Tactical Preferences: Sacrificing Labor MPs To The Greens

NEW RESEARCH by the Parliamentary Library showing a swathe of “safe” Labor seats at risk from the Communist Party Greens should be leapt upon by Coalition strategists with gusto; said to potentially be dependent on Liberal preferences for survival, prominent ALP identities like Tanya Plibersek and factional thug David Feeney should be thrown to the socialist wolf. This column despises the Greens. But so as Labor sows, so too should it reap.

There are some who might find my advocacy of a vindictive preference strategy to be thoroughly out of kilter with the sentiments expressed in this column yesterday, in a lengthy piece centred on the appalling state of politics in Australia today.

Yet one of the biggest criticisms I have made of my own party for some considerable time now is its amateurism where political strategy is concerned, and this — coupled with the occasional but recurrent observation made here (and elsewhere) that Labor is better at raw politics than we are — makes what I suggest today not only entirely proper, but takes into account the fact that when elections are there to be won or lost it is precisely this kind of strategy that should be pursued.

If it settles the odd score or redresses the odd slight in the process, then so be it.

I have been reading this morning an article from The Australian that cites research recently completed by the Parliamentary Library in Canberra; I haven’t seen the research, but it’s not difficult to reconcile its findings with what we already know — that Labor support in its inner city seats, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, is being eaten away by the Greens — and whilst what I suggest today isn’t exactly rocket science, a ruthless approach to sacrificing Labor MPs should be pursued by the “strategists” of the Liberal Party.

I encourage readers to read the piece from Phillip Hudson, and then rejoin me here.

Readers know that I detest the Greens, and with good reason; masquerading as a party of the environment and purporting to offer a harmless, feelgood alternative to voters disillusioned with the major parties, this insidious outfit is an illiberal and undemocratic bastion of the hard Left, and a proponent of the worst excesses of state socialism; even after the retirement of pious, sanctimonious former leader Christine Milne, it boasts among its ranks such luminaries as an actual Communist and traitor to democracy in Lee Rhiannon, and a nasty, hatred-fuelled, trouble making socialist with neither a brain nor a heart in Sarah Hanson-Young; and keeps hidden, for good reason, a suite of official policies that are more suited to a re-enactment of Stalinist Russia than to any place in modern, contemporary Australia.

And I have, in times past, advocated for them to be “preferenced out of existence” and savaged them as lunatics of the Left — which, by reasonable standards, they are.

In an ideal world, there would be no Senate quotas to provide cheaply obtained upper house seats for these bums; in an ideal world, preferential voting would be made optional or abolished altogether, forcing them to either gather the most votes in lower houses around the country or suffer defeat.

But even idiots can be useful; and as Hudson’s article shows, a slew of Labor figures — from deputy leader Tanya Plibersek down, no less — now face the serious risk of being beaten in their electorates by Greens candidates, based on overlapping and mapping state election results onto federal boundaries (and, although unscientific, I would add that some degree of increase in the Greens’ vote at Labor’s expense should be assumed as a given in any case).

There are those in the political observation community who subscribe to a flat Earth view of Australian politics that “everything” is a conspiracy between the ALP and the Liberal Party to entrench themselves; the rise of minor parties in Australian Parliaments at all (like the Greens) and rising numbers of Independent MPs easily disprove such a notion.

I raise it today, however, because there will be those in the ALP who appeal to the Liberal Party to “save” some or all of the MPs at risk from the advancing Green menace, and in that regard there are a few observations that should be made.

One, that Labor has spent years slandering and defaming Tony Abbott — without foundation or substance — for the purely expedient purpose of trying to turn him into a monster in the eyes of voters when he is (as anyone who knows or has met him understands) nothing of the kind.

Two, that Labor in its present incarnation (and this is becoming an old story) is a lying, deceptive outfit obsessed with power at any price, wantonly excusing and dismissive of criminal actions by its thuggy masters at the union movement, is “led” by a sleazy, lying oaf whose idea of sensible policy is to tell voters that money can be thrown around in endless buckets and that anyone who says it’s unsustainable is “cruel,” “unfair,” or some other formulation aimed at power at any cost.

And three, Labor has never seen fit to preference the Liberal Party over the Greens when it is Liberal seats at risk: the debacle in the state seat of Prahran in Melbourne last year, when a Liberal polling 45% of the primary vote was beaten by a Green running third and polling less than a quarter of the vote — mostly as a result of Labor preferences that flowed overwhelmingly to the Greens — neatly proves the point.

The Liberal Party is under no obligation to “save” the endangered Labor MPs; in fact, with one of its own blue-ribbon electorates in Higgins (partially composed from areas covered by the Prahran state seat) said to be under threat from a Greens challenge, it is almost certain that Labor how-to-vote cards will direct preferences away from the sitting Liberal, Kelly O’Dwyer.

And when it is considered just who these at-risk Labor MPs are — and weighing them against treatment dished out to the Liberals — allocating preferences to Greens in those seats for the express purpose of getting rid of them is a perfectly acceptable course of action.

Plibersek was one of the prime bag-swingers in former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s so-called “handbag hit squad;” not merely content to smear Abbott and accuse him of all manner of sins against women, Plibersek has more recently outed herself as a hypocrite with her staunch refusal to concede a syllable of credit to Foreign minister Julie Bishop for the excellent job she has done in that portfolio, or even on account of being a successful woman in politics — presumably because Bishop is a Liberal.

David Feeney, in Martin Ferguson’s old Batman seat, is a union crony and factional warrior aligned with the Gillard-Rudd leadership wars of the past, is yesterday’s man, and offers no substantive claim to Liberal preferences.

Kelvin Thomson, in Wills, is an entrenched backbencher thanks to his poor judgement writing a character reference for Melbourne gangland identity Tony Mokbel, and offers nothing to the country on account of his continued presence in Parliament anyway.

Anthony Albanese in Grayndler might be a different proposition, but again, the Liberal Party isn’t obliged to win elections for its opponents — and not least when it might find itself in a spot of bother getting re-elected to government itself.

I’d suggest Bill Shorten, in Maribyrnong, should be preferenced against too; as Labor’s “leader,” it is inconceivable he would fail to outpoll a Greens candidate by a sufficient margin to ensure victory. But his seat of Maribyrnong, like so many once-safe ALP bastions in Melbourne, has experienced rapid gentrification, an influx of educated professionals, and a significant spike in prosperity over the past decade, and it can only be a matter of time before the Greens are on the march there too.

And further around Australia, there are plenty of other seats that foot the bill. Fremantle, in Perth. Griffith, in Brisbane, held until recently by Kevin Rudd. Some of the mining seats north and south of Sydney. All, at some point, to come under serious assault from the Greens. And in every case, the Liberals should issue preference tickets against sitting MPs in Labor-held seats.

It’s not as if the Greens can hurt the Liberal Party, when 80% of their primary votes, if distributed during counting, flow to the ALP anyway; that 20% is probably just the percentage of their supporters who make their own minds up about who to preference rather than simply following the ticket.

And Labor can scarcely retaliate, for in the seats where the Greens are not a threat to it, the Labor vote is almost never distributed at the preference table: and even when it is, its preference flows to the Greens ahead of a Coalition candidate are invariably very, very tight indeed.

If Labor somehow thinks the Liberals should now save its bacon now a slew of its trendy inner-city seats could be lost to the Greens, I’d be telling the ALP to tell its story walking.

I’d be reminding it of all the mischief, and nonsense, and false allegations and defamatory slurs, that Liberal MPs — including Abbott — have been subjected to by Labor, its thuggy brethren in the unions, and a gaggle of its unelected henchmen in ALP secretariats around Australia.

I’d be making a judgement call that most of the affected Labor MPs don’t even have all that much to offer in a national context — unless you’re a socialist, that is, or a unionist — and that there’s no point trying to prop them up.

And I’d be reminding anyone stupid enough to try to negotiate over the issue that Labor simply can’t be trusted, and that any deal in an election context was pointless.

Some might see this position as simple vindictiveness, and that two wrongs don’t make a right. I don’t agree.

In the end, what goes around comes around; and if the proverbial karma bus that slams into the ALP in the inner cities just happens to be driven by a Green lunatic, then so be it.

In any case, elections — from a strategic view — are about getting the best outcome from which to advance other objectives, and having Greens sitting in nominally ALP seats in the lower house (that Liberals would almost certainly never win) is hardly going to compromise the Liberal Party’s best interests.

And on a final, highly appealing note, Hudson’s article notes that SA Independent Senator Nick Xenophon’s new NXT party stands a good chance of wiping the Greens out of the Senate: and should that come to pass, the presence of a few less-securely seated Greens in the lower house would amount to a backwards step for that party, and leave open the possibility of the Liberals preferencing Labor against them at a subsequent election — and wiping them out of the Parliament altogether.

You see, I’m not in favour of backing the Greens at all. Not in the long run. But in the short term, they can be useful, and hurting the ALP badly in its disintegrating heartland through preferences seems almost poetic.



4 thoughts on “Tactical Preferences: Sacrificing Labor MPs To The Greens

  1. So don’t you think that labor will simply form a coalition with the green as before, and therefore give themselves influence on policy once again? That has to be a fate worse than death!

    • In light of the debacles they suffered federally in 2013 and in Tasmania in 2014, I think that Labor would be very cautious about the prospect of co-operating too closely with the Greens. Of course there is always the possibility that they will fail to learn from history, but in that case they will be severely punished by the electorate.

  2. A federal redistribution in NSW is likely to move Balmain and/or Newtown out of the Sydney electorate and into Grayndler. Transferring those Green-voting suburbs would make Albanese’s position very precarious, but leave Plibersek safe (from the Greens, at any rate).

    The redistribution committee should release their proposal in a week or two, so watch this space.

  3. Better to have a schism between the Labor and Green coalition than let the ALP rule on it’s own.An eye for an eye has to be the new Liberal politic or they will remain forever one term Government.

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