01 January 2008

Poor, poor Democrats

The Democrats have the same problem as the Liberals: can't pretend they don't have a problem, yet they can't face up to what it might be. This is meant to be a rallying cry: it's too strident to be a cry for help, but not honest or sensible enough to perform its stated function:
merely an emphatic declaration that the Australian Democrats are still needed and that we are determined to fight back.

Merely an emphatic declaration. And these people complain that nobody listens to them when they want to be heard. Don Chipp's daughter has no more perspective on the Democrats than Beazley's boy or Downer's lad had in leading their parties, and is too polite and reverential of losers to do the overhaul that party needs.
In fact, so dismal was support for minor parties on election day that, six months from now, the major parties will hold all 12 Senate seats in NSW and Queensland.

All 12 Senate seats in each of NSW and Queensland, Laura. Those two states have twenty-four Senators. It's best to be clear about what you mean - and to not have words under your name outsourced to some semi-literate PR dolly. Your party is facing annihilation and you can't even describe what's happening! Perhaps, though, there'll be some explanation or apology in what follows.
But we must recognise this was a government-changing election, where the focus was very much on ousting a prime minister who had overstayed his welcome. The minor parties were bound to miss out.

Bullshit. Government-changing elections are where the minor parties did best - particularly the Democrats. Two of that party's best election performances were 1996 and 1983. The bastards in government were discredited and the bastards in opposition were untested. The idea that the Democrats suffered duff luck is unadulterated rubbish.

The following two paragraphs are an indictment of Lyn Allison's hopeless failure. Any effort the Democrats made to make a clear stand was smothered and dithered away by this nobody.
Xenophon has been a loose cannon in the South Australian Parliament.

No, Sandra Kanck was a loose cannon. Nick Xenophon got legal and policy concessions from a smug and bloated ALP government that still thinks it can do what it likes. Xenophon showed both the Democrats and the Liberals how to be an effective Member of Parliament without having to join the ALP.
It's a recipe for a double dissolution and it's why we need, now more than ever, a moderate third player in the Senate.

The Democrats strike a balance between ideological extremes

Typical Democrats: right problem, wrong solution. The Coalition had nowhere to go further right, only toward the centre that Rudd had already occupied. At a time of policy convergence in so many areas, this balance-between-ideological-extremes crap simply will not do. Don Chipp and Lyn Allison are old enough to remember when Communists and Nazis were potent political forces in our world - but you're not Laura, and spouting this stuff unthinkingly makes you look silly. You even ended the article by claiming that parties of government aren't extreme, they just have different hues.

So does this:
unwilling - or perhaps unable? - to use the parliamentary system as a means to an end.

Right there is your one-line indictment of Allison and those who sailed with her.
These coming years will be tough for the Democrats, to say the least, but our supporters remain loyal and our members enthusiastic.

Loyal to what? Enthusiastic about what? This says: we're all right thanks, we're nowhere and we're loving it!
If we are ever to regain our pre-eminence as the third team in Australian politics, I suspect the changes we make now must be sweeping. All options should be on the table ...

No shit! What a shame you have to drill through half the article to get to this. Come on Laura, give us some of that olde-timey passionate Chipp vision:
including mergers with like-minded micro parties and rebranding.

Oh no, she's been captured by the same marketing clowns who've got Brendan Nelson: there's nothing wrong with our policies, they just need to be marketed properly. Keep following that line of thought and your depleted finances will be bled dry (including those of hard-working party members fored to cough up time and again for nothing), with no gain electorally. Those young Democrats itching to get on local council will be mown down like all those lions-led-by-donkeys in World War I.
We also need to work harder to sell our policies to the masses. Alas, it has been difficult over the years to sex up commonsense ideas.

It is evident to everybody except you that it is the policies themselves that need review. You can rub as hard as you like but you can't polish shit. It was John Faulkner and Penny Wong who did the work in Senate committees that had been a Democrat specialty: note that both Wong and Faulkner will be in the Senate after July.

What the Democrats have done is screwed up commonsense ideas - see what I mean about imporecise language - and the more you treat people like "masses" the harder it is to convince them.

There are large numbers of moderate Liberals who worked hard to get John Howard elected, who bided their time and avoided appearin disloyal, and who now have nothing to show for it. They're loyal to a fault and they'd be enthusiastic Democrats, Laura, if only you weren't too proud to reach out to them.

There are large numbers of Labor voters who just weren't sure about Rudd, and who were apprehensive of all those Melbourne maddies. These people explain the large number of seats in NSW and Queensland that Labor won narrowly, and those in SA and WA whic they lost narrowly. These people are also natural Democrats.

In politics, you convince first, sell later. Your Dad knew that, Laura. So did the Democrats' better leaders, Janine Haines and Cheryl Kernot (it was when Kernot flicked the switch to retail that she lost it). The Democrats' biggest losers, Coulter and Lees, couldn't even convince and were rubbish at selling.
we put the environment on the political agenda for the first time.

Johnny Gorton was doing that when your Dad was one of his Liberal drinking pals, Laura. Nice try.
In Australian politics, we still desperately need a third force that owes its allegiance to no one

And no one will vote for it, no one will fund it; and those who are loal and enthusiastic will find somewhere that rewards those precious attributes.


  1. Great post Andrew, and that's coming from a current member of the Democrats (if for ideological reasons).

    The Democrats spent so long focusing loudly on their progressive social policies that they have nullified their economic credentials and are now seen as another arm of the Greens. In an election that was seemingly made for a centrist party they failed to make an impact, simply because the last decade has seen them emerge in the eyes of the public as yet another far left party with nothing constructive to offer.

    It's too late to bring it back again.

  2. The Democrats did best when they were trimming major-party initiatives. With Rudd it will be hard to attract attention to trimmers and modifiers. Those initiatives you describe sound like overreactions to Lees' GST sellout.

  3. Far from policy work, the Dems would be helped immeasurably just by biting the bullet and playing the media's game like all *relevant* political forces do.

    Doing a presentation overhaul wouldn't hurt either. Impact is such an intimidating font; completely awful for matters of political persuasion.

    And yeah, they've gotta ditch, or at least downplay, KtBH. Important as the function is, I always felt it was kind of an excuse for a genuine political program.

  4. I don't usually post anonymous posts, but this is important to show how wrong it is.

    "Far from policy work, the Dems would be helped immeasurably just by biting the bullet and playing the media's game like all *relevant* political forces do."

    That's not 'biting the bullet', that's a cop-out. The media's game is bullshit. The Democrats lost because they were exactly like the other parties, so voters voted for the other parties and cut out the middle party.

    "Doing a presentation overhaul wouldn't hurt either."

    Bit late for that. Not everyone can be Natasha Stott Despoja. Andrews Bartlett and Murray have their place, but yes.

    "they've gotta ditch, or at least downplay, KtBH. Important as the function is, I always felt it was kind of an excuse for a genuine political program."

    You've just contradicted yourself: either the Dems should focus on stuntwork, or they should get serious about policy. Thank goodness you're anonymous, eh?

    KtBH is the main game. By walking away from it, the Democrats have let others eat their lunch. Either you argree that it's important, or it's an excuse: like Laura Chipp, you're trying out all your platitudes to stop and wonder what, if anything, you really think.