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ALP: old strategy in play « Previous | |Next »
August 20, 2006

Shaun Carney has an interesting argument in The Age about the ground federal Labor is making. He says:

In his second stint as leader of the ALP, Kim Beazley is producing a good news-bad news result for Labor supporters. The good news is that Beazley is performing at a better level now than during his first period as leader in 1996-2001. He has absorbed a number of hard lessons from that time; his messages are less diffuse, his approach to policy is more focused and less timorous.The bad news is that the new, improved Beazley is not necessarily improved enough to make a real difference come election time. The first two weeks of the spring session, which concluded on Thursday, encapsulated the story of the reborn Kim Beazley. Most of the first week was very good for him and for Labor — and then things fell to pieces. They fell to pieces because of Beazley.

Carney argues that during,the first sitting week since June, the Government was shaken by the Reserve Bank's decision to lift interest rates for the second time this year and that it lacked parliamentary firepower. Forced to concede to John Howard's vastly superior numbers, Peter Costello was flat. The ALP, by contrast, made headway in the economic debate. The only way Labor can take things up to the Government on interest rates is to highlight the extent of people's indebtedness and to exploit the vulnerability of families to monetary policy.

They then lost the plot. More interestingly Carney observes a the end of his op. ed. that it is more than Beazley's character. He says:

What's encouraging for the Government are the signs that Beazley and his industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith appear to be lining up to cruise along on a wave of discontent over WorkChoices, a campaign that is chiefly the work of the ACTU. True, Beazley has said he'll do away with AWAs but there's so much more policy work left to do in this area and scant evidence that it's being done. In all of this there are echoes of Beazley's ill-fated faith in an anti-GST wave in 2001. Sometimes you have to wonder why Beazley wanted so badly to return to the leadership.

It's the old 'piss on them and piss off' strategy isn't that Mark Latham identified as characteristic of the Beazley camp.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:42 PM | | Comments (2)


I don't know if, politically speaking, they want to produce too much hard policy before gaining government.

At the moment, the majority think that the IR laws stink, and are generally happy about any alternative. Spell out your alternative, the government gets to turn the heat back onto your policy - and not their own.

I think this is smart politics - this is not the same game as before - the government's economic credentials appear to be fraying at the edges. It is here that the fight needs to be won - and I think Labor is doing credibly here, and have started to actually attack Howard's facade - even mentioning that interest rates were at their highest when he was treasurer - something he seems very uncomfortable about.

Indeed, the ALP can't win according to the pundits - if they attack the government on the economy, they are neglecting IR, if they harp on about IR, they aren't negating economic credibility.

The polls are pretty firm, the government is beginning to smell in the electorate.

you are right about 'the government is beginning to smell in the electorate'--in that the ekectorate reckons the IR laws stink (whilst dissent in the Liberal ranks grows).

You may also be right about the smart ALP politics being played though I've yet to be persuaded by these kind of tactics.

I suspect that as Howard is beginning to clear the decks for the next election with his quick fixes Swan and Smith are cruising on the back of the Reserve Bank and the ACTU campaign.