Ooops Greenpeace!

This week I attended a public affairs conference entitled True Spin, held by the Walkleys/MEAA.

There were conflicts, inconsistencies and knowledge gaps that struck me during the presentations at the conference, but one thing that consistently stood out was the consensus that Shell had badly dealt with Greepeace’s Let’s Go! arctic campaign.

Disappointingly, while several presenters were happy to pile on Shell for their lack of issues management savvy, not one suggested a course of action that could have proved successful for Shell.

I have to admit that the answer does not come easily to me either, which is why I’m less prepared to damn Shell for their inadequacy.

Since then I’ve been pondering what I would have done, and have come to the conclusion that I would have advised Shell to take out full page ads with the text provided below, backed up by a good old fashioned media release that includes a Shell estimate of how much a slick website like that would have cost to establish and run.

I chose MSM rather than social media because corporate messages on Facebook and particularly Twitter can be too easily highjacked: there’s a greater chance that your message will remain undiluted if it’s distributed by the mainstream media via new media platforms than if you do it yourself.

Similarly, the call to action is through email and not Facebook or Twitter where the message can quickly be highjacked and distorted.

So, this is the text of the full page I think Shell should have placed. What do you think they should have done?

Don’t be surprised – Greens are not ALP’s natural ally

I’m not a psephologist, so I’m quite prepared for this to be blown apart by Mumble or Poll Bludger.

But I’m being driven crazy by the political ignorance displayed by those gnashing their teeth over the recent ratcheting-up of the ALP’s stance against the Greens. In short, the ingénues are saying “why fight with each other when the Libs are the enemy?”.

Such naïveté ignores the reality that each political party considers all others the enemy – even the Libs and Nats vigorously compete against each other for a seat previously held by a retiring Coalition MP (sometimes to their detriment, and sometimes not).

The mistake being made by political newbies and idealists on Twitter is that Labor and the Greens are natural allies against the Coalition. They forget that in the real world, it is each party for themselves with all others being considered the enemy.

Since the last federal election, primary votes for the two major parties and the Greens have taken this path (according to Essential Research, whose polls trend similarly to those of Newspoll and Nielsen):

  • Liberal/National 43.6% → 49%
  • ALP 38.0% → 33.0%
  • Greens 11.8% → 10%
  • Other/independent 6.6% → 8.0%

Note that the only significant changes in support are from the ALP to the Libs/Nats and other/independents.

According to what Australian voters are telling pollsters at the moment, some who voted for the ALP at the last election have now parked themselves with the Coalition or the other/independent category. No Labor voters have shifted to the Greens since the last federal election.

Those aghast by the ALP’s demonisation of the Greens seem to think the ALP needs to win progressive voters back off the Greens to win. But they don’t – they need to win back disaffected Labor voters who are parked with the Libs or others/independents.

Yes, the ALP will still need Green preferences in some seats, but most likely they’re taking those preferences for granted. Green voters are likely to give their preferences to the ALP anyway.

As Andrew Catsaras pointed out on Twitter in response to this post: Every vote the ALP gets from Greens is worth 0.2 of a TPP vote, whereas every vote the ALP pulls off the L-NP is a full TPP vote. This is because Greens voters preference the ALP at about 80%.

The ALP isn’t trying to win progressive votes from the Greens, they’re trying to win the middle class, middle income voters who are parked with the Libs but are uneasy about Abbott. They’re also trying to win progressive voters parked with the other/independent category who find the Greens too extreme.

If you look at Labor’s approach through that prism, what they are doing makes perfect sense. They’re saying both Abbott and the Greens are too extreme, and that the safe harbour is with the ALP.

The by-election for the state seat of Melbourne is the trial run for the ALP’s campaign. Without a Liberal candidate, they can gauge the extent to which non-Green voters are willing to come back to the fold, using an anti-Greens campaign.

They lose nothing from running hard against the Greens, because the Greens’ votes are not the votes they want – they want votes parked with the Libs.

Make no mistake, the next election will have nothing to do with the Greens. It will be about voters returning to the major parties. The only question that remains is which party will they return to?

Post script: Interesting responses and related reads from Andrew Elder, Bernard Keane and Victorian ALP.

Fear mongers belittle politics and humanity

Here’s my latest piece for The King’s Tribune…

Fear is a fascinating thing. It’s fairly easy to initiate, can sometimes be used to motivate, and can bring out the best or worst in any of us. Right now, it’s being used against us for craven political purposes.

Fear motivates some people to wear a seat-belt, insure their house, take their medication, run from a person brandishing a knife, or perform heroic feats to save loved ones. It can also cause people to be prejudiced, belligerent, aggressive, or perhaps even trample others while trying to escape danger.

Fear is a powerful emotion, and it’s used daily by companies, governments, political operatives and the media to influence our behaviour.

While the tabloid media are best known for playing the fear card, politicians now seem to be trying to trump them. The Greens proclaim that devastation will soon be wrought by dangerous climate change; the Coalition foretells the doom that will befall us from the carbon tax; and the ALP warns about the apocalypse that will come with the ascension of Prime Minister Abbott.

Added to this, we’re cautioned about mining magnates, asylum seekers, newspaper proprietors, rabid Christians, vampiric bosses, a burst housing bubble and another global economic meltdown.

It’s no wonder the Australian citizenry has become anxious and seeks solace amongst the glittering halls of Westfield Plazas scattered thoughtfully around the country. Perhaps the public’s whinging and wringing of hands, attributed by many to our selfish sense of entitlement, actually arises from our confidence being battered by fear-mongers on a daily basis.

Click here to keep reading….