In a previous life I was a university administrator. The best piece of advice I ever received (from an individual who is now a vice-chancellor) is:
You have to be a bigger bastard than they are.
The same holds for politics.
Demiris floated the idea that the party should consider not running in several federal and state inner-city seats, leaving it to Labor and the Greens to slug it out. His proposition was that where this happened, Labor lost. It lost a seat it had held for 90 years to the Greens that night.
If the Liberals had run a candidate, it would have cost up to $40,000, they would have secured about 15 per cent of the vote, their preferences would have gone to Labor and Labor would have won.
Many senior Libs, the younger ones at least, are asking how that could possibly help them, and what difference these days does it make if Greens or Labor wins. A few years ago, when Victorian Libs discussed preferencing Greens ahead of Labor, it sparked heated debate, with interventions including John Howard, who argued that the Greens were more destructive than Labor, so Labor should be ahead on the ticket.
I have always preferenced the Greens before Labor. At the moment this is an easy choice – the Greens are far behind Labor and cannot yet form government, but they can cannibalise seats in the Parliament. If and when the Greens destroy Labor (and they will) the decision becomes tougher. Right now it’s a free hit.
The problem the Coalition has is that over the past few years I’ve preferenced them second. Not that is matters to them just yet. They still get my overall preferred vote, but they don’t get the funding that goes with a first preference.
The point being that the Coalition need to sharpen up and toughen up.