The Final Countdown
Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 17, 2007
We are about to enter the most dangerous week the Liberal Party has ever faced in the history of its not inconsiderable life.
The political and media system has caught up to what we’ve been saying for the last 5-6 months (this site has actually been running 6 months to the day, as of yesterday).
The message is clear – the game is over.
That is what makes it so dangerous.
The polls are consistent, the fantasy of “Liberal strategists” being able to hide under the petticoat of fictitious marginal seat polling because “they’re closer than the national polls suggest” now looks like the façade it actually always was. The media have picked their winner, Uncle Rupert has moved behind Rudd in The Oz to match what has in reality been happening with his Tabloids and the Smage for weeks. This very morning Centrebet blew out to $4.60 – reflecting that even the punters are starting to get it, punters which haven’t got very much at all over the last 5 months.
There is risk and plenty of it over the next 7 days to E-Day, but it’s not downside risk for the ALP vote, it’s the risk of a collapse in Coalition support.
As longer term readers here know well, the “soft vote”, that bottom draw cliché that’s been dragged one too many times around the commentariat’s back paddock of late, does exist even if it’s a magnitude of order less than some would have us believe. The polling on this has been telling us all year, from the Crosby Textor Oztrack 33 through to Newspoll and ACNielsen qualitivate polling that the “soft vote” is relatively small, but it’s also evenly split – perhaps with even a slight tilt toward the Coalition.
And here lies the danger. If Coalition members lose the plot, if recrimination starts creeping into the last week of the campaign as government members fail to come to terms with the electoral reality, if members become more concerned with saving their own skin now that the fight to save the government is lost – it could all get very ugly very, very quickly.
If the ever cumulating misdemeanours of an 11 year administration start leaking out, replete with documentary evidence from the many technocrats and political operatives with long standing grievances that now see the twin windows of opportunity and immunity offering the sweetest revenge of all, the loss could turn into a rout.
A soft vote of a few percent doesn’t sound like a great deal, and for the ALP it could lose all of it and still win comfortably. The only difference between 55 and 53 is the size of the majority and just where in the history books the size of the victory will be recorded.
For the Coalition however the story is stark – the difference between 45 and 43 is a functioning party. Gaining less than 30% of the seats in the House, the parliamentary consequence of losing their own soft vote, will repudiate the Howard years, the Howard agenda and what the Liberal Party has become under his stewardship. Labor, with the most powerful post-war mandate, the power of government and a litany of appalling government behaviour over the last 11 years as ammunition, will not only destroy the reputation and credibility of the current Federal Liberal Party – or what remains of it, but the credibility and electoral appeal of most of what remains of its leadership team.
This week will decide the fate of the Liberal party for the next decade, yet only some of that fate is in the hands of the Coalition itself – they can control their own behaviour, but they can’t necessarily control a stampeding herd. If the soft vote breaks, be it for reasons of poor Coalition behaviour, scandal or most risky of all – people simply running to the winner, this could well become the longest week in the history of conservative politics in Australia.
The Coalition needs to be very, very careful.