Who had the better election campaign?
It is said that hindsight is a wonderful thing.
An extended period of time after an event gives one a better reflection of its context, rather than the usual instantaneous rushed response.
So, it is in that vein that I look back on the last Australian election campaign, Saturday 18 May 2019.
Analysing the election campaigns a few months on gives one a greater understanding of the campaigns of both parties.
But let’s start with the Coalition. What did they take to the election other than some ill-considered tax cuts? (By ill-considered I mean that I struggle with the concept of tax cuts while there is a Royal Commission in place about the treatment of our aged and $1.5 billion is being taken from the NDIS). Well, they took very little, actually. A born to rule party, generally speaking, doesn’t think it needs to.
Although the Coalition, maybe because it was convinced it would lose, decided the effort really wasn’t worth it.
However, this belies the fact that Scott Morrison campaigned like a drunk looking for a drink. He lied in fact and by omission.
He invented scare campaigns in the best Liberal Party tradition. A retiree tax, ‘The Bill Australia Can’t Afford’, franking credits, and a tax on everything all worked a treat. So much so that you would be hard pressed to pick the best.
He upped his pomposity to the point of pure fakery that was a precursor to his conversion to Trumpism, playing his Christ-thin Christianity for all it was worth.
All it amounted to was some more money for domestic violence, a reduction in pensioner chemist scripts before becoming free, a lift in the five-year freeze on Medicare, 307 million for schools, 100 billion for infrastructure over 10 years, a cap on refugee numbers, a cap on immigration, a promise to maintain border security and catch internet trolls.
There was also a promise to reduce our power bills by 25% and of course, the tax cuts.
That was it in all its Liberal glory, shallow with no narrative about our future or where the Prime Minister saw us in an increasing complex world. There were no ideas, no mention of the struggles of our First Nations People or the poorest in our community.
Negativity seemed to be the order of the day, highlighted by a champagne launch held in the shadows of darkness in case the light might reveal how few bothered to turn up.
Hardly the foundation for a winning an election campaign but Morrison, to his credit, furiously pounded Bill Shorten for his inability to explain Labor policy.
He made what – was in my view – good policy look mediocre. His sheer will must have won over many voters.
Aided and abetted by the Murdoch press and the shock jocks; the wealth of Palmer and the inappropriate intervention of Dr. Bob, the Prime Minister created, not a miracle, but an illusion.
Life is about perception, not what is, but what we perceive it to be.
If you tell the people often enough that you are the best to manage the economy … they will believe you.
Hence the campaign slogan: “Building our economy, securing your future”.
Speaking of slogans and advertising in general, one has to say that for the first time I can remember the Coalition got it right with the use of television and social media.
They targeted voters judicially with ads aimed at specific groups and individual personalities at the micro level.
If per chance you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Deputy Prime Minister and his party it is simply because I cannot remember his name nor what he said he would do for our good country folk.
That Morrison could have won after 6 years of the poorest governance the country has known, together with a policy campaign that berated Labor and overlooked its own hopelessness speaks volumes for his abilities of persuasion.
And what of Labor?
Labor entered the campaign full of running. After all, it hadn’t lost a poll since the Moses parted the Red Sea.
The government had elected yet another leader and had proven to be an accident-prone chaotic mess of people who had no idea how to govern. It had a leader who hadn’t shown an empathetic tear in all the portfolios he had been a minister in. Was he ‘tuff,’ was he a motor mouth. Yes he was.
Labor had everything going for it. It had revealed policy after policy in a calm orderly manner and provided the Australian voter with a stark ideological difference to consider.
Its policies were fair and just, seeking to take a more equitable share of the country’s riches from those that have and create a more just society.
Gone would be the days when the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
Labor’s policies were full of fresh economic ideas that would see an end to trickle-down economics that in conservative eyes at least is the answer to all things economics.
More money would be spent on schools and hospitals and all those things that created a better social cohesion. Nothing wrong with that. The average punter would endorse those moves rather enthusiastically
It undoubtedly had the better power and climate policies, the best proposals on health and infrastructure, and the better and fairer policies on education. The sheer range of policy was enormous, and displayed the vast work the party must have put into them.
But here is the crux of the matter. They fell for the oldest trap in the political Bible. They found themselves in a mire of detail.
Every policy required a truckload of explanation. Did you ever have it explained to you just why the country wouldn’t be able to afford the subsidies for franking credits and negative gearing a few years from now? No, because it would take a month of Sundays to do it. Therefore attempts to do so ended up being bogged down in the inevitable too hard basket.
And you can add to that last but not least the main reason Labor’s campaign fell flat on its face.
In my view Labor had the best campaign, the best policies, and the best group to manage the economy and was and is the best party philosophically conditioned and able to take Australia into the future.
However – and it is sad to say this – they had the wrong man as leader. One can hear populism vibrating in the hearts of those who use it and you can tell sincerity when confronted with it. Morrison reeks of populism and Shorten the latter.
My view nevertheless wasn’t that of the majority of Australians. More than enough hated him for reasons beyond my understanding to make the difference between winning and losing.
In a couple of weeks a small group of Laborites will report on why Labor lost to such a group of pathetic individuals unfit to govern our great nation. They will come up with a multitude of reasons, but Shorten probably wont be on the top.
My thought for the day
I found it impossible to imagine that the Australian people could be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that has performed so miserably in the first two and has amongst its members some of the most devious, suspicious and corrupt men and women but they did.
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