20 December 2007

Bri-Lo: stunned by the inevitable

Every time the Coalition has lost an election, some peanut has stood up and basically said it was due to marketing issues - the fundamentals are right, all we need to do is give them a buff and we're back in government before you know it - so don't do anything rash like turf out the State/Federal Director or any sitting members, ok?

Here Liberal Party Federal Director Brian Loughnane, the man who helped lose office for the Liberal Party in Victoria and since stepped up to do so federally, admitted that he was never up to the job of leading the Liberal Party's campaign into the 2007 election. Of course, there's a lot of passive-voice constructions, describing events he should have shaped, which of itself betokens the kind of failure that the stock market would never accept from a CEO.
There has been much commentary on the result since 24 November and much of it in my view is misguided and speculative.

Not here, at PoHo you only get rolled-gold quality.
... the result on 24 November was driven more by longer term strategic issues than a series of short term tactical events in the last few months, although these did unquestionably contribute to the magnitude of our defeat.

So, as Director it was your job to do the longterm planning. Right?
Since the election, we have conducted research among voters who switched from the Liberal Party in the seats we lost ...

The least I could do was cover my arse.
The redistribution effectively removed the increased margin won by the Coalition at the last election and reduced the swing required for a change of Government from 4.4% to 2.8%.

All that did was remove the anti-Latham factor, and given that Latham removed himself from Parliament beforehand this ought not have been surprising.
It had been evident ever since its defeat in 2004 that Labor had been getting its act together and was building on its experience in State campaigns to refine and develop its federal campaign.

It isn't like they snuck up on you, is it Bri?
Labor used its incumbency in every State as an integrated part of its federal campaign.

Yairs, all those hugely popular state governments, how could we voters resist? You and your silly mate Tronson have spent the last decade snuffing out Liberal state governments, and this is what you get. At least Macbeth didn't complain about Birnam Wood.
This had both political and on-the-ground effects, especially for resourcing local Labor campaigns for the federal election and for local media reporting.

Your job was to forestall that, Bri. Oh well.
Further, eleven long-serving Coalition members retired at the 2007 election. We were defeated in five of those seats.

Not counting the member for Bennelong, who announced his intention to retire at some stage into the future, and whose seat was also lost.
The Government came to be seen as internally focused and not directly concerned or responsive to their priorities ... Despite our increasing prosperity as a nation, many family budgets are tight. They have little readily disposable income and they expected the Government to share their concern about unanticipated rises in food and petrol prices and the ongoing increases in interest rates.

It is genuinely stunning that the Howard government took its eye off the ball to that extent, and it was your job Brian to bring it to their attention. Why else would you pay for polling and market research if not to pick up key messages like that?
The ongoing discussion on the future leadership of the Party contributed to this. It appeared to the electorate to be distracting the Government from what should be its real priorities (namely, the issues that concerned Australians) and helped create and then drive the impression the Government was losing touch and had no real forward agenda.

Importantly, it created confusion in people’s minds about the future and undercut our strength as the Party representing stability and certainty.

A 68-year-old with no real vision for the future was itself uncertain. So was further denying the leadership to someone deemed eminently suitable, just not yet. Again Bri, in a party of gutless wonders your job outside the parliamentary party could've enabled you to say something.
As the Government appeared to be distracted, Labor gained a foothold which Mr Rudd exploited though language and messages rather than by offering any real policy substance.

Your job was to shut down the distractions, Bri.
A range of other issues, including climate change, were used by our opponents to drive the impression of the Government losing touch ... The real political significance of these issues in my view was not that they changed seats but rather that they allowed our opponents to grow the sentiment that it was time for change.

... especially in the absence of any countervailing advice from you, identifying the need for policy and closing the scope for Labor.
The campaign against WorkChoices created anxiety in the minds of particularly public sector, clerical and blue collar workers, about what these changes could mean for them. Rightly or wrongly, people came to believe their negotiating position would not be as strong as it once was. Older people were concerned for their children and their grand children. The unions fed this anxiety with unsubstantiated claims and generalisations that the Government would go even further if it won the election.

So: think about the politics first, then introduce legislation. How hard is it? The sheer clumsiness of policies like this invalidated all that stuff about experience.
For the first time in our history, a third external force has intervened in our political process with resources greater than either of the major political parties.

Typical Liberal, no idea about history. Think about all that private sector money lining up against Chifley in '49. Think about the NCC. What about that mining company money that targeted Robert Tickner in Hughes in 1996? Don't try that bullshit on a well-informed populace.
The Coalition’s share of preferences deteriorated in each of the three elections between 1998 and 2004. Although the figures for this year are not yet final, it would appear as though our share of preferences has deteriorated for the fourth election in a row.

This is a significant strategic problem for the Coalition, and will make it difficult for us to win office in the future unless addressed.

The problem here is a dull and lazy Federal Director whose job it is to maintain relationships that enable favourable negotiation of preferences. Shoulda done something about that, too.
... events such as the unacceptable behaviour which occurred in Lindsay ...

So it wasn't just a one-off?
Our research shows the Australian people are watching carefully to see whether Labor’s promises are just more spin or whether they can deliver. The Coalition intends to hold Labor to the standards it set itself.

Labor will almost certainly fall short of the impressions it created. Nobody, however, will believe that the Coalition would have or could do better. That's why the Nelson strategy is such bollocks.
it has been Labor’s track record to go early if they can.

Every newly-elected federal government can't wait to be re-elected Bri. Menzies 1951, Whitlam 1974, Fraser 1977, Hawke 1984, Howard 1998: all went early.
I thank the tens of thousands of Liberals around Australia who volunteered during the campaign and on election day. Your Party needs you now more than ever and I encourage you to remain active in the Party.

You failed them all Bri-Lo, and owe them nothing but to bow out quietly. Give DodgyCrapster something to do.

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