Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Labor Tantrum

We always knew that Hanson being involved in the NSW election would produce some drama - it just wasn't in the way we expected.

In the event, her "campaign" was barely a blip on the radar.  Whether the media deliberately ignored her or not is difficult to say, but after her position on the ballot was determined she was fairly anonymous.  

In the wash, it looks like she will miss out on the last remaining upper house seat (see Anthony Green's blog for updates).  That seat looks likely to go to the Greens.

The interesting part has been to see the Labor reaction to the possibility of Hanson's election.

The reaction has no doubt been coloured by the fact that, despite the Coalition not getting an absolute majority in the upper house, (the Coalition look set to hold 19 of the 42 seats), along with the Shooters (2 seats) and the Christian Democrats (2 seats) the conservative side of politics will have a majority.

To say Labor and the Greens have been vexed by this result would appear to be an understatement.

The worst thing for Labor is that whilst next time round they will no doubt win more than the 5 they won this time round, they will be defending the 9 they won in 2007, so will be unlikely to gain much, if any, ground.

Anthony Albanese, Federal member for Grayndler, was quoted on SMH Online today. Exactly why Federal members are making comments on the NSW election is unclear, but we'll put that aside.

Albanese appears to blame the Greens for Labor losing half a dozen seats in the lower house.  This may be true - of course, the Greens I'm sure had their own very good reasons for doing what they did.  Perhaps if they preferenced Labor in the seats they had no chance of winning, they would have, by association, damaged their chances in the two seats they actually had a chance of winning (Balmain and Marrickville).

That said, the "estimate" of 6 seats would seem to be stretching the truth just a little.

Albanese was then quoted as saying "It is possible this week Pauline Hanson could be elected to the NSW upper house because of the failure of the Greens party to do a preference swapping deal with NSW Labor in the upper house."

Now this is a little ridiculous.  For a start, it seems inconceivable that many Greens voters would preference Hanson above Labor, preference deal or not.  Anthony Green says (speaking of the 2003 results, when Hanson last ran for the Upper House) that Hanson "did much worse than Labor and the Greens on the distribution of preferences from just about every other party on the ballot paper."

It appears that Green voters did not need to be told to preference against Hanson in 2003, and there is no reason we should expect any different tin 2011.  

Even if the chips had not fallen the way they have, it shows breathtaking arrogance from Labor to tell the Greens off in relation to this.

Even if the Labor pundits (Luke Foley has gotten involved as well) were right (they're not), who are they to lay into the Greens for not preferencing the way Labor told them to?

The Greens are their own party.  They are entitled to preference exactly who they want.  They are not a subset of the Labor party, and the disgruntled Labor pundits would do well to be reminded of that. No deal was broken, no lie was told - the Greens simply formed the view that it was not in their interests to preference Labor.

Just because Labor and the Greens have a convenient ability to work together and have policies that are at least partially in sync does not mean that the Greens need to preference as if the parties are in a formal coalition.

That is especially so when the Labor government have, over the last 4 years, delivered a master-class in how to infuriate an electorate.

More likely, if Labor had not so thoroughly balls-up the last 4 years then the election would have been a real competition between 2 viable alternatives, and the voters would have been less likely to vote for a Queenslander whose candidacy could at best be described as "opportunistic".

In any event, it's doubtful that anyone is particularly interested in Labor's attempts to write the history of the NSW election long these lines.  The election will be remembered for a great big thumping given by the Coalition, and given that Hanson will now most likely not win a seat, Labor won't have the chance to trot out an utterly implausible "I told you so" any time Hanson stymied one of their plans.


  1. The argument was never made that Greens votes would flow to Hanson. Much of the pro-Greens commentary has been getting their knickers in a knot about this "Labor lie" that to my knowledge has not been seriously put forward by anyone.

    The criticism from the Labor side is that the lack of a formal preference deal is detrimental to the Greens or Labor beating Hanson and the Greens are at fault for he said lack of deal. To my mind both of those propositions have some truth to them. Greens may have good reasons not to preference Labor, but when it comes down to the numbers that decision only hurts the Greens and Labor.

    But good work beating the straw man.

  2. anonymous you are wrong. David Penberthy said in the Punch that
    the Greens preferenced Pauline Hanson. Look for yourself.
    Today albanese said that it was the Greens fault if Hanson were elected.
    Funnily enough the Greens have discovered that Labor although claiming they would preference Greens, did not in two thirds of the NSW electorates.

  3. It appears to me that the Labor line is less about rewriting history, and more about creating the impression that a Greens vote is risky. This is a tactic aimed at future elections, they are planting the seed now.

  4. I agree with Anonymous.

    This post is a bit of a beatup really.

    You quote Albanese and then go on to refer to everything as 'Labor' having said this or that. while Albanese is Labor, yes, and is entitled to an opinion, he is not the spokesperson on Labor campaigning in NSW.

    To say "it shows breathtaking arrogance from Labor to tell the Greens off in relation to this." is such an exaggeration. Enough of the dramatics, there's nothing breathtaking about it, and it wasn't 'Labor'. And it wasn't exactly 'telling the Greens off' either.

    The way I see it comments have been made about the Greens not preferencing to Labor, understandably annoyed comments from some Labor people, because knowing the Greens beliefs it's a bit hard to understand why they wouldnt preference to Labor if not doing so might elect Pauline Hanson. What's the point of voting Green if your vote is going to elect someone with contrary views?

    Yes, the Greens are not a subset of the ALP (as you spend so much of your article talking about, why I don't know) and can do what they like in terms of preference deals, or not. But that's not really the point.

    I mean, everyone can vote for, and preference for whoever they like. What I have no respect for is those who don't take the time to work out what their vote and preferencing will actually do, who will it most likely elect. Denial about this issue means we often get stuck with someone we hate for years.

  5. And we're taking Penberthy seriously now?
    Penberthy and Bolt live for weeks like this, all the attention they crave, causing all the chaos they seek.
    So I'll repeat, nobody has seriously claimed or defended the position that Greens preferenced Hanson.
    The claim that is it a "Labor Lie" is itself a lie.