“Negative Politics”

In the first week of Rudd’s leadership we had the words “diplomatic conflict” used in relation to the Coalition’s asylum seeker policy which sent conservatives into both a frenzy of “Kermit arms” hysteria and political mistakes.

Yesterday, the ALP released their first advertisement for the upcoming election campaign. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

This advertisement has thrown a couple of new verbal grenades into the national debate. The first was “negative politics” and the second was “raise the standards.”

Cynics and the “political insider” crowd might deride this sort of communication as “spin” however this ignores the fact that Rudd is directly addressing a serious issue for people in relation to politics in this country: the public’s disgust at the negativity used from both sides of politics and the perceived decline in the standard of the national conversation.

They’re powerful lines on their own but in the combination they have been used in this advertisement, they’re deadly!

Firstly, Rudd is qualifying himself for people in order to establish a high standard of performance as Prime Minister. In other words, he wants to do the best job he can possibly do.

He’s not mucking around.

It’s very important to make this clear before we go into anything else because it’s the key to how this sort of communication works. If it was simply about countering the “evil menace” Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, the whole thing falls apart.

As a leader, he is defining the criteria for people to make their own assessment on his performance. This is the base for everything that follows.

Secondly any attack directed at Rudd based on the content of this advertisement by the Coalition has already been framed as “negative politics.” Any move they make has the hue of negative politics to it before they even decide to move a muscle.

Lastly any type of “negative politics” used by the Coalition is by definition not “raising the standard” of public debate (what people desperately want right now) and therefore adding to Rudd’s credibility and the ALP’s election campaign material.

On top of all that, Tony Abbott has already been narrowed and defined to the words “negative” and “no” over a three year period, so for him to break free of this word prism he has placed himself in, he’ll have to be acting inconsistent with his public persona which would make the communications material coming from the Coalition even more of a complete mess than it is already.

To be continued

One thought on ““Negative Politics”

  1. Ralph July 10, 2013 at 1:33 am Reply

    This is fascinating stuff. You’ve opened my eyes to the strategic background play that’s been going on for so long. I have to wonder whey the ALP allowed themselves to be outwitted so comprehensively. Perhaps they knew what was going on but were always behind the advantage line and therefore never really had a chance to launch a counter attack. Much like in footy, where too much defence blunts your attack when you actually get the ball.

    With all the highly paid and experienced strategists available to them, I don’t believe that you are the only one that saw these things. Nevertheless, it does shine a new light on Abbott’s effectiveness, but as you say, now that he’s not up against someone who is even more loathed and disrespected than he is (i.e. Gillard), he all of a sudden is looking like a wooden and one dimensional character. It clearly took the removal of Gillard to lift the negative pall that was preventing the public taking a closer look at Abbott. And now it looks like Rudd is executing some quite effective counter strategy. Quite a game changer. It will be interesting to see how Abbott responds. I look forward to the next post!

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