Last time I was in the birthplace of the ALP, Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel, it was a farewell for Paddy McGuinness. Although Paddy started his life as a true believer, by the time he died in 2008 he had changed philosophies, and I spent the evening in the company of John Howard and Tony Abbott.

So it was no shock to climb the Unity’s stairs on Saturday night to see the Balmain branch of the Liberal Party, there to launch the campaign of candidate James Falk. Not too long ago, being a Balmain Liberal would have led to a public stoning, but the conservative vote is rising, and they are now girding their loins for a real battle.