The debate over the internet filter has demonstrated that an expertise in technology and social media doesn’t necessarily translate into political smarts.
Stilgherrian ripped apart those who seriously believed that Julia Gillard would replace Communications Minister Stephen Conroy with Senator Kate Lundy, a senator with so little factional support that she has been constantly under threat of losing preselection for her ACT Senate seat.
Many tweeters, including prominent anti-censorship activists, seem astounded that the Greens would make a preference arrangement with the ALP, unaware of any other issue on which the Greens might find Tony Abbott more objectionable than the Government’s censorship policies.
The worst example, however, has to be the campaign to get Victorian voters to vote below the line and put Stephen Conroy last on their ballots.
It is astounding that people would organise such an idiotic strategy, that is clearly doomed to failure. Among other reasons:
- No-one is going to know if anyone puts Stephen Conroy last. No “last preference” votes are counted, so we will have no idea if a large number of people will put Conroy last.
- It couldn’t possibly work. Conroy will be first on the Senate ticket for the ALP. So to stop him from winning you need to reduce the ALP above-the-line vote to below 14%, probably below 10% to be practical. Considering that the ALP vote in Victoria should be at least 40%, you would need 30% of Victorians to follow your advice.
- There’s a high barrier of entry. It’s actually quite difficult to vote below-the-line. You won’t get many people to do so.
- You’re ignoring all the other pro-filter Senators. You’re asking people to put Conroy lower on their ballot than Steven Fielding, the senator who has pushed an authoritarian and simplisticly conservative agenda during his time in the Senate and likely was the inspiration for the filter.
- It’s the party, not the minister. The ALP’s agenda is driven by the central party machine, not by ministers acting independently. There is no evidence that removing Conroy from his ministry, let alone Parliament, will have any impact on the ALP’s policies. In the process of saying “put Conroy last”, you are saying it’s fine for voters to vote for the other Labor candidates, those ones that may actually require those votes to win their seats.
If you actually want to change the policy agenda, you need to vote for a party that actually doesn’t support the policy. Campaigns against a single politician distract voters from the way politics actually works by personalising policy when it really is about greater forces. If you were somehow successful in knocking off Conroy (which is entirely impossible without the complete destruction of the ALP) it would not change the direction of the government.
I’m coming dangerously close here to advocating a vote for the Greens, but my point isn’t that people should vote Green, but if you don’t support a party’s policy, and that’s what you care about it, then you vote for a party with the policy you support. Idiotic campaigns to get people to give a last preference to a candidate for whom it doesn’t matter won’t help a jot.