Why are we here on The Political Sword?

What are we hoping to achieve by contributing here? Are we having any impact? Does our dialogue make any difference?

As a group of political bloggers we feel we have something to say about the state of politics in this nation. The Political Sword, which has n o allegiance to any party or political movement, provides the opportunity for its visitors to draw attention to what the Fourth Estate is saying, point us to what others in the Fifth Estate are saying, thanks largely to Lyn’s Daily Links, inform us about what the politicians are thinking and doing, express views, and enter into discussion with others who contribute here, even if they have a different viewpoint or a different take on political events or personalities.

Recent difficulty with the site during the upgrade to the most recent version of the blog engine we use has brought forth expressions of support from regulars and offers of financial support. Over the end-of-year break we will assess the future of TPS and what support it might need.

The last few days have shown something more – a sense of camaraderie among contributors, who value each other’s opinions, who enjoy the company the site provides, and who gain satisfaction from sharing their views with like-minded souls and at times with those who are of a different mindset. The feeling of family that has been fostered by visitors has become amazingly strong. It adds significantly to the enjoyment of blogging here. New visitors are welcomed when they offer a comment, often by several regulars. We are a big family. Although over a hundred make comments here, some almost every day, our site statistics show that there are many more who visit regularly but choose not to leave a comment. The number of visitors is increasing.

As we come towards the end of another year, and look to what 2011 holds, it behooves us to review what we want from TPS, how we might contribute to the discourse, how we ought to conduct our discussions, and what we might hope to achieve.

Starting with the latter, for my part I hope we can influence the thinking of those who visit here, some of whom are referred from other sites. Cross-linking in the Fifth Estate is prevalent. Lyn gives us a great set of links every morning to a variety of sites. Her research saves the countless hours it would take to look individually for these links. They enables us to read what others think and say, enrich our understanding of the contemporary issues, garner facts hitherto unknown to us, and modify or reinforce our opinions accordingly. Users of the blogosphere are thereby among the best informed politically, and are well placed to give balanced and informed opinions.

So what might we contribute? Already Bushfire Bill and HillbillySkeleton have joined me in writing for TPS (BB is having a rest just now), and any others of you who feel you have something to say in the way of an original piece can send it to me by email for assessment.

We have also attracted satirists and poets. First Acerbic Conehead, then Patricia WA, NormanK, Talk Turkey and more recently D Mick Weir and 2353 have had a go. Not only are your poems witty, they add greatly to our enjoyment of the site.

The contributions of visitors through comments are already exceptional. Few sites attract such detailed and informative comments and such a rich variety of links. Moreover, the courtesy with which you make them gives TPS an ambience of thoughtfulness and fairness. Of course sometimes your responses express frustration, even annoyance at the substance and style of some who comment here, especially when they make assertions that are not backed up by verifiable facts and well-reasoned argument to which we feel we are entitled. Yet even when you are in fierce disagreement courtesy usually prevails.

As we have been on the road a lot, we listen to talking-books. Currently it is the talking-book version of Edward de Bono’s A beautiful mind. It has some sound advice for those who enter into discourse with others, which apply particularly to those of us who blog.

His first piece of advice is to avoid agreeing with everything another is saying as that can soon take on an aura of obsequiousness, even insincerity. On the other hand, always being in disagreement is even more obnoxious. Both approaches lead to either useless or unpleasant dialogue. It’s the old story of the bell-shaped curve – those who operate around the middle are the ones who provide the most balanced dialogue – those who operate at the extreme tail-ends, the extremists – are the ones who stifle discussion, anger or bore others, and advance thinking very little. At times we have experienced this on TPS, but the facilitatory approach taken in response by many bloggers here has tempered somewhat the extreme statements.

De Bono insists that finding points of agreement can make an otherwise dissonant conversation pleasant. He describes disagreement as often a battle of competing egos as each strives always to be ‘right’. He describes disagreeing with everything as ‘silly’, something our politicians need to learn. He also eschews labels such as ‘stupid’ or ‘hopeless’, when disagreement arises. He suggests that where agreement seems impossible, we might like to explore whether under special circumstances, or within the opponent’s value system or prior experience agreement might be possible. Making an effort to see where the other person is coming from can change perceptions and turn an argument into a useful learning exercise. Dialogue is facilitated when some points of agreement can be found and acknowledged. We see this on TPS, and find it does make for better dialogue.

He points out how sweeping generalizations are difficult to agree with, and make conversation difficult or impossible. ‘Labor cannot manage money’, or ‘Labor always runs up debt’ are two such generalizations that are manifestly untrue, yet are trotted out mindlessly by Labor’s opponents. Likewise, to say ‘the Coalition always opposes’, is not the case, even although it often looks that way. ‘No politician can be trusted’ is equally untrue. Dogmatism, rigidity, prejudice and bigotry represent box-like thinking, with people or ideas being positioned either in the box or outside it – with nothing in between. He describes the classic errors that bedevil discourse: errors of logic, misinterpretation of data and selective perception. He emphasizes the importance of politeness even when disagreeing, instead of using rudeness, aggressiveness and bullying to get one’s way. I thought as I listened how germane his advice was to bloggers.

To return to the beginning, why do we blog here on TPS? There are many reasons: advancing our political knowledge and understanding, getting in touch with emerging trends – HillbillySkeleton’s last piece is a classic example – communicating with others of similar interest, expressing our views about policies, parties and politicians, pointing to those with which we agree or disagree, plying our knowledge and reason to political issues, advocating or opposing causes with passion and conviction, and not least enjoyment, entertainment, conversation with our blogger friends, lapping up their satire or poetry, enjoying their camaraderie, and feeling part of an extended family, all laudable.

But do we make a difference? Do we influence thinking? How much weight do we carry?

There seems little doubt that we inform each other and influence thinking among our visitors, sometime positively, and at time perhaps negatively. But how far does our influence extend beyond TPS? Many who blog here also blog on both Fourth Estate and Fifth Estate sites, and thereby carry facts, views and opinions from here to elsewhere. Some who have their own blogs, such as Grog, Nasking and Miglo, blog here and cross-pollinate. Occasionally another blog will pick up something on TPS. There was an example of this the other day when North Coast Voices picked up on something written about Tony Abbott on TPS in Does Labor fight too ‘clean’? that linked to that piece on TPS. The extent to which those in the Fourth Estate read blogs at all and this one in particular, is unknown. From feedback, we know some do, but how much is a mystery. The fact that Grog’s celebrated piece about the poor standard of reporting by the MSM of the election campaign was picked up by Mark Scott of the ABC, promulgated at a public conference, and taken up by journalists at The Australian, leading to James Massola’s ‘outing’ of Greg, was compelling evidence that some blogs do catch the eye of those outside the Fifth Estate.

We shall probably never know how far what we contribute here travels, how much influence it has, and how much it changes others’ opinions. But the feeling that it may, and probably does, keeps us going as we fight for what we believe is fair and just and in the nation’s interest. It seems well worthwhile to me. What about you?

Of Grassroots and AstroTurf

Professor Skeleton, here. Today I'd like to explain to you the concepts behind the practice of AstroTurfing.

You'll find, if you just look hard enough around you these days, in the political and public sphere, that an awful lot of AstroTurf is springing up about the place.

What is this 'AstroTurf' of which I speak, I hear you ask? Well, if you check out this link you will get a better idea than any number of words I can spout out at you.

After perusing the information you may mistakenly conclude that AstroTurfing only refers to US groups that are fronts for shadowy corporate interests, but it is my belief that we are seeing/have seen, similar groupings in Australia.

I specifically remember Frank Lowy's Westfield company being caught out a few years ago funding so-called 'Residents Action Groups' who were supposedly opposed to a DFO outlet being built in their neighbourhood, when in fact it was really Mr Lowy, who objected to the competition to his own Shopping Centre in the area, but who had had no legal basis upon which to mount a challenge to it and who was found out to be the funder behind the RAG.

He was found out to be clandestinely fomenting the opposition due to some first class investigative journalism, and the action fizzled. The RAG dried up and blew away. But he almost got away with it, as politicians, who ultimately make the decisions about issues such as this, generally run away from a fight with a vocal local group, as they are also their constituents and they don't want to lose their votes. This is especially so in countries where voting is not compulsory and you have to motivate people to like you enough to get up out of their lounge chairs to go to the polling booth and put a tick beside your name, as in America.

Thus, it's been obvious to corporate types for a long while now how they can successfully affect outcomes, govern by proxy from the shadows, manipulate and influence the political debate by using this very methodology.

This Guardian article outlines how the American Tea Party 'Movement' is just such an outfit at its core.  In this article you will notice the name of a crusading young Australian, Taki Oldham, who was recently presented with an RMIT Business Arts Foundation Fellowship. Here he is. This courageous young man has taken his Fellowship money and talent and taken off from our shores and gone to the US and produced a film about the evil designs of the billionaires behind the American Tea Parties and their AstroTurfing pursuits. You can read about it and see trailers for the movie in the this Huffington Post article. The video is about the political subterfuge that is AstroTurfing.

Why is it important to read about the American Tea Party and their AstroTurfing pursuits?

Because what comes about in American Conservative politics eventually finds its way to the Australian Conservative political movement, now being led by Tony Abbott.

Not only that, but I have also noticed that recently a new political ginger group called 'CANdo', with its links to Tony Abbott's protege, Senator Cory Bernardi, has been formed.  Ostensibly, it has been formed to counter 'Get Up' from a conservative perspective and run campaigns promoting their causes and ideology.

Actually, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the campaigns they run and whether it inspires the sort of vocal grassroots uprising that has characterised the Tea Party movement in the US.

To the extent that it would not surprise me to find a shadowy conservative group of backers behind the raucous protests which we are now seeing in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan 'Consultation' meetings. The reactions of the people there are eerily reminiscent of those that we saw in the US recently over the changes to their Health Care provisions, which made their system more equitable and affordable, but less profitable for the Health Management Organisations (who had lots of profit money to fund the dissent).

Also, I read recently that the Victorian Farmers Federation is planning on more formal organised protests to the MDB Draft Plan, in order to try to influence the outcomes.  They have declared, 'War!', and whilst they are not your normal sinister multinational concern, they do represent vested interests, and they too have realised that organised grassroots action, performed aggressively, is a sure-fire way of getting results for your cause.

Finally, I have decided to save the worst till last.

Yes, Australia has its very own version of AstroTurf Inc., otherwise known as The Australian Tea Party'.  (Please note the little purple box on the right hand side of the website: 'Tea Party Training - Develop your organising skills'). That is, a prime motivation is organised disruption.

And a very nasty bunch of avid conservatives, Libertarians, in the worst possible sense, and 'Free Market' (as in, free to keep as much of their own money as they can con the rest of us into allowing them to, plus ultimately accreting enough power unto themselves to tell the rest of us to go jump, when to jump, and how high), goons they are.

They have their nifty little slogan: 'Taxed Enough Already', which simplistically appeals to the Greed-head in all hard-working types that don't have the time, or the inclination, to think about what the corollary of drastically-reduced government revenues is. They aim to angrily agitate their way to some other rather nasty goals too. Such that I heard Tony Abbott advocating for the repeal of John Howard's Gun Control Laws the other day. Which is of a piece with the American Tea Party's aim of a fully armed citizenry. This again ties them to the Australian Tea Party, who also advocate relaxation of gun laws, and who seem to have as one of their major movers and shakers a zealous individual called Dean Bertram, who has a PhD from Sydney University in American Cultural History (and you don't need to be Einstein to guess which side of the political divide in America he supports), who wrote his thesis on American UFO Cults(!), and who started the Australian Horror Film Festival.

He epitomises the nastier aspects of this Laissez Faire Libertarian, Dog Eat Dog mindset, where, as in the Horror Movies he reveres, it is the guy with the Chain Saw, or the Mediaeval Instruments of Torture, who wins at the end of the day.

His mindset espouses 'No Room at the Inn' for the weak, the poor and the downtrodden, merely a survival and prospering of the meanest and nastiest.

Also, in a further worrying development, I have noticed a resurgence of the 'One Nation' ethos and mentality in South Australia around the issue of the housing of harmless Asylum Seeker families in an abandoned Defence Forces Housing Estate in Inverbrachie.

A vocal mob of over 500 turned up to a Town Hall meeting with the Immigration Department to 'voice their concerns' about the move.

As has become noticeable since the Tea Party movement started in the US, decorum went out the door to be replaced by jeering, overblown negative rhetoric and an overt intolerance of change and preference for the status quo, which looked very white and very conservative to my eyes.

Also, I'll just make the side point that these are the exact same subset of people who loudly proclaim their patriotism at every turn and support for 'our boys' in the Armed Forces fighting the wars that lead to the displaced people who come to our shores as migrants and refugees and who need to be settled here away from the conflict causing their flight.

However, rationalism and intellectual consistency have never been the strong suits of community knee-jerk responses and agitators like Pauline Hanson and her 'One Nation' political party, or the Tea Party.

Opportunism by the shadowy forces behind the scenes of these movements, who stoke fear and resentment, is the motivating factor. Because if you can foster a sense of naked self-interest in the population as a general raison d'être, then you can use it as a Trojan Horse to advance your own agenda, and you will have cultivated willing foot soldiers angry enough to mount the battlements subsequently, on your behalf.

Which is what it's all about at the end of the day really, this AstroTurfing business. With the emphasis on 'Business'.

Does Labor fight too 'clean'?

Recall a bar fight in an old Western movie. The goodies walk into a bar for a drink and are confronted by a mob of sinister-looking baddies who resent the invasion of their space and soon make it clear they are up for a no-holds bare-knuckle brawl where anything goes. No Marquess of Queensberry rules govern their behaviour – chairs, anything solid and able to be propelled, anything sharp, even firearms are all used as weapons of combat. The goodies though stick to the ‘rules’. They eschew any ‘unfair’ or ‘illegitimate’ tactics – bare knuckles yes, but no chairs or dangerous weapons. And they usually win! Their superior fighting skills and their ability to dodge flying missiles stand them in such good stead that they triumph. The aggressors slink away defeated or lie unconscious on the floor, while the victors casually order a drink from an intimidated quaking barman. Of course that happened in the movies, and represented a fictional scenario. In real life the baddies too often triumph, because they don’t follow the rules, because they use underhand tactics ruthlessly to achieve victory. Remember Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors. Fighting 'clean' is not a reliable way to success.

Recent events suggest to me that Labor is too ‘clean’ in fighting the Coalition’s outrageous aggression, and while that might attract applause from those who prefer to stick to decent ‘rules of political combat’, is it an effective strategy?

Let’s look at a few recent examples:

Take the attack on the Government by Tony Abbott over the contemporary court martial of three Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. In a particularly contemptible assault he accused the Government of ‘stabbing the soldiers in the back’ and not giving them the support they des erved, of abandoning these men fighting as they are for their country. It was a powerful and aggressive strike. Yet what did the mild-mannered Stephen Smith say? He said Abbott’s words were ‘unfortunate’. Too right they were, but in the hurly burley of politics, words hardly like to make headlines, hardly likely to effectively rebut the Abbott charges.

I would have preferred him to say to Abbott: “How dare you have the temerity to make such outrageous accusations. It was the Howard Government, in which you were a minister that created the process for such trials of servicemen thought to be in contravention of the rules of engagement, and it had bipartisan support from Labor. You know perfectly well that in this process Government has no part to play, nor have politicians or politics. You know that this Government wants the process YOU established to bring about a considered outcome and that it wishes to play no part in it. Yet you come along with this completely illegitimate accusation which you know is dishonest, in order to score political points. And you were only too willing to enlist Alan Jones to promulgate this deception, something he was only too ready to do. Worse still, you allowed him, without contradiction, to denigrate the female prosecutor for laying the charges, even although you knew that she was acting completely in accordance with the process the Howard Government established. How dare you behave in this disgracefully disingenuous way, cast aspersions on those involved, and the Government too, although it is NOT involved. This is worse even that the usual low standards of political discourse which you employ. You are a disgrace.”

Smith’s mild reply did nothing to dent Abbott’s aggression, did nothing to quell any anger that Abbott generated in the minds of the people that somehow the Government was not giving these soldiers the traditional Aussie ‘fair go’. Fighting ‘clean’ did the Government no good; it allowed the media to promulgate the Abbott negativity sans the rebuttal.

The second issue, in quick succession, was the Murray Darling Basin report. Again Abbott was quick to condemn the Government for threatening, even destroying rural and regional towns by reducing water allocations, and when angry locals met to discuss the report he asked: ‘Where was the Water Minister?

At least Tony Burke had the foresight to get the facts together to rebut this in QT.

He pointed out that the Commission was established by the Howard Government, was independent of government, had simply produced a report for discussion, not a definitive plan for action, that there were many more steps in the process, and that the Coalition, far from distancing itself from the report, had said during the election campaign that it would implement the Commission’s recommendations in their entirety within weeks of being elected, words Burke quoted verbatim. He also pointed out that it would be inappropriate for him to appear at community meetings of the Commission as it was an independent body, and he had no place there. Every accusation that Abbott levelled was, to use an Abbott expression, ‘demolished’. Burke did it in a good humoured way, but why not get stuck into Abbott for his deceptive assertions. Why not say: “You are grotesque – you know your government established the Murray-Darling Commission as a body completely independent of government and commissioned the Murray-Darling Basin report to be prepared. You know that Government ministers played no part in its preparation, nor could they have, and that accusing them of threatening rural communities is grossly misleading, but typical of the deceitful and hypocritical behaviour for which you have established an unenviable reputation.” Fighting ‘clean’ does not make headlines.

Then there was the pathetic episode over Abbott’s visit to Afghanistan. Again he wrongly accused Julia Gillard of ‘Machiavellian bastardry’, insisting that she had ‘leaked’ the story that he had declined her invitation to accompany her to Afghanistan, which neither she or her office had, as attested by the author of the piece about the leak, Phillip Coorey. Yet that didn’t stop Abbott from saying this episode rendered Gillard ‘unfit to be PM’ a headline the ABC faithfully replicated. I wish Julia Gillard had said: “How dare you accuse me of ‘Machiavellian bastardry’ when you could easily have diverted any criticism the Coorey article implied by simply saying – ‘I already have plans to visit the troops in Afghanistan but they did not fit in with the PM’s visit. I am keen to see the conditions under which they are serving this country – security issues demand that I announce my plans at a time that is appropriate.’ Instead you chose to make political capital out of a situation that you yourself created with your cock and bull story of not wanting to be ‘jet-lagged’ for your meeting with your conservative mates. If you are not smart enough to craft a plausible story, if you are inflicted with chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome, are YOU fit to be PM?”

Fighting ‘clean’ will not attract the attention of News Limited journos hell-bent on demeaning the Government.

Now some of you may prefer the gentle approach, the turning of the other cheek, the countering of aggression with meekness. Personally, I’m sick and tired of this approach. If Abbott wants to pick a bare-knuckle fight, if he wants to delve into his bag of dirty tricks, if he insists on lying, if he insists on deception at every turn, if nothing is too low, too disingenuous for him to assault the Government with, then I would prefer to meet fire with fire, to slam him as he so enjoys slamming Gillard and the Government, kick him where it hurts most, and demolish his arguments with unambiguous searing rhetoric, such that he cowers in a dark corner. Abbott is a bully. Bullies always retreat when they get a strong dose of their own medicine. Abbott needs a very strong dose. Fighting ‘clean’ is not working.

What do you think?

We don’t know the meaning of ‘Wrong’!

Indefatigable, relentless positivism and negativism and a strict adherence to the Murdoch corporate mantra, "We don't know the meaning of 'Wrong'!" That's what amazes me about the Coalition and Conservative politicians in general, both here and around the world, and conservative commentators in the media. Also the fact that Progressive politicians don't seem to understand this political raison d'etre.

As I sit here from day to day observing the machinations of the political world, I see issues come along, germinate, be fertilised, bloom, and be cut down by rational argument from one side of the debate or the other, a result of an objective perspective.

Or so I used to think. However, with the 'Jet-lag-gate' issue which has come to prominence over the last little while that involved Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, I observed Mr Abbott over the ensuing days attempting to turn, with the aid of his support crew in the media, a negative for himself into a positive, both for himself and the Coalition as others from his political team became players in the latest episode of 'all aggro, all the time' Tony Abbott style politics.

He and his crew tried every which way but loose over the last week, after Mr Abbott made his initial 'Wrong' move, to turn 'Wrong' into 'Right' for the Coalition.

'There is no such thing as 'Wrong', just an opportunity, after the initial 'misstep', where Tony Abbott, our very own Vladimir Putin impersonator, offered up his apology for 'misspeaking', constantly, until he got the form of words right which achieved his aim of correctly airbrushing his mistake away from front of mind of anyone who has been following the saga, and from the front pages of the newspapers, Up until yesterday, that is, when he put his foot in it again, as part of his ongoing campaign to defame and delegitimize the Gillard government, by complaining of the Prime Minister's “low act of political bastardry”, which, as it subsequently turned out, she was not guilty of. No matter probably to Mr Abbott. He got a day's run for his slur in the media. I'm sure he also goes by the mantra that, 'There's no such thing as bad publicity'.

I also found it interesting to note just where Tony Abbott goes when he wants to perform his absolution ablutions or launch a pre-emptive attack on the Gillard government. First stop, not the National Broadcaster anymore, though they can just about always be counted on these days to fall into lockstep once he gets his lines out there, as we have seen most recently with the echoing, without analysis, of the 'political bastardry' meme; no, pitching directly to his favourite demographic he heads for the John Singleton/Allan Jones Syndicated Radio Network of 2GB, 4BC/MTR etc. They can be guaranteed to give whatever he has to say unquestioning support and reinforcement, unlike the ABC, who on occasion question his assumptions when interviewing him directly.

Tony Abbott's words are then bounced around the media echo chamber because, hungry for a mea culpa for a previously identified infraction, when Tony Abbott was identified as having said something 'Wrong', they take what they can get and what he says next, even if they don't end up getting what they were after. They have to, he's the Opposition Leader and they are duty bound to report what he says, and he knows it and exploits that position.

In this way, and with so many other examples from Coalition spokespersons, such as the one referenced by Ash in his blog The Confidence vs The Con, which is about Joe Hockey and the rise and fall of his pre-emptive strike at the government over an Interest Rate rise that never eventuated, we can see the modus operandi of the Coalition Communication strategy very clearly. Every negative that they perceive for the government has to be made into a greater negative and every negative for the Coalition has to be transmogrified into a positive before it has had time to become a negative for them. And they 'Don't know the meaning of 'Wrong'!'.

Which leads me to the actual point of my musing today.

Why is the federal ALP government unable to kick goals in the media the way the Coalition can?

Why is it that they have to be so self-conscious about being shameless when they front the media?

Why don't they have a spokesman ready to go on air and into print every day primed and ready to have a whack at the Opposition over the latest example of over-the-top hyperbole, misogyny towards the Prime Minister, or attack from Tony Abbott or Christopher Pyne? It's exactly what the Opposition do in reverse, every day. Thus they get to fill the vacuum in the media which is always waiting to be filled. The government may wish to rise above the 24/7 cycle that it got sucked into in the last term, and seek to develop a greater over-arching media strategy; however, they should also realise that they must walk and chew gum in the media at the same time. It cannot be an either/or situation. They must do both. Effectively.

In these days, when an avowed non-truth teller, who will gladly and glibly go back on his word, signed in blood or whatever, at the drop of a hat, can still somehow manage to retain at least a skerrick of credibility, and what's more be given the benefit of the doubt repeatedly by an indulgent media, then the ALP spokespeople, from the PM down, have to learn how to take a trick from him and his colleagues in the Coalition in the political Poker game.

As everyone, from Bernard Keane of Crikey, down, seems to be saying at the moment, why, when they have so many positive achievements to sell, with which they could be hitting home runs into the electorate, are the ALP striking out, unable to sell their product successfully to the electorate?

Anyway, so as to help the ALP get its communications act together, because they can't rely on Tony Abbott's foot-in-mouth disease to be his fatal flaw, especially when his mates in the Mainstream Media keep offering him a hand-up out of the verbal quicksand into which he keeps getting himself, I thus thought I'd go do some searching around for some salient advice which might help them along the path to better communication with the electorate. Other than waking up to the new paradigm that is, 'There is no such thing as 'Wrong'!'

Firstly, I think they need to understand the nature of truth telling better. As Friedrich Nietzsche puts it: "What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymy's, and anthropomorphism – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins. We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors – in moral terms, the obligation to lie according to fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all ... "

In other words, if it is plausible and you say it for long enough and often enough, and it has its basis in truth, somewhat embellished, eventually people will believe you.

Construct the right frame and people will get the picture.

Secondly, keep creating a new verbal paradigm to go with the 'new political paradigm' you say you are trying to foster. Hence, as I have just read concerning Progressive political groups and media companies in the US, leave behind the old 'Left/Right' descriptors – they possess too much confusing baggage – and start referring to your political movement as say, ‘leaning towards the future, seeking solutions that will prepare us for the challenges ahead'. Accentuate the positives, and talk about them constantly, and reinforce the fact that your opponents merely want to re-invent the wheel and recreate past glories, because they are not forward-thinking but conservative thinkers.

Make a point of the fact that their philosophical inspiration comes from archaic, arch-conservative thinkers from the past, such as Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek. Get out into the community to explain why this type of thinking is wrong for the 21st century and why we need to leave the past and its mistakes behind. Constantly point out what those mistakes were, and what such corrupt thinking will lead to again. As we are living in the 21st century, with a whole new and unique set of challenges that can't be answered by preserving society in aspic. The old ideologues that the conservatives rely on never had to deal with the challenges which we are facing now. Etc, etc.

See how I infused my statements with words like 'now', 'new', 'unique', 'challenges', 'the future'? Words that make the distinction between the two forces who seek to shape politics as clear as black and white.

Also, as in America, so it goes in Australia. Those of us in the Progressive community need to start thinking about our identity more deeply, as this article, Liberal Branding, outlines. 

How about coming up with a universal byline that encapsulates what Progressives stand for, like this one:

'Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.' – Helen Keller.

They might have Ayn Rand, but we can have Helen Keller! (And guess who is who in the pictures below!) Anyway, you get my drift I hope.

Finally, enough of the apologetic tone. The Coalition never sound apologetic. They don't know the meaning of 'Wrong'! What they do know is that it makes you look weak when you adopt a defensive tone, and that's the last thing that a leader, and that's what our politicians are, our civilian leaders, should look like.

Any more suggestions?