Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The Greens are doing it tough in this state election.
Well, everywhere but the polls that is, where they have been routinely recording 16 - 18% of the primary vote. This is a significant, dramatic, increase in the 10% they received at the last state election and approximately 3 times the primary vote pulling power of the National Party (who can be expected to furnish the Deputy Premier and several key ministers if Big Ted achieves an upset victory on November 27).
No, where the Greens are doing it tough is in their dealings with the two major parties and the media.
If you were to believe some of the stuff that has been put on record about the Greens in Victoria by Labor, Liberal and the conservative media, you'd have to think that this well meaning minor party were a pack of psychotic, unbalanced, fanatical, misanthropic, zealots, determined to bankrupt the state, overthrow the Government and make us all where hessian sacks to work (not that we'd have jobs, as they'd be outlawed by these nutters too). The 'Commie Nazi's' of out time:
But don't believe a word of it.
I mean, I used to be a member of The Greens and I was thrown out precisely for having those qualities (except for the sacks of course. I don't like hessian that much). If anything, the Greens that I met in my time were a bit on the dull side; middle class, educated types, with conservative dress sense and a tendancy to sigh and look wistful whenever the ALP was mentioned. Not the sort of types it was easy to imagine blowing up a coal fired power station or handing out drugs to school children (or whatever lurid fantasy the little paper dreams up this week).
Nevertheless, the vitriol directed towards the Greens remains.
I suppose in the case of the ALP, the reason is obvious. Many Green supporters are disaffected Labor voters and the ALP has finally woken up to the fact that a lot of them aren't coming back inside the tent. This has gone on to such an extent now that Labor are in danger of losing up to four inner city seats - Melbourne, Brunswick, Northcote & Richmond - in this election (having lost the similarly located Federal seat of Melbourne to the Greens earlier in the year) and they're not too happy about having their former supporters turn on them. A classic case of political jilted lovers syndrome.
But the reasoning behind the Liberal dislike of The Greens is subtler and at once more intersting and more alarming.You could even call it nefarious... which I will do (somewhere below) because I like that word.
The Liberals primarily have an ideological dislike of the Greens, their policies and what they seem to represent. As the state's, and the country's, primary conservative party, this is to be expected. But this dislike seems to run much deeper than a simple difference of opinion on health or education policy, until it reaches a point that a vastly better political commentator than myself may have referred to as 'Fear and Loathing.' This is particularly true among the rusted on, core Liberal supporters; businesses, rural folk and the elderly. The Greens really seem to give these people the willies.
Which may explain, at least partly, Big Ted's decision of last week to place the Greens last on Liberal how to vote cards for this coming election. Behind even the Labor Party who some of us, myself included, had stupidly thought were the Liberals political opponents. We can see now that this is not the case, and that Big Ted has in fact been working on a secret six year plan to keep the Greens out of the lower house of state Parliament (and not what he appeared to be doing over the last six years i.e. nothing).
But this can't be the whole explanation. Because, at first glance, this decision also seemed to mean that Big Ted had decided that he didn't want to be Premier either. For if the Liberals had a big task ahead in gaining a 6.5% swing and 13 seats to take office, that task has now become momumental, like 80's Oprah big, now that Labor no longer has to devote as much effort to holding their inner city seats against the Greens. For the truth of the matter is, without Liberal preferences, the Greens chances of snaring even one lower seat house are somewhere between slim and none.
But that's not the nefarious part. The nefarious part of this whole situation, which is so nefarious that it's drowning in it's own nefariousnessness, is as follows:
The Nefarious Part
It has been clear for some time that there is little difference between the two major political party's in Australia, at state or federal level.Most of the major ideological disputes between the two of them were settled some time ago and there is general agreement between the two sides on the best course of action in most areas. What they do argue about are peripheral details (the size and scope of stamp duty relief in this current campaign, as an example of this) or matters of what are usually referred to as 'social issues' (whether or not legalise euthenasia, say). Some of these debates are important, most of them are trivial and leaders from both sides try to shout as loudly as possible about them in order to cover this up.
What's clear from the major party's treatment of the Greens is that they both recognise this and that they're both comfortable with it. They are no longer really opposed to each other, but rather are only opposed to anyone who might break up their cosy little club and try and get their snouts out of the trough.
Nefarious Part Ends
Which is certainly something worth considering on polling day.
Not just in relation to the Greens, but any other small party or independant candidate who might be willing to get all Mr Smith Goes to Spring Street and shake things up a bit. I'm going to follow this advice myself. In fact, I already know who I'm going to vote for: