Thursday, February 26

How to destroy Labor's electoral chances

1. If you're a Labor Prime Minister, run up the flag for socialism and announce you'll nationalise the banks. That's how the popular Ben Chifley handed the reins to Menzies in 1949.
2. In case that's not enough, get the Communist Party to call a crippling coal strike. In 1949, the commos made sure of victory for Menzies.
3. If you're the ALP's Federal Executive, meet inside a Canberra hotel to decide Labor's policy, and allow a journalist to photograph the parliamentary party leader and his deputy on the steps outside, waiting to be told the decisions. That's how the "36 faceless men" wiped out Labor's chances in 1963.
4. If a Soviet spy is about to defect, pray that it's just before an election, and for good measure, publicise any allegations against Labor staffers. It worked with Petrov.

But let's fast-forward to the past year in good ol' Sydney.
Tyro Labor Premier Morris Iemma is beginning to realise he inherited a mess when he took over from Bob Carr. Hospitals, schools, public transport, water and other infrastructure desperately need more money.
Treasury is warning that tax revenues are turning down sharply in the slowing economy, and the state's AAA credit rating is at risk. How is the state to finance looming investment in electricity generation?
Iemma and his Treasurer Michael Costa decide there is no alternative to privatising electriticy generation. Costa, himself a former unions chief turned economic rationalist, tries to sell it to the Labor Party's state conference.

So, how to destroy a NSW Labor government:
1. Make sure important policy is determined in a shouting match between Costa and the current Unions NSW chief John Robertson.
2. Make sure the night's TV news contains images of trade union and party branch delegates jeering and screaming abuse, so the public sees the measured and intelligent formation of Labor policy.
3. White-ant Premier Iemma with a serious of damaging leaks to the press.
4. Make Costa's position untenable, and when Iemma sacks him, step up the white-anting of Iemma.
5. When Iemma quits, see his place is filled by an amiable but pliable dill. So our newest Premier is Nathan Rees. Most people ask: Nathan Who?
6. When Costa resigns as a member of the Legislative Council, make sure the rump of the Labor Party votes for you, John Robertson, to fill the vacancy.
7. Let the word get around that you'd make a great premier of NSW. Don't worry that you've never faced the public in an election.
8. In the meantime, a senior ministry is needed. How about two of them, Prisons and Public Sector Reform? Public Sector may be justified as appointing the poacher to be gamekeeper, but by what twist of moral reasoning can a bitter opponent of privatising electricity generation accept the task of privatising two of the state's prisons?
9. And then the affair of the $500,000 office refit!

Robertson and his stooges appear to have no idea of how seriously they have destroyed the NSW Labor Government.
The former unions boss will never be Premier. Even if he does grab a rusted-on Labor electorate so that he can shift to the lower House, and then wins the leadership, the Labor Party cannot win the next election. Nor the next, and probably not the one after that.
Robertson will have to settle for Opposition Leader. That's if the Labor Party doesn't come to its senses.

For the record: Your Grumpy Old Blogger normally votes Labor, but is unlikely to do so in the next NSW state election unless he sees some big changes.

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