Saturday, November 6, 2010

Labor fears the loss of seats, but not in Northcote

The Age has reported on a leaked Labor strategy to save embattled seats in the forthcoming State election. Its planned campaign blitz of 31 seats at various levels of risk will see more than $1.7 million spent on campaigns to shore up the party's chances in the tightening contest. In the wake of the unjustified personal attack on Greens candidate Brian Walters in the seat of Melbourne, voters should ask just what sort of campaigning those funds will be supporting.

Of course, risk to the Labor party isn't quite the same as risk to democracy, and we should also have a closer look at the numbers in this poll. If Labor loses 13 seats and they all go to the Coalition, it will lose Government to Ted Baillieu, whose party would have a majority of just one seat, presuming the current independent, Craig Ingram, holds his.

Yet some of these seats will surely fall to independents and Greens, raising the prospect of a hung Parliament if neither of the main parties secures a majority. On the evidence of the recent federal result, that may well lead to public interest reforms and a deeper, more principled policy debate - no bad thing for democracy in Victoria.

As for the law and order and "nanny state" issues on which Labor feels exposed, these seem the traditional fare of the Coalition. An excessive focus on them will only further demonstrate that the major parties are moving closer together, and that real alternatives are needed.

Of special note for Northcote voters is that the key inner-Melbourne seat is nowhere among the 31 Labor appears to be worried about. Labor's Northcote MP, Fiona Richardson, says she doesn't take voters for granted, but the leaked strategy shows that she thinks she's already across the line in this election.

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.