UK Election 2015 – My Take

On Friday I asked Gippsland Laborite whether he’d be prepared to write a post analysing the UK election – once the horsetrading was done and the result was known. Well, as we all know, there was no need for horsetrading, so GL’s piece arrived much sooner than I had originally anticipated. The academic in me is tempted to include the sort of comment usually put on essays by excellent students. I’ll restrain myself to saying that, given the quality of GL’s comments at The Pub, I am not in the least surprised by the clarity of this piece. Many thanks indeed, Gippsland Laborite, for your debut threadstarter. I look forward to reading much more of your work!

(Image Credit: The Huffington Post)

To the surprise of almost everyone, the Tories won a majority in the UK elections. Given that everyone thought that the result would be neck and neck the first thing that we should look at is, “how the hell did this happen.”

On the surface Labour led by Ed Miliband ran a good campaign, rather than the gaffe-ridden nightmare that the naysayers were saying he would run, that included a number of solid policies such as freezing energy prices, axing the bedroom tax (reduction in housing benefit for people living in council homes who had more bedrooms than people), strengthening the National Health Service (NHS), and making the rich pay their fair share. These policies were shown to be popular with voters. However, Labour also had to contend with not only a relentless Tory scare campaign about a Labour-SNP coalition in which Ed Miliband would either be in Alex Salmond’s pocket, or have his strings pulled by Nicola Sturgeon, and eventually leading to the destruction and ruination of the United Kingdom, but also relentless attacks from the Murdochs and the Rothermeres in the press on Ed Miliband’s policies and on Miliband himself. In the end, despite the polls, the fear about the SNP among English voters, shamelessly stoked by the Tories and their media mates, definitely stole a great deal of oxygen from the Labour campaign.


Conservatives: 36.8%, 331 seats +25
Labour: 30.4%, 232 seats -24
SNP: 4.7%, 56 seats +50
Lib Dems: 7.9%, 8 seats -48
UKIP: 12.6%, 1 seat
Others: 7.6%, 22 seats

The Tories had a good night and no longer have to placate the Lib Dems to stay in office and can do whatever they want.

For Labour the result ranged from a mixed bag to a disaster. The disaster, as everyone knows, happened in Scotland where Labour lost all but one of the seats they held going in to this election. Labour really needs to have a good long think about where it went wrong and how to fix it without resorting to any quick and cheap fixes that will inevitably backfire. Labour also didn’t do as well as they hoped in Wales: while they gained Cardiff Central from the Lib Dems, they failed to gain Cardiff North, one of their top targets from the Tories, and lost the seats of Gower and Vale of Clwyd to the Tories. In England, Labour made a net gain of fifteen seats. However, these were concentrated in London and the North of England and in some areas the party lost seats to the Tories, including the seat held by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls. In England the Tories’ fear campaign certainly helped them fend off Labour in a number of key marginals, especially in the Midlands where Labour made very little progress in an area they need to win in order to form government.

For the Lib Dems this election was a complete catastrophe. In terms of votes and seats this is their worst result since 1970 and voters decisively punished the party for going into coalition with the Tories. During the Blair years, the Lib Dems positioned themselves as the left wing alternative to Labour that voters angry over the Iraq War and tuition fee rises could flock to. Entering the coalition ensured that these voters would abandon the party en masse. While Nick Clegg held on to his seat a large number of high profile Lib Dems did not, including former leader Charles Kennedy, and Cabinet Ministers, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Ed Davey and Simon Hughes, and the party is facing a return to the wilderness years of the 1950s and 60s unless something dramatic happens.

For the SNP it was undoubtedly a triumph, winning all but three seats in Scotland. However, they will not hold balance of power and I think this poses a problem. The SNP’s campaign was focused on two points: locking the Tories out of Number Ten and giving Scotland the balance of power in a hung parliament through electing a large number of SNP MPs. The first did not happen, and secondly, the party will have to answer this question, what is their block of MPs actually going to achieve given that they don’t have any influence whatsoever?

UKIP got the third highest number of votes of any party and came second in a number of Tory strongholds in the South of England as well as in several Labour strongholds in the North of England and in the South Wales Valleys, even though they only got one MP elected and Nigel Farage failed to get in to the House of Commons. This could potentially be a springboard for even greater results. However, they could hit a brick wall if the Tories start copying their rhetoric and policies (like what happened with One Nation here in Australia).

Finally, despite all the hype, the Green surge fizzed out with the party only winning 3.8% of the vote and only getting one MP in to the House of Commons.

What’s Next for Britain?

Now that there’s a Tory majority, the party will feel no need to placate anyone else and will be able to do whatever it pleases, which will undoubtedly be a disaster for most of the United Kingdom. In addition, there will also be a referendum, most likely in 2017, on the UK’s future in the European Union, which could have the potential to divide the United Kingdom even further than it already is now.

And what of the future of the Union itself? There’s no denying that the Conservatives, through their appeal to English nationalism, have done more than anyone to put the future of the Union at risk but it is too soon to say whether a second Scottish independence referendum is inevitable. Already Cameron and Osborne are making noises about granting full fiscal autonomy to the Parliament in Edinburgh and we’ll need to see how that plays out. In conclusion, we can say that, with the results of this election, several cans of worms have now been opened and what happens next under the Conservatives will affect the United Kingdom for decades to come.

(Image Credit: Image Arcade)

616 thoughts on “UK Election 2015 – My Take

  1. Depp is an idiot but forget him for the moment. But remember the screams from the Libs blaming all the gun crime on slack arske Labor not running customs properly ? So let’s have more questions about how and why he was able to waltz in with the dogs needs to be put to Barn Yabbie . Especially about what cuts have been made by his government .

  2. kk

    Especially about what cuts have been made by his government

    The comparison between which govt has cut Quarantine more might be unflattering to Labor (KRudd didn’t think dogs should be quarantined!)

    The better question might be ‘why the Nationals haven’t been able to get Quarantine re-funded’

  3. Seeing as Depp’s Dogs is the most important thing going right now –

    It’s not like Depp didn’t know the rules – the Pirates crew wanted to bring two monkeys into the country a few months ago, without taking the time for quarantine. The delay, they said, would hold up filming. The then Queensland government wanted the feds to give permission to waive the rules. They refused.

  4. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Mark Kenny with a reasonable review of Shorten’s speech.
    Waleed Aly warns us that this is a booby-trapped budget. MUST READ.
    More ICAC fallout.
    Well how would you be! Two of Abbott’s financial geniuses outed as “double dippers”.
    Lenore Taylor says the new PPL scheme is already in political tatters,
    The ABC Fact Checker has bound that Abbott has been misleading over the double dipping chant.
    The Guardian examines the messy budget.
    Michael Gordon on how Shorten has defined the next battleground – the future.
    The budget papers refer to significant rises in court fees. Another hit to the less well off.

  5. Section 2 . . .

    Surely this can’t be right! If you’ve got a project that won’t stand on its own two feet then come to the government.
    Larissa Waters is going to chase the government down on this one.
    The Business Spectator – Fair and equitable, except for super.
    Michelle Grattan asks which Tony will voters decide is the real Tony.
    How to rort the new $20k instantaneous tax write down.
    Labor says that the budget tells us that public service wages will be cut in real terms.
    The absence of the term GDP from Hockey’s budget speech tells us plenty says The Conversation.
    Budget 2015, an assault on Australia’s climate programs.
    Here’s Paul Bongiorno’s take on the budget.
    The SMH editorial says Shorten now must come up with credible ways of funding his good ideas.

  6. Section 3 . . .

    The 28 worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    Cory Bernardi at his bullying best.
    Is this a way to keep people locked up indefinitely?
    A breath of fresh air from the Californian judiciary.
    Justice Virginia style,
    Andrew Dyson and “Abbott’s Tradies”.

    A nice juxtaposition from Ron Tandberg.

    John Shakespeare – “Eat at Joe’s”.

    Mark Knight with a new role for Barnaby.

    There’s plenty in this one from David Rowe.

    This one from The Australian says plenty.

    Fairfax cartoons are thin on the ground today.

  7. While everyone was talking about dogs yesterday the new Border Force legislation quietly slipped through the senate. Labor and the cross-bench supported it, only the Greens voted against it.

    Bananaby was definitely after a distraction – he found exactly the right thing.

  8. 15 May 1982:

    The Port Stanley airfield bombed again.

    An Argentine cargo ship strafed and set on fire.

    (Not noted at the time but the RN strategy of cutting off re-supply is having effect)

  9. You’d have to wonder on the coincidence of chance that soooo many dunderheads and idiots came together at the one time to form a govt’ that soooo many dunderheads and idiots thought had a capacity to govern fairly enough to vote for them!!!

    What are the odds??

  10. Sales was all nastiness in her interview with Shorten last night, but nevertheless it was a necessary test of Shorten’s mettle. Whether he passed the test is for each of us to judge. In my view he didn’t .. at least not with any high mark.

    The truth has been dawning on me of late. Bill lacks something. Call it backbone, or passion. Or simply the ability to articulate spontaneously and with conviction. To think quickly on his feet if you like.

    Contrast that interview with the one on Lateline. I’m starting to like Bowen. Despite the great sin of not fully supporting Gillard (though did Bill?), and despite his middle of the road quasi neo-liberal economic ideas, he can stand against fire and shoot back. OK, Jones’ questions were polite in comparison to the harridan’s, actually quite tame. But Bowen had all the answers anyway, and you had the sense he would have had them no matter what the question. He spoke with confidence and without a hint of apology.

    Shorten may be OK at set speeches (except for relying too much on his notes), but he falls short(en) when it comes to thinking on his feet.

  11. What an amazing success this sending asylum seekers to Cambodia plan has been. A whole four – that’s right, four – people have been browbeaten into taking up the offer.

    Peter Dutton confirms refugee transfers from Nauru to Cambodia

  12. CTar1

    “KRudd didn’t think dogs should be quarantined!”
    Did not know that. What a bloody idiot.

  13. A US defence official said American B1 bombers were bound for Australia as a deterrent to what they described as China’s “destabilising effect” in the region.

    RAAF Scherger and Curtain I’d expect (and Tyndal).

    The Septics have a twice a week courier flight – Guam / Philippines / Curtain / Scherger and back – well established (they’ve also brought illegal dogs in).

  14. I know what you are saying, dedalus..listening to him just now with Fran Kelly , he sounded uncertain and stumbled somewhat in his answers and allowed her to do the running..I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing in a everyday conversation, where there is all the time in the world to correct and impress one’s policy construct…the problem in this case is that those really good policies and /or political empowerment has to be sold in the public arena to a jaded, mistrusting electorate.

    It is a public speaking engagement, even if over the airwaves. Being “wooden” in communication is not a crime, but it is a little disconcerting when passion is required.

    But having said that, I do wonder if now is the time for such a person to deliver some calm to an overheated populace.

  15. Bowen does come over as an attack politician, but then, under pressure, i have seen him suddenly buckle when a certain point is reached…I don’t think he has staying power and I don’t think he can be trusted.

  16. Of course, the “elephant” ..or should one say “stinky-stoole” in the room is the Murdoch /MSM. media doing it’s damnest to frame policy in it’s favour.

  17. Tony Bourke has a calm , but passionate delivery and he ought to be used more as a front man, I reckon. He never gets flummoxed.

  18. kk

    Did not know that. What a bloody idiot.

    I got this from someone who was standing on the tarmac in Perth for CHOGM.

  19. Tony Burke is one of my picks for leader.

    Two reasons I just can’t accept Shorten – his betrayal of Julia Gillard and his messy past. The Murdoch media are just waiting to unleash a torrent of scandal and gossip about Shorten’s marriages. We won’t mention that alleged rape – but the MSM will.

    I admired Shorten during the Beaconsfield disaster, his policy work, especially on the NDIS has been outstanding, he makes excellent, passionate speeches in parliament which only political tragics ever get to see, but there are those two big black marks. We will hear about nothing but those when the election campaign gets under way.

  20. The problem with Shorten’s replies to Sales is that he didn’t at all address the real point of her questions, which is “where is the money going to come from?”

    There are very few politicians who can answer this question. This is because the question is based on a false assumption that a government’s budget is the same as a household’s budget.

    It is not.

    What he should have said is exactly what a credible economist or business person would say: the money will come from raising capital.

    Capital: the key word in “capitalism”.

    “You believe in capitalism, Leigh?”

    “It means that sometimes it is appropriate to strategically Increase the deficit. Or in layman’s terms, to borrow.”

    “Like we did, Leigh, to save the economy from going into recession following the GFC. The same GFC which Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey refuse to acknowledge actually happened, Leigh.”.

    Shorten should then have been able to go on and finesse this a little.

    “Leigh, your question, with respect, is a very naive one, and doesn’t acknowledge the realities of budget economics. Government budgets, Leigh, are not like household budgets.”

    He should have adopted a more patronising tone to Sales, seeing that she clearly knows zilch about the subject. She has her script, like Oakes has his clipboard. The trick was to get her off her script.

    “Leigh, think of government not like a household, but more like a giant corporation. Big corporations like BHP for example. When BHP decides to expand its operations, it does so by investing shareholders’ money.”

    “Investing, Leigh.”

    “That’s what Labor proposes to do. By using deficits where necessary, and wisely Leigh, like BHP, we will expand our economy. This is what businesses do Leigh.”

  21. Dedalus and Jaycee,

    So, Shorten is not the be-all of the perfect leader but where do you find such a person? If you want an arrogant, attack dog and a passionate liar, you have it in abbott and 90% of his motley crew.

    At least Shorten has the qualities of a gentleman and a calm demeanour; He’s not covered with a shiny veneer that hides a mean, dark and greedy core. There is no sign that I can detect, that Shorten would cause embarrassment to this nation or its citizens on the International stage, nor can I detect any signs of vindictiveness in his nature or a penchant for feathering his own nest or the nests of his pals.

    Shorten lacks the form of political nastiness we’ve seen in the LNP and their media backers but in my book that is a good thing. He is, however, a fighter and will always put people before the almighty dollar, and I believe he is honest to the core. In other words, he’ll do me nicely as our PM.

  22. I’m at the stage where if there was another Labor leadership spill, I’d just vote for Shorten (unless he makes a fatal political blunder somewhere).

    He might not be the ‘best’ leader, but he’s at least passable as a leader. Changing him for anyone else unless he’s universally hated would damage Labor’s prospects more that it would raise them. The end result of yet another leadership spill for not being Whitlam’s second coming will be Abbott adding another clasp to his blue tie and very likely another term in office.

    So unless there’s a massive scandal (that turns out to be true and not just a Murdoch lie), I’m sticking with Shorten for leader until the election, and if he wins, I’ll support him for 1 term, then after that can be the time to think about changing leaders. Just for the sake of healing the image problem for Labor leadership if nothing else, and also because there were some damn good policies to fight for.

  23. I see Tony Burke in the Immigration portfolio. He would be more humane and caring than many others. As a PM, I’m not sure. He’s religious and conservative. Whether he’d have the vision Shorten showed last night, I doubt. We need someone with a vision. The crowd that clapped for Shorten understands that too. As for his past, yes, like Julia, he will be crucified. His betrayal of Julia is not unique to him. So many have betrayed her, the exact number we’ll never know. Betrayal is common among politicians, and that might not be seen as Shorten’s worst flaw.

    It is hoped that one day some intimate pics of Abbott and Credlin might appear.

  24. JoHo – “You’re never going to repair the budget by going after rich people”.

    Doesn’t he understand in any way that we want them to pay their share?

  25. CTar1,

    And he refuses to do anything about the superannuation inequity because ‘it’s their money’ – the fact that they’re using super deposits as a means to reduce their income tax is neither here nor there. According to HoJo, the wealthy and the rich are entitled to ‘their money’ and the great unwashed should be happy to subsidise them as they further enrich themselves.

  26. And, I listened to HoJo waffling on (I think he might have been with Faine) about infrastructure. His ‘asset recycling policy’ he lauded, saying Victoria should sell its Port etc which would attract Federal money for infrastructure…..pisses me off that not one of these media twits point to the elephant in the room that the Feds are forcing the states to sell off their public assets. They are forcing the states to sell off their public assets because the Feds sold off every public asset when the Libs got their backsides on Treasury Benches in 1996 and now there is nothing left to ‘privatise’.

  27. Dedalus – I see what you’re getting at, but that approach doesn’t work either. The trouble is that media journalists (if you know what I mean, people like Sales) just want to simplify politics to dot-points. If Shorten says “the money will come from raising capital”, Sales will respond with “but that’s not telling me where the money’s coming from”, and Shorten will say, “strategically increasing the deficit by borrowing” and Sales will say, “so your only plan is to further blow the deficit out? Isn’t that always Labor’s answer for everything?” And then he’s stuck. He’s just dug a hole for himself that he has to dig his way out of before he can get his message out.

    If you ask me, Shorten’s got a long-game going here. His first step is to get people thinking about confidence and investment as a means to generate revenue. He’s partially blind-sided the Coalition with his small business tax cuts. They’d have expected him to label that as a bad move, which would allow them to attack the ALP as high-taxing and anti-innovation. By telling them it’s a good idea but it hasn’t gone hard enough, he’s knocked their generous facade on the head.

    That was partly what he was up to with Sales. He just kept telling her, in his own way, that fretting about where the money is coming from or where the cuts will come is looking at the problem in the entirely wrong way. We’ve got a revenue issue, not a spending one. And if you continue to talk the way Sales was, you damage confidence. Shorten knows that the tax rate for small businesses has little impact on the economy, as most small businesses barely post profits anyway, and many of them are advised to pump profits into wages to balance the books. So the cut is a gesture, a way to say, “We’re on your side, and we’re looking for ways to help you succeed.”

    Anyway , all he’s done is take the first step. It’s a good one, and we’ll see what comes of it.

  28. Something most of the budget commentary has missed – Abbott tossing money at Gina to allow her to fulfill her ambition to develop the north. The MSM are carefully avoiding any mention of Mrs Rinehart’s ambitions, so we will have to do it for them.

    This seems harmless enough –
    Federal budget: Government offers help with concessional loans to build infrastructure in Northern Australia

    Here’s the agenda, form 2013. It’s taken a bit longer than Gina might have hoped, but now the money has been promised.

    About that port in the north, Tony, and the roads, and the …..
    Yes Gina, ASAP, I promise.

  29. I’m not advocating changing our leader. I’m not wanting to start up another Rudd-Gillard war.

    I’m just pointing out that it’d be nice if Bill sharpened his face-to-face act.

    As ForeverJanice says, noone’s perfect.

    Still, Leone makes legitimate points of criticism.

    To get over these, you have to assume Shorten abandoned support for Gillard out of sheer funk at the thought of losing an election, otherwise it’s a weak act. As for his past with its allegations of rape: that’s a bit murky. If he has to douse that brushfire when it comes to an election campaign, it could get messy.

    But which cupboard do you go to for a skeleton-free experience? Such cupboards don’t exist.

    And, yes, Shorten has some fine qualities. I believe he is a decent guy and would make a fine PM. And he presents a contrast to the fuckwit Abbott which in theory the electorate should accept. Compared to Abbott the slogan generator, Shorten is a man of soaring rhetoric.

    But that relativity doesn’t make him an acceptable off-the-cuff orator. Think ahead to the Shorten-Abbott debates. Abbott will have his inane 3-word repeated-in-case-you-missed-it one line slogans down pat. Shorten will have to counter these with his own lines – and heaven forbid they begin with the word “ah”, and contain the word “er”. Or come packaged in his signature zingers.

    We need more than zingers from you Bill. Zingers are so passe.

    Cogent articulation, Bill. Forceful and blunt, please.

  30. You’ve “sold” me , Janice…now, about that rest of the electorate…

    The conundrum in a “free democracy” is ; do we opt for the “managerial leadership” style , or for the “charismatic leadership” style? In a booming economy, that is global-market controlled, the nation could be led by a dessicated coconut and the budget will still “balance” and the coconut will still look like a “leader”…but in a time of turmoil and dissent, the electorate seems to hanker after the confident , if not ; arrogant leader…the charismatic ideal.

    It seems ; “Leadership”, in these days of non-combatant leaders, must be “sold”…the managerial style, while it may be competent in formulation and delivery of policy, it may never get the chance, being over-ridden by a better media “sell” of the opposition…

    Abbott was “sold” to a gormless electorate by a devious media conglomerate using the most vain, gullible because of that vanity, media “personalities” to sell a dud person and a dud product…it has worked many times in advertising..look to those promised bonanza ponzie schemes…investors mistook the bullshit for gold and their stupid greed did the is the same with voters..sadly, the majority are fuckwits…you , I , we all have met them, in committees, in groups, on the buses/ trains, amongst friends…hopeless, gutless and useless….BUT..they have the vote…so what do you sell them?..: The “Australia’s Got Talent” metaphor?…or the “Mum in the kitchen cooking us dinner” metaphor?

    I know which one I’d prefer, but that, like many of us with a bit of experience of having to “eat shit meals on the run”, doesn’t seem to be the one that gets the most “ratings” !

    As we have sadly seen.

    It’s all in the media sell…and at the moment, we have a totally f#cked MSM.

  31. Speaking of metaphors, as an example of the depth of some Gen Y. comprehension, I heard this a fair while ago on a radio quiz ;

    Announcer ; ” Can you tell me what a carpenter does?”

    Contestant ; ” Oh”…long silence…then : ” Lays carpets?”

    Would someone please lower the curtain of charity?

  32. Aguirre, you have a point. So let me reply to your dot-point scenario.

    The art of debate requires the debater to do his/her homework. It requires anticipating what the other guy is going to say in response to what you are going to say.

    You wargame it, you flowchart it, you West Wing it.

    In short(en), you make sure you know your stuff.

    Do you mean to tell me that Shorten shouldn’t be able to anticipate what a numpty line of questioning is likely to throw up?

    That A leads to B leads to C and then Shorten should suddenly be stumped because he can’t find D?

    That makes either Sales a genius of logic subterfuge, or Shorten a victim of “dad” syndrome:

    driving home from maccas:

    kid: dad, who makes babies?
    dad: mommy does son.
    kid: who makes mommy dad?
    dad: god does son
    kid: who makes god dad?
    dad: eat your fries son

  33. leonetwo

    Young Twiggy has been buying large cattle properties up north as well. Looks to cash in on food sales to Asia. What luck the Federal Government pledged $100 million to upgrade northern roads used to transport beef cattle,

  34. jaycee

    Some of those gullible people could be quite reasonable if someone, like you for instance, spoke to them individually. Ask them what their problems or demands of the govt are, and explain to them what both parties offer – all in an objective way. Some of them just need more factual info and they don’t know where to get it.

  35. leone

    At least charming Gina is not selling coal, but milk instead. Hope she doesn’t try to alter it for convenience and profit, and treats the cows humanely. A big ask, I know, of a big Gina.

  36. I’m not really saying that, Dedalus. I’m saying that the aim of Shorten’s game is to either keep Sales from going down that stupidly populist line at all, or to make her look silly if she does try it. You can win an argument by explaining how borrowing to spend is the correct economic approach, but can you win an audience? The worst scenario is the one where you’re making nuanced sense, and your interviewer is just saying “but where’s the money coming from?”

    I’ve seen that happen over and over again. Julia Gillard conceded once, just the once, that an interviewer can call carbon pricing a “carbon tax” if he wants to, purely in order to get to a place where she could start talking sense on it rather than deflecting a slur for the entire interview, and what happened? “Julia Lied!” for the rest of her term. Now, she’s incredibly smart, never loses a debate or an interview, But that one moment of letting an interview be played on the terms of the interviewer dogged her entire career after that.

    “We’re going to borrow money to pay for stuff,” would be a gaffe on that scale. You can talk around it, but you can’t state it outright. You leave yourself open for a barrage of slogans. As in your scenario, Shorten has to keep it from getting to D in the first place. I thought he did a good job of that.

    An example:

    Shorten: It means that sometimes it is appropriate to strategically Increase the deficit. Or in layman’s terms, to borrow.

    Sales: So, your solution is to borrow our way out of trouble?

    Shorten: Well, that’s not the whole picture. The money is invested in…

    Sales: Yes, but with no plan to pay the money back. Your plan is to drive us further into debt?

    Shorten: Of course not, that’s a very simplistic way to…

    Sales: But they’re your own words, Mr Shorten.

    Shorten: Yes, but as I am trying to say, if you’ll let me…

    Sales: And we’ll get to that in a moment. But first I want to establish that you have no modelling, no savings targeted, to offset this debt. Is that right?

    Shorten: That’s how an economy works, Leigh. You have to borrow to invest, so that…

    Sales: But the current Government have identified savings in order to meet costs. I see none of that in your statements so far. Wouldn’t you call that irresponsible?

    Shorten: But this Government are driving us further into debt, Leigh, so to say…

    Sales: But they have identified savings and you haven’t. So I would ask you again to answer the question, what’s your plan to reduce the debt, because I don’t see anything but borrowing?

    Shorten: Look, it’s very clear, Leigh. If you invest the money borrowed wisely in schemes that make money, that reduces the debt in the long run.

    Sales: So , what would you say to future generations that are left with the burden of debt that a Shorten government would create?

    and so on.

  37. That is just an example. It may of course not go that way at all, but hopefully it illustrates a potential pitfall.

    Some of you might recall, way back in the Gillard or possibly even Rudd governments, or maybe even before that, I can’t recall, a complaint made a few people that the ALP were coming up against false premises in the question they were being asked on shows like 7.30. The suggestion was tossed about that ALP MPs should start saying “I reject the premise of your question” as a way to counter these traps. They did for a while too.

    I think the questioning has become more subtle since then. Or perhaps the Abbott era has just destroyed the concept of a ‘premise’ entirely, as almost everything this current government does is based on false premises. Any old accusation can be pointed at anyone these days. The very idea of getting at the ‘truth’ of an issue has gone way out the window. The non-truths this government keeps tossing out there have muddied the water. No wonder the quality of political debate has deteriorated.

    That’s the problem I was trying to illustrate. It’s not really a Shorten thing at all. Political journalism now resides in some fantasy land where scoring a cheap point is regarded as a legitimate political approach to policy issues.

  38. Indonesian direct aid, until now Australia’s biggest program, was slashed 40 per cent last night along with all but one other East Asian recipient — Cambodia which is rewarded for accepting an as-yet undecided number of boat-people refugees from Nauru.

    However the scale of the existing Indonesian program meant that Indonesia suffered more than 20 per cent of the total cut from Australia’s overseas development aid (ODA) budget.

    DFAT’s Indonesia program for the coming year was slashed from $542.5 million to $323 million, out of a total aid budget cutback of $980 million.

  39. So true Aguirre. Sales would keep the dialogue going around in an endless loop like the staircase in that Escher print. And then the clock would wind down on its 5 minutes and then Sales would say: “Thank you Mr Shorten”, leaving Bill with a bemused crease on his forehead.

    At least Sales is not as bad as Bronwyn Bishop, that magificent impersonator of Roland Freisler, the Nazi judge of the third reich’s peoples court. –

    “who was known for humiliating defendants and shouting at them. … A number of the trials for defendants in the 20 July Plot before the People’s Court were filmed and recorded. In the 1944 trial against Ulrich Wilhelm Graf Schwerin von Schwanenfeld, for example, Freisler shouted so loudly that the technicians who were filming the proceeding had major problems making the defendant’s words audible.” [wikipedia]

    Bronwyn Freisler: yeah .. has a nice ring to it.

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