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“A long-term study by Philip E. Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania found that when political scientists claimed that a political outcome had absolutely no chance of occurring, it nevertheless happened about 15 percent of the time.” Nate Silver*, The Signal and The Noise

Every day the news seems to be about the fact that Labor can’t seem to talk about anything but the leadership. And if you watched the 7-30 Report’s interview with Craig Emerson you can see why. Here If a Labor politician starts to talk about something else, they’re accused of trying to avoid talking about it. At Caucus the other day, it was reported as the “elephant in the room”, which people were “expressly” not discussing. The difference between Kevin saying, “There are no circumstances…” and “I don’t believe there are any circumstances” was analysed as though only one ruled him out from ever becoming leader again. In fact, given he’s already made both statements, surely he HAS ruled himself out. Of course, he may wake up Tuesday morning and say, “Oh, I was wrong. There ARE circumstances under which I’ll be leader, and they’re happening right now.”

As far too many words have already been spent on speculation and reporting what hasn’t happened, I thought that I’d help everyone out by changing the subject. I’m still going to speculate wildly. And write about things that haven’t happened. I”m just not going to go on about leadership. Barry Cassidy assured us that Gillard would be gone, and if you can’t trust him, then why would anyone listen to the ABC? (There – that gives the trolls something to go on about!) So given we all know that Gillard will be replaced this week, I think it’s time everyone focused on something. Just bring us the news on the spill WHEN IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS!

In the meantime, let’s start focusing on the new policies that both parties are releasing. Tony Abbott for example released his “third major election policy” yesterday:

“Declaring the north to be Australia’s ”next frontier”, Mr Abbott promised a discussion white paper would be completed within his first year in office.”

There! They’ll have a discussion paper finished within a year. Can’t accuse them of having no policies now!

So, will this be a winner for the Opposition? It’s hardly grabbed the attention of the letters pages in a big way, but doesn’t Abbott risk winning votes in the North, only to alienate a few voters in the South? It’s hardly a game-changer. Still, the ’93 election was “unlosable” but slowly Hewson managed to lose votes here and there. There are plenty of examples of elections not going to script. Howard was heading for defeat before the Tampa sailed to his rescue. Kennett in Victoria was a “sure thing” in ’99, but someone forgot to tell the voters.

And yes, I know that Labor have “no chance” of winning, and I know that the media has already starting writing their epitaph, but let’s not ignore the quote at the start of the blog. Even when a political out come is given no chance, it still happens 15 per cent of the time. Of course, this time is different, I know, but then people probably thought that all the other times, too.

*Nate Silver correctly predicted the 2008 US presidential election in all but one state. More info


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