Yes, Labor can win an election in 2016

For months now it’s seemed as though the Labor Party’s political fortunes rested on factors almost entirely out of its control, i.e. the fortunes of the Coalition. Shorten seemed to many to be a dud, a mistake not of their choosing. The best hope we had was Tony Abbott and his wretched Government, and for a while there things didn’t seem entirely hopeless given how bad they were. Then the unthinkable happened and Turnbull deposed Abbott. So much for hope. Things suddenly looked bleak.

Turnbull’s honeymoon showed no signs of ever waning. But it did. In some respects, if one sees Turnbull’s fate as inextricably tied to that of his Government, then his honeymoon is truly over.

Recent Newspoll and Essential results show the Coalition and Labor deadlocked. If such polls can be trusted – and it’s worth noting for most people the believability of a political poll is judged by how much that poll reinforces their own bias – they give weight to the view that a trend is emerging.

Turnbull may not be as acrid as Abbott, and may never reach such dizzyingly Malodorous heights, but he fairly stinks right now, along with his caustic Cabinet. This Government’s current policy paralysis and Labor’s string of solid policy announcements and re-commitments has turned things around considerably. Labor is now, to some extent at least, leading this nation’s policy discourse and dynamics from the obstacle of Opposition. They’re not just leading the political “debate” as Abbott arguably did from Opposition, because all that entailed was Abbott shooting his mouth off more effectively, but Labor is actually guiding that debate in a meaningful fashion.

Turnbull and his Government have cause to be deeply concerned. The fact of their concern is possibly evidenced by their recent attempts to manipulate Senate voting reforms in their favour (and potentially thereupon calling for a DD election). Is there currently a single voice of reason and substance in the Coalition ranks? It’s ok, that was rhetorical.

In the face of a combination of Coalition Coma and a newly invigorated Labor Party whose leader is looking increasingly credible, I feel Labor’s electoral prospects are as good as they’ve been in the life of this Government. Maybe even better than they’ve ever been.

I believe, truly, that hope has returned and that it’s not merely fantasy. But I also feel that Labor must be prepared to heed its progressive demographic and abandon things like its general support for the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Further Strengthening Job Seeker Compliance) Bill 2015. Labor cannot afford to allow what remains of its progressive credentials to slip away.

If the joy of being able to say goodbye to these conservative reprobates isn’t sufficiently motivating for us all then I don’t have an clue as to what might be.

About Dan Rowden

Dan Rowden is a freelance writer and philosopher who has been active in philosophical and political discourse since Malcolm Turnbull invented the Internet in Australia. For the last 15 years he has contributed to and administered Internet philosophy forums. Politics is a secondary interest, but he recognises moments of significance in Australia's political history.
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