Monday, March 28, 2011

NSW State of Mind

“What we have seen in NSW is not just the rejection of a Labor government, it is the rejection of Labor's style of government.” - Tony Abbott

“We're talking about a state election - after 16 years I don't think they made up their mind on the basis of events in the last few weeks. I think they made up their mind a long time ago...The message here, I believe, is people want to see you make progress, not play politics.” - Julia Gillard

There's no question that the NSW election was a "bloodbath", "landslide", etc. etc. But you know what it also was?

Inevitable. We knew this coming up to the election, we knew this when the election was called, we knew it every moment Keneally spent in the campaign. Keneally knew it too. She knew it when she clearly started working on her winning, gracious concession speech. She knew it when she wrote a letter to The Australian in the style of Raymond Chandler.

There's a reason everyone felt for Keneally when she took over the leadership - it was already done and dusted. She was the rider chosen to ride the dying horse into the ground, and she was expected to be happy about it and thank NSW ALP for the opportunity.

She's NSW's Joan Kirner. And just like Kirner, her personal polls remained high while the ALP's as a whole went down the drain. One might ask why the ALP likes to keep their most popular leaders (oh, they also just happen to be female, but I'm sure that's nothing to do with it) for the shit sandwiches they're no longer sure they can feed to the electorate. Especially when they apparently want them to eventually go federal.

Keneally knew this was the case, which is why the only "sad" pictures they can get of Keneally from her concession speech are a selection from a scant few frames when Keneally stopped to look down at notes or looked up. Anyone who saw the speech knows there was very little negative emotion in her concession.

And of course, because it tells the story they want, the media are using these one or two images at every given opportunity.

Speaking of shit sandwiches, even ALP MPs are saying it was ridiculously inevitable. So inevitable in fact, they're kind of happy it wasn't as bad as they thought it was going to be. That's right, the worst election result in the history of the ALP, "not so bad".

So, that's why it's laughable that Abbott suggests that the NSW election is a microcosm of the federal situation. He wants people to forget the fact that Gillard is actually ahead in the polls after the announcement of the Carbon tax, using the very recent memory of the Carbon Tax rally last week (which itself was a bit of smoke and mirrors to reflect "community concern" that is not widespread) to suggest that this is a wave of national disgust at Labor waste, taxing and levies. And eventually, Labor won't be able to handle the heat because THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO TURN ON THE AIR CONDITIONER.

Am I doing that right? I'm not sure I'm going hard enough on the crazy.

But it's bullshit. And I think everyone (except maybe the staff at The Australian) know that's the case. Does it mean that NSW Labor Right is on the nose? Yes, and rightfully (pardon the pun) so. And that's been something that's been becoming evident in recent days to the federal government in any case (they're running just a little behind the rest of us).

But in NSW itself, Barry O'Farrell could have promised to kill first-borns and he would probably still have been in with a chance.

The only way that this becomes about federal politics is if Gillard lets Abbott make it about federal politics.

My only concern?
"I believe the people of NSW know the difference between state issues and federal issues" - Julia Gillard
I really hope so. But I wouldn't bank on it.

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