Missing in action? Bill Shorten's 'small target' strategy is his only option

That’s the title of my latest piece in The Guardian. Opening paras:

Throughout his first year as opposition leader, Bill Shorten has adopted a “small target” strategy, which has been the subject of considerable criticism. “Missing in action” has been among the kinder phrases used.

The criticism has only intensified with Shorten’s endorsement of the Abbott government’s commitment of troops to a new Iraq war, and Labor’s support for a slightly amended version of the government’s anti-terror laws, explicitly sold as reducing our freedom.

Much of this criticism misses the point, harking back to a largely imaginary past in which the big issues of the day were thrashed out in parliament, and particularly in the presentation of alternative policy platforms by party leaders.

In reality, some version of the small target strategy is effectively forced on the main opposition party by the way in which our political system and media now operate. This in turn means that serious criticism of government policy must come from elsewhere.

106 thoughts on “Missing in action? Bill Shorten's 'small target' strategy is his only option

  1. @Megan
    It’s true Megan. History surprises. I recall a slogan from ’68: “be realistic, demand the impossible.” They give us no choice.

  2. Thinking of Albo, I’m reminded of Megan’s previous suggestion that Melissa Parke was ‘allowed’ to speak out, but it means nothing. I feel a bit the same about Albo, if he is in a seat that’s under pressure from the Greens he may be ‘allowed’ to speak out for local political consumption, now that the legislation.

    However the article in the Guardian does mention there was debate over amendments proposed by the ALP, which I hadn’t heard about before, so maybe the response was a bit more nuanced. I must admit from my working for the ALP in Opposition in Vic, we would sometimes put up amendments, sometimes even get things going to committee, but it didn’t necessarily get reported in the media. Nevertheless I still think Shorten and the small target strategy is a disaster. But is he actually being a small target is he just LNP-lite?

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