The Liberal Partyâ€™s decision to direct its preferences to Labor over the Greens has breathed into its own campaign. It has talkback radio running hot; it has had Green twitters gasping in amazement; and it has sent several Labor MPs potentially a lifeline back to Spring Street.
Most politicos expected the Liberals to preference the Greens ahead of Labor. Baillieu certainly was dragged screaming and kicking. He had Jeff Kennett telegraphing the Leaderâ€™s views on his behalf, which included an attack on now vindicated Senator Helen Kroger. Some are still complaining anonymously to journalists that she ought not have spoken out at all. History and the overwhelming positive response to the decision will vindicate her.
The reasons for the change has more to do with the perceived long term viability of the Liberal Party, not principle.
That is not to say principles have not been upheld â€“ namely the protection of the Partyâ€™s meaningful brand. The principle was not, however, upheld as a matter of course by those who decided preference â€“ the Leader himself, the State Director, Tony Nutt and the State President, Dr David Kemp.
Like the anti-ETS campaign a year ago, it was rank and file members of the Party sending emails and phoning Party headquarters, 104, that shifted decision makers away the received wisdom about â€˜Labor is the only real enemyâ€™.
Their target: Dr Kemp. Their threat: mass resignation.
That is not to say the Administrative Committee had not counseled the troika against backing the Greens â€“ overwhelmingly it did.
The decision to damage the Greens â€“ largely seen as â€˜ecological Marxistsâ€™ to use Andrews’ catchphrase and not as benign conservationists by Liberal branch members â€“ was another example of grassroots revolt against the anti-industrialism at the heart of Australiaâ€™s Greens.
Judging by the standing ovation Tony Abbott received at the Liberalsâ€™ launch on Sunday, opposing job destroying environmental policies is a core Party belief.
There are also those many former student politicians in the Liberal Party who recognise key Greens leaders in Victoria as former members of communist outfits like the defunct Left Alliance. Adam Bandt, MHR for Melbourne, is its most prominent example of this disturbing phenomenon. The violence and intimidation that characterised eurocommunist activists had been career defining for a generation of educated Liberals.
There were other concerns: Rural Liberal candidates incapable of explaining to constituents about the Partyâ€™s support for urban environmentalists were losing credibility and opened the possibility of losing seats to the Nationals and independents. Unconditional succour meant more Greens resources would have been deployed in marginal metro seats over time; even, seats like Hawthorn, Kew and Brighton were at risk over the medium term.
As Bandtâ€™s recent profile in The Weekend Australian magazine illustrated, he and his eurocommunist parasites are insincere environmentalists. Their aim is to frustrate the productivity of Australian capitalism and undermine social norms as a way of paving a way forward towards democratic centralism.
To Victoriaâ€™s far left, the Greens are just another bourgeois party playing feeble-minded populism, characterisd by naturalism and sentimentalism. For them, the Greens are useful idiots.
On the Labor side, it has already deployed resources out of the inner city areas into the marginals â€“ as many Baillieu supporters predicted.
Yet, Labor, too, has a longer battle on its hands. It must bring back those unions funding the Greens back into its fold. That process is already underway. It has to find ways to allow the Left to be meaningful active. The next national conference appears to be paving that way with its official position on marriage equality about to be debated. The Labor Left need to grow its collective spine and stop being morally blackmailed by the Greens. Taking them on in municipal elections should be a priority.
For too long, the major political parties have allowed the Greens to frame Victoriaâ€™s contest between a moribund compromised establishment and a new force for enlightened awareness, not matter how impractical or even destructive their politics and no matter how much work Green professionals did for brown coal miners.
The main culprit for these atmospherics has been Ted Baillieu himself. His long-term small target strategy had failed to polarise the electorate between the Government and the Opposition. Ted even tried to out-green Brumby with his ill-advised opposition to the dredging of Port Phillip Bay. In allowing the Greensâ€™ narrative to run amok, he made voting Liberal purposeless.
Because of a grassroots revolt within the Liberal Party, he is now the beneficiary of a revitalised Opposition.
This renaissance in meaningful politics among the State Libs in Victoria has arrived too late. Brumby and the Labor Partyâ€™s marginal seat campaigns seem too advanced and too targeted to wind back.