Liberty and Democracy Party activists seem happy enough with with their 0.13% national vote share in the House of Representatives and 0.15% in the Senate. I’m still not convinced that the micro-party strategy is the way to go in promoting classical liberal/libertarian ideas.
While LDP members did get publicity they would not otherwise have received, much of it was not favourable. Lisa Milat is hardly responsible for the actions of her brother-in-law, but pre-selecting her just about ensured that media coverage was not going to be on-message for the LDP. And Bede Ireland perhaps could have picked a better issue to promote than decriminalising incest.
As the LDP is not seen as a serious electoral contender, the mainstream media will only be interested to the extent that the LDP can offer some colour to alleviate the boredom of the stage-managed major party campaigns. But ‘colour’ in the media context means things that the public will think ridiculous, eccentric or outrageous. That isn’t the way to make people take libertarian ideas seriously.
Then there were organisational issues such as their seemingly rather scattergun approach to targeting seats and candidates. It’s a fair call to say that the Liberal Party as represented by John Howard wasn’t clearly better on classical liberal principles than the Labor alternative; but the way to send a message isn’t to target the Liberals who are quite sound from a classical liberal perspective, such as the now ex-member for Corangamite Stewart McArthur. Sukrit’s candidacy there didn’t do McArthur any extra harm in the end, but from a libertarian perspective there were far more obvious people to go after, such as Kevin Andrews in Menzies (it would have saved Sukrit some travel time too). Some more research on who stands for what in the major parties wouldn’t go astray.
Regardless of these particular aspects of the 2007 campaign, overall I think that the best way to get a relatively unknown political stance a higher profile is through issue movements, think-tanks, and newer technologies such as blogging. Political parties are for the last stage in the issue cycle, when there are a sufficient number of potential supporters to be mobilised, and used to gain leverage with other parties, not the first stage when the ideas are still new to most voter.
For many people, that means a two-hats approach. I am far more libertarian in my personal and CIS views than I am in a Liberal Party context; as in the latter I must make concessions to secure at least partial acceptance among people who don’t share my philosophy. Policy purity is a lot more enjoyable than policy compromise, but if the consequence is achieving nothing at all in practical reforms then the price is too high.