It’s all too easy for many of us to sit around gazing deeply into our navels about what the Coalition should do to become a competitive political force again — and become one they must; Governments without quality opposition lead to incompetence on a NSW scale. Yet the reality of what the Coalition faces is far more difficult than most of us ever credit. For instance, the Opposition is getting assaulted by Labor on both their right provincial flank and their inner city left flank.

Not only are the Coalition fighting on their two flanks, there’s a central battleground of middle Australia to boot, a middle Australia where the tax/transfer payment system is playing a major role in the electoral politics. There are massive correlations between the proportion of the electorate receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A and the ALP Two Party Preferred Swing at the last election.

With Labor continuing to use FTB Part A as a political prism with their stimulus packages on the one hand, and monetary policy having the biggest effect on household wallets in areas with high median mortgage repayment to median household income ratios — the combined impact of these two policy mechanisms are becoming profound for both the ALP and the Coalition in terms of what seats are in the political firing line, where and how.

For the Coalition to craft a workable strategy, there are indeed a vast number of issues and a vast number of demographics and seats to take into consideration. Over at the Pollytics blog I’ve provided a fairly sizeable canvas of the political context in terms of what we know and where it’s happening, bringing together polling, census and electoral data to highlight the complexity and enormity of what the Coalition faces.

If you were to unleash your inner Liberal Party strategist — be it because you’re a Coalition supporter or simply because you believe that competitive opposition provides for better government, what would you do? How would you deal with these complex demographic and electoral dynamics? Where would you play offence, how would you play defence and what would you do it with? It’s a lot harder than it looks because the country is a lot more complicated that we usually acknowledge.

So if you’re sick to death of blog threads that descend into acrimony and pointlessness and you’ve occasionally thought yourself a bit of an armchair Crosby/Textor — come on over to the blog. But be warned, this is an exercise in crowdsourcing better quality political information and pursuing higher quality debate — it’s not a place for partisan cheerleaders.

In fact, cheerleaders will be violated, survivors will be shot.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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