In our ideal world Mick Jagger and the Stones were wrong in 1969. We’d get everything we wanted and especially from Politicians.
This evening Julia Gillard was on Q and A on the ABC and we heard the PM give everyone just what they wanted;
- Prioritising Mental Health spending above all other Health Budgeted items
- Promising to legislate for Gay Marriage above ensuring there’s enough water flowing down the Murray to help feed the population
- Canning the internet filter because it garners fewer votes in marginal seats than putting chaplains in schools.
Only she didn’t, and apparently this was rather unexpected to some.
In an ideal world My Party for Me would do some or all of the things I listed above. But instead I might see some of them added to a list of priorities for government. Most of them will exist only on a below the line list – the “Nice to Haves”.
We make plans in Business. We like that because it gives us focus. The accountants and investors like that, because it gives them certainty. How often do we stick to the plan 100%? Not often, even if that includes doing everything you said you’d do and adding more.
When developing products we make judgement calls on features based upon numbers of factors and the same applies to politics. Some of the rationale for delaying things is made public and some is kept close to the chest. Some things you aren’t going to commit to you sneak in because it becomes cheaper or easier to do or your priorities change.
Politics is a bit like that. You balance your stakeholders, you prioritise your targets. You remove things from your plan because they are either unachievable or some of your stakeholders find it difficult to accept. You could even call individual constituencies your market segments like Karl Bitar and do some focus groups and target your message that way.
The bigger your party, the wider your appeal has to be and the more diverse opinions on certain policies you will have. The central atom – the party whip – exists to hold the line and present a unified voice. It’s also why one trick ponies can’t exist in major political parties.
Do Penny Wong’s and Julia Gillard’s recent responses to questions on Gay Marriage really mean they are personally against it? Of course not, but it appears that many imagine they were both on Q and A as Independent politicians representing themselves. The idea that they were there as a representative of their party has either been forgotten or conveniently ignored.
In a system which promotes the major parties ahead of all others, parties founded around one-trick policies generally are completely unsuccessful and fade away over time or stay peripheral until the creator passes away or retires. There are often exceptions, e.g. One Nation or the Greens, when their core constituency grows with a temporary greater interest in their core reason to exist.
How long they last is generally decided upon how well they can translate themselves into a wider policy base. A bit like a business trying to diversify in order to continue growth.
Either way, successful political parties don’t achieve and stay in government because of the My Party for Me minority issue. They do so because they have achieved mainstream acceptance and support. If along the way they take up your issue and implement it or fix it, then you should be satisfied.
Abusing them and voting against them because they haven’t the My Party for Me policy a key election position helps make that decision easier for them.