Speaking truth to populism

From the 60 Minutes interview with Pacific Brands boss Sue Morphett, introduced as the most hated woman in Australia:

ELLEN FANNING: … Does the Australian consumer have to accept some responsibility for this decision?

SUE MORPHETT: They do. We all do. Long, long gone are the days where, actually, Australians are prepared to pay more for Australian-made goods and the only way that we’ll pay for Australian-made goods is if they’re giving us something that buying elsewhere or cheaper isn’t giving us.

Is losing an election ever a good thing?

Third-time unlucky Lawrence Springborg must be feeling a bit down today, while Anna Bligh is triumphantly not packing her office.

But can there be elections it is better to lose?

I can think of two basic scenarios in which this might be the case. The first is when the party is (if in government) no longer capable of doing a good job and risks damaging its reputation if it wins another term or a party is (if in opposition) not ready for government and risks damaging its reputation if it nevertheless wins office.

The second is when there are events over which the government has no or insufficient control, but which overwhelm it and destroy its prospects at subsequent elections.

Unfortunately for the hapless citizens of NSW, both versions of scenario one were at play at the March 2007 election. However for Labor – having so rundown the public institutions of NSW that no quick recovery is possible, even with competent Ministers – a narrow loss would probably have been preferable to the agony of being in terminal decline for years. Despite on-going doubts about the Opposition, Labor runs the risk of severe electoral punishment at the 2011 NSW election.

The Victorian election of 1988 is an example of the second scenario. Labor won, but it was probably too late to avoid the financial disasters of the coming few years. Instead of the Liberals winning a narrow victory and being destroyed by these problems, Labor won a narrow victory and was wiped out by Jeff Kennett in 1992.
Continue reading “Is losing an election ever a good thing?”