It’s interesting to contrast reports of two ALP reflections on the election result – one in Crikey on the thoughts of Victorian MP Martin Foley, and one in The Drum on a meeting of the NSW Right, penned by Glenn Milne, who inexplicably writes for the ABC these days.
The Victorian Left MP ruminates on the damage done by the excessive use of focus group techniques and a soulless approach to the techniques of campaigning, and at the same time argues that Labor needs to formulate principled policy which can appeal to its support bases in both progressive and working communities. That’s normally seen as a bridge too far by modern Labor, post-Keating. Yet I’ve seen very little evidence that most of the outer suburban vote targeted by ALP “hard heads” actually does swing on the basis of issues such as asylum seekers and “social issues”.
The smallest swing against the ALP in Queensland, for instance, was in Petrie – a classic outer suburban “battlers” seat. I suspect there’s a refusal to recognise that the consequences of economic decisions taken under Hawke and Keating actually contributed mightily to the erosion of Labor’s vote. The backlash against the Howard Liberals over WorkChoices also suggests that the cultural project of reconfiguring class identities around notions of “aspiration” and “entrepreneurialism” was only ever skin deep.
Meanwhile, over in Milne-land, the veteran transcriber of leaks purports to report the defensive bile of the NSW right, and to present it in the best possible light. Karl Bitar, it seems, is going to voluntarily look for career opportunities elsewhere, while the rightsters heap blame on the PM for the exact same reasons they heaped blame on Kevin Rudd.
You could take all this with a massive pinch of salt, of course, but it’s interesting that a serious piece of reflection from a Left MP is ignored in the MSM while the almost totally discredited NSW right’s recriminations are still treated as if they’re gospel (and headlined as a “crisis for Labor”).
Something I’d regard as a plus is treated as a negative:
Where has she been? We learn today she is now planning to move into the Lodge, making her ascension formal. Until her appearance on Wednesday where she delivered the latest episode of the soap that is becoming the Speakership we had not heard from her in person since her Ben Chifley, “Light on the Hill” moment on September 18.
Meanwhile the vacuum is being filled by the Greens and, wait for it, Rudd as shiny new Foreign Minister. Can you imagine John Howard or Rudd as prime minister going missing for that long a time? Perhaps it was an inauspicious outing. Gillard used it to claim she would be as an audacious and ambitious leader as Chifley was, faced by his own straitened circumstances of a parliament and a government reliant on independents.
I’d have thought that not compulsively fronting the cameras for the message of the day, making serious appearances to talk about serious things, and getting on with the business of governing in a new environment was actually a very good move by the PM.