At last night’s Centre for Policy Development book launch at Avid Reader in Brisbane (see here), Miriam Lyons remarked that other rural and regional communities, and indeed political parties, will be carefully studying the Cathy McGowan campaign.
McGowan correctly sensed that the constituents of Indi weren’t satisfied that “Stop the Boats” and “Axe the Tax” were actually responsive to their concerns. More broadly, there are excellent lessons to be learned not just about campaigning but about bottom up representation and policy formation.
If you haven’t read the excellent account of the campaign in Inside Story, I would recommend that you do so.
I don’t think the movement that McGowan inspired is without its implications for political parties – and that goes far beyond the LNP’s loss of a seat and Sophie Mirabella’s loss of a cabinet position. I think that the widespread alienation from politics can be addressed by community campaigning and informal models of deliberative democracy.
Process is important.
For a number of reasons, I’m seeing the Liberal Party (despite its populist successes under Tony Abbott and John Howard) as increasingly a mix of a narrow business interest party and the mouthpiece of remnant social values. (Increasingly, Liberal and LNP branches have been overrun by various species of fundamentalist Christianity in a lot of places). Assumptions that three word slogans will always prevail are also a form of Denialism.
I would hope that both the Labor Party and The Greens are more open to community campaigns, and not just during election season.