TIME-tested political strategies were thrown into turmoil with the rise of the 24-hour news cycle – and then all but decimated by disruptive social media.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has developed an ingenious fix.
John Howard used the political “wedge” for more than a decade to great electoral success, while his Liberal Party successor Tony Abbott mastered the “slogan”, which saw him sail into high office in 2013.
But, as all smart politicians know, neither strategy is watertight in today’s Twitter connected community – in fact Abbott’s approach became outdated almost too quickly.
No Australian politician since has found a way to appeal to core supporters without placing a flashing neon “kick me” sign on their back – until now.
Prime Minister Morrison’s political astuteness is heavily underestimate by the Left – they mockingly refer to him as “Scotty from marketing”. But he continues to completely outsmart them.
In the world of retail sales, Morrison’s new political strategy would be called “bait and switch” – where you heavily promote a handful of products the noisy bargain hunters demand but then quietly sell them a whole lot of other stuff they don’t particularly want.
It’s a high risk approach but it appears to be working flawlessly.
The success of his “bait and switch” strategy relies on maintaining a grasp of the two personality traits of an extremely polarised electorate.
Firstly, Morrison must intimately understand the mindset of his political opponents and play to this.
He knows the Left are primarily impressed by words and symbolism. They care little for details nor delivery. So Morrison tells them what they want to hear and makes them feel warm and fuzzy.
He knows they’ll move quickly to their next virtuous cause if there’s no fight to be had.
There’s no dishonesty in this. Morrison keeps alive a handful of real policies and political positions for this very reason. These include, for example, the toothless Paris climate agreement and his embrace of Welcome to Country ceremonies. All pretty harmless when compared to the Labor/Green alternative.
Secondly, Morrison is banking heavily on centre-right voters marking him up for what he delivers – and not becoming too aggrieved by what he says.
The risk he runs, however, is that too many of his traditional supporters may get drawn into believing he’s lurched to the bleeding-heart Left.
He trusts they will see through his symbolic rhetoric and understand from his actions the serious nation building exercise he’s undertaking – and it seems to be working.
Morrison’s approach provides fodder to Australia’s lazy Left-wing media to appease their audiences – while allowing the Prime Minister, for example, to indirectly push for base load power and a re-birth of Australian manufacturing.
You’ll rarely hear him announce such “controversial” policies himself – he’s largely proxied these tasks to commentators within the centre-right media – but there’s no mistaking his intentions if you look past his words.
And the best thing is that Morrison’s new strategy can’t be stolen by Labor or the Greens – as it only works if your supporter base is level-headed and properly informed.PC