by Malcolm Farnsworth
There’s votes and there’s bodies.
In Saturday’s election, the ALP ended up with more bodies than it thought it would. Members who were written off or deemed at risk just three months ago have survived the election.
Think, for example, of Jason Clare, Chris Bowen, Laurie Ferguson, Ed Husic, Matt Thistlethwaite, Mark Dreyfus, Alan Griffin, Anna Burke, Graham Perrett, Kate Ellis, Gary Gray and Warren Snowdon. They are some of the saved furniture. Some of it is tatty, some of it has lustre, but it has survived.
That’s why the relief in the ALP is palpable. Bodies matter. MPs have staff, offices and facilities. They are an essential part of the infrastructure a political party needs to wage war with its opponents.
Whatever the Gillard apologists might say – and they were out in force over the weekend – the ALP was heading for the loss of 30-40 seats in June.
In Melbourne in May the massive swing against the ALP in a state by-election where the Liberals didn’t even run a candidate drew attention to what was happening in the electorate. In some areas, the swings were over 20%. The smarties denied that a state by-election warranted federal comparisons but people on the ground knew better.