The unseemly celebrations from Liberal hacks over ScoMo’s recent NewsPoll’s ratings weren’t just tasteless, they were short-sighted.
As I and many others much better qualified have been arguing since early March, the Covid-19 data and early modelling were insufficient to justify the economic and social control measures put in place later that month.
And now, with mass economic damage and increasing community anger at arbitrary inhibitions on their freedom, our media class are catching up to the weak basis for the policies that have hurt so many. The major dailies are beginning to turn and actually mention the empty ICUs, the low mortality rates, that Sweden isn’t a catastrophe, the way death data has been dirtied and spun. The shut-up-we’re-in-this-together collectivists are quietening down. Eventually even the half-wit narcissists at 60 Minutes will hook on to the new fashionable narrative. And over the next 12 months that narrative will be catastrophic for NSW Premier Berejiklian and Prime Minister ScoMo.
Eventually a critique of the panicked policy overreaction will be widespread, one not requiring a data brain or discussion of transmission rates or disease metrics. It will be simple: the models were wrong; the disease wasn’t that bad and lots of people said so early on; the politicians were in thrall to bureaucrats, outright lied to us about it and protection from it, and were incompetent in execution; and ordinary people paid the price in jobs, homes and futures.
When unemployment spikes in (at least) the high teens, when businesses don’t reopen like they just had a holiday, when the true damage to the poorer “Quiet Australians” is on every news bulletin, and when all those things are nailed down to political decisionmakers getting it wrong, last week’s NewsPoll won’t mean shit.
Add a legitimate concern that every damaging decision was taken by someone with absolutely no skin in the game, with their finances guaranteed by taxpayers, and voters will have Paul Keating’s baseball bats at the ready.
Our politicians will try desperately to talk about leadership, togetherness and how the “virus” destroyed the economy. But a fickle, blame-addicted and sensationalist media just loves to personalise disaster, and in this case, they’d be right. The virus didn’t destroy the financial wellbeing of ordinary people – our idiot leadership has.
When that simple critique is widespread, and the economic damage is in every media outlet, the faces of the lockdown will almost certainly be electoral poison. It’s a 50-50 proposition, so Liberal greybeards need to start building a leadership Plan B for 12-18 months from now. That may seem wildly off the mark given current polls, but people don’t like being had, and they don’t like incompetence paired with unaccountable privilege (thanks be to Ruby Princess and Don Harwin).
The only consolation is that the same pain will be headed towards Daniel Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk, whose gleeful destruction of freedoms and property rights has been akin to a team of Komosol apparatchiks running riot through a Soviet village.