The next day’s papers are always the first cut of history, so getting out the “right” message on election night is about setting the foundations from which your results history will be argued.
The media brief to being “on message” for the ALP members on election night was clearly a “viable fighting force”. In fact in his relatively long speech Kevin Rudd made a couple of educated guesses which have, in time, proven to be false. The ALP didn’t hold ALL it’s seats in Queensland, that is an objective fact, but did they in fact do pretty well in the circumstances? “Against the pundits”, as Kevin2.0 would have it. Although all the pundits did was predict, it was the Liberals, LNP, Nationals, Greens, Katter, and Palmer that found against Rudd2.0 and his ALP team.
No. Let’s be clear the result in this election for the ALP has been a massacre of monumental proportions, and while the House of Representatives seat count is somewhat better than some may have been fearful of, this is the one glimmer of hope in an otherwise dreadful result.
Dealing first with the House…
1. ALP’s lowest primary vote ever. Lowest post WW2, lowest since the formation of the Liberal party.
2. The ALP had state wide swings against it in all States and Territories.
3. The ALP lost seats in NSW(7), Vic (3), Tas (3), Qld (2), and SA (1).
4. And, perhaps, most remarkably, but as I can find totally unremarked, not a single electorate (Out of 150) switched to the ALP. New members were returned taking over for retiring ALP members, but no new seats were won.
Independents lost seats, other independents gained seats, the Libs picked up a Nats seat, but the ALP failed to win a single new seat.
1, 2, and 4 are to my knowledge, and research, unique in Australian Federal Political History.
In the Senate
5. ALP didn’t (well this is still a prediction because the count is not finally run yet) win a second senator in SA and WA. That’s right 1 from 6.
6. Nick Xenophon out polled the ALP in SA.
7. The left leaning ALP/Green block in the Senate is now <50% and is not needed to pass Government legislation. (Post 1st July 2014)
So the ALP have retained a “viable fighting force” and the references are to ’96 not ’75/’77, based on seat count. The ALP seems to have won 55 seats, distributed by States as follows:
However what, should (and might) be alarming, to calmed and reasoned ALP psephologists is the collapse in ALP primary vote.
Presenting the same data slightly differently (and average across 3 elections for clarity).
Far more than infighting, navel gazing, and not getting their message out – the ALP have serious political difficulties. More than 2/3rds of the Australian electorate are NOT voting for the ALP and the trend is not their friend. The bold red section at the bottom of the graph shows the ALP primary vote declining over a LONG trend.
A Queensland PM brought back because of his campaigning qualities has got a primary vote in Qld in the 20s and just 6 Qld seats, the lowest National primary ever, and lost the ALP/Grn balance of power in the Senate.
I’m not sure how it could have been any worse. Oh wait, it could have been that more of the current sitting Parliamentary Labor Party members lost their seats…