British election results will start coming through in 48 hours, and according to The GuardianLynton
Crosby’s tactics are paying off. Labour’s share of the vote in 108 key
seats where it faces a strong Tory challenge is down from 47% at the
last poll in 2001 to 41%. What will he do if the wheels come off? If
Labour loses, he’s gone. If Labour wins narrowly, he’s a goner, too.
What will Blair do next? Well, the answer might lie in further research
The Guardian has covered.

Men of Blair’s age, when they have a crisis, often splash out on a flash motor. The Guardian
claims: “New research suggests that the cars we drive are a clear
indicator of the way we will vote, with owners of Aston Martins almost
certain to be Tories, and Kia drivers diehard Labour supporters” – and
asks: Can changing your car change your politics?

It’s gone into
this issue in depth. The paper found two men who somehow manage to
squeeze in time between their media appearances to sit on opposite
sides of the Commons and gave them a car they wouldn’t normally drive.
Former Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook got behind the wheel of an
Aston Martin, while Spectator editor and all-round Tory boy Boris
Johnston gave up his beloved bicycle for a Kia. The Guardian then asked them to report
their experiences. Cook doesn’t like Tony Blair and is unlikely to ever
be on the frontbench again, so giving him an Aston Martin leads to a
simile of how power has spoilt New Labour: “Only half an hour ago I was
a caring social democrat; now I am Mr Toad.”

Boris is brighter.
A sex scandal and some injudicious comments about the inhabitants of
Liverpool last year – combined with the general feeling that he should
decide if he is going to be a polymath or a politician – knocked him
out of the Tory shadow ministry last year, but he’s clearly determined
to claw his way back. Look at how he sees the Kia:

This Kia is a Conservative car in at least two fundamental
respects. It is like the Conservative vote, in that pundits tend to
underestimate its size. You can easily fit five persons – 20% more than
you might predict, and in that respect I can confidently say that it
will echo the Tory turnout on Thursday.

Above all, this car is
deeply Conservative in the magnificent way it conserves fuel. Unlike
Labour, it is thrifty, and economical, and sensible with taxpayers’
money.

If ever there was a car that summed up the
more-bang-for-your-buck-small-government Tory approach, it is the Kia.
I don’t know where these people get the impression that it’s a Labour
machine.”

We should have more car similes in Australian
politics. Peter Costello is looking for traction, wants to get in the
driver’s seat, move his career up a gear, zip down an open road with
nothing in his way…

Unfortunately, they’re hard to pursue. What
do our politicians’ cars say about them? It’s impossible to tell in
Canberra. The fleet of big white cars lined up outside the Senate and
House of Representatives doors morning, noon and night give no ideas.
They’re all either Statesmen or LTDs. Our politicians get privately
plated cars, but they only have a daggy range to choose from.

To
make it harder, Australian politics seems solidly pitched at Kingswood
Country at the moment. While her party has gone off the road, Democrat
leader Lyn Allison seems to be our only pol whose choice of car says
something about what she stands for – a Toyota Prius. She’s sung the
praises of the hybrid vehicle (here) and happily posed alongside it (here).

So
we’re turning the issue over to the Crikey Army. What cars do you think
match our pols? Peter Costello, no doubt, is something aspirational –
aspirational but still sensitive. A Volvo 4×4 wagon? Bob Brown, no
doubt, is a 2CV man – Tassie’s a bit too cold and wet for a bike all
the time. Malcolm Turnbull no doubt has a sleek BMW – everyone else in
Wentworth does – but we presume he’s moved down from an 8 Series since
he became an MP. The Nats are a clapped out ute, if their performance
is anything to go by. The Democrats are out of rego, about to lose
their official party status in parliament – but what else?

Send your suggestions to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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