The biggest focus group of all

Saturday, 24 November 2007 

Apparently it is the tradition for Australian political blogs to make a prediction on the election result.

This seems like a little bit of chest-beating bravado that isn’t really much point for a site that claims no expertise in psephology unlike the esteemed gentlemen linked on the right. However, in order to retain the freedom to criticise other commentators without sounding like Gerard Henderson, it is probably best to have a go.

Predicting the result has been made difficult by the Labor campaign, which this blog believes has been very ordinary (something disagreed by other commentators but, with exquisite irony, just before their own polls, which only they understand, suggested the exact opposite). Labor is a party in transition as it finds a new role under the leadership of Rudd. There were times when the bite of one of the smartest operators on the Australian political scene was evident during the campaign (such as when he tore up Howard’s record as Treasurer during the debate and kept on asking ‘what’s the point?’ as a belated response to Howard’s retirement announcement). However, generally the campaign seemed less like Rudd’s and more like Beazley’s.

But this election is not really about Labor, it is about the crisis of Australia’s ruling party. The profound exhaustion of a Liberal party that has lost its reason for existence is the real story of this year and, whatever happens today, will only get worse – swiftly if they lose, or delayed, but in full view, if they hang on.

As said at the start of the campaign, a political realignment is coming for which neither party is fully prepared. This is shown by their excessive reliance on focus groups and also by the way they have hung on like grim death to the one thing that fundamentally defined them and divided them in the last century, industrial relations, the last fling of an issue that was resolved years ago. The sham debate on unions and Workchoices may have engrossed the parties, their supporters and the media, but anyone who has had a job in the last decade will know the reality of what has been going on in the Australian workplace since Keating’s reforms.

This reality is why the cover the IR debate has given to this government’s lack of agenda will probably not work and it will lose today. At a guess then, this blog thinks Labor will win comfortably with 87 seats, a majority of 24. This was arrived at by simply aggregating the last set of polls, based on the guidance that as the best indication of what the Australian electorate is thinking, polls are to be taken at face value and to be taken seriously (something that this blog seemed to be one of the few doing earlier this year when Labor’s high fifties support was being routinely dismissed by most commentators). This in turn is based on the sound principle that when the Australian electorate says something, it means it.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Saturday, 24 November 2007.

Filed under Key posts, State of the parties

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