Sunday, September 19, 2004

An amateur analysis of the story so far

Many people in the circles in which I move* have recently expressed the opinion that Latham and Labor were not going to win this election. Some have talked about possible migration plans should Howard be returned. There is a sense of desperation but also a resignation that he just can not be moved.

Today, for the first time in this election campaign I have had a sense that Latham is hitting his stride and that he may have a sniff of a chance. Whereas Beazley was very nice and perhaps a little wishy-washy, despite his better attempts, (we won't even mention Crean), Latham is starting to show (whisper it) leadership. The fact that he ruled out pre-emptive strikes on a neighbouring country that may have been "harbouring terrorists" brought this home to me. Latham showed a streak of maturity whereas Howard's response to Latham's answer was a reiteration of his willingness to follow the US. "Pre-emptive strikes" is a phrase developed by the Bush administration to somewhat absolve themselves from the consequences of what in another time would be called invasion. Howard's stubborn allegiance to this concept is one of the many reasons that people are wishing him gone. And he's still trotting out these phrases, this Bush-esque view of the world, in the election campaign. It's starting to sound like a very old tune. The bombing in Jakarta does not seem, at this point, to have had the effect many of us feared.

Latham seems to have tuned in to the fact that many Labor voters have been forced further left to the Greens in search of a viable alternative to Howard. He is not just reacting to and reinforcing the Government's view, he is starting to offer an alternative. The preference deal with the Greens is further evidence of this. Howard found this deal "sickening." And that's exactly what we want him to think. Such a deal may also horrify some old-school Labor blokes but this is the way forward for people living in electorates such as Sydney. The ABC lists it as very safe Labor but the presence of the Greens is being felt. As I heard a very ordinary, suburban gay bloke tell Tanya Plibersek's people campainging on King St Newtown: "she's pushing shit uphill now." Latham is starting to make moves in turning this shit downhill.

On other matters, John Anderson's statements to the press are becoming more and more outlandish. Today he told the ABC that a vote for an independent was a waste. Ahem, John, it's called democracy and apparently it means that almost anyone can run for a seat and we can vote for anyone we want. He went on to say that:
"Name me an independent who has made a contribution to the sound economic management of the country."
Well, it's about more than economic management and many of us will no doubt feel the reverberations from Brian Harradine's time in Canberra for years to come.

* Disclosure: I work at an inner-Sydney university and am currently residing in a seat that is very safe Labor, the only threat, and a very real one, being the Greens. So, I admit that this environment is not exactly a litmus test for the nation. In fact it is quite possibly one of the most left-leaning electorates in the country, barring the Far North Coast of NSW, where I grew up.

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