“The Liberal Party must monitor Teal statements and commitments as they will be the basis for future candidates campaigning against Teal incumbents. In addition, public comments by Teal campaign leaders are foreshadowing the possibility of Teal campaigns in additional seats currently held by the Coalition at the next election. The Party should be conscious of candidates as they are announced and work with Liberal incumbents to develop plans to counter these future candidates’ campaigns.”
The Liberal Party Review of 2022 Election
It’s interesting that one of the takeaways from the election loss was that they need to campaign against the Teals…
Now there’s a lot to unpack in that sentence before I even start on the rest of the Liberal review of what went wrong.
Let’s start with their problem of talking about the Teals as though they’re just another political party. You only have to read a bit of Tim Dunlop’s book, “Voices Of Us” to understand that one of the big pluses that the so-called Teals had was that each one of them was a local and built their campaign with locals. The idea that they were somehow the puppets of Simon Holmes A Court misses the point that each individual group was working hard to get an independent candidate elected because they were tired of having their views ignored by a candidate who’d toe the party line.
The idea then that you need to keep a record and try to “counter the campaigns” overlooks the fact that each of these independent candidates will have either built up a strong support base with their performance as a local member or not. The “campaign” will only play a minor part in their re-election.
But even allowing for that minor part we’re still left with two problems:
- The idea that you need to drag the other candidate down by attacking what they’ve done and said rather than changing your policies so that people are more likely to vote for you because you’ve embraced the parts that appealed to people. This may work in one electorate but not in another depending on what the individual candidate has achieved, but it’s not like fighting another political party where what one says or does reflects upon them all.
- In the possible event of a hung parliament, you’ve just made it more likely for the Independent to stick with the Labor Party rather than embrace the party that’s been attacking them. Let’s not forget that a number of the independents natural home is the Liberal Party. Even ignoring the family pedigrees of Allegra Spender and Kate Cheney, there’s no certainty that any of them would support a minority Labor government if the Coalition were holding out the right incentives. Conservative independents have supported Labor in the past; there’s no reason to think that the Liberals couldn’t persuade a number of the independents to support them… Well, no reason apart from the fact that they’ve spent all their time trying to suggest that the Independent MP’s ideas are radical and that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
But let’s leave aside the Teals and ignore the fact that even if the Liberals won back every one of these seats, they’d still need to pick up seats from Labor.
Now I’m not going to be silly enough to suggest that the Liberal Party are finished as a viable party but when you look at their inability to learn from their mistakes, you have to wonder.
Let’s begin by looking at the choice of people to do the review: Brian Loughnane and Jane Hume. The latter was a major contributor to the 2022 campaign and I’d suggest that she may have been a little too close to the action to be considered a dispassionate observer. It’d be hard for her to view things objectively. While Brian hasn’t been federal director of the Liberal Party for a number of years, he IS married to Peta Credlin, so clearly his judgement is a little suspect.
Anyway rather than getting people with an outside perspective like Rob Baillieu and Julia Banks OR Michelle Grattan and John Hewson, they chose two people with close connections to the party. This is like being asked to do your own performance review at work and then to evaluate what you were like as a reviewer.
Nevertheless, there were a number of problems identified by Hume and Loughnane, including not having enough women and having too much Scott Morrison…
In order to solve the problem of not having enough female candidates, it was suggested that they have more, and, in order to achieve this, they need to look at things like preselections and branch structure and don’t even think about a quota… Of course, while it would be nice to have more candidates who weren’t white males, it doesn’t help when your female candidate has all the charm of Holly Hughes – who it may surprise you to learn is NOT the love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop. Indeed the idea of “love child” and Bronwyn Bishop being in the same sentence is a very, very difficult concept.
One of the other problems they identified was Scott Morrison…
Now, I know I’ve pointed this out before but whenever I read something about Peter Dutton being a warm, cuddly sort of guy who we’d all warm to if only we knew the real him, I always think that in 2018, his close colleagues considered him for leader and decided that they’d rather have Scott Morrison as PM.
Anyway, the report told us:
“Perceptions that the Government and the Prime Minister (in particular) had not adequately managed the response to the pandemic (despite Australia’s internationally leading position in responding) and, very importantly, that the Prime Minister was not attuned to the concerns of women and was unresponsive to issues of importance to them.”
As for that last point, I wonder if Jane had to ask Jen to clarify…
As for the bit about adequately managing the response to the pandemic, I liked that they added the brackets about “Australia’s internationally leading position in responding”, just so we knew that the voters didn’t know what they were talking about.
Still, that seems to be a popular refrain from the Liberals. Even today Paul Fletcher was suggesting that Labor had “demonised” Morrison rather than accepting that Scotty had made that possible not only by what he’d done but by the large list of what he hadn’t done. Playing “April Sun In Cuba” on the ukulele and not knowing all the words works as an example of both and pretty much sums up his time as PM.
The Liberals consistently overlook the fact that their views on a number of issues are inconsistent with the majority. They’ve been elected on a number of occasions because of their perceived ability to manage the economy. This is like when your hairdresser gives you a running commentary that you ignore because you like the way he cuts your hair and the rest of it doesn’t seem important enough to find a new one. However, with their inability to actually deliver the Budget surplus they promised and the blowout in government debt to triple what it was when it was an emergency have left people feeling like they’ve been given a mullet they didn’t ask for.
It’s all very well to blame Labor, the pandemic and various other things, but if Labor do actually balance the budget the Coalition will have a long road back to government.
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