The Odds Shorten
This is the week that could break one of our political leaders.
A by-election usually provides the voters with a chance to kick the government where it hurts most – in the ballot box!
Only once in the past hundred and seventeen years has a government actually won a seat off the opposition during a by-election.
But like almost everything about the recent political environment, these elections are different to politics-as-usual.
It is a contest between two political leaders who have both alienated their traditional support base.
The Labor leader is seen by many Australians as a phony who will do and say anything to further his quest for power.
His opponent is considered by many lifelong Liberals as an unnatural fit within their ranks. Some consider his greatest electoral strength is that he is not Bill Shorten.
Yet, Malcolm Turnbull should come out of this weekend in the strongest shape of his political life.
With everything stacked against any government at a by-election, the slightest success will buoy the Coalition ranks. It will also put enormous pressure on the Labor leader.
That’s why both of them are spending most of their time hosing down expectations.
Shorten wants everyone to think Labor are the underdogs so that holding his ground will seem like a victory.
He’s also tilling the soil to explain away a potential loss as being no reflection on his leadership.
Turnbull is using history to explain why the Libs shouldn’t win…and if they actually do manage take a seat off Labor, it will be characterised as an historic achievement of Trumpesque proportions!
Of course if Turnbull can’t win in one of these five seats it will raise genuine concerns about his prospects of retaining government at the general election.
For Shorten though, the stakes are more immediate and much higher. If he loses one or even two Labor held seats, one could foresee further pressure on his stalled leadership.
Already Anthony Albanese is cautiously displaying his leadership wares before the media and his colleagues.
And who can blame him. If an opposition leader loses even one seat in a by-election it suggests they haven’t got a shot at winning when it truly counts.
Of course a Labor leadership change could actually create problems for the government because Bill Shorten is the government’s biggest electoral asset.
With the polls becoming closer in recent months, a new leader could spark a Labor resurgence which would then set off some internal leadership ructions within the Coalition.
Such is the unpredictability of the current political environment that we could even see both Labor and Liberal leaders bite the dust.
Perhaps though, history will be the best guide and the status quo will be maintained in all the electorates and the leadership of the major parties.
But then again, a return to political normal might be the biggest change in politics we have seen in over a decade!
Things that make you go Hmm…
Mt Edna erupts on PC and WACAs welcome Southern and Molyneux to Melbourne. Andrews’ socialist Victoria re-writes history – but this comedian can’t. 7 complains of ABC rip-offs as Ten gives Sam some oxygen. There’s Puma petrol protests south of Perth, tax time is scam time and is this why Maccas might ban straws?
Macron’s air-punch is celebrated but not his bodyguard’s effort, Miami Uber riders beware ‘vomit fraud’ and team unity and integration go down Die Mannschaft. Meet Buffy 2.0 – the childhood slayer, Denmark’s dissed for being inhospitable to halal, this young Saudi catches the wrong drift and Bill’s having the life of O’Reilly on Twitter. Amazon tosses in this patent and Elon Musk may survive the latest furore but this unicorn toots in his general direction.