The Age today reveals some of the conspiratorial shenanigans behind the Haneef affair. The leaked emails essentially vindicate the position taken in that case by the Australian Greens, at a time when Labor marched arm-in-arm with Kevin Andrews – yet the story appears alongside a poll showing a slump in Green support.
It’s one of the bizarre ironies of this campaign: even as the issues they own become more and more mainstream, Bob Brown’s mob seems to be becoming more marginal.
You’d think the changing political climate over global warming would, in and of itself, propel the Greens into double figures, given that Bob Brown was campaigning about it back when John Howard denied it even existed (oh, hang on – that’s still going on. But, no – as The Age says, the Greens were “polling 8 per cent in early October, but have been on 6 per cent since the campaign began.”
The Greens have been vindicated in their opposition to the Iraq war, and their position on WorkChoices reflects the visceral hatred about the IR laws revealed in all the surveys, much more so than Labor’s wishy-washy stance. Yet none of it seems to have done them much good.
Quite simply, people want the Liberals out. And, for most of them, that means a Labor vote. Yes, we all know about preferential voting but, somehow, it doesn’t quite seem real. You want rid of Howard, so you vote for the other bloke. You don’t mess about with 1s and 2s and 3s.
It’s not much consolation for this election but one suspects that, like John Howard in the nineties, Bob Brown will be able to say of the next decade: “The times will suit me.”
If the anyone-but-Howard mood leaves little space for a third party, consider the landscape after a Rudd victory. The Liberals will be so preoccupied with fratricidal bloodletting that traditional Toryism will be off the agenda for some time, even as a Blairite Labor Party reveals that economic conservatism coupled with social conservatism equals something pretty damn conservative. In those circumstances, one could easily imagine Brown becoming a focal point for disappointed Rudd voters.
In the meantime, well, no-one ever said politics was fair.