straw that will justify your original claim. Another is to wait; the world is so changeable that a prediction that seemed laughably wrong at one time may turn out correct after all. But, mostly the best thing is to learn from your mistakes.

I’ve made a few mistakes, but the one that I’ve been picked up on most is my prediction, in 2007, that

The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.”

Of course, this wasn’t meant to be taken at face value. I went on immediately to say that

This isn’t a prediction of unending Labor rule, rather an observation that the Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.

I thought the obvious solution was a merger, as in fact happened in Queensland not long afterwards. But my many friends in the Murdoch Press and the rightwing blogosphere have taken great delight in quoting the first sentence out of context. Given that the Liberals have yet to win their election, I followed the waiting strategy, waiting to see whether the turn of events (and the fact that my characterization of the Libs and Nats remains entirely accurate) might validate the prediction after all. But, after the events of the last week, I think it’s time to admit error.

What lessons should I learn from this?

First, never try to be cute on the Internetz, unless you’re a cat. I could have written a straight post suggesting a merger and it would long since have been forgotten. I knew perfectly well that Newscorp and its allies are shameless liars, and that their readers are utterly gullible (provided that what they are reading confirms their prejudices) and I handed them a stick to beat me with. I’ll avoid paradox in future.

Second, never underestimate the capacity of the Labor Party for suicidal stupidity. At the time I wrote the post, Labor seemed safe for two or more terms everywhere but NSW. Instead we saw
* WA Premier Carpenter revoke the ban on dealings with Brian Burke, leading to immediate disaster
* Privatisation campaigns in both NSW and Queensland
* The dumping of Nathan Rees (NSW Labor’s last hope) in favor of Tripodi-Obeid puppet Kristina Keneally
and, most disastrously of all,
* The coup against Kevin Rudd. The march of folly has continued to the very end, with a majority of the Parliamentary Party confirming, for the second time, that they would rather give Tony Abbott control of both houses of Parliament, and, in many cases, lose their own seats, than break with the failed leadership of Julia Gillard. The many (now former) Labor MPs in Queensland who marched straight over the electoral cliff with Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser seem to have set the pattern here

92 thoughts on “Learning from my mistakes

  1. The theme of rash predictions could be proved yet again if Gillard is re-elected. Federal LNP have yet to convince the public their costings and policies are sound. If the public doesn’t care about this until after the election then the Abbott government may be a oncer. (or is it ‘an oncer’?) An abrupt hiatus may actually help the centre left long term.

  2. I certainly hope that Abbott will be a oncer, and I agree that most Australians would prefer “neither of the above”. But the bookies have Abbott at 5/1 on, and that’s a generous estimate of Labor’s chances, I think.

  3. Rudd should make good use of the autumn break: spend it forming his own political party. A moderate, progressive, social democratic party (three schools of thought which Gillard explicitly disowned recently, so why not?) in which there are no formal affiliations with unions or any other lobby groups, candidates for Parliament are selected through primaries, overt factional groupings are banned with caucus choosing the ministry via a totally secret ballot, and the leader is chosen by anyone who holds party membership. He could sell it as “the party that the ALP used to be, but sadly is clearly incapable of ever being again”. The main policy platform could consist of things such as an Emissions Trading Scheme of the sort proposed in 2007, the Resources Super Profit Tax, a return to onshore processing of asylum seekers, genuine pokies reform, and possibly same-sex marriage. Disillusioned Laborites like Faulkner may well follow him into this new party, and it could be potentially be a catalyst for Tanner and/or McKew to run for Parliament again, which would lend the exercise more credibility. I know that the hundred-year-old institutional inertia propping up the big two parties is difficult to overcome, but surely the current national mood is such that a party as I have suggested could at the very least perform quite decently at the election?

  4. Labor has spent all it’s time trying to be Conservative, but not quite neo-con/Tea Party-like, but well on the way.

    In the words of the great Groucho Marx; these are my principles, if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

  5. thanks for your reflections, its nice to feel less alone. i wonder what will happen with albanese. will he go or will he stay? what will it signify? -a.v.

  6. Maybe the Coalition is the natural party of Government for Australia, at least at the federal level. The Hawke-Keating years were possibly an exception and such exceptions maybe only occur once every century or so.

    Abbott will romp home. Pollbludger tracks the parties at Coalition 54.7% ALP 45.3% with the Coalition having a 40 seat majority in the lower house.

    With Labor imploding amidst the stench of corruption and incompetence (at least in the eye of the public), Abbott can look forward to three or four terms as Prime Minister.

    I doubt we’ll see another ALP led federal government until about 2025.

    The only thing that will upset my prediction, I reckon, would be

    (a) the Coalition doing something that seriously frightens the horses, like a new Work Choices, or

    (b) the Coalition sending the economy into a deep recession through a harebrained expansionary austerity program.

  7. JQ – The Internet isn’t generally tolerant of nuance. And I must admit this prediction of yours was a stick I used to whack you with until I realised that your prediction was more subtle. So my apology. I’ll try to whack you with something more accurate in future. 🙂

  8. John, I think your biggest error was to endorse Rudd. He was a disastrous PM and has been rejected overwhelmingly by his party 3 times. This is a good summary of Rudd:

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/beyond-the-kinginexile-20130322-2gl70.html

    The depth of his incompetence is illustrated by his antics up to the current leadership spill. He has undermined the government at every turn for the last year, wanted to be PM again but couldn’t organise Julia’s execution. As Latham (and others) have pointed out, his core problem is his arrogance – he simply refuses to believe that his own party overwhelmingly detests him. They overwhelmingly do.

    Martin Ferguson, one of the Ruddites and a former ACTU leader, this morning was criticising the mining tax as “class warfare”. More sound Labor Party criticism of Gillard? His mates (Crean, Fitzgibbon) also need some reality checking.

  9. I look back at when the alp courted the media, pollies became PR machines with slick campaigns that won voters over and over. But that’s when it started to go wrong; in return the media thought they were politicians.

    Time for the alp to step back and not worry about the media, it’s been a losing game.

  10. @Mel I don’t know how you can say that, the economy is the envy of the world and Abbott can only promise austerity.

  11. @rog

    Yeah Rog, learn to read:

    With Labor imploding amidst the stench of corruption and incompetence (at least in the eye of the public),…

    oh, sorry, you obviously can read.

  12. hmm, that didn’t come out properly.

    Anyways, in a post about not making bold predictions on the internet, one would think ppl wouldn’t go for yet more overly bold predictions. In this case, the liberals are perfectly capable of electorial suicide just like labor is. Note the recent replacements of two premiers. In the case of the victorian premier he was rolled for the exact same reason that Rudd was, low polling and being not liked by his party.

  13. Pr Q concedes:

    I’ve made a few mistakes, but the one that I’ve been picked up on most is my prediction, in 2007, that

    The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.

    It’s good to see Pr Q utter the magic three words “I was wrong”. However he can’t resist the temptation to add an ex to his culpa. It wouldn’t matter how mendacious the Murdoch press writers or gullible it’s readers, the prediction of a federal L/NP merger was wrong in principle. [1]

    The critical error is the allegation that the Liberal Party is the weak link in the Coalition when it’s obvious that its the National Party which is the weakest link. The NP has been in secular decline since 1975. So any merger of Coalition partners is really an acquisition by the LP of the NP.

    As I pointed out at the time:

    The L/NP will continue to survive in more or less its present form at the federal level. This is because its conservative “corporalist” position on cultural identity is tending to become more, not less, popular with the mainstream electorate.
    It may well be that the NP will merge with the LP. But this will be a sign of the relative weakness of the NP due to urbanization (eg QLD). It does not really prove that the LP is getting weaker. Quite the opposite, in fact.
    There are four more state elections to be held before the next NSW election in 2011. THese will be in QLD, SA, TAS and VIC. The ALP is currently dominant in all four jurisdictions.
    Nevertheless I am willing to put $100 down that the L/NP in some shape or form will win one of these electaral contests before the decade is out. A neat merger b/w the partie counts as the Coalition by pretty much the same name. A UAP style implosion counts as a win to the Quiggin thesis.


    I was right.
    More generally, given the median voter theory, AUSs entrenched electoral duopoly and homogenous political culture its a category mistake to assert the inability of the traditional Right-wing parties to muster sufficient voters, candidates or ideas to hold their ground. The voters, candidates & ideas will expand to fill the political space available for them. And there is always political space for a Centre-Right party given the aspirational economic culture & silly cultural identity politics on offer from the Left.

    [1] To pick a nit, the Liberal Party has never won a federal election by itself to begin with. It’s always won in coalition with the Country or National Party.

  14. JQ ; your (sortof ) humillity is kind of endeering ;- (you too terje ) .

    We need media reform. I read a bit of media watchdog J Disneys Finklestine submission (which was put in terms of maximising freedom via minimal additional regulation). I liked his logic and it should have wide appeal ( i think i made a good reading of it ). I was left feeling (maybe embarrasingly ? (see i can do it too ! )) surprised that good logic like that was anywhere near the politico/mainstream media world . I feel at a loss to explain the gulf between the presence of his submission and the media coverage (excepting some parts of the internet ). Maybe i am not cynical enough .

    Circumstances may be right for the emergence of a Blow up the Focal Groupes style party after the gfc comes here to roost and Abbot finds solace for us in austerity . Katter s party will test the waters to a degree next election .

  15. I’m always amused by how people call a 55/45 result a ‘landslide’. It may look like that in terms of seats, and of course the winning side, with the media, loves beating that up; but always remember that whichever side you support, ALMOST HALF the population – mostly decent people, some of them your friends and relatives** – support the other side. Let us be glad that in this country we can live with diverse views reasonably peacefully.

    ** unless you are unfortunate enough to live in a total echo chamber.

  16. @hc
    I agree with HC on Rudd, who I could not stand because of his encouragement of the growth lobby and elevation of their professional talking heads to pseudo intelligentsia positions in his Australia 2010 conference (or whatever it was – I may even have the year wrong).

    The Murdoch press, closely followed by the Fairfax Press, and the ABC, which mostly just apes Murdoch, have been down on Julia since the day she won. I can see why: the mining tax, Greenhouse tax and, most of all, media regulation. They must be worried that she is serious about her job.

    My conclusion is that there must be something really good about Julia Gillard if the mass media hate her so much. The mass media want to run the country and actually almost do. If Julia Gillard can ultimately win despite them, that will be a very sweet victory for all of us. We might then have a government that remembers the electorate, rather than plays to the frankly troglodyte mass media.

    My view.

  17. always remember that whichever side you support, ALMOST HALF the population – mostly decent people, some of them your friends and relatives** – support the other side.

    We hate the politicians so we don’t have to hate our friends, relatives and neighbours. In essence the politicians are the whipping boy for our friends, relatives and neighbours. We punish by proxy.

  18. The obediance of Labor politicians in NSW, QLD and soon Canberra in following their factional bosses orders (it is obviously not just Gillard) to jump off a cliff is insightful in itself. It highlights the damger of machine poliics. Evidently many Labor politicians are factional appointees that have spnt their entire careers in the machine. Whether as union officials, party officials, IR lawyers, or as politicians, many have had no other career. They have no other options. So they dare not oppose their factional bosses, whom they presumably trust to find them a job somewhere else in the machine if their political career fails.

    Sadly this cynical and self serving attitude seems to work. Mike Kaiser strikes me as a textbook case. He gained a safe seat while young, then lost it due to his own corruption of the electoral process. He was unelectable by age 35 yet a string of well paid party positions followed, topped off by a senior job in the NBN company, even though he has never actually worked as an electrical engineer. Now he is on over $300k per year.

    The point is – no wonder the factionally appointed MPs blindly follow. It pays to stay in the tribe.

  19. @Socrates

    Possibly O/T, but you did mention ALP and NBN and corruption:

    Gillard appointed a very, very “inside” Murdoch person to the chair of NBN this week.

    Unless you read the Financial Review you probably wouldn’t have heard about that.

    Further to Sheila’s point: Why? Well, as she points out, ABC is simply Murdoch ads without any other ads to compete, and the rest of Fairfax is mostly wishing it could work for Rupert and ends up doing so by poor repetition, anyway.

    As I’ve said previously – Everything that happens after the 2013 election is the fault of the ALP. If they hadn’t abandoned any semblence of democratic governance we wouldn’t be in this place.

  20. I wonder if Gillard’s apparent ‘toughness’ will be viewed in a different light after the looming electoral massacre. No doubt her backers will be able to explain to the thousands and thousands of sacked officials (amongst the other victims of an incoming Abbott government) what a brilliant leader she was.

    Of course the original sin was the idiotic decision to remove Rudd in 2010. The arrogant self-indulgence of the backroom dealers fatally compromised the political position of an otherwise effective government.

  21. @Sheila Newman It may well be that voting for a PM (and we need a proper presidential style election to address this anomaly) is not wholly dependent on policy. For example John Howard developed an edge over both Beazely and Latham, not based on policy but on overall perception of competency. In these instances and others (Tampa) the media played a critical role.

  22. The reason government flip-flops from Lab to Lib and back again in Australa is that the parties are no different anymore on major policy. The public desperately keeps changing government trying to find a party that won’t sell off everything, won’t give the mining magnates everything and won’t keep screwing workers into the dust.

    Prof. J.Q’s. essential mistake was to predict stasis in such a mono-policy political-verse where flip-flops in election results are the public’s desperate and failed attempts to get any policy change at all away from neoclassical, neoconservative, economic rationalist policies.

    The real mistake of Labor was to cease being Labor. They ceased being a party for the worker and became another party for the capitalists, especially mining capitalists. This happened from Hawke/Keating onwards. Australia used to be different from the USA. Now we are becoming much more like the USA, much to our detriment. This means for example we have two right wing parties whose economic policies are nearly identical.

    But you can’t out-Tory the Tories and you’d be crazy to try. They actually believe all their loony, denialist and callous stuff. Born-again Tories (New Labor) deep down don’t quite believe all that stuff and it shows.

    The change from Rudd was a disaster. Gillard is a disaster. She believes in nothing except expediency. She has sold out to capital, mining capital in particular. Gillard has no principles and is a complete liar.

  23. I would agree with many of the criticisms of Gillard but it is not only her. Look at Conroy – after the internet filter and now the media laws fiasco, how does he keep his job? The answer is simple. Factional allies are never sacked, regardless of incompetence, and those outside the faction are always discarded. Consider the Thompson and Obeid cases too.

    Returning to JQs original mea culpa, I respect his honesty. In hindsight, this all illustrates the cyclical nature of politics. Badly performing parties get turfed out, their corrupt elements are removed (except in NSW!) and gain traction when the government falters. Popular governments attract cynical careerists, become compromised, and eventually lose their appeal. There seems little or no ideological basis to it any more. It is all about individuals, their careers and their allegiances. As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This applies inside unions as well as governments.

  24. Getting back to the original theme of the post…

    PrQ, your experience is much the same as mine. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the current crop of conservatives have a tendency to attract those with a more limited capacity for debate and rational thought. Remember, one of their most cherished tropes is a large, hot-blooded passionate loudmouth shouting at a cowering left-wing intellectual and calling that a discourse. Despicable example here.

    Tactics such as nuance, humour, and acknowledging the weak points of your argument in which more research is required just don’t work. You need to lay things out very simply and clearly, you need to make sure you get things right the first time around, you need to attack the opponent’s ideas rather than defending your own thesis, and you can never concede a single point as weakness to them is like blood in the water to sharks.

  25. I have said it before: PrQ, if you really want to see Labor not lose an election as badly as it might, you would be better off writing about public misperceptions about that state of the economy, the carbon pricing, etc, rather than bemoaning that not enough people within Labor will agree with you and replace one PM with another.

    God knows that there is not much being written along those lines in the mainstream press while its political coverage is completely dominated by leadership issues.

    It seems to me that mainstream economists views about the state of play are simply not being heard.

  26. @Tyler
    Toughness when seen as totally self-interested can be another word for stubbornness, or tone-deafness. Here’s my cheap prediction: if G can’t narrow the gap substantially leading up to the election, the strongarm men will pressure G to step down and Chris Bowen will be drafted, as acceptable to the G supporters, and representing the R supporters. I don’t think MPs will march over the cliff for the “principle” of G’s right to lead the party – the verdict on any leader’s performance is can they win the election.

  27. Rudd is more interested in wreaking revenge than in regaining the leadership. It was obvious last week that it isn’t just Julia Gillard who is in his sights. That he hung his so called supporters out to dry last week after Joel Fitzgibbon worked all week to get the leadership issue to overwhelm all other matters in the press shows how unfit he is for that leadership role.

    He could have said I will not run so don’t take the risk. That would have allowed the important matters of Thursday to be given the publicity they deserve – the apology to the mothers whose babies were stolen, Harmony Day where we celebrate the multicultural nature of Australia and the passage of the NDIS. However their egos were given full rein and so the whole thing blew up in their faces. I doubt his popularity is as high this week.

    I blame the whole party but especially the plotters who are so focussed on the leadership that they fail to acknowledge their own roles in Labor’s electoral fortunes. Judging by Fitzgibbon, Crean, Ferguson et al there doesn’t seem to be any end to the lack of introspection by those fellows who only need to look in the mirror to see Labor’s failures to sell their policies. The clean out at Federal level may be what the party needs to stop the damaging leaks from Cabinet and therefore allow for discussion of policy rather than announce and defend as in the media policy.

    As for predictions about the future of the LNP there will always be big money to support them as big business and big media support those who will serve their interests. In the days of mass media and manipulation the effectiveness of this can never be underestimated.

    Rudd won in 2007 because many thousands of people were mobilised to donate funds and time and effort to his election as PM – something he has barely acknowledged. Even if, despite his treachery Rudd was drafted again to the leadership it would be hard to get that level of support again. Many of those workers were left underwhelmed as the result of their efforts.

    The catalyst in 2007 was Workchoices and despite the Lib/Nats supposedly having them dead, buried and cremated they are very likely to rise from the dead, especially if they gain control of the senate. Zombies are still out there now. This could have a significant impact on the length of a future government.

  28. @Jill Rush

    “Even if, despite his treachery”

    On what possible basis can you accuse Rudd of treachery, while exonerating Gillard?

    Either it’s OK to organise against the existing leader, or it isn’t. The difference is that Gillard’s coup has proved electorally disastrous, while a return to Rudd might have given Labor a chance.

  29. @John Quiggin

    On what possible basis can you accuse Rudd of treachery, while exonerating Gillard? Either it’s OK to organise against the existing leader, or it isn’t.

    The two are hardly in the same category. In Gillard’s case, Rudd had lost almost all support but especially from the right, which had hitherto been the difference between him and Gillard running against Howard. As far as can be told, there was no prior campaign of leaking and backgrounding against him prior to his ouster (by those who came to support Gillard).

    Rudd’s camp with either his express or tacit approval have been very different and have never stopped backgrounding, even post February 2011. They were trying to engineer a situation in which only Rudd could lead because the PM could not win. They were trying to render the preference of caucus moot — in effect saying — “give me the job or I’ll wreck the joint”. In a way, he has the same view as Abbott. He doesn’t care about policy — he just wants to sit in the big chair.

    Unsurprisingly, this attitude has not been well-received within caucus and now he has allowed even his faithful dupes to twist in the wind.

  30. Wendy Harmer has an interesting take on where Abbott’s policies might come from in the event that he is elected. People should be afraid:

  31. What should have happened: JG should have resigned, and done so “for the Good of Labor, and for all those who desperately want to avoid the Austerian Horros Abbott & Co. will certainly suply.” She would have invigorated Labor by showing, in the clearest way, that the good of Australia and Australians mattered more than personal vanity – indeed a vanity now so obvious all consuming that Labor will be luicky to get 30% of the primary vote. To paraphrase Gough: Nothing will (now) save the Labor Party.

  32. “In Gillard’s case, Rudd had lost almost all support”

    Within the Parliamentary Labor Party, maybe. But don’t ordinary Australians have any say in your model? After all, they’re going to have their say in September (or earlier), and it won’t be pretty.

    Gillard’s failures are her own, starting on Day 1 with “cash for clunkers” and the Citizens Assembly, and running right through to today, with 457 demagoguery and the botched media reforms. If she commanded strong public support, background briefings from a former leader would count for nothing. As it is, every mistake she makes reminds the voters that she displaced the leader they voted for, without any warning, and having already undermined him by demanding the dumping of the CPRS.

  33. “Wendy Harmer has an interesting take on where Abbott’s policies might come from in the event that he is elected. People should be afraid:”

    But, apparently, not afraid enough to take the only course of action that had any chance of stopping him. I am afraid enough, and would support any leader I thought could beat Abbott.

    https://johnquiggin.com/2013/02/18/who-wants-abbott-pm/

  34. @John Quiggin

    Simon Crean has, in effect, accused Rudd of treachery, although it appears Crean was not dealing with Rudd but with Bowen. Is this treachery – once removed?

    Rudd’s statement that he would abide by his original position was made extraordinarily late for such a supposed principled stand. He could have quashed these shenanigans months and months ago.

    Treachery is not treachery if it is accepted by the majority. This is what Gillard did.

    Treachery is covertly going against a overtly (ie publicly) stated position for private gain.

    Maybe the treachery emanated from Tony Windsor’s millionaire cousin – Bruce Hawker.

  35. @Prof Q – I don’t believe I did exonerate Julia Gillard. What I said is that Rudd behaved treacherously towards those who supported him. He should have told them that he wouldn’t stand in a leadership contest so there was no point in organising a leadership battle that would only damage the party without changing the leader. It seems as if he is working to bring down the whole of the Labor Party if he can’t be leader.

  36. @Jill Rush

    Sure, as long as it was clear that a majority or a near-majority of Caucus was going to back Gillard to the end, Rudd should have bowed out earlier. But, AFAICT, it wasn’t clear until after Crean had spoken.

    But this is a second-order issue. It’s Gillard’s conduct that matters most here, and on that you’ve been silent. With or without Rudd, Gillard is going to be crushed by Tony Abbott. If she cared in the slightest for Labor or Australia she would resign and let the Caucus pick the leader they thought had the best chance.

  37. @ Prof Q In addition Rudd has fatally compromised his own chances now because caucus will be very shy of him having watched his actions. Like much of the commentariat though, there seems to be a fundamental dislike of Julia Gillard by blokes who struggle with having a woman in charge and making mistakes, like every other leader before her, which means that any mistake that is made is amplified, while every success is ignored.

    The blokes will deny it but the emotive responses are beyond reason. Despite the rumblings last week she still scored significant victories, although it won’t be put that way in any paper as Rudd’s deputies made sure that they drowned them out and Murdoch’s and Rinehart’s press like it that way There certainly appears to be a strong double standard at play. We should continue to ignore the economy and the employment rate as it doesn’t fit in with the story. (This is not an exoneration but a more balanced opinion).

  38. “Like much of the commentariat though, there seems to be a fundamental dislike of Julia Gillard by blokes who struggle with having a woman in charge”

    This claim, I think, gets to the crux of things. Every Australian state & territory, except SA has had a woman as Premier/Chief Minister, and most, including SA have had a woman as Opposition leader as well. We’ve had women as governors, a woman GG, and High Court judges. Their fortunes have varied, as political fortunes do, but I haven’t seen any suggestion that attitudes to these leaders have been determined primarily by gender. Yet political support for Gillard is predicated entirely (AFAICT) on the fact that she is a woman and that some (by no means all) of those who oppose her use misogynistic attacks.

    A gender-based strategy would be fine if the majority of Australian women supported Gillard. They don’t. There’s a gender gap in attitudes (which predates her – women have been more favorable to Labor for years), but it’s only about 5 per cent. The government is going to be crushed by both male and female voters.

  39. If this is to believed someone else has changed their mind. After battering the alp on debt and surpluses Abbott could switch to a Keynesian approach, which would leave the alp totally at sea.

  40. @John Quiggin

    Agreed, this misogynist claim is wrong. People want to be careful they don’t start following a “my gender right or wrong” approach.The problem with Gillard is she is a liar, a backstabber, a traitor, an oligarchs’ sycophant and a very maladroit politician. Plenty of male politicians are that too but Julia Gillard is a particularly egregious example.

    She hasn’t really wrecked Labor though. She can’t be blamed for that. Labor wrecked themselves (or started the process) in the Hawke/Keating era when they became ersatz Tories. Hawke and Keating sniffed the wind and changed with it. They lacked a core committment to real worker values. Maybe Hawke had it once but he lost it progressively.

    When will Labor realise that (1) Tory and neocon policies are wrong economically and morally and (2) no good comes of trying to be pseudo-Tories. I mean what’s the point? Don’t they realise the need to adhere to principles and to differentiate themselves? But I rave. Labor are too far gone. Irredeemable.

  41. The attacks on Gillard from the left are hardly gendered, she gets a very easy ride for her role in the Rudd Govt (lets not forget it was her/swan who were strongly pushing against the ETS) followed up by the decision to take advantage of the aggressive mining tax campaign to stab rudd in the back.

    In Govt she has pushed a few good policies, though really the Carbon Tax is the only one that she has effectively ‘bedded down’. To balance this we’ve seen the disgraceful shift to the far-right on asylum seekers and disgraceful ‘savings’ measures like the changes to the welfare payments of single parents. If the alternative wasn’t so dreadful there’d be very little sympathy for this supposedly ‘labor’ government.

    The great missed opportunity is still a chastened, re-elected Rudd government with a much more manageable senate. At this point Gillard’s greatest ‘achievement’ may be utterly conceding the case against the pacific solution, that backflip will haunt Australia for years and years to come.

  42. The big and maybe only difference between LNP and ALP is that of wealth distribution, and perceptions of. Somehow a majority of the electorate have identified themselves as being with the “haves” and they don’t want to lose what they have, or think they have. The LNP have succeeded in representing more of the haves than the ALP (this representation is more than likely a misrepresentation).

    You can forget climate change, poverty, education, health, equality, justice and war – the overarching message, the one with the biggest hooks, is Tax, Waste and Debt and the LNP is winning that one. Despite the ALP establishing their economic credentials they have lost control of the narrative.

  43. @rog

    You have to accept that the majority of Australians are fearful of chaotic immigration.

    Which is why a progressive party would

    a) distinguish asylum from immigration
    b) avoid demonising asylum seekers by locking them up behind razor wire in remote places so as to make them seem more threatening and to deny them the kind of access to media that might make them seem like humans rather than an undifferentiated mass of human-like locusts
    c) argue the case strongly for asylum from first principles; avoid pandering to “laura norder” using terms like “people smugglers business model” and “scum of the earth”

  44. @Fran,
    You are right Fran – there does need to be a distinction made. 457 visas do need to be discussed.

    While some blokes may not like to admit it, gender will feature strongly in the coming campaign. Some women have just adopted the “Get Gillard” campaign of their husbands, brothers and fathers but many of those same women are uneasy at the seeming bullying that is going on right throughout politics.

    The reaction to remarks about the rape of a six year old girl and the complete disrespect for Julia Gillard by Alan Jones offend the decency of women and men are saying little about it. This is one of the main reasons why media reform is so urgent – women are subjected to things that wouldn’t be expected of any man. Julia Gillard should come back to this issue.

    That is not to say that women will agree with all of Labor’s policies. Many women will be disturbed by the decision to follow through on a Lib/Nat policy which harms single mothers and their children.

    Other women and men will care about the 457 visa issue because it affects their jobs.

    The critical factor will be about organising people willing to support the government and being prepared to sell that message. This is a hard task but if I were planning the campaign I would be basing it around schools and places women gather.

    Julia Gillard has had to deal with a hostile press and opposition and members of her own party who have deliberately undermined her. She has held the party and the Independent members together despite these negative aspects.

    It is clear that Tony Abbott feels offended by having a woman in charge and Christopher Pyne is delighting in stirring up the Labor side by talking of tweets telling him of when the next challenge will be – encouraging it when clearly the best strategy is for everyone in Labor to work with Julia Gillard.

    Of course the papers are running almost daily opinion polls to sell papers . I remember a time when John Howard was written off by the polls this close to an election and he pulled it off. It is certainly possible but not if the whiteanting by people such as Joel Fitzgibbon, Simon Crean, Martin Ferguson and their mates in the NSW right continues.

    It isn’t just the leadership that is the problem but the party system which has developed over a long time. No leader can ensure that the life raft is moving forward when the crew are surrepticiously drilling holes in the bottom of the boat, throwing the floatation devices overboard and destroying the navigation equipment.

    It is a long Labor tradition to put a woman in charge when the boat is sinking. The Liberals would never have a woman because of course they only select on merit. (Irony alert)

  45. @Fran Barlow Such a progressive party would remain in the minority.

    There are a lot of refugees and migrants in Australia yet most people don’t care about the plight of boat people. Rightly or wrongly border protection is one of those phrases that resonates.

    I know it is disappointing but that is the way it has been for a very long time.

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