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The cold light of morning – Or, where the Liberals went wrong

By johnboy - 20 October 2008 99

[First filed: October 20, 2008 @ 08:42]

Both major parties are trying to tell you that Satruday’s election was a ringing endorsement of them. They are both extremely fortunate that there isn’t another election next Saturday if they want to keep up this line. The latest figures from the ABC show a -9.3% swing against Labor and, in that context amazingly, a -3.7% swing against the Liberals.

So even running against a Government massively on the nose with the electorate the Liberals went backwards.

With the wisdom of hindsight I’m going to make some suggestions:

    This is a listing of all the campaign commercials the Liberals put out during the election, I count 28 of them.

    This is a listing of Liberal policies. Most of which appeared without an accompanying media release in the dying days of the campaign. They do outnumber the ads, but only just. And some of them are very narrow documents (West Belconnen Health Centre for one).

    This is a listing of Zed’s media releases. His colleagues were allowed to say even less.

    — By way of comparison here are the ACT Labor campaign media releases. Rather more of them no?

When I came back to Canberra, after a year away, in July I was astonished to see so little public comment coming out a Liberal party supposedly running hard to take Government. A daily camera fronting in the Assembly courtyard is not the same thing as making substantive arguments.

A campaign based solely around commercial electronic media buys is an advertising campaign, not an election campaign. It might have worked in an outer Sydney suburb in the 1960s. But this is Canberra, and this is 2008.

It was an empty campaign of glib sound bites and desperate efforts to avoid hard questions. To finish it off with mobile and landline spamming showed a total lack of understanding of this electorate and our compulsory voting system.

Brendan Smyth as leader did better four years ago in the face of a rising Labor vote. The Liberals have lost a seat from the last election.

Liberals thrive in Canberra when they are socially progressive. Younger, more hardline, social conservatives are just lipstick on pigs.

Losing Bill Stefaniak in Ginninderra might have hurt the party, but that too was a failure of leadership.

To hear either major party taking comfort from this election turns the stomach. A long stay in the room of mirrors is seriously called for.

[On a brighter note we’re rather pleased to see that Matt Watts with an advertising campaign consisting of sitting at the end of the Pot Belly’s bar and advertising with RiotACT (at very reasonable rates) pulled .2 of a quota compared to Gary Kent’s massive TV campaign for the same result.]

Liberal election campaign 2008

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99 Responses to
The cold light of morning – Or, where the Liberals went wrong
Tempestas 9:57 am 20 Oct 08

Exactly – not sure how you can claim to be winners with a 10% and 3% swing against. I think it says the ACT is not rapt with either of the major parties.

The really interesting thing is to see whether the greens can convert the next four years into solid support over just protest vote. Their claimed areas of interest are the ones that have tended to be poorly handled in the ACT.

BTW I think trying to tar JB with the liberal hating brush is a bit much. He has hardly shown any bias accept against the obvious moron’s.

The best result in this election is that the motorist party got what they deserved. Perhaps they might now go away.

Again its worth remembering that a majority Govt under hare-clark is rare enough to be considered an aberation.

Skidbladnir 9:57 am 20 Oct 08

GnT said :

Majority government in the ACT is an anomoly and I think it would be impossible for any party to repeat.

You mean like how black swans were impossibile, based on empirical & historical evidence instead of a Bayesian approach?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan_theory

Considering the circumstances around how we actually got our majority government vote in the first place (public’s reaction the Captain Underpants image carried the day against a weak opposition, and it was a shame the Inquiry wasn’t available for two years after the 2004 election), I just see it as highly unlikely and very costly for anyone to try and reproduce through the same methods.

PM 9:48 am 20 Oct 08

I think the Liberal campaign lacked a “narrative” to distance itself from Labor.

justbands 9:46 am 20 Oct 08

> The ones I met at various functions around the place had an obvious “oh, your one of the little people” attitude about them, which does not sit well with me.

Doesn’t sit well at all with me either…& a major reason why I doubt I will ever vote Liberal (local of Federal). In my experience, they ooze that attitude.

Not much talk about how well The Greens did yet, only of how badly the majors did. They must have been doing cartwheels down the corridors on Saturday evening.

harvyk1 9:42 am 20 Oct 08

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

Johnboy, I’m not a liberal party member, or even a Canberra voter, but making it this obvious how much you dislike the libs doesn’t really do this site much credit.

Actually I’d say JB is simply reporting the facts. I don’t see anything that is not factual, and it quite basically sh*ts all over some of the other “professional journalism” seen in some of the other well known publications. If you want to complain of bias read some of the articles in the daily telegraph.

My personal thought is given that Jon Stanhope has not been overly cleaver politically in the last 4 years, managing to piss off quite a few Canberrans in the process (a 10% swing away should have indicated that). Zed and his liberals did not capitalize on that at all.

Zed kept his people on a leash, they followed the liberal mantra of degrade the other guy, which works well in federal elections because bogan’s typically react to such methods. But Canberra is typically a highly educated place, where both seats are considered safe labor seats. This means that tactics used by federal liberals will not work for the ACT liberals. We are more moved by good policy, planning, and what your going to do for us in general. Bad mouthing the other guy doesn’t work very well here.

If the libs really wanted to win, they shouldn’t have embarked on a negative campaign. They should have said “here is our plan” earlier than a week out from the election. Let the plans do the talking. They also need to teach their candidates how to behave at functions. The ones I met at various functions around the place had an obvious “oh, your one of the little people” attitude about them, which does not sit well with me.

The thing that says it all was that even with massive dissatisfaction with the old labor gov’t the libs just did not capitalize on it, and that is evident with the swing away from them.

What I hope is that both major parties look at this election and realize that they both lost, and that they both need to pick up their game. A 13% swing away from the major parties is not the definition of a win.

GnT 9:34 am 20 Oct 08

A swing against the government is not surprising, regardless of what they have done the last four years. Majority government in the ACT is an anomoly and I think it would be impossible for any party to repeat.

jakez 9:26 am 20 Oct 08

jimbocool, I like to think my shameless plugs are worth at least half of Watts’ vote ;-P

With the polling finally done and dusted, I can be straight up and down with what I thought of the Liberals campaign and the result.

As has probably been apparent in my (not so) covert grumblings, I was infuriated by the Liberals lack of policy and the Presidential style campaign. I hope that the Libs in the Legislative Assembly finally pull themselves together and do the hard policy work and if they do, I think we could achieve a really fantastic result in 2012.

To that end, I am extremely pleased with the election result. Let’s be completely frank, 12 months ago the massacre was on (and rightfully so). To get seven seats is an improvement in short term fortunes (and considering the campaign, a surprisingly good result). However it is within those seven seats that I am most pleased.

In one of the threads I was bagging out Robson Rotation because I felt it wasn’t bringing incumbents down to an even playing field. I HAPPILY EAT HUMBLE PIE. It appears the ACT has brought Christmas a little early for me because Burke is gone and it looks like Pratt the prat might be gone too. A clearing of the dead wood and injection of new blood is exactly what the Liberal Parliamentary Party needed.

Jakez is feeling good about the future.

justbands 9:20 am 20 Oct 08

> Johnboy, I’m not a liberal party member, or even a Canberra voter, but making it this obvious how much you dislike the libs doesn’t really do this site much credit.

I’d actually picked JB as a Tori. So…there ‘ya go.

justbands 9:19 am 20 Oct 08

The ALP would have expected the swing against them (particularly after such a massive vote for them last time around), but the Libs must be kicking themselves. Going backwards yourselves when the Gov has an over 9% swing against them? That’s laughable…in fact, hahahahaha! The Greens cashed in both ways…their vote has been increasing in any case & Left voters that wanted Stanhope punished voted for them.

Mr Evil 9:16 am 20 Oct 08

Yeah, but Pratt and Burke have been given the arse – how good is that! 🙂

At this rate, in another couple of elections, Zed might have a party of winners to lead to victory!

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 9:16 am 20 Oct 08

Johnboy, I’m not a liberal party member, or even a Canberra voter, but making it this obvious how much you dislike the libs doesn’t really do this site much credit.

amarooresident 9:13 am 20 Oct 08

Well summed up johnboy. That the liberals went backward in their overall vote in this climate is an indictment on their campaign and their period of opposition. You can’t spend the best part of four years knifing each other then expect the public to forgive and forget at the election. The high Greens and “other” vote shows that the electorate was looking for an alternative but the libs failed to convince anyone that they were worth supporting.

The one good result for them is that they have got rid of some dead wood, although the members coming in would appear to hold the same socially conservative views which may not be a good thing in the long run, but should offer a chance for renewal.

jimbocool 9:10 am 20 Oct 08

“On a brighter note we’re rather pleased to see that Matt Watts with an advertising campaign consisting of sitting at the end of the Pot Belly’s bar and advertising with RiotACT (at very reasonable rates) pulled .2 of a quota compared to Gary Kent’s massive TV campaign for the same result”

Not forgetting Jakez’s tireless boosting of Mr Watts

Otherwise, horror of horrors, I find myself agreeing with most of JB’s argument (although I don’t think the Libs have lost a seat – although Ginninderra may yet please us by despatching Vicki Dunne to the void). I noted in another thread that the use of US style electioneering tactics is always doomed to failure here because of compulsory voting. The presidential style of campaigning is all well and good, but you still have to have policy to be presidential with. Lib policy was weak, with health policy a disaster.

Crikey 9:05 am 20 Oct 08

A Labor-Green ‘coalition’…good luck to Canberra!

I nearly feel sorry for the Labor Party.

At least Canberra residents will see the Green’s true colours.

I thought that Zed was very dignified in his election night speech while John Stanhope was smug and arrogant. Stanhope has certainly not learnt anything from the kick in the pants the voters gave him.

The Greens did very well. Shane seems a little more stable than Deb Foskey. I just hope they will now not destroy the ACT with their fruit loop policies.

Zed was a real winner. He took over a basket-case party (thanks to Smyth and co) only ten months ago and has turned it in to a proper opposition. I was very pleased to see Pratt and Burke get booted out. They have some fresh faces now in Coe, Hanson, Jones and Doszpot. Giulia did very well, especially considering all the hysteria about her last week.

As an outsider I felt the Liberal’s campaign was very amateurish and not effective. Labor completely out-gunned them. It wouldn’t help the Libs having such an inexperienced director and campaign team.

I was very pleased that Mary Porter and Andrew Barr were returned. It would have been good to see Mike Hettinger win as well.

Thank god voters turned away from Helen Cross and Frank Pangallo. Both carry so much bitterness and baggage.

The biggest losers of the election were the Canberra Times and Jim Murphy and Kate Carnell’s Canberra Business Club. The Times coverage was so bias, especially their Saturday’s edition and their little advertising stickers on Thursday and Friday. It is clear they were batting for Stanhope. Jim and Kate funded non-Liberals with money raised by Liberals for Liberals. They must be very proud of themselves.

trevar 9:03 am 20 Oct 08

I think you’re a bit hard on the Libs. They’ve got an extra tough job in an area that almost always elects two Labor MPs in Federal elections.

Nonetheless, you’re right that the arrogance of both parties in the last couple of days is unhealthy. If Little Jonny thinks he has a mandate after such an enormous swing, he’s a bigger idiot than I thought he was. Rattenbury is right to say that it should be about policy outcomes for the next four years, not how popular or unpopular Zed and Jon are now.

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