Monday, March 28, 2011


As a follow-up to my earlier post I want to compare and contrast the two leaders - BOF and KK.

Interestingly for those like me who think the political rot starts with "professional politicians" - BOF is one whereas KK came later to the game.

KK was impressive with her energy though there is no leader in ALP history - other than perhaps Mark Latham - who hasn't been just as committed and eager throughout the campaign. But it really has been a bit rich for KK to talk about the people of NSW not leaving the ALP, but the ALP leaving them. She was, after all, a part of the sub-factional nonsense. Though, if memory serves me right, on the fateful day of Rees decline it wasn't a question of if he was going as who was replacing him and that Frank Sartor thought the prize was his till very late on the day.

But to endorse Walt Secord for the Legislative Council, when there isn't even a current vacancy - only the rumoured one of Eddie Obeid - is reflective of the same degenerate culture that brought the ALP to this place.

All the talk is now of KK heading to Canberra with even Bob Hawke joining the fray. (though there was the antithesis of the Latham/Howard handshake just before polling day, Hawke with Kenneally where you were pretty sure all he was thinking of was bonking her). Why it would be good for either I have no idea - and the words "Carmen Lawrence" should be enough to dissuade everyone of the idea.

And as for BOF. His strength was in getting the Liberals to focus on their opponents not themselves, on being prepared to make unprincipled decisions (electricity, school league tables) for the political value, and to stick to the plan of keeping the message simple.

It is notable that BOF thanked Mark Textor in his speech. So much of the NSW campaign was reminiscent of the last Federal campaign from the Liberals, including the concept of a "contract" with voters and the simple five point plan (previously critiqued here).

This formula has been frighteningly successful and Labor needs to start now thinking of ways to defeat it. The contract part overcomes any amount of counter ads about "real plans". It comes down to the fact that when you are in Government you should talk about (a) your record and (b) how you plan to build on it.

That might have been a problem for NSW Labor, but Bob Carr's piece talked about much of the good they did early. On Saturday KK chose to talk with pride about what had been done for people with a disability.

The ALP needs to fix its internal problems, but also learn the error of the Federal Party in 1996. The job starts now of building the story of a successful Government that got tired.

As Poll Bludger wrote today in Crikey "It has been more than three decades since a government stood before the people asking for an advance on 16 years, something that -- despite Bob Carr's audacious claim to the contrary yesterday -- seems objectively impossible to achieve in modern politics." The public does punish longevity, they want a change, but give them reason and they will come back.

The other thing we know about Mark Textor's campaigning is that in Government he runs a good fear campaign. So in 2015 expect lots of dragged up ads about the perceived disasters of the last four years. The ALP can and must start now convincing voters that really Labor wasn't "so bad" - even good. They need to make that their sole focus for the next six months and largely ignore BOF - the less like an opposition they look, the more he will over-reach (which means the Liberal play book of cut services).

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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