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Don't blame Julia, blame Labor

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 11 March 2013


It was predictable that Julia Gillard would get the blame for Labor's performance in the Western Australian election, but that's part of Labor's problem – it's not Gillard that is to blame, it is Labor.

Seeking to shift blame for an election defeat and cure the problem by knifing a leader is a manifestation of the Labor disease.

We conducted a qualitative poll the day of the election and it is safe to say that the election was fought primarily on state issues, and one of those state issues was the poor performance of the state Labor party.

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Federal Labor did play a part, but as an entity in its own right, not because of its leader, and as an example of the failure of "brand" Labor.

You can see the relationship between the state and federal Labor brands by looking at Newspoll figures since the last WA election.

While Colin Barnett only just slipped over the line in 2008, winning against expectations, his position dramatically improved in mid to late 2010, as you can see from the graph below.

Newspoll doesn't have WA results between March and September in 2010, so it's difficult to know when the deterioration actually happened, but it probably happened at the same time as federal Labor went down in the polls, which was a function of Kevin Rudd, not Julia Gillard.

The federal election was in August 2010, and Kevin Rudd was deposed in June, but the dive in the ALP vote happened in May.

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The deterioration in the polls was the reason that Kevin Rudd was removed. Julia Gillard briefly broke that trend by winning the 2010 federal election, but it reasserted itself very quickly.

So the deterioration in Labor's vote happened at both levels of government at around the same time, but probably during Kevin Rudd's reign. So perhaps we should blame him?

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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