Monday 7 July 2019
Like many others I have been somewhat surprised by the meek and mild, feather duster, approach of the Leader of the Opposition to this government’s tax policy.
But please allow me to backtrack for a moment. After being critical of Bill Shorten some years ago I decided that it was better to be loyal to the leader who would take us to the next election and win government. And so I was. And so I will be with Albo.
The poles reckoned we would win
In the years leading up to the election, I felt that in putting the parties policy framework together that he had done a fair job. They had correctly read the course the political poles were blowing.
In consideration of these policies those responsible felt that the public mood of the time equated to a loss of confidence in the government with the replacement of two prime ministers, a complete disregard for our democracy and our institutions like the CSIRO and the ABC, perpetual infighting, corruption in and out of government, top-down economics and six years of incompetence and failure.
In short, people were sick of it. And there was good reason to think that our society had grown into an unfair one. That there wasn’t an equitable share of the countries wealth.
Given the truth of these considerations, the people responsible, in my view, came up with a set of policies that were a mirror of societies view of the prevailing politics. The need for fairness and a more even spread of the country’s wealth enhanced that view. Or so I thought.
“The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.”
Much time and effort by many passionate people were put into the policies Labor took into the election. They were no doubt ecstatic about the possibility of a Labor win. But it wasn’t to be. Our planned evening of celebratory joy turned into a nightmare of perplexing proportion.
How could it be? Everything had been planned right down to the last detail. Our time had come. How absolutely devastating it was.
So why did Labor lose?
Was it Clive Palmers money or a very nasty and deceitful tax scare campaign on “retiree taxes” and “death taxes” that Labor had no intention of introducing?
Perhaps it was the onslaught of media bias by the Murdoch tabloids or was it his and Palmer’s character assignation of Bill Shorten that did the trick. Could the shock jocks be blamed?
My view is that Bill Shorten and his team failed to put, what were good, but complex policies, into a set of sentences that people could understand.
It is paramount in an election that your message, your narrative is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood. So simple that even blind Freddy would know what you’re on about.
The Coalition, of course, put to the electorate one choice. A tax cut and that’s all. They repeated that simple narrative over and over. Perhaps 50% of the time. The other half they reserved for scaring the shit out of people and disparaging Bill Shorten. They won Labor lost. As simple as that.
In making the message so complex Labor created its own self-doubt about its own policies that then translated into a mistrust of Shorten himself. As if the Coalition wasn’t creating enough doubt about the trustworthiness of Shorten, he himself was adding to it.
So what is Labor to do?
My initial thoughts were that there was nothing wrong with our policies. All we had to do was tidy them up and explain them better in the next campaign. I thought Albo was the man who could do it but I was surprised when he appeared to throw away everything that had been built. People earning $200 thousand weren’t rich he said. I was becoming disillusioned.
What had happened to the man who was going to give the government a bit of a whack on the chin?
The man who a few years back said:
“I will hold his government to account, strongly and forcefully. I am a values politician. But I also say this — I’m not Tony Abbott.
“People want solutions, not arguments. They have conflict fatigue.” (Albo, 2019, news.com.au).
So after admitting to losing the proverbial unlosable election, I began to rethink and unwisely dismissed the back pocket nerve of the voter. Amazing how many votes $1000 will buy.
How do we move on I thought? How do we build ideas and gain consensus in a progressively disintegrated market?
We somehow must overcome what I call long memory syndrome. Pink bats, the recession we had to have, they can’t manage money and others. They hurt us every time.
On the same level, there are the single dimension people or single-issue folk whose only concern is their own self-interest.
Casualised workers versus business, secular versus religious, owners versus renters and climate activists versus mining workers.
It is almost impossible to excite everyone with a single issue that will divide us into two groups.
Then there are those who are greatly concerned in their retirement about the effects of climate change on their grandchildren while at the same time being worried about a cut in their deeming rates.
Lastly, there are three other points I will finish with. One is that Labor has a far superior economic track record than the Coalition. It is presentable and provable and Labor should throw off its reluctance to challenge the government on its economic history. Why Labor politicians avoid fighting the Coalition when they lie about this and other facts is beyond me.
Two is that if Labor is to remain a progressive party then it must subject itself to change even if it means giving way to its ideological values in order to serve the common good.
“The danger in looking back to often is that we lose the will to go forward.”
Thirdly, Anthony Albanese must take up the mantle of Bob Hawke who always built bridges of consensus instead of dividing people.
“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics. But unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.”
My thought for the day
“You cannot possibly believe in democracy if at the same time you think your party is the only one that should ever win.”
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