Home > Uncategorized > George Droutsas’ rambling, predictable fibs #springst #vicvotes

George Droutsas’ rambling, predictable fibs #springst #vicvotes

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

There will be no shortage of others lining up to point out, better than I ever could, what a bastard former ALP staffer George Droutsas is, so I will leave it to them*.

I will, however, address the craven, self-serving and vacuous nonsense that comprises the feature-length hatchet job on the Victorian Labor campaign Droutsas authored in this morning’s Age newspaper.

Firstly, a note of jaded realism.  The prospect of a former (even if disgraced) political insider putting his name to a vicious attack on his former masters, especially in the wake of an election loss,  is irresistible to any media outlet.  The Age, therefore, cannot be blamed for jumping at the chance to publish the Droutsas piece, whatever its many, many inadequacies.   Far from it — it’s fair game.

But the article itself is an unmitigated disgrace.

Droutsas lays out seven reasons for Labor’s loss at last week’s state election, but the article has a singular purpose:  to argue that John Brumby lost the election because he ignored the insightful, blunt and wise counsel of former ALP state secretary Stephen Newnham.  Instead, according to Droutsas, Brumby relied on the cooing of sycophantic novices in his private office, specifically Newnham’s replacement, Nick Reece.  Here is the key para:

The alarm bells were sounding. Eighteen months out, there lay the opportunity to craft a winning strategy leading up to November 2010. Newnham set out to promote strategies to meet the challenges facing Labor. His views did not sit well with the upper echelon of decision makers within government. People who had become accustomed to acquiescence for a decade, and to being told how delightfully pleasant their policy excrements smelt, did not take kindly to being told otherwise. To the government’s detriment, the straight-talking Newnham was hung out to dry – much to the delight of the Liberals who knew he had been instrumental in Labor’s 2006 state election win and a string of byelections.

Let me try and do justice to the stupendousness of this extraordinary set of assertions.

  • People inside campaigns invariably overstate their contribution to the outcome, especially when they win — this comes from the very human impulse to overstate our ability to affect external events (in psychology, this is called illusion of control).  State secretaries or campaign managers don’t win elections or by-elections any more than they lose them, except at the very outer margins.  In 2006, Labor won despite Newnham; in 2010, it lost despite Reece.
  • If the Liberal Party were ever even remotely afraid of Stephen Newnham or delighted at his departure, as Droutsas claims, then I am an 18th century burlesque performer named Imogen.
  • Newnham, to be nice about it, is not regarded as a strategist’s bumcheeks.  He survived in the role as long as he did largely because of the loyalty of John Brumby who, by the end, was his only defender.  Claims by Droutsas that Newnham was some kind of fearless James Carville-style truth-teller is so laughable it makes me want to cry. (To be fair, people may have ignored Newnham — but this is because he was almost universally regarded as incompetent and not a little unintelligent.  In that sense, he was a unifying figure).
  • If you are going to argue that a government lost office because it ignored specific strategic advice, shouldn’t you at least spell out what such advice was?  The fact that Droutsas doesn’t confirms what should be obvious by now: there was no such moment when expertly “crafted” winning strategies were tabled by Newnham only to be rejected Brumby’s arrogant advisors.  It is a complete fiction.

The remainder of the Droutsas analysis amounts to generic moaning, a compendium of predictable complaints:  Labor should have run better negative ads; they didn’t draw a clear enough contrast on services; law and order hurt them; the leader was surrounded by toadies and idiots, etc.  These are criticisms that could be translated into 200 hundred languages and applied to any imaginable electoral loss in the farthest corners of the planet.   There is no insight to be had, not even by accident.

*Googling his name helps give you a flavour of the man, however.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 4, 2010 at 12:30

    Phil, while I doubt the target of your enmity, George Droutsas, has done himself any favours by writing in the doomed Age newspaper, it is curious that you denounce Droutsas for dumping on Nick Reece in what you say is a “vicious attack” and then proceed to denounce Stephen Newnham in much the same terms, arguably far more abusively and in terms that gloss over why Newnham left the position. It’s not worth going into but as you know the Labor Right split largely as a result of these maneuvers in which your group was involved.

    I love a bit of biff but the approach you’ve taken seems rather illogical or just plain bullsh*t, if you prefer.

    Answering the question why Vic Labor lost is well worth careful examination and while the timing, the venue and some of the observations of Droutsas’s piece seemed wrong to me, I’d be much more interested in your answer than a “if you slag my mate, I’ll slag yours” approach.

    Perhaps as rich as Red Ted coming from me but you might find you’ll kick more goals by playing the man and not the ball.

  2. December 4, 2010 at 12:31

    Rather, the ball and not the man. Must have been force of habit. 🙂

    • PQ
      December 4, 2010 at 12:44

      Andrew, I think I can guess what you mean by my group, but it has been more than a decade since I had any involvement in such matters. I guess there is no way for you to know that. As these things go, my critique of the Droutsas piece was quite substantive — but admittedly I expressed in no uncertain terms my disdain for that clique that want to use Labor’s loss to resurrect their own reputations. I have no interest in presenting any kind of factional or sub-factional viewpoint, even if I were privy to such things. That is an area that interests you (I like your site, btw) a lot more than it does me. My observations about arguments and individuals are purely my own, and shouldn’t be afforded any more weight than that.

  3. Philip Dalidakis
    December 4, 2010 at 13:29

    Phil, your own piece is full of rhetoric and as Andrew says plays the man and not the ball. Hopefully in the cold light of day your own self serving diatribe will be replaced with a more appreciative analysis of George’s article. Accepting or not of his view, the piece has articulated a view that many including some within the inner circle of Parliament agree with. Just not you, and again that’s ok but your attack on George does you a serious disservice!

    • PQ
      December 4, 2010 at 13:44

      I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, any more than I expect to agree with everyone else. If I felt the Droutsas was a sober analysis of the election result, I would obviously have responded quite different. It was clear to me that the piece was an exercise in rewriting history and leveraging the loss in order to promote the reputations of some at the expense of others. There is nothing in what he wrote that resembled a useful insight, in my opinion. It was mainly a collection of criticisms that I have seen put far better elsewhere. If you and Andrew are offended by my nastiness, then I am terribly sorry to have offended you delicate sensibilities. I changed the word “lie” to the gentler “fib” in the title as a gesture of goodwill.

  4. December 4, 2010 at 14:37

    Very good. It is season of goodwill after all…

    Merry Christmas to all patriots.

  5. Lindsay Leake
    December 5, 2010 at 07:38

    At the end of the day Brumby was a liability

  6. hey
    December 5, 2010 at 15:49

    wow……does The Age know about these comments?

    When do the politicos realise that the middle class don’t vote labour any-more?

    It’s either liberal or the Greens ….yes….. hard to believe despite their extreme policies.

    Social demographics have changed a lot in Melbourne for various reasons and so have people’s voting habits.

    merry xmas to all

  7. george
    December 6, 2010 at 10:50

    The Hung parliament and the Greens vote amongst gen y has said- hey guys we really don’t like either of you…get it?

    Same with state election….!

    George Megalogenis at The Wheeler Centre with Lindsay Tanner on leadership and politics.

    Look up it and see for yourself!!

  8. patriots
    December 7, 2010 at 09:39

    Heres one letter for the patriots and rings true to some of the comments above!!

    GEORGE Droutsas’s analysis of the causes of Labor’s election loss is valid as far as it goes (”Seven roads to ruin”, Insight, 4/12). Yet, in light of larger social changes in the past three decades, we are entitled to ask whether the central role of John Brumby could have been any different.

    Corporatism as a social and organisational system now defines and dominates institutions in society. It is hierarchical, individualistic, competitive, conformist and discouraging of responsibility. Few Australian political leaders in the past two decades have been able to resist adopting the role model shaped by these forces.

    Brumby was certainly elitist and surrounded himself with a body of opinion that was unanimous in its conformity. His statements since the election offer a virtual abrogation of responsibility for the loss, and his refusal to consider public opinion defines the isolation of somebody at the top of a hierarchy, the certainty of his view buttressed by craven advisers and consultants’ reports.

    If Ted Baillieu is to be successful as Premier he must begin dismantling the influence of corporatism on the Victorian political scene. With Daniel Andrews, the ALP cannot do this as he has been raised entirely within this corporate political frame.

    Greg Bailey, St Andrews

  9. PATRIOT
    December 11, 2010 at 15:38

    Dalidakis+ trees+rhetoric+($)= VAFI.

  10. patriot
    December 12, 2010 at 16:37

    When Baillieu and his ministers first walked into the government buildings, they noted the number of former Labor staffers, federal and state, in public service positions. ”There are a large number of appointments that were based on political patronage rather than merit. And that is a problem we now recognise,” said one senior Liberal. ”The leak from the Department of Justice is a pretty good insight into the magnitude of the problem.”

    Source: The Sunday Age…..Mel Fyfe writes…

    Could “those in the know” wish to elaborate who the HACKS are and where they are going to…?

    Josh Frydenberg may have some interesting staff from a labour guy case in point (1)

  11. josh frydenberg
    December 12, 2010 at 21:04

    oh leave James alone…he has the skills and merit (insert smirk)

  12. patriot
    December 15, 2010 at 13:15

    Dalidakis seems to play” wedge politics”very well via his tweets and they ask why they think they lost the election…go figure?

  13. patriot
    December 16, 2010 at 21:32

    Thanks dali for damaging the labour brand with your neo-con, mba attitude to match…

    Why did you enter politics? Go do a forum like nick reece if you have the guts to mate

  14. tossers united PTY LTD
    December 21, 2010 at 13:21

    leave Dali alone…(ahem)

  1. December 11, 2010 at 11:08

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