Friday, 20 August 2010

Spruiking their wares from the middle of the beach

I'm pleased I don't work for Tony Abbott. In the election campaigns that I helped run we used to call the game over at midday on Friday and adjourn to a decent restaurant where the party leader would shout us lunch. Nothing more we can do, we would say, as we tucked into another bottle.
Not so with this lot of leaders. Tony is so wound up he threatens to keep campaigning right through until 6pm on Saturday! And Julia Gillard waited until Friday night to have dinner with her staff at the Penrith Leagues Club. The Penrith Leagues Club?
Things just ain't what they used to be.
And election campaigns aren't either.
The discussion of ideas, policies for the future, have finally disappeared from the agenda. This election has been the classic demonstration of the truth of that principle that two ice cream sellers on the same beach gravitate towards standing alongside each other in the middle so they can share the market.
How will voters choose between them? The pollsters don't seem able to tell us. Those published today perhaps have Labor a nose in front but they are making all kinds of qualifications about swings being different in different states that mean the Coalition could win with minority national support.
I guess it will come down to the spur of the moment decision that many people will make when they finally get to the ballot box.
Readers of my words over the years will know that I am a believer in the underdog thesis when it comes to incumbent governments. When people who are unhappy about some of the things that a government has done think that the government is likely to win easily, they vote against it in protest. When they believe their vote is really doing to count they reluctantly give their support.
I expect that on Saturday we will see that reluctant support get Labor over the line.
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