What planet is shadow treasurer Wayne Swan living on? His book Postcodes: The Splintering of a Nation was launched yesterday – but that took second place to his re-writing of history.

Swan described Labor’s loss last year as reasonable. He claimed Labor was still in a good position to challenge the government at the next poll. “I think under the circumstances we had a reasonable result,” he told reporters. “It could have been worse, yeah.”

Swan said one of Labor’s biggest problems was failing to win back people who left the party at the 1996 election. This, he claimed, had been compounded by the electoral skills of Prime Minister John Howard.

“A lot of those people moved to and voted Liberal in 1996 and we haven’t got them all back, and we have to work very hard to get them back,” he said. “Howard has run vicious cultural politics which has overridden and has been designed to override economic resentment and disadvantage.”

Swan denied Labor is going backwards in its efforts to regain power. “We’ve had some ordinary results, we’ve lost a few seats but we’re still a fighting political force in this parliament. “Despite all the things that have happened, despite September 11… we are still in good shape in this House with the numbers we have here to win government at the next election.”

All this on the day when Labor became an irrelevance over tax? And what sort of strategist would ever describe any loss as “reasonable”?

If Swan wants to play at being an intellectual, he should have a look at political scientist John Wanna’s article in the Australian Journal of Politics and History: Volume 51, Number 2, 2005, pages 274-326. He should pay particular attention to these comments on the 2004 election outcome on page 278: “It was an astonishing victory for a government that had introduced the GST in 2000, looked tired and directionless in 2003, was dogged by accusations of lying, struggled with its tough refugee policy, and joined the US in the Iraq invasion of 2003-4.”