One observation about the political environment right now, is that it is not about what
each side is “selling” to the electorate, but rather, how
they are selling it.
On that score, Mr Abbott and his Coalition colleagues are doing a fantastic job in touching the nerve-ends of the electorate with their messages. The Coalition holds a commanding lead in all opinion polls and they are the hottest of hot favourites to win the 2013 election. This is despite the fact that what there are selling is a dead dog. That dead dog includes unfunded promises which would usually humiliate anyone with an understanding of economic policy; their numbers don’t add up; policies that conflict and an agenda that it impossible to define because either it does’t exist or what is there, is subject to change. Mr Abbott is promising to unscramble an omelette even though it can’t be done without causing economic and market upheaval. Company tax hikes, pension cuts, lower superannuation contributions are all part of the Coalition’s agenda. How can they win an election with this agenda unless they continue to run the best political marketing scheme ever seen?
The Prime Minister, Ms Gillard and her team are presiding over something close to economic nirvana. There is a near perfect balance of fiscal and monetary policy settings, the never-before-seen triple-A rating from all three ratings agencies and despite a mini-cyclical slowdown, unemployment is low. A budget surplus next year is an amazing achievement and reform on carbon pricing, the mining tax, education, skills, workforce participation, disability insurance, company tax cuts, superannuation increases are things that most voters should warm to. So too lower interest rates which are set to be even lower in the months ahead. It’s the lobster thermidor, drizzled with truffle oil.
But the Government are clearly doing a less than average job selling this message. Polls still show a big lead to the Coalition as “better economic managers”, by way of example. Maybe that will change and there seems to be a shift in the messages from the PM, Treasurer and others in recent weeks.
Looking ahead, there is no doubt that an ordinary sales job is fixable when you have something great to sell. It’s still lobster you are selling, just try a different means to get the message through.
But selling a dead dog is selling a dead dog. This may yet be a problem for Mr Abbott and the Coalition right through to the election in 2013. There is little room for error if the dead dog starts to smell.