The Progressive Disconnect of Malcolm Turnbull

One thing about running a small target strategy in politics is that any relationship built between the personal brand of the leader and the voter market is also small. Tenuous at best.

Add to that an already high level of dislike and mistrust towards nearly all politicians, and an expectation that a Prime Minister needs to govern based around a simple yet shared vision and we have the perfect political storm that is currently engulfing the Turnbull Government.

This doesn’t feel like the first 100 days of a newly elected government. It feels like the last 100.

Conservative leaders have clearly ignored the most successful conservative leader of recent times, John Key, playbook when it comes to not just holding government but actially doing so each and every election based on a vision so fresh and clean that no amount of mud thrown at it by opponents dirties it.

John Key’s economic rationalism balanced out with his social investment policies have seen him in the same term increase the GST to 15% AND introduce marriage equality laws without so much as a whimper on his governments electoral standings. Just ask David Little. Or the 97% of CEO’s who think he is doing a great job.

And of course there is his nice Dad touch thanks to the social media uploads by his young family, namely son Max Key. It is brilliant comms because it is absolutely natural and nothing more than a son poking fun at his previous generational father. Right about now Malcolm Turnbull is trying to figure out a way of how to copy this entire strategy across the board. Perhaps John Key’s son included as grandson Jack is still a bit young to get grandpa on Snapchat.

For Malcolm Turnbull he seems like a man who is on the very brink of losing it all after having come this far. The brand policy pioneership is being owned by a very resurgent Bill Shorten, a deliberate and intentional strategy that adds to the narrative of this being a government too scared to act in case it loses a vote in either the Parliament or the party room, but also a narrative of that should this government fall there already is a Prime Minister in the wings who has been leading the policy discussion in the key areas that currently face Australia.

If anything it appears that Bill Shorten is the one who currently has the social investment balanced out with the economic leadership, although he still has miles to go on the charisma front.

Malcolm Turnbull may not have promised Hope a la Obama and Blair and even Cameron in his pre-Brexit days, but he did promise progression in social policy areas such as marriage equality, climate change and the environment and the Republic, and badly needed structural and economic reforms on the business front.

This expectation still built up a promise in the minds of those who believed and voted for the Turnbull Government. That promise, in these early days of governing, has hardly been fulfilled. Worse is that it seems unlikely that it will thanks to the work ably done in the House of Reps by a very smart Labor.

It is not too late by any stretch for the Turnbull Government. But they need to rebuild, rengage and reconnect and fast. They need to start being a big, bold target and start working on those relationships.

There needs to be movement on social and economic issues and fast. There will be no party room revolt if the polls are strong because the government is governing and doing the sort of things we want and need to see it do. In fact the party room revolt only comes because there is no governing.

Governing is about being decisive. The doing. The actions. The implementation. About being Frank Underwood. Sort of.

It is not about being lifeless and drifting as appears to be the case now.

But if there is more talk and less action in the remainder of 2016 then those polls will become a pattern and not a trend and that means that Bill Shorten has every right to lay claim to being the leader in waiting and the real progressive Prime Minister that Australia needs.

Leaders Debate: Lost Opportunities

After watching the leaders debate free pitch to camera tonight it was clear to see the lost opportunities by both leaders.

Let’s start with Bill Shorten. Whoever his media team is they are using the 1990’s playbook in 2016. The straight down the camera barrel dead pan face looked and felt fake and like a shot to the camera style ad. And a bad one at that. And one that at times was on high rotation over the next hour.

It lacked excitement, engagement, passion and zeal; attributes an alternative Prime Minister should really have.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.58.11 PM
This candidate is authorised and written by the ALP. 

What we needed to see was the real Bill. A real experience. This is 2016 and experiential marketing IS IT right now. Although momentum is with him at this stage of the campaign, and whilst there is much water to flow beneath the bridge yet, this was a missed opportunity for the market to see him being relaxed, authentic and honest.

These attributes are hard to earn in politics so for them to be so easily let go for a glib “Comrade Leader” style address was hard to fathom. Perhaps his media team should trial these tactics out for themselves to see how bad they look.

Better still they should actually take a look at the “Big League” of the US where leaders are expected to be real, authentic and be human – just look at Obama, Bernie, Palin and Trump who all do that so well, but then the opposite with Clinton 1 & 2, Gore and Romney who looked they were more petrified of a media slip up than actually showing that as Americans they too cared about as much as what happened to the country as those who were voting for them.

Obama Style
Classic Obama here – sleeves rolled up, Presidential brand on the lectern, engaging style and even the charity armbands all work well here to say “I am one of you”

Charisma, or as the Skyhooks once said, ego, is not a dirty word in politics because it has such a strong connection to leadership and here again Bill and Malcolm would be wise to show a bit of that off because in tonight’s leadership debate there was a huge vacuum of it.

You are the leader. Yes you. Be proud of that. Take a leaf out of the Leon Cameron playbook on this one.

To Malcolm. I get it. You made a lot of money in business, from not the best start in life. Can we all move on from that.

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If only a tram or train could turn up right now and have some passengers who wanted selfie’s then you’d see the real me. 

Who are you actually now? Let’s go beyond the selfie. You. What do your family hear you get passionate about when it comes to this country? What makes you passionate? That Q&A gig he did before you became PM was great. Go back to that. But now you are the Prime Minister. You need to start having a clear, concise and simple vision that we all can engage in otherwise your Bill will be in the mail and heading for the Lodge.

A vision by the way is not Jobs and Growth. That’s a slogan. And a slogan should represent a vision. So what is your vision for this nation? If you are the king of progressive politics in Australia then perhaps it is time to start acting like it. Be the King. Be Progressive in ways Labor can’t because you had better start to as those polls are moving from a fad to a trend.

As for us. We lost the opportunity that such a long campaign can provide to allow us to see policy discussed in-depth. Instead we got spin. And we really needed more out of that debate and the leaders.

Actually we needed a debate. Not the spin cycle to camera we got for over an hour. We heard no simple, clear or concise language or vision from either leader.

As for a winner? Again a lost opportunity because I couldn’t see any. Bill. Malcolm. The network. The viewers. Not even the press. What a waste. That’ll make a great topic for another post in the days to come. Till then.