Thursday, February 18, 2010

On how the electoral will can be stymied

After my year long hiatus I offer a final reflection on the 2008 Mayoral Election. It has implications for any future electoral efforts in and around Liverpool.

The 2008 Mayoral Election campaign was my first serious run at public office as there was a real chance to be elected. It resulted in the Labor Mayor being elected with 35% of the primary vote. The bulk of the lost votes was caused by the betrayal of an agreement by Phil Sim to exchange preferences. He said to me after the election that "if he was not going to win in beating Waller then nobody will". Pretty pathetic really and a sign of the times where our civic service positions are attracting such people as a consequence of the broader public being detached from civic affairs.

However upon analysis even if the "exhausted"  7800 votes had flowed through to me there would have been a deficit of 3% to 5%.

People ask how did Ms Waller get 35% anyway given her pivotal role in the disastrous Oasis affair that saw $30 million of ratepayer cash expended for zero public benefit.

We estimated the hard core Labor in Liverpool would be 28% to 32%.  Such a level was there to beat and with Sim's preferences I would have jumped over the Liberal candidate and his preferences would have taken us to the point of victory.

But who were the extra 3% to 5% of electors? My best guess is that they were our new citizens, recent migrants and refugees, for whom Liverpool has become home. They are not aware of the local issues and would be unaware that their vote was a betrayal to the wider community mood towards the Labor candidate and her poor civic history. Their community leaders are susceptible to exploitation by manipulative politicians, such as the local Liverpool MP Paul Lynch MP and his ilk. These leaders have a planted  need, sowed and cultivated by the politicians, to be connected to the "higher powers" for influence among their own people who have migration desires for other family and opportunity for associates.

This is a classical situation where new migrants are seen to cause in the short term a reduction of social solidarity and social capital as studied and published by Robert D. Putnam in recent years. This of course has implications for future referenda that will focus on constitutional matters including electoral reform.

Of course the only way to address this is to get connected with the migrant groups and have them engage in local affairs. A task to be started.


Of more positive things, I had 45 people assist me in my Campaign.  They were young and middle aged, single and married couples. 95% of them had not engaged previously in the political process ,outside of voting. It was a great honour to gain such support from these people.

I surveyed them to enquire of their thoughts on election day and on the campaign. I had near 80% response and all answered that their experience as being Worthwhile, and/or Enjoyable and/or Hopeful. This was a hopeful evaluation in itself, even where the immediate objective was not achieved. It encourages me to further promote such civic engagement in people as a call to advance our civic well-being.

Until next time ... Engage, Connect and Serve...  life is good.

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