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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

3 puzzles « Previous | |Next »
September 18, 2004

Some puzzles:

The sunny optimism shown by the Back Page crowd about the ALP on a winning run, when I reckon that Howard won the campaign in the 1st three weeks.

John Wanna in The Australian has a different tack. He says that:

"National polls have the Coalition frozen on 43-46 per cent of the primary vote and that hasn't moved since June this year. Labor is equally stuck on a primary vote of 40-42 per cent - again, not moving over the same period....the two-party-preferred outcome [is] a dead heat on 50-50 for the past two polls. An alternative explanation is that national trends hide substantial movements at a regional level. Tasmanian and South Australian polls have both shown much larger swings - up to 8 per cent - but they tend to cancel each other out. "

Wanna says that the polls indicate that no one is listening and no one is shifting their political opinion.

Oh yeah? How come the trend in the Adelaide marginals has shifted to the ALP? How come Tasmania is now going stir crazy from Howard on his white charger coming to save the old growth forests? It is now possible that Bass could shift to the Coalition.

My judgement is that Howard has clawed his way back from being behind on both the primary and the two party preferred votes. On the latter he has drawn level, if not inching ahead. That makes the green preferences flowing to the ALP crucial for the marginal seats it hopes to win, with the Greens now sitting on around 6% nationally. They need a big flow ---preferrably 80% or more in specific marginal seats.

The Age poll supports this reading, as does Hugh McKay's qualitative research. Is it that comfortable feeling coming from economic prosperity? Although Howard is not travelling well in SA (yesterday's Newspoll in The Australian), it appears that the ALP is not gaining enough seats to shift from the plus 3 in SA to the needed 12. The flow to the ALP is yet to happen in Queensland.

Can it? How will WA play out?

The second puzzle is the view that the election will be about social policy now that we have the Lib-Lab convergence on the economy and national security. That view recently stated by Peter Hartcher overlooks the environment:


It's the blinkers about the environment that is the puzzle not the Lib-Lab convergence.The environment means climate change (and energy) old-growth forests and rivers. The surfacing of these issues last week (rivers & forest) indicates Hartcher's blinkers. The writers at Back Pages and Road to Surfdom also downplay the environment as a central issue. By and large Sydney is pretty bored by Adelaide's obsessive concerns about the health of the River Murray.

The third puzzle. Why has the ALP taken the stick to both single mums in the tax policy and the Medicare safety net in health policy? Why make such a big deal about it being good to hit those on the bottom so hard? Is that negativity what is deemed necessay to win the aspirational vote in Sydney? Does that mean the poor in the regions will be sacrificed for the prosperity of Sydney suburbanites in the name of the rationality of the utilitarian calculus? It is a real puzzle that the ALP Labor is going to the election promising many single income families that they would be noticeably less well off, if the ALP is elected.

That is new Labor: it's ethos, in Evans Jones words, baked from "the free market, self-help and parsimonious charity by the well-heeled and sanctimonious."

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:46 AM | | Comments (7) | TrackBacks (1)

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 3 puzzles:

» Fear, loathing, etc #11 from Back Pages
With Mark Latham surging in the polls, here is an open-election post for folks to raise or report or discuss anything they wish about Australia's '04 date with destiny. We seem to be getting through these posts at an increasingly... [Read More]



The sunny optimism shown by the Back Page crowd about the ALP on a winning run when I reckon that Howard won the campaign in the 1st three weeks.

There is as much despondency as optimism at Back Pages. But why do you think Howard won the campaign? is that just a 'cool' position too take, are you persuaded by the last poll that fell on you, or do you actually have a case?

The case was sketched in the body of the post if you had bothered to read it.

1.Apart from SA, Howard has come from behind in the two party preferred stakes to draw level (if not inch in front).

2.The ALP has not gained the needed seats in Queensland to add to those in SA to make up the 12. Queensland was where it had to happen for the ALP according the public statements of their strategists.

If I recall you had written Howard off several weeks ago. Jack has no more shots left in the locker was the line, if I remember.

Well, I would call the Medicare and Murrray announcements good shots from that empty locker. The former had more impact than Latham's whilst Latham's Murray announcement effectively blocked Howards from getting through in SA.

And the Tasmanian forests kite flown by Howard is another effective shot. A huge one if it is pulled off. The ALP is soft on forests, and it is hoping that its environmental creditionals to swing the Greens can be done with climate change and the Murray.

The ALP may very well find itself outgunned on Tasmanian forests.

I don't write off, and have never written off, Howard, and would suggest anyone who does is a fool. Your reading appears partial, Coalition favourable and far from convincing to me.

So I have a case. Thankyou.

I never said that you had written Howard off, only that you had claimed at the beginning of the campaign that Howard had fired all the shots in his locker.

Of course my reading is partial--it is reading of the campaign from the left of the ALP. It concentrates on the environment which is ignored in the excess of Sydney centric pro-ALP commentary.It is also written from living within the innercity seat of Adelaide.

Why only last week you were saying that I pretended to stand above the political fray pretending to be neutral and objective. Then I was damned because I was neutral, now I'm damned if I'm partial. If you keep it up you will give social democracy a bad name.

Coalition favourable? Leak? You do read images strangely.

In terms of tactics and strategies I said that Latham had effectively countered Howard on the Murray.That means that Howard needs to top Latham on the Murray if he is to bring the greeny social liberals back into his fold. Moreover it is Howard currently making the running on saving the forests not Latham.

But it is true. I'm biased. I do not like the Latham ALP. It is far too socially conservative and neo-liberal for me. It gives me the historical shudders.

It promises much (eg., on education) in the name of social justice but it keeps the money well hidden. So the ALP won't really deliver on the universities. This passionately saying one thing for the cameras and then doing something quite different when the cameras are turned off is standard operating practice in the Senate.

The rightwing economic boys who run the political show squash most of the good innovative ideas in the name of prudent economic management. Those who have responsibility for the national security state have little real commitment to the individual rights of liberalism, whilst the Sussex Street machine men sneer at the values of participatory democracy.

I cannot see how that perspective makes me favourable to the Coalition. Your perspective seems to be anything but Howard. I want the federal state to do the right thing by the River Murray--and that is far more than more flows down the dying river.

I don't think I said that Gary. I've had a look, but can't find it. Can you show me where I said it? All I remember is posing the question to provoke speculation, because nothing seemed obvious at some stage well before the campaign, not calling a conclusion

I no longer see you as posing above the fight. I now have you pegged as a Green cheer-leader - you straightened me out on that.

A less partial scrutiny of the polls would register Morgan's large ALP lead, the trend to Labor in today's Newspoll marginal survey, and the beyond margin of error lead Latham now has on the satisfaction rating in both Morgan and Newspoll.

As for the shortcomings in the ALP, well I couldn't be bothered arguing about it (I've written about it at length in several books). My hope is that this current wretched lot is knocked off, and I'll worry about the rest of the show later. I expect that, when and if the ALP is elected, I'll be able to resume my customary position as a member of the loyal opposition.

I'm happy to be categorized as a cheerleader for the Greens. Someone needs to do it in the blogging world. The Green voice does not have a presence.

I had a quick look around the beginning of the campaign. But I could not find it either. Maybe it was further back in time?

But I remember the remark because it struck a chord and it stayed with me. Not because you were wrong. Rather because it indicated someone also saw politics in terms of a conflict or war employing tactics,strategies feints and manoeuvres, as opposed to the emotional identification approach of my party right or wrong.

The latter is a positivist hangover arising from reason versus emotion duality so common amongst neo-liberal economists who reckon they do science.

You take Gramsci as a guide, I've gone from Gramsci back to Machivelli and the classical Roman rhetoricians for my agonistic conception of politics.

Maybe you made the remark around the time of the federal budget? When I have a mo I will go and look for it.

Anyhow I've used your remark to watch the way that Howard fights his war: ie., how he uses that cash and who for.

My remarks about the polls were based in part on Friday's entry in Brian Palmer's Oz Politics blog. My judgement is that the ALP would be in a better position if it was picking up, not falling back, on a two-party preferred basis.

That is the key indicator for me not the effect of personalities of Howard or Latham.

Thanks Gary

I feel sure (but can't find) that it would have been in a pre-campaign context, when I was wracking my brains to figure what the Howardians could possibly do next, not writing Howard off.

I've gone from Gramsci back to Machivelli

I too am a student of the latter, as of course was Gramsci. I haven't been forced back to Rome for a long time, however.