Faced with the news that the conservative anti-carbon-tax rally yesterday had 400 participants, and Get Up’s pro-carbon-tax rally organised in response had 8,000, Andrew Bolt concludes that maybe the “public revolt” he’s been hyping has been somewhat exaggerated. Maybe it was merely wishful thinking on the part of partisans who really wanted it to be true, and spent little time outside their own echo-chambers.

Wait, those 8,000 people are protesting FOR the “carbon tax” that we’ve told them will destroy the country? Gosh. Well, time for some sober self-reflection on where we’ve gone wrong, then.

No, just kidding. He makes excuses:

A tale of two rallies: the numbers lie

It’s true, the Left has always been better at protesting and giving the impression of speaking for more people than they really do. They have the contacts, the collectivist appeal, the media support and the experience to, for instance, hold a rally in the centre of town and not at Werribee.

It isn’t fair! We was robbed! They’re just better at it than we are! They have “the contacts” (to, uh, to, um. You know, “contacts”) and “the collectivist appeal” (damn them and their popular support) and “the media support” (let’s pretend you could hardly open a newspaper without seeing demands to attend Get Up’s rally whereas NOBODY was advertising the conservatives’ cause) and “the experience” not to hold their rally in a stupid place!

Doesn’t count! It’s like the election – it’s not legitimate unless we win.

Meanwhile, here’s a response from an organiser, Tony Hooper, that Bolt puts up without comment:

The rally at Werribee was a true grass roots campaign and we began with 5 people in a café two weeks ago, and ended with 500 in the streets of Labor heartland, never before has Melbourne’s west seen a turn out like it against a sitting ALP member.

A “true grass roots campaign”? From a similar email sent to Bolt beforehand:

As with any organising committee there must be a link somewhere or we would not have gotten together, and we all have some link to the local liberal party in Altona, and I hold the strongest link as I have been recently elected Chairman of the Altona SEC. As such I will not either address the rally nor make any public comment in the lead up to event as I do not want this reported as a Liberal event, and there is no involvement by either the local branch or 104 Collins Street in the organising or promotion of the rally.

Yes, we’re just a bunch of Liberal Party people who are doing this in our own time so we can pretend the Liberal Party is not involved. (Except that we had Liberal Senators joining Tony in speaking at the rally. Hey, look at all those hand-painted signs!)

Perhaps they should stick to their campaigning strengths: getting big business to fund very expensive advertising campaigns where attractive actors pretend to be ordinary people who support what big business wants. That way you don’t have to worry about looking like the public doesn’t support you – you can pay as many people as you need to make it look good on television.

Which reminds me of one odd note from Mr Hooper’s excuse-spin:

from what I understand the crowd in Canberra on March 23 will eclipse anything that groups like Getup and their left wing cohorts can arrange, and they will be true community representatives, not just a group of paid activists.

Wait – paid activists? When we attend a progressive rally we’re supposed to get paid? Since when? Why weren’t any of us told?

I mean, I knew the actors in Liberal Party advertisements were paid, but lefty rally attendees? That’s either absolutely deranged hysteria from a total dribbling idiot, or somebody owes me some cash.

ELSEWHERE: Credit where it’s due, though – at least the Herald Sun actually covered the rallies, where the ABC either ignored them completely or… it did mention them but has such a hopeless search engine on its site it’s impossible to find.

UPDATE: The ABC’s coverage here. They really need to fix up that search engine.

UPDATE 2: As highlighted in the comments, Bolt had another interpretation of the numbers while on Insiders yesterday.

Bolt: “… and 800 at the Simon Sheikh, Get-Up, one.”

Cassidy: “Where did you get that ’800′ figure? I saw 3 reports and they all mentioned ‘thousands’?

Bolt: “I didn’t see that.”

Strange that he “didn’t see that” when he’d already published the 8000 figure on his blog – Dave