It’s a delightful irony that, like “Honest John” before him, Lawrence Springborg’s LNP have taken to calling their leader “The Borg” with no apparent sense of irony or awareness of the meaning of the nickname. Springborg is heading into his third election as leader of the Opposition, this time as leader of the newly-merged “Liberal National Party”. Despite their best efforts to cloak themselves in Liberal garb (putting the “Liberal” before the “National” for one), the party remains clearly dominated by the Nationals, and has removed the ability of Liberal candidates in Brisbane to distinguish themselves from their country brethren.
Only two Liberal National MPs hold seats in the City of Brisbane, and one of those two, Tim Nicholls, has seen his seat of Clayfield switch to be notionally Labor following the recent redistribution. Without winning any seats outside of Brisbane, Labor is already within spitting distance of forming a majority, holding 36 seats just in the Brisbane area, with 45 needed for a majority.
This demonstrates the biggest problem for the opposition. In order to win, the opposition must gain ground in Brisbane. Yet the Opposition has been dominated by the Nationals, with little support in South-East Queensland. With a National heading up the non-Labor side, Liberals have struggled to present a more urban image to their urban voters, resulting in pathetic results for the Liberals. In spite of their name, it appears that the LNP has worsened these problems.
It seems safe today that, barring a massive change in fortunes, Anna Bligh will be the first woman to win a state election in Australia, and the most successful female party leader in Australian politics. Springborg pointed out today that, with today’s electoral geography, the LNP cannot win on 50% of the two-party-preferred vote, with about 52% needed to get the swing sufficient, but it probably won’t be their problem. The LNP has so far demonstrated a remarkable similarity in its campaign strategy to the losing battles of 2001, 2004 and 2006, and something pretty big will need to change for Springborg to pull off a win.
Coming soon to the Tally Room: As well as covering the day-to-day events in the election campaign, I plan to run a series of posts on individual key marginal seats, breaking down the booth figures to give you an idea of the key areas in this campaign.