When Malcolm called a Double D to try and reduce his accountability in the Aussie Senate, most of the commentators, myself included, thought this was a high risk strategy, and I still hold firmly to that belief.
The reasoning being
- He had to burn his bridges with the Independent Senators to try and remove them.
- He had a previous Leader who looked determined to pull the roof down as he headed for the exit.
- He had to come up with a Budget that appealed to the hard right faction of the party as well as to the Voters.
- There was no wriggle room to sell the Budget before calling the Election and entering caretaker mode and previous Budgets have crashed and burned every time. Even Shadow Budgets.
- His Economic track record was especially bleak.
- And he kept floating ideas then hanging his Treasurer out to dry after he didn’t have the courage to fight for the cause.
And this is before we realised the depth of unhappiness around Western civilisations with the current treatment of the Voters by vested interests and their pollies. Both Trump in the US, and the Brexit campaign show that voters are getting sick of being disregarded. Especially by those who’s jobs get taken in the wonderful glowing world of higher profits and lower costs.
I have to admit that I was thinking along the lines of US Voters having had a gutful, but I didn’t realise this is also the case in Europe, and I didn’t expect Turnbull to offer a policy of “more of the same” when his track record is so weak. He didn’t even bother to try and blame shift to Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott. He simply pretended everything was apples and played the “trust me” card.
So how has he managed to turn a long Election into one that has addressed less issues than we would normally expect, and still be in with a fighting chance?
- Step one looks like a total fail. Not only has he managed to upset the current Senators, but he has built some of them up to levels where they can bring a mate or two along for the ride. Even worse, he has highlighted how effective these merchants of “chaos” can be in blocking the Liberal party from the excesses they were planning to inflict on Aussie Voters. Traditionally, Aussies like to have someone keeping an eye on pollies, and he has highlighted their effectiveness better than any of them could have hoped for. Quite rightly, his party is terrified of being held accountable but I’ll be surprised if he can scare folk into dropping the safety net of Independent watchdogs.
- After initially undermining his Party with bizarre public statements, despite Credlin’s forgetful claim, someone has suggested to Tony there is life after death, and Tony has been born again with the dream of promotion to the Front Bench. While wiser heads would remember Tony is electoral poison, he himself knows that Malcolm can be relied upon to bend over backwards for the Hardliners. Not only is it possible, but even probable, with the margin likely to be wafer thin when the votes are counted. Turning a healthy margin into a tiny one would mean that Malcolm’s chance of seeing out a full term is unlikely.
- The Budget test has been a surprising win (for Malcolm, not Australia). It isn’t one to rebuild the Economy as you would expect from a party that claims to be good financial managers. Instead it was a “steady as she goes, we got this” in spite of the data to the contrary.
- How does he deal with the unfortunate figures? Simple. Ignore them, and make sure the parts of the Media you have control of do the same. If asked a question quickly blame Labor, or pick up something about the Labor policies. Perhaps try a variation of Stop the Boats. DO NOT, under any circumstances, discuss the data. If a question seems likely, talk over the presenter or, and this one was especially bizarre from Malcolm, invite the questioner to ask a question while ignoring the fact that she just asked one. Then steer it away. This one actually worked on Leigh Sales. Go figure.
- Ditto point 4
- This he managed to control simply by not offering ideas to restrict spending. Ignore the obvious rorts. Don’t upset the main funders of your election campaign. Rage long and loud about the other Team. Play good cop to Sco Mo’s bad cop. And play the plastic fantastic.
Now the big question is, are the Voters going to follow the disgruntled Voters around the World and demand better representation, or sit back and calmly accept a smiling face and a “trust me” pitch?
It could go either way. In head to head contests, Shorten has clearly been the winner on the issues that the audience cares about but the trick may be that not so many Voters give a “Rat’s” about the subject. Are we as far along the path as our overseas friends who recognise they have been sold out to vested interests and done over by secret trade deals? Or are we going to go with a winning smile and not much else?
If we want substance from our pollies, we have the chance to Vote for it, or we can snooze on and vote for the smile.
So did Malcolm get it right?
Mostly no, but he had a huge margin to play with and he might just make it through. Longer term though, I can’t see him surviving. The hardcore of the Party are clinging to the belief that overseas problems are racist at their core, not understanding that it’s just a lazy façade that hides the root cause of unhappiness at being “played” by pollies. When folk start losing their jobs, it tends to focus their attention. Zealots, meanwhile, tend to take their theories to the grave rather than look at the data and think things through with the new evidence. Not many will know what hit them when folks shout “enough”.