May 01, 2005 | Graham

Howard calls opponent liar

Anyone remember seeing this in the Australian election? No, and neither did I. So why is alleged political mastermind Lynton Crosby allowing the other Howard, Tories’ leader Michael Howard, to use the line in the UK election? Look at the poster in this article.
Perhaps Crosby doesn’t have as much influence as is alleged, or perhaps he is not as good an operator as he makes out. Either way, the UK election is not going to add to his lustre as a political campaigning genius.
The “lying” accusation in Australia was deployed against John Howard and probably increased his majority. Similar things appear to be happening in the UK, with a twist – they have a third-party alternative which is more viable than our Greens, and they don’t have preferential voting.
A poll conducted online for The Times, while probably less accurate than off-line polls contains some interesting qualitative information. While most voters appear to think Blair is dishonest, only a net 7% will change their votes because of the Iraq war. A net 12%, however, are less likely to vote Conservative because of the “tactics and issues raised by the Conservatives”. In both cases the major beneficiaries are the Liberal Democrats – the viable third party. (Although not too viable – their leader Charles Kennedy is favoured for Prime Minister by only 24%, even though 42% of the electorate thinks that there is value in voting for them.)
As in Australia, the War in Iraq, and indeed honesty in government, are side issues. As always, it is issues, and the record of the Government and the Opposition that count. The negatives for Blair are leadership (75%), immigration (75%), failure to improve public services (71%), rising taxes (70%), Iraq (63%), and the party has become too right wing (22%). The negatives for Howard are his party’s record on tax and the economy (78%), using immigration as a cynical ploy (70%), threat to public services (69%), negative campaigning tactics (74%), his leadership (68%) and the party is too right-wing (52%).
It’s the truth/trust dichotomy again. They are both liars, but one is marginally better than the other. Still, there are some “protest vote” levers available for Crosby. Only 21% of voters think a large Labor majority is desirable. Most (46%) want either a Labour government with decreased majority, or a hung parliament. Problem for Crosby is that with a viable third party, electors don’t have to vote for the Conservatives to bring about either of those results.
There is substantial elector acknowledgement that the Conservatives could win if enough voters stay home or vote Liberal Democrat – 41% agree it is a risk while 30% don’t and 29% don’t know – but perhaps not enough.
So, the only thing that could save the Tories is the slight possibility that in a first-past-the-post system enough normally Labour voters could vote Liberal Democrat in electorates where the Tories have a sufficiently substantial vote to then slip in front of both them and Labour. I wouldn’t have thought this was likely to happen to the extent necessary to do anything more than produce a hung parliament. Crosby will need a better result than this.

Posted by Graham at 2:58 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I know I’m being pedantic but the Libs Dem leader is Charles Kennedy.

    Comment by Stephen Hill — May 2, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  2. You’re not being pedantic, I’ve been sloppy. Charles Richardson is Crikey’s psephologist, so I guess it was Freudian. Thanks. I’ve altered above so as not to confuse readers of the article who never get to the comments.

    Comment by Graham Young — May 2, 2005 @ 1:53 pm

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