Today as I trawled through The Riot Act to pass the time and I read about Zed’s impending coup against Gaz and a religious conservative displacing a secular moderate, I came across some posts about the October 2012 ACT Election.
Reading them, I was reminded of Philip Pocock. Remember him? The qualified and registered psychologist who had interesting views on women and rape within marriage, gays, and sexuality more generally? Do ya?!?
Well, I decided to see how good ole’ Phil, or “cock” to some who know of him, performed at those elections. Elections are the chance for the citizenry to speak directly to politicians and tell them exactly what we think, and what we want. They’re the special occasion when we all choose who will lead our society by following our wishes, and we elevate a select few to pursue the aspirations of the rest of us. To raise them above but keep them below. Not to pursue their own agendas, but to follow ours. To keep our streets safe and our electricity running. Our kids educated and our traffic flowing. Our garbage collected and our expectations met. You know, democracy in action.
And, presumably, it was in this spirit that Phil stood as an independent in the district of Molonglo, and on election day there were 651 like-minded individuals registered to vote in the ACT who thought that Phil would be a good inclusion to the ACT Legislative Assembly. Phil Pocock MLA. Now say what you like about the territory parliament, but my personal view is that the parliament isn’t THAT bad. But I digress.
Phil ranked second highest of all votes received by any of the nine independent, or ‘ungrouped’ candidates in all three districts. Phil nearly received as many votes as the bottom three independents combined. All results for the nine ungrouped candidates are available from Elections ACT here. [the webpage has a few issues, but just bear with it.]
The best-performing independent in the entire ACT for that election was Michael Lindfield, who stood as an independent in Brindabella. On election day, Lindfield received 770 votes. Again, 770 like-minded individuals though Lindfield would be a good addition to the ACT Legislative Assembly. Not an altogether bizarre sentiment since Lindfield has a long history of community involvement and has also had a minor media profile for quite some time. So for Lindfield to get 770 votes is somewhat a reflection of his reputation and activities. Yet most people in the ACT only came to know of Phil’s existence and candidacy through media coverage of him just ahead of the election. And this coverage had, how shall I put it, more of an entertainment flavour than serious political coverage. I don’t mean to sledge the Canberra Times, I’m just sayin’.
So rioters, what I’d like to know is, given their vastly different media profiles, how can a guy like Philip Pocock get nearly as many votes as Michael Lindfield and more than any of the other seven candidates? How is this possible in the jurisdiction with such high average levels of education, high average salaries and [usually, anyway] such low levels of unemployment? Previously, I had thought that all the punitive, ranting, gay-hating theocrats were in Queensland. I’m not saying that Phil is one; in my view he’s pretty much said that himself in his own words.
Don’t misunderstand me: I think it’s great that Phil answered questions truthfully and shared his opinions with us. Politics lacks such bald-faced honesty… and for good reason. Better for candidates to reflect what they think the community wants to see. Although maybe this was also what Phil was doing. Who knows?!? But either way, a further question arises: if Phil’s media coverage contributed significantly to this election result, how will that shape the campaigns of independents in future elections, hmmm? Are we going to have wacky, niche candidates who electioneer using stunts to get attention? You know, all front and no grunt? Discuss.