everything went wrong, including Bill Shorten

Particularly one of those most involved.

“Labor lost the election because of a weak strategy that could not adapt to the change in Liberal leadership [from Malcolm Turnbull to Scott Morrison], a cluttered policy agenda that looked risky, and an unpopular leader.”

That unpopular leader, Bill Shorten, was nowhere to be seen as Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill, having overseen the Labor Party’s review of its failure to win the unloseable election, sat before a bunch of media types and sought to look serene as they served up one of the stinkiest sandwiches in the party’s history.

You could, however, almost sense Shorten vibrating with indignation out there in the lonely cybersphere.

He’d already ensured he’d got the last word in first, hitting Twitter to make one extremely pointed point before the review was even released.

He was going nowhere. He intended to remain in public life for another 20 years.

Oh, dear. Could things turn Biblical, and Old Testament at that?  Shorten seems unlikely to tolerate being cast, Leviticus-style, as a scapegoat into the desert, burdened with the sins and failures of his party.

Twenty years! It’s a long time to seek redemption.

There was, of course, much more.

Bill Shorten and wife Chloe at the Melbourne Cup.Credit:Eddie Jim

Dr Emerson, once Bob Hawke’s economics adviser and later a Queensland MP during the Rudd-Gillard years, gave a hair-raising reading of where the Labor Party now finds itself.

Trying hard to sound calm and analytical, he noted that low-income and job-insecure voters in the outer metropolitan and regional areas had swung away from the party, while high-income and highly-educated urban types had swung towards Labor.

Calm? This was an analysis of desolation for a party established to represent workers.

Emerson simply noted, wall-eyed, that centre-left parties across the world were suffering similar fates.

Later, he observed that Labor has a fair bit of trouble winning elections from opposition. Quite.  The ALP has managed to do such a thing only thrice since World War 2 [Whitlam in 1972, Hawke in 1983 and Rudd in 2007).

The review itself shone more unwelcome light on the predicament.


“Labor has failed to win a majority in the House of Representatives in eight of its last nine starts,” it says on the very first of those 90 pages.

And here was Labor in 2019: the party of rich urbanites, shunned by insecure workers.

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