Flat White

What's next for the Liberal Democrats?

28 May 2022

4:00 AM

28 May 2022

4:00 AM

The Senate count is complex and won’t be complete for another week or more. However, around 60 per cent of the primary vote has been counted, so we have reasonably accurate first preference tallies.

The Liberal Democrats ran Senate tickets in each state. Regardless of whether our lead candidate was a former premier, a sitting MP, or someone with a low public profile, the results were remarkably uniform – we achieved 2 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

Of the 22 parties that contested in NSW, the Liberal Democrats received the seventh highest primary vote.

It was similar in other states.

On two metrics the Liberal Democrats over-performed.

Rightly or wrongly, money is massive in election outcomes and the Liberal Democrats had an almost bare cupboard. On the ‘Dollar-per-Vote’ metric however, the Liberal Democrats were likely the second most successful party in this election (Legalise Cannabis Party wins this metric).

While we had an active social media campaign, the corporate media gave us the same attention as the 15 parties that polled less (next to nil). There is a silver lining here. Jane Caro has been on TV for decades and has double the Twitter followers of our six lead senate candidates combined but in NSW the Liberal Democrats got more than four times her primary vote. Few voters have even heard of us and even less are familiar with our policy platform but on the ‘Awareness-per-Vote’ metric we also likely came second (again behind Legalise Cannabis).

Since English is read from left to right, it benefits parties to be as far left as possible on the lengthy Senate ballot paper. Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats’ candidates were mostly towards the far right of the ballot paper. The upside with that poor position is that we have confidence our voters weren’t donkeys but consciously voting for us because they were convinced we are Australia’s best political party.

From Bondi to Broome, one in fifty people voted 1 Liberal Democrat. On the current numbers that means 345,916 Australians cast their senate vote for us – (double our 2019 vote). We now need these obviously highly intelligent voters to take the next step and become a party member.

During the campaign, I met many from other minor parties. Unlike the general public, these activists were familiar with our policy platform. More than a few gushed about how much they supported it. We now need those patriots to join their natural home – the Liberal Democrats.

There are four ingredients for political success: policies, personnel, money, and votes.

If the objective is to make Australia prosperous and strong in this generation and the next, the Liberal Democrats’ policies are the gold standard.

I spent 25 years in and around Liberal Party and now a year in the Liberal Democrats. There is one striking difference: at social events, Liberals talk about factional stuff but Liberal Democrats talk about ideas. I’m generalising of course but Liberals are careerists – Liberal Democrats are thinkers.

We don’t have money, but with our policies and people that will come … and so will the votes. So while we will not have any members in the coming parliament, we do have positive momentum.

Where to from here? To paraphrase (gulp) Leon Trotsky: the permanent campaign. We’re going to redouble our efforts and get our message out in every way we can whether there is an election on or not.

It’s hard to see Australia (and the world) not having steep economic challenges coming at us like a freight train (thanks Covid-maniacs). Doesn’t matter who the Liberal Party puts up as leader, if the economy goes south it will be laughable for the Liberal opposition to attack the Labor government. Scott Morrison may have handed Anthony Albanese the keys to the economic Titanic. But Labor, in turn, can’t blame the previous government because their only criticism of Morrison’s outrageous debt etc is that Liberals didn’t print and distribute more free money. No, Lib-Lab duopoly, you own this mess jointly.

One party has the answers to our coming challenges – the unashamedly economic rationalists of the Liberal Democrats.

Next stop? The Victorian state election in November and the NSW election next March.

Longer term, our goal is to do in every federal election what we did in this one: double our vote. Let’s just hope Australia doesn’t go off the rails too much before we have parliamentary power.

John Ruddick was the Liberal Democrats senate candidate in NSW.

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