Lay down misere


Andrew Elder has written an excellent piece suggesting that the Liberal Party is engaged in trying to makeover Tony Abbott’s image into that of an Antipodean Ronald Reagan:
“The sunny optimism and pleasantness that Abbott showed in his 60 Minutes appearance reminded me of Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s demeanour made him more appealing than his policies of cutting social welfare and decreasing taxes for the wealthy might otherwise have seemed. And he diminished criticism by not letting it get to him.”

I reckon Andrew is probably right. A very difficult tactic to counter as Reagan’s opponents from Carter onwards discovered. “Don’t worry be happy” could be a theme song with an Australian accent for the “Tony One Three” campaign. The more Gillard and Swan attack with, you know, facts about the economy, the more Albanese boasts about 500 pieces of legislation, the more it reinforces their image as being negative tinkerers, while Tony just beams his way through. May, as Andrew suggests, use Reagan’s “there you go again” to deflect any of that troubling discussion about actual policies. Just vote for him, the message will be, and it will be morning in Australia and happy days will be here again. A vote for Gillard, the implicit message will go, is a vote for a misery guts who thinks Australia isn’t perfect, that things need fixing, that people should, in short, worry, be unhappy with their lot.

And yet, and yet… it’s a tactic that relies totally on the acquiescence of the media to succeed. Relies on them being taken in by the sunny smile and the inability to hear questions over the roar of the helicopter. Needs them to be also captivated by the idea that all will be well, don’t you worry about that.

Because it could so easily go the other way. The first to try something like this was Harold Macmillan with his “Never had it so good”. It worked, because many workers were better off, and the economy was going well, and Macmillan won a big victory in 1959. In retrospect though it is seen as an “out of touch with the workers” comment, and is often used to pour scorn on those who use the Reagan tactic.

Imagine, for a moment, that the present Australian government used the Macmillan phrase, or some equivalent. Tried to be sunny and optimistic about the future, didn’t bother people with policies, indicated by their demeanour and smiling expression that the good ship SS Australia was sailing along smoothly under the light touch of a Labor captain.

Before the PM had finished speaking the News Ltd presses would be running hot with Julia Gillard’s face photoshopped on to Macmillan’s body. The ABC reporters would be hot-footing it to western Sydney to find pensioners, old people, migrants, doing it tough, demanding to know how the PM could live on their pensions or unemployment benefits. “Rooted” of Rooty Hill would be writing letters to the Sydney Morning Herald suggesting that the PM was a silver tail from Kirribilli who wouldn’t know the price of Coles Brand bread. Battlers would be queuing up on Alan Jones radio to demand an election to throw this out-of-touch government on the scrap heap of history while Alan agreed that these people should be forced to live on he, Alan’s, wages for a week and see how they got on.

And the more Julia and Wayne tried to smile and be sunny through this onslaught, the more out of touch they would be portrayed as being. And Tony Abbott would appear on breakfast tv looking serious and demanding that the government be honest with people about how tough they were doing it, and promising to give everybody a million dollar note the day after he became PM. Suddenly misery would be good for electoral success.

And the Libs would win with a lay down misere against a government that thought it was holding all the aces.

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6 comments on “Lay down misere

  1. David Donovan says:

    Brilliant. Would love to fit this in IA but may not be able to unfortunately.

    Keep up the great work.

    Best regards


    David Donovan | Managing Editor Independent Australia

    ‘The journal of democracy and independent thought’

    Twitter: | Facebook:


  2. Snowy says:

    The only problem with this is that Abbott would need to have a personality transplant. You can’t polish a turd. You just can’t.


  3. cornlegend says:

    .16 Quotes From Tony Abbott to Remind You Why He Shouldn’t Be Prime Minister ?
    On immigration:
    1. ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.’
    2. ‘These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers’
    On rights at work:
    3. ‘Bad bosses, like bad fathers and husbands, should be tolerated because they do more good than harm’
    On women:
    4. ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.’
    5. ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’
    6. ‘I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’
    7. ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’
    On Julia Gillard:
    8. ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die’
    On climate change:
    9. ‘Climate change is absolute crap’
    10. ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax.’
    On homosexuality:
    11. ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened’
    12. ‘If you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things…’
    On Indigenous Australia:
    13. ‘Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage’
    14. ‘Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…’
    15. ‘There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done’
    On Nicola Roxon:
    16: ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?’


  4. Basically, what you’re saying is that the media, and their slavish followers have decided that the ALP cannot win the next election. We could add that they, the media, will relentlessly pursue the notion that a Labor win is just a Rudd revival away, but the moment we are re-Kevined, we will be told that Labor is doomed, and opinion polls favouring Rudd have magically collapsed, and Labor would be better off under Gillard, or Combert, anybody but Rudd!
    Now it seems the people want a change to the newly re-invented pleasant and relaxed version of Mr Negabbott, but only because everyone hates what he’s got until he gets what he wants, then he hates what he’s got all over again.
    We will get the government we deserve, unfortunately.


  5. Alan Phillips says:

    Tony Abbott’s mob is just doing what all opposition parties do. Labor was just as bad. The pendulum will swing as it always does, and we’ll be back in the ‘good times’ of Liberal do-nothing policies and Australia falling further behind the rest of the western world with regard to such things as social services and the tackling of the big issues such as global warming.


  6. Joy Cooper says:

    Yes, no matter what, our PM would never be given a fair go from the MSM ever.

    She & her advisers would be wise to steer clear from using any slogans. Remember the howls of outrage when she said she was going to be the real Julia? Contrast that with the milk run Tony Abbott is getting from the MSM after saying he was a “changed” man. Doesn’t that say even he admits he was crap before?


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