An ALP insider who worked on the campaign in South Australia has provided Crikey with his analysis on what went wrong in this busted-arse state and we’ve then had a a ding dong exchange of emails at the bottom.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.
From the moment that softc**k Norwegian captain of the Tampa decided that he was unable to resist the unfriendly looks of a few blokes with funny accents we were doomed. Beazley was caught in a dilemma so exquisite that it came close to rivalling that famous catch 22.
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Here in South Australia I have had a bit of a look at the AEC website and despite the moanings of soon to disappear Senator Schacht (what a wanker) The ALP has not done that much more badly than it did in ’98 (less than 1% – nothing to be proud of, but not the disaster Senator Shit makes it out to be). Senator Shit blames factional infighting in the SA ALP, but the only person doing any factional fighting in SA is SS himself.
The 2pp vote swing that we suffered was almost entirely the result of One Nation types returning from whence they came the Libs.
Last time, a large chunk of them came to us via preferences, this time, they just voted for Howard straight up and those that did vote for Pauline ignored the how to vote cards (that were almost without exception not being handed out, but left in a box at the booth) and went to Howard as well.
A quick look at the primaries in SA also suggests that the famed defection of the ALP left to the Greens did not in fact occur to any great extent seeing as the ALP primary vote is almost static. The greens appear to have made up their vote in the absence of independents.
The Dems just sat still, but come the count I found myself wishing that they had directed their preferences in every seat. I fail to see how a fifty-fifty split of preferences keeps anyone honest. Surely the threat of an across the board preference direction would keep more bastards more honest than the current limpwristedry that occurs (how’s that for a new word?)
As for the Libs, well you can’t argue with their results can you? Having something of a soft spot for Mr Machiavelli I can only sit back and admire their handy work. Those corflute posters that were up on the booths (especially in our heartland booths) with the quote from Howard at the campaign launch (we will decide etc) were really effective. Having said that, I thought we out campaigned them generally, with them winning the battle of the booths on the day.
Some reflections on the day
On the day itself it was a funny feeling. I can usually pick up a feel for what is happening on the day but it took me most of the morning to get an idea and it wasn’t until the afternoon that I really had it nailed down and I knew we were screwed.
People were voting Liberal but they didn’t seem too happy about it. I handed out some HTVs in Mayo for a bit and the oldies who turned up to vote Liberal looked like they were back in WWII grimly doing their duty voting for Alexander Downer to bring about a safer Australia and keep the yellow peril at bay again.
The Dems were out in force with three of them on the booth I was on and they were so annoying. So self-righteous, so chardonnay quaffing, so latte sipping, so basket weaving. I almost needed counselling.
When the numbers started coming in from the booths that night they just confirmed our worst fears. That dumb Liberal goose from Makin would get another three years and a pension. In an interview on the night she couldn’t even pronounce the word “demographic” and I wonder if she has any idea what it means.
We in the ALP need to increase our primary vote in SA if we are going to win lower house seats. Senator Shit is right about that. Don’t ask me how we do that because I don’t know. If anyone suggests policy to me I will scream. I have to say that I think that the ALP had a good solid (although not flash) raft of policies at this election (and I am trying to be objective here).
I am coming to the conclusion that policy has absolutely nothing to do with election of a government perhaps I am slow. It is all to do with feeling and perception. Thinking back on it now, I can’t remember a time during the Hawke-Keating years when we were ever re-elected on policy.
In the end I think Beazley’s greatest failing was not offering people a feeling of optimism about the future, a feeling that the war in Afghanistan wouldn’t be so bad, that we could get through the impending economic gloom relatively unscathed and that it would be okay to change governments at this time and that the times were in fact no more uncertain than they have ever been. Live and learn I suppose.
I would also like to see a voting breakdown based on age. SA’s population is rapidly aging and our low primary vote may have some correlation with that – we are not doing well with the older demographics. Maybe we are fucked permanently in this state or maybe we just need to bribe the oldies better.
Well, three more years working for an ALP backbencher. At least I’ll have time to get the garden looking good. I hope all your roses die Hillary Bray and I hope that Simon does better than Kim.
ALP Hack in South Australia
PS I noticed Carmen Lawrence in the Aus last week talking about party reform. There are two things she could do to directly contribute to this process. 1. Resign her spot in the shadow ministry she wasn’t much of a success as a shadow minister. 2. Resign her seat in parliament. I can’t think of anything useful she has contributed to the parliament.
Fesity bollocking of our hack
The un-named ALP hack who suggests that the state of the ALP in SA is not as bad as it could be is wearing the most rose colored glasses of all.
Of the 12 House of Rep seats, how many does the ALP hold? 25%. How many ALP Senators? 4. How many Lib Senators? 6.
The fact that the seats of Makin, Adelaide and Hindmarsh are still held by the Libs after long periods of being considered ALP seats, must suggest a problem. Calling Trish Draper a “dumb Liberal goose” may make the hack feel better but the point is Draper has been the Member for Makin for the past 6 years and now will be for the next three years. The fact that Hindmarsh was a safe ALP seat held by a candidate of no distinction and has been converted to an increasingly safe Liberal seat is not a fact that suggests that the SA ALP is in good condition. Blame it on demographics if you want but what happens when the demographics change to such an extent that there are no ALP seats anymore? Will the problems facing the State ALP still be ignored?
Let’s have a look at the Party structure. In the State parliament, we have two ex-ALP independents in the Upper House. One of these was the party secretary, the other a union hack who had no reason to be preselected in the first place. Despite the scandalous resignation of the Premier, the atrocious record of the 8 years of government in office, the likelihood of an ALP victory is still uncertain.
From an ex-ALP member’s point of view, the selection of candidates is a problem (consider Gail Gago, failed Makin candidate, failed Adelaide candidate, finally gets rewarded with an upper house seat), the lack of rank and file input is a problem, the factional disputes are a problem, the absence of policy is a problem.
The bright spots on the horizon are the comments by people such as Carmen Lawrence that recognise the flaws in the ALP and who are resolved to engage in their resolution. I don’t hold Chris Schacht in any regard either but just because you don’t like the man doesn’t mean that his comments may not be right.
With Kerin as the new Premier in SA, and with the State ALP running the same campaign as Beazley (stay small, no policies) the outcome of the State election due in March will not be the ALP victory that everyone believes is foregone. I’ll place my bet on yet another loss.
There is a problem in the State ALP. Don’t believe anything to the contrary.
Despairing ALP voter
ALP hack responds
The fact that the dumb liberal goose is still the local member is the reason why it is so frustrating. Our candidate in Makin was actually quite good despite the whinging of SS and his mates and we still went backwards. Local campaigns & candidates count for just about nothing. The existence of Trish Draper proves it. Calling her a goose does make me feel better.
The fact that we hold 0nly 25% of the seats with 31% of the primary votes points to a few boundry or demographic problems (not an excuse for losing).
The correspondent is right that the ALP does have a problem in this state. I even tend to agree with his analysis of where the State ALP is heading at the next state election.
The points I was trying to make is that the person most fanning the flames of factional discord is SS himself and purely out of self interest not for any real dislike of factions per se, just factions that he is not in.
SS used to be one of the great factional movers and shakers in SA until he displayed his unique talent for pissing off all his mates one too many times.
SS does not make insightful, factual analysis, he just stirs shit.
As for Carmen Lawrence, I stand by my earlier comments and defy anyone to point to a record of reform or policy competence that she may have. She showed her real regard for the party in ’95 when she refused to step aside whilst the Royal Commision was dragging us down. She should show some real courage and integrity and go now for the good of the party. She’s a whinger, not a reformer.
Hindmarsh is a different seat from the formerly labor held seat of Hawker that Gallus won by 14 votes in 1990. Hoogland is just wrong there.
Factional disputes are a problem for all political parties, but will always occur.
Lack of rank and file input is a furphy. the real problem is a lack of rank and file.
As I said in my article, I don’t believe policy has much to do with anything with regard to elections. Besides, no-one can say we didn’t have policies. The argument is about the timing of their release.
Unamed ALP Hack.
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