Are right leaning parties finished or at least unable to win elections until they get their houses in order?

There’s lots of crowing by opponents of the right in both Australia and the US that the right are in grave trouble.  It always looks that way.  And in Australia it does look like oppositions spend a lot of time out of power.  But there’s always a lot of luck involved. Howard was cruising to a loss in 2001 before the audacity of Howard’s hope with the Tampa and Sept 11 turned things around. Now John Quiggin says that the Libs can’t go anywhere if they don’t get more credible on greenhouse. 

Likewise everyone’s laughing at the Republicans and Bruce Bartlett tells us they’ve got to get themselves together and get back into that middle ground. 

All of which leads me to say . . .  Perhaps.

I haven’t noticed that it matters that much whether parties are credible to the policy elite.  If a government gets into trouble, they can get credible pretty quickly because the pressure comes on the other side.  For instance the Lib’s slipping and sliding on greenhouse looks weak right now.  But electricity prices haven’t started rising, firms haven’t started blaming the trading scheme for closing them down (whether it’s true or not).  And that’s when their shilly shallying can come in handy.  Because they can say “it wouldn’t have happened under our policies”.

And I recall the last US election.  For a time there it looked like McCain and Miss Credibility (Not) Sarah Palin were on their way to overtaking Obama’s lead.  Their mud was starting to stick and they were pegging Obama back.  And then the GFC really took off and McCain proceeded to handle things very badly – as did Palin.  Now those guys had about as little cred as you can imagine – on top of GWB’s extraordinary string of stuff ups. But they nearly made it over the line, and may well have done so if the GFC wasn’t so exquisitely timed.

So I’m afraid I think that, while it takes bad luck or bad government to lose an election, once a government is in trouble, Oppositions, even pretty hopeless ones can cobble together sufficient cred to survive a campaign of ‘he said – she said’ reporting and scramble over the line.  But I would concede that being in as great a disarray and discomfort as they are right now obviously doesn’t help their chances.

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meika
12 years ago

electricity prices havent started rising

Residential tarrifs in Tasmania going up 25% over three years ahead of contestability. On top of that 30-50% increases are expected on the introduction non-competitive market in electricty when ‘contestability’ comes to Tasmaniam residential customers.

Increases? Mostly because the rainfall patterns that all the dams were planned with have failed to materilaise 20, 30 years down the track. Evidence of global warming? We’re more and more reliant on Vic brown coal power stations. Vicious circle.

Compare: There are 20+ electricity retailers in Vic/Melbourne. There are 4 registered retailers for non-residential Tranches in Tasmania, there were 5 but one gave up after 2 years with no customers.

Competition leads to lower prices my arse. Its the telco communications bizo all over again. Rural areas shafted, metro areas benefit from the theory.

Have a pensioner friend in Melbourne who took every electricty bill she got for two years to the ombudsman. Won every time. Tried to swap providers and it took 18 months to swap. Then charged her $80 for the privilage of disconnected their crap supply. Retail margins are so small (they claim) I guess they can only make money off the lazy or the stupid.

If only these price increses did reflect a carbon tax or emissions tradings scheme already!!

pedro
pedro
12 years ago

One only need to look to NSW to see that a hopeless govt can still win.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

I havent noticed that it matters that much whether parties are credible to the policy elite.

Surely this is universally acknowledged to be true?

For instance the Libs slipping and sliding on greenhouse looks weak right now.

Hahahaha. Exquisite timing.

As a final note I don’t see why people have such a hard time understanding that other people might not actually think that Obama is really ‘the One’. McCain-Palin’s supporters included (lots of) people who simply preferred their ideological and policy approach to Obama-Biden.

MikeM
MikeM
12 years ago

As I posted elsewhere, specifically regarding the Opposition and climate change:

In the Australian Financial Review today, Greig Gailey, president of the Business Council of Australia has an op-ed piece supporting the revised Rudd scheme and makes the important point that, If investors judge that the CPRS is going to be materially altred if and when government changes hands, they will probably defer or abandon their investment plans.

So it would be quite unsatisfactory if the bill was rejected by the Opposition and passed with the help of the Greens and the Independents. Coalition support today does not necessarily mean that a change of government would never alter the plan, but Coalition opposition today almost guarantees that it would.

Alan Jury in the Chanticleer column makes another relevant point: As for debate about an ETS versus a carbon tax [which Turnbull is promoting], that battle has already been lost. Europe is now into the second five-year phase of its ETS, Barack Obama has committed the United states to adopting one, and other countries such as Japan are also considering their own.

While UK prime minister Brown has Balls (he’s the Education Secretary) it will be interesting to see whether young Malcolm has the cojones to engage the NSW Liberal Right over the List of Fourteen, which Glenn Milne claims is the deadwood that Malcolm needs to prune.

If they went, plus Nick Minchin (double dissolution perhaps, which would certainly get rid of that twit Fielding), young Malcolm might find it easier to embrace a position on climate change that is closer to the eventual one adopted by John Howard.

But no, that is just too bizarre a scenario.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
12 years ago

Nicholas

If you do not consider the currently insanely popular Rudd government to be a huge electoral thumbs up for “right leaning parties” then “right-leaning” has no meaning.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

Competition leads to lower prices my arse. Its the telco communications bizo all over again. Rural
areas shafted, metro areas benefit from the theory.

I don’t know of anything in economic theory that indicates competition leads to lower prices. There is a suggestion that competition pushes the prices towards the cost of supply plus the cost of investment (i.e. profit for the shareholders) but we all know that cost of both supply and investment is higher in rural areas (sheesh, that’s why we have metro areas). Metro areas benefit from not being required to deliver a cross-subsidy to rural areas on utilities.

The rest is political wrangling between interest groups to see who can get themselves into a marginal seat. We could get into complex philosophical discussions of the fairness of forced wealth transfer but at least might as well be honest about what we are really arguing about.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
12 years ago

Nicholas, I am saying that Rudd-Labor is a “right-leaning” government.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

Um, Nicholas, first up Big Ted went on to be elected a dozen or so times. He maybe shouldn’t have been but he was. Sure, not for President – but still hardly unelectable.

Secondly:

Something tells me that it mightnt be so for a pollie on the right

That is the most insane thing I have ever read of yours. I actually struggle to believe you mean it. Personally, I think that if anything it would be harder for a politician on the right because they would alienate much of their Christian and military ‘base’, permanently, but I am only talking State-level elections there. And I am showing my partisan bias, surely.

But partisanship besides, I just can’t imagine that you can imagine a ‘right’-wing Presidential candidate who drunkenly killed his girlfriend, cynically and amorally framed her as the driver and used his influence to get off scot-free.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

‘Dick’ McAuliffe. John Murpha. whatshisface Visclowski. Barney Frank (hey, sleeping with the CEO of your main regulated institution? Tax fraud? Rent control fraud? No worries!) This could get boring.

I am sorry if you don’t think I was sufficiently generous to your writing. I did actually think you knew that he had being elected but on re-reading this certainly doesn’t come across in my ‘sure, not for President’. My bad ;)

And yes your comment most certainly did mislead me along the lines you suggest. I probably wouldn’t have even been moved to respond if you had written initially what you wrote subsequently.

However, I am here now, so: You may have a point that a left leaning politician is theoretically more likely to be judged harshly by his electorate for ‘corporate’ crimes, as opposed to a right wing politician who might be theoretically more harshly judged for, say, ‘moral’ weaknesses.

But I strongly suspect that on both sides there is only the theoretical point – left wing politicians seem to have little difficulty getting as rich as their right wing equivalents, and it beggars all belief to imagine that they are somehow more scrupulous in doing so.

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
12 years ago

As I’ve written in the past, it’s not so much that rightwing parties are or will become unelectable (as you say, given a bad enough government, any Opposition can get in) but that they run the risk of becoming the B team, only getting in when the other side makes a mess of things, and not lasting long when they do. That seems a pretty good description of State politics in Australia for the last 20 years.

As regards elite credibility, I think it does count for a fair bit in the long run, though of course the elite is not, itself, homogeneous.

pedro
pedro
12 years ago

John’s point is something of a no-brainer because left wing parties always have the advantage of being more in favour of redistribution. I guess that makes me wonder why, with such an advantage, left wing parties have not had the A team already at national level. Perhaps that tells us something else about left wing parties.

steve at the pub
12 years ago

A lot of things are easier for me during time of misfortune, so I’m all for left wing governments. So far I am well able to make a living equally well during time of misfortune as during boom time. However a right wing government is required from time to time, to build up an exchequer for a left wing government to redistribute, otherwise the circle of wealth creation-to-squandering-to-wealth creation is broken, then we will all miss out!

pedro
pedro
12 years ago

Nicholas, the advantage we both agree exists runs back to the creation of the welfare state post WW2. I took Hawke to get it right for Labor. Keating I think showed some of the Whitlam madness and then lost. The Libs lost one election over the GST and nearly lost a second and third. I think at the federal level the labor party has a tendency to alienate itself from a chunk of the electorate on social issues and also from time to time to put on a drunken sailor act. The libs of course are really just less of a social democrat party, at least in theory. In practice they can spend like drunken sailors too.