March 2014


Of all the advertising in the Tasmanian election so far, the piece that has most interested me has been the Greens' claim to represent "real liberal values", as seen in a leaflet distributed in parts of the state and on this website.  So far as I know the claim has been largely ignored by opponents, but I thought it was something that deserved proper critical scrutiny. 

The campaign is part of an increasingly confident and positive attempt by the Greens to take advantage of Labor's apparent death spiral in order to make a play for Opposition or at least co-Opposition status to the incoming Liberal government.  A part of this is an ambitious attempt to snare an elusive second seat in Denison.  The Greens have had their eyes on this prize for a long time but have never quite got there.  Past elections under both the seven-seat and five-seat systems have now and then seen polling samples that implied this result was possible, but it has never happened.  

The Greens have decided that they will try to appeal to what are often called "small-l liberal" voters in Denison.  They are fishing for the votes of those whose political views are "closer to those of Malcolm Turnbull than those of Tony Abbott".  In my view around 4% of Denison voters fit this kind of leftish-Liberal profile, and they are concentrated in the relatively wealthy Liberal-vs-Green southern suburbs (Battery Point, Mt Nelson, Sandy Bay, Taroona).  Most of them moved to Andrew Wilkie at the 2010 state election and have stayed with him ever since, but Andrew Wilkie is not a candidate at this election and his votes are up for grabs.

The role of this article is not to say whether the tactic of trying to harvest left-Liberal votes will work.  It is to present views on whether the claims made in it are correct.

The most obvious thing about the Greens' pitch to left-Libs is the colour:

Yes, it's a Green ad in Liberal colours!  It seems that the Liberals are no longer zealously protecting the colour "Liberal Blue" against use by their competitors. 

The discrepancy between the Liberal Party and liberal values (of whatever kind) is something I wrote about before in one of my favourite articles on this site, What is an independent liberal?  The Liberal Party is not consistently any of classically liberal, "small-l liberal" or what Americans call "liberal" (though the third can be argued to be a latter-day twisting of the term itself).  So here's my view on how the Greens go making headway on this issue. [Read More]

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