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Monday, 2 February 2015

It's not the voters' fault, you idiots



It's not the voters' fault, you idiots

article by JOHN BIRMINGHAM



It's not the voters' fault, you idiots

The electorate isn't volatile. Voters aren't unpredictable. The rules
have not changed. If you lie to people, if you promise one thing and
deliver its opposite, if you treat public office as your due and the
ordinary people who put you there with contempt, they will turn on you.
And when they come for you, their vengeance will be swift and terrible
to behold.


These are not arcane or complex truths. The modern
world has not worked some fundamental transformation on politics. This
is not about Twitter. If you lose office it's not because people didn't
understand you. It's because they understood you all too well.


There
has been nothing so frustrating the last forty-eight hours as watching
the political class in all of its incarnations get this wrong.


Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk thanks supporters on election night.
Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk thanks supporters on election night. Photo: Robert Shakespeare





Left, right, participant, observer, they have all rushed to blame
or credit the voters who put Campbell Newman to the sword, as though
Newman himself bore little or no responsibility for the result.


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It is understandable that we reach for metaphors, and almost always from the natural world in these cases.

Landslides
and storms are the favoured analogies when governments are swept from
office, especially with a bloodless violence that seems a force of
nature. 


You could see the surprise turn to shock turn to numb
horror (or disbelieving joy) on the faces of the players from the LNP
and ALP on Saturday night. They did not understand what was happening.


This
was as evident in the protests of the conservatives that they had done a
great job, as it was in the yammering of the ALP about "assets, assets,
assets".


Both sides, for very different reasons, could not help but give the impression that millions of voters had somehow screwed up.

The
'volatility' theory, the idea that no government anywhere is safe these
days, ignores the stone cold fact that no government anywhere was ever
safe as long as the electoral system was fairly administered.


You earn power, you don't deserve it by right of birth of mere claim.

Campbell
Newman and his party spent every day of the last three years
demonstrating that they didn't understand this. Annastacia Palaszczuk
has an enormous amount of work ahead of her to prove that she is any
different.


A razor thin majority and the constant need to consult
both in and outside Parliament House might actually help with that. She
needs to wake up every day and tell herself, "If we don't get this
right, we're gone."


And getting it right means actually delivering
on that very tired old cliche of governing for everyone. The harm done
to the LNP on Saturday was all self harm.


And of all the wounds
they inflicted upon themselves, none cut deeper and festered as
poisonously as the threat that any seat voting for the Opposition could
not expect a Newman government to deliver on any of its promises.


There at least, was a promise you could trust them to keep. What stupid, arrogant thugs they were.

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JB will be at Riverbend Books tonight having a drink and talking about his latest book. Bookings here. It's ten bucks. There will be adult beverages.

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