Personally, I can’t see that telling people who vote Green they are stupid is a great political strategy.
Most Green voters are sensible, committed and share many of the same values as Labor supporters. They are unlikely to experience a road-to-Damascus revelation as a result of these types of remarks.
Green voters in suburban and regional seats can and do have a real influence over electoral outcomes and should be nurtured, not nuked.
I am also not sure that swinging voters outside the inner-city seats are going to be all that convinced by the boots-and-all approach. It fails the tests of consistency and believability. Federal Labor has governed under an arrangement with the Greens that has generally delivered the government’s legislative program, with the major exception of asylum-seeker policy.
However, there is evidence from the Melbourne byelection that a focus on Labor’s core strengths and holding the Greens to account on how they are going to deliver their policies bears fruit. Labor campaigned strongly in Melbourne on education and the state government’s TAFE cuts. Most significantly, Andrews homed in on the Greens’ inability to govern, and lack of financial responsibility. The key issue that hurt the Greens in the last week was that their policy costings didn’t stack up and they didn’t think it mattered.
The Greens like to say that Labor and the Coalition are the same. Federal Labor should argue that, on many issues of concern to progressive voters, Labor’s policies are actually better and more effective than the Greens – whether it be investment in social housing, broad access to vital infrastructure like the national broadband network or environmental initiatives like the system of marine national parks.
In the case of the Greens, in recent weeks many of their MPs and supporters have expressed bewilderment and anger at the public attacks that have been directed at the party. If they want to get a better understanding of what motivates some of these criticisms, it would probably pay for them to look at what Bandt said on Saturday night and yesterday morning. Apparently, there’s one rule for the Greens and another for everyone else.
When the Greens come in second and win with the help of preferences, even if those preferences come via the Liberal ticket, everything’s fine and it’s a glorious victory. But when Labor is fighting the Greens and gets preferences, especially from people who voted Family First or really anybody else, it’s a dirty, sleazy backroom deal leading to a tainted result.