It’s a worry

I found this in Tony Abbott’s Battlelines which is a quote he took from John Howard:

A conservative is someone who doesn’t think he’s morally superior to his grandfather.

Very nice, very neat and in its own way sums up just how difficult it is to be a conservative these days. Because the sentiment will actually only appeal to a small proportion of the country. Most won’t know what it means and a majority will surely think their morals are superior because none of us live in the moral space of people fifty and a hundred years ago.

Which brings me to the latest polls. Is the Coalition behind? So says The Age, down 48-52. Although not as bad, it is to some degree echoed by The Australian:

TONY Abbott and the Coalition have lost their post-election glow, with voter support for the Prime Minister and the government continuing to fall as Bill Shorten and Labor climb back from the election loss.

I expect people who rise in the political process to know a thing or two about politics but they often don’t know how things look from our here. And the biggest issue from where I sit is the absence of good news stories, how things are being done and Labor is being raked over the coals for the harm the last six years have done. The fact that Julia Gillard feels capable of commenting shows just how little shame Labor feels about the damage they did.

Government is not admin. It is not just fixing things up behind the scenes. It is not only about doing, it is also about explaining. It is about maintaining your support. If you are going to govern against the grain of the zeitgeist, which every conservative government must do, there needs to rhetoric to go with the action.

The only stories I see really being carried in the media have been about rorting travel allowances and a major blue with Indonesia. We already knew about the NBN, the budget black holes, the deficits and the boats. But I worry that the government may think quiet competence will do the job, and people will notice.

If you build a better mousetrap, the reality is the world will not beat a path to your door. Being a better government is not enough. If you do not explain yourself and engage in the rhetoric of politics, if you do not have an agenda of your own but are merely at the mercy of the next revelation by The Age, Guardian or The ABC, you are inviting trouble.

Maybe it’s just nothing, it’s only early days, but I do worry.

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