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Issue 576, 7 December 2007 - Union Campaign Smashed Howard

Solid performance in Sydney—but some reflection needed

THE GREEN vote in the inner city seat of Sydney held up well on November 24. As Socialist Worker went to press, The Greens' candidate Jenny Leong had won about 21.2 per cent of the primary vote.

This represents a slight decline on 2004 when Jenny won 21.6 per cent.

Labor's Tanya Plibersek, the new minister for housing, won this safe seat with a primary vote swing of over 4 per cent.

Overall, the Greens vote was variable compared to the previous election.

The vote tended to hold strong around Chippendale and Redfern and held steady in the Glebe area (all near Sydney University and with a very high proportion of renters and professionals).

Labor enjoyed a slight swing in Newtown and significant swings to Labor in Surry Hills, Pyrmont and at the large Sydney Town Hall booth.

Interestingly, it appears that the main beneficiaries of a slightly lower Green vote in the Balmain area were the Liberals.

The Greens came second in 15 out of 41 booths. Overall, the result reflects the nation-wide swing to Labor - but it also shows that the Greens continue to attract a large constituency of more left-wing voters.

There were several reports of Greens booth volunteers who had to deal with questions from voters sympathetic to the Greens but worried about preferences.

There is no doubt that many would have voted Green based upon a clear understanding of the Greens� preferences (which clearly favoured Labor over the government).

Nonetheless, this is a problem worth reflecting on.

The local campaign mentioned the two crucial issues of WorkChoices (including the Greens� superior policy) and the need to get rid of the Howard government�but it did not prioritise them.

There's no doubt that concern over climate change and the Senate balance of power gave many people another strong reason to vote Green.

But critical reflection is important because the Greens will need to do more than just maintain their vote in the future.

Ultimately, we want to see the Greens challenging and beating Labor in crucial inner city seats like Sydney.

In order to start plotting a successful strategy, it is worth taking a good, critical look at a campaign that was solid, but which did not did not consistently relate to the anti-Howard mood.

Tom Barnes