HOW TO LOSE AN ELECTION & INFLUENCE NOTHING
WORDS: SAM DAVIS
In the upcoming federal election there are a number of seats that will attract a lot of attention and speculation; these are the seats that are considered ‘must win’ for a party to form government. However, there are a number of seats that won’t even get a mention on the news, where the winner is a forgone conclusion – but parties still need to put up a candidate to run in these seats. These candidates are often called upon from the parties’ youth arms. Which is how, at the 2010 election, I was called upon to run as the Labor candidate in the seat of Mayo. Mayo is a predominantly rural and agrarian seat that has never voted Labor, nor have many people in the electorate ever even seen someone from the party. This is a guide that draws from my experience of running in an election that you will never win.
Knowing that you are going to lose the election, what qualifies as success? Your fellow candidates may define success as fifty per cent plus one, but for you that is just an unachievable dream. Success, for you, is just staying out of their way. Make sure that what happens outside of your campaign stays outside the campaign. Do not get caught out on the town drunk and messy, and do not get caught criticising your party. There is, however, another issue that almost contradicts this goal: making your campaign look like a real campaign. Voters in your rustedon electorate have to believe that it is a real contest, which means writing letters to the local media and engaging in some campaigning – but watch what you say. If you can avoid giving your opposition anything to use against you, then you’re doing well.
Party pre-selections are quite
the affair. They can be brutal conflicts, which take place behind smoke filled rooms, and are often reported on heavily by a media that has become obsessed with stories of internal intrigue. Your pre-selection will not be like this. Your pre-selection will most likely take place a week or so before the close of nominations, when the head-kickers at party office realise that they desperately need someone to fill the seat. They will then ring as many people as they know in the youth arm of their party until they can cajole someone into running. This will then be followed by an uncontested coronation by the party’s executive. You will be rushed off to get your candidate’s photo and description ready, as well as the last minute ordering of the measly number of corflutes that you will receive.
Upon being pre-selected, step one is to shut down all your social media as quickly as possible. Delete all of your drunken
Inside: ELECTIONS ELECTIONS ELECTIONS (plus info on HumSS cuts, New Atheism, and travelling America).