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John Valder's 2007 Election comment
The most friendless person in Australia today must be John Howard. and deservedly so.
As the vote has just so vividly demonstrated, he had built up so many more detractors since 2004 than he had ever realised.
Now those critics are joined by a massive number of his own Liberal Party supporters, particularly his parliamentary colleagues.
To begin with there are the 20-odd MPs who have lost their seats, their incomes and their careers. You could say it’s their own fault for so blindly (and spinelessly) continuing to support him to the end, even though it had long been obvious even to poor old blind Freddie that the game was up.
But the worst victim of all is now his own beloved Liberal Party. He has carried it away in a devastating fashion, leaving it leaderless and floundering, possibly for five or even ten years.
All because of his irresistible lust to hang on to power.
It has always been said that the greatest influence in his political life has been his wife Janette. So she, too, has to shoulder her share of the blame.
Good spouses and good friends are supposed to be the ones to offer honest advice when it’s needed. Janette obviously failed him badly in this responsibility. Worse, she probably goaded him on until he carried her and the whole Liberal Party over the cliff with him.
So no wonder John Howard must now be so very, very friendless. And he has no-one to blame but himself - and maybe Janette.
It is worth casting our minds back to 2004, when Margo Kingston was the person to chronicle Howard’s short-comings in her now famous book, ‘Not Happy, John’, which was updated for this election.
Her original book sparked the birth of the ‘Not Happy, John’ movement, which quickly grew into quite a powerful force in Howard’s electorate in the 2004 election campaign.
The ‘Not Happy, John’ campaign ran no candidate itself. Its sole purpose was to oppose Howard and support the candidates standing against him, principally Andrew Wilkie for the Greens and Nicole Campbell for the Labor party. The tragedy of that campaign was that the ALP in its wisdom chose not to give Nicole Campbell anything but the most nominal support.
The Labor view, expressed to the ‘Not Happy, John’ team in no uncertain terms in June, 2004 by Senator John Faulkner was that it was a waste of time, money and effort putting any resources into the Bennelong campaign because the ALP had no hope of winning.
How wrong John Faulkner and the Labor Party were.
With virtually no support from her party, Nicole Campbell managed to poll over 26% of the vote and Andrew Wilkie over 15% for the Greens. This vote forced Howard to preferences for the first time.
It is worth postulating that if Labor had given Nicole Campbell the same sort of support they have just given Maxine McKew, then they almost certainly would have won in 2004.
Peter Costello would have presumably become Prime Minister and been a much more evenly balanced opponent for Kevin Rudd.