Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Writing's on the Queensland Wall.


You've got to love our elites.

A little less than 3 years ago, Campbell Newman (Liberal National Party, "conservative, centre-right, libertarian") was elected Queensland premier by a landslide:

Party                                          Seats
LNP                                               73
QLD Labor                                          9
Crossbenchers                                      7

After yonks in government, plagued by all sorts of problems, ranging from ineptitude, corruption and anti-people policies not different from those of their opponents, QLD Labor was reduced to 9 seats!

Let me spell that out: In a 89-seat parliament with just one house, this gave the LNP absolute power to do and undo as they pleased. And, boy, they did. After a while, I just tired of writing about it.

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About a year and a half later, in circumstances similar to those in Queensland, Tony Abbott led the federal Liberal/National Coalition ("conservative, centre-right, libertarian") to landslide victory against a weak Labor government, plagued by infighting, where the main distinguishing feature of both parties was their names, "Labor" and "Coalition", not their policies.

Indeed, the big difference between the Queensland and federal results was that at a federal level, the Coalition did not fully control parliament: they control the House of Representatives (90 seats out of 150), not so with the Senate (33 seats out of 76, with 18 utterly unpredictable crossbenchers). This has stopped the federal government from replicating at a federal level, the catastrophe the LNP caused in Queensland. Not that they didn't try and manage to do a lot of harm.

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Yesterday was the Queensland state election. With 9 seats still undecided, the preliminary results are:

Party                                          Seats
LNP                                               33
QLD Labor                                         44
Crossbenchers                                      3

It's a remarkable defeat by any account. Adding insult to injury, Newman lost his seat of Ashgrove to QLD Labor's Kate Jones, whom he defeated in 2012.

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No doubt, pundits will discuss these results and its implications for Abbott and the Coalition. But what are the conclusions Coalition supporters will draw from this? Should we celebrate Newman's defeat?

Let's proceed by steps. First: what will those people make of this?

Judging by the puppeteer's tweet a few days ago:

(source)

The puppet only needs to get rid of an obnoxious advisor, not change his destructive, odious, class-based policies. As simple as that.

Judging by his own party colleagues, he just needs to spin things better. It's all about style and marketing. We'll buy the lemon, provided the used-car salesman talks us into it. Failing that, they'll kick him out and change the figure-head:


Second: should we celebrate Newman's defeat? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because Newman's defeat will at least stop further damage being inflicted on Queenslanders.

No, because, per se, Labor's victory will not reverse the damage already inflicted and there is no guarantee Labor will be much better.

So, personally, I think it's a kind of a limited victory. Better than nothing, I guess.

And this applies to both, the Queensland and federal levels: it's not a matter of fucking-Abbott or of fucking-Newman, it's not a matter of labels, it's not a matter of spinning things better, it's a matter of policies, stupid.


UPDATE:
01/02/2015: Here's Michelle Grattan's account of Malcolm Turnbull's views on leadership:
"Leaders must be 'explainers and advocates, unravelling complex issues in clear language', Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, outlining a strategy for selling hard economic messages."
Let's be sceptic. Maybe those weren't Turnbull's literal words, only Grattan's interpretation, after all, Turnbull is regarded as the smart one in the Abbott Cabinet.

Still, again you see the same thing. For our cognoscenti -- Grattan in this case -- the problem lies not in the policies, but in how they are sold to the public.

Incidentally, doesn't that sound like Turnbull's own sales-pitch as would-be PM?

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