John Valder in a letter to the SMH tries to argue that the Maxine McKew campaign was nothing special and that the ALP could have won in Bennelong in 2004.
There was an excellent repy today from young Tim Quadrio under the heading A Good Clean Win. He makes the three points that Maxine ran a positive campaign - not the slurs Valder wanted to rely on; that Maxine won with the national average against the incumbent PM ; and that in 2004 the election overall was such a disaster for Labor nothing would have secured an extra 5% in Bennelong.
For the record my own unused contribution was:
The beauty of time is that we never can know what would have happened if we had done things differently. That allows each of us the luxury of our own alternative view of history. John Valder (Letters 18 December) thinks that the ALP could have won Bennelong in 2004 if only they had taken the seat seriously. His reasoning is the influence of the ‘Not Happy John’ campaign and the candidature of Andrew Wilkie for the Greens.
My experience working polling booths on election day at this and the previous election is that the approach of ‘Not Happy John’ and the more recent incarnation ‘GetUp!’ delivered wavering votes back to the Liberals, specifically Mr Howard. As a former Liberal it is easy to understand that Valder thinks negative campaigning works, but it usually doesn’t. Its few apparent successes are masked by the more powerful effect of incumbency.
The outcome in Bennelong was primarily different because of the outcome nationally. The national two party preferred swing was 5.45%, while in Bennelong it was 5.53%. The significance of the Bennelong campaign was more in the uplift in spirits it provided across the ALP and Maxine McKew’s softly, softly model was ideal for that.