Bert Kelly, “Kiss every baby, lick every boot?” The Australian Financial Review, January 23, 1976, p. 3.
After each election Mavis gives me a lecture about how I should start to campaign for the next election the day the poll for this one is declared.
“You must be ceaselessly assiduous, dear,” she says.
“Till the electorate soil endlessly and tirelessly. You must be seen to be a dedicated servant of the people. Attend every function, open every fete, wipe every eye, smooth every brow, kiss every baby, lick every boot. By so doing you will surely be able to increase your majority at the next election. And think how proud that would make me, and perhaps they will even make you a minister at last.”
Of course Mavis is talking nonsense, though I didn’t dare tell her so.
The lesson of the last election is that members of Parliament are swept in and swept out on electoral tides.
If the tide is running our way new members appear in our party, but if the tide is running out most will disappear next time.
Many of the Labor members who lost their seats at the last election were tireless in the services of their constituents, were ceaseless in their attention to their electorate — more so indeed than many members who are still in Parliament.
Members of Parliament often delude themselves that they are well and favourably known in their electorates and so have a large personal following.
But it is seldom so.
One day, after I had been an MP for some years and was, I thought, cutting a wide swathe through my electorate, a friend met me in the street and said:
“Nice to see you, old boy. Can you tell me who succeeded Mr X?” (our previous member of Parliament).
I thought for a while and then told him that I didn’t know but if I found out I would advise him. I hope he has found out now and is properly embarrassed.
Some MPs may attract a personal vote of even up to 1 per cent, but few manage this unless they are famous footballers.
All the powerful people in our party are urging the new members who have suddenly appeared in our midst to really work their electorates all day and all night in the hope of holding all the seats that we have won.
But the sad truth is in most cases the newly won seats will be held, not by the dedication of the members, but by the performance of the Government.
And the performance of the Opposition won’t make much difference either, because Oppositions don’t win elections — Governments lose them.
The best advice we can give our fine batch of new members is not to pee in every pocket in their electorate, but to help us evolve and then explain policies that are right.
If the Government is doing the right thing, the position of the new member will be assured. If it does wrong things and is unpopular, nothing can save him.
I repeat, most members in swinging seats come in and go out on the tide of the Government’s popularity.
One of the problems will be to resist the temptation to try to protect the position of all our new members.
There will be great pressure, particularly from the members concerned, to take particular action to safeguard a particular seat, even if the action to be taken is clearly wrong.
But this often does the member more harm than good, because if a Government becomes unpopular in other electorates because it has taken such policies, the electoral prospects of the member will suffer from the original action.
But far more important is the damage done to a party’s morality and morale if the Government does something that it knows is wrong in order to safeguard a particular member’s position.
The member will know, the Government will know, and much more important, the party will know, that a principle has been sacrificed, a philosophy weakened.
Once a political party lets its standard slip, is false to its philosophy, it pays the price sooner or later, and generally much sooner than we expect.
Fast footwork is admirable if you are going in the right direction, but if it is just being used to hide what you are at because you are ashamed of it, then it is better just to plod along the straight and narrow path of rectitude.
Summing it all up, it is not going to be plain sailing to have such a large number of such good members.
But I guess it is a problem that the Labor Party would be happy to have just now.
- Bert Kelly on Journalism
- Move for a body of Modest Members
- Modest Members Association
- Bert Kelly's Maiden Parliamentary Speech
- Government Intervention
- 1976 Monday Conference transcript featuring Bert Kelly
- Petrol for Farmers
- Some Sacred Cows
- Experiences in Parliament
- Spending your Money
- Who needs literary licence?
- A touch of Fred's anarchy
- Supply and Demand
- Bert Kelly on Disaster Relief
- Bert Kelly Wants to Secede
- Under Labor, is working hard foolish?
- An Idiot's Guide to Interventionism
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Side Benefits Argument for Government
- Bert Kelly gets his head around big-headed bird-brained politics
- First Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Second Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Third Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Fourth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Fifth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Sixth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Bert Kelly on the 2011 Budget and Australia's Pathetic Journalists and Politicians
- Bert Kelly, Bastard or Simple Sod?
- Liberal Backbencher Hits Govt. Over Import Restrictions
- Bert Kelly feels a dam coming on at each election
- Bert Kelly Enters Parliament
- Why take in one another's washing?
- Bert Kelly breaks the law, disrespects government and enjoys it
- Gillard's galley-powered waterskiing
- Can price control really work?
- Should we put up with socialism?
- We're quick to get sick of socialism
- Time the protection racket ended
- Can't pull the wool over Farmer Fred
- People not Politics
- Bert Kelly admits he should have had less faith in politicians
- Labor: a girl who couldn't say no
- Why leading businessmen carry black briefcases
- Ludwig von Mises on page 3 of AFR
- Mavis wants the Modest Member to dedicate his book to her
- Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
- Bert Kelly reviews The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop
- Bert Kelly reviews We Were There
- Tariffs get the fork-tongue treatment
- Bert Kelly reduces government to its absurdities
- Politician sacrifices his ... honesty
- It's all a matter of principle
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Infant Industry Argument
- Bert Kelly Untangles Tariff Torment
- Bert Kelly resorts to prayer
- Eccles keeps our nose hard down on the tariff grindstone
- "Don't you believe in protecting us against imports from cheap labour countries?"
- Even if lucky, we needn't be stupid
- Great "freedom of choice" mystery
- Small government's growth problem
- Tariffs Introduced
- More About Tariffs
- Sacred cow kicker into print
- Modest Member must not give up
- Traditional Wheat Farming is Our Birthright and Heritage and Must be Protected!
- Bert Kelly brilliantly defends "theoretical academics"
- The Society of Modest Members
- John Hyde's illogical, soft, complicated, unfocussed and unsuccessful attempt to communicate why he defends markets
- Modesty ablaze
- Case for ministers staying home
- The unusual self-evident simplicity of the Modest Members Society
- Animal lib the new scourge of the bush
- The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Krill
- Repeal economic laws, force people to buy new cars and enforce tariffs against overseas tennis players
- Thoughts on how to kill dinosaurs
- Let's try the chill winds
- Taking the Right's road
- Bert Kelly: "I did not try often or hard enough"
- Bert Kelly "lacked ... guts and wisdom"
- A look at life without tariffs
- The Gospel according to Bert
- Tiny note on Bert Kelly's column in The Bulletin in 1985
- Why costs can't be guaranteed
- Hitting out with a halo
- Paying farmers not to grow crops will save on subsidies, revenge tariffs, etc
- "The Modest Farmer joins us" | "How The Modest Farmer came to be"
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Freeloading Justifies Government Argument
- Government Intervention
- Bigger Cake = Bigger Slices
- Bert Kelly on the Political Process
- Charabanc: Part 1
- Charabanc: Part 2
- Charabanc: Part 3
- Relationships with the Liberal Party
- Tariffs = High Prices + World War
- Bert Kelly's Family History
- Bert Kelly's Pre-Parliament Life
- Why Bert Kelly was not even more publicly outspoken
- WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
- How to stand aside when it's time to be counted
- How the Modest Member went back to being a Modest Farmer
- My pearls of wisdom were dull beyond belief
- Bert Kelly on Political Football
- Ross Gittins Wins Bert Kelly Award
- Interesting 1964 Bert Kelly speech: he says he is not a free trader and that he supports protection!
- This is the wall the Right built
- Has Santa socked it to car makers?
- Is the Budget a cargo cult?
- Will we end up subsidising one another?
- Do we want our money to fly?
- Can a bear be sure of a feed?
- How to impress your MP -
- The time for being nice to our MPs has gone ...
- Don't feel sorry for him -
hang on to his ear
- Trade wars can easily end up on a battlefield
- Tariffs Create Unemployment
- Bert Kelly recommends Ayn Rand
- Bert Kelly's Satirical Prophecy: Minister for Meteorology (tick) and High Protectionist Policies to Result in War Yet Again (?)
- Bert Kelly in 1972 on Foreign Ownership of Australian Farmland and Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Heffernan in 2012
- Parliament a place for pragmatists
- Of Sugar Wells and Think-Tanks
- Bert Kelly: "I must take some of the blame"
- A Modest Farmer looks at the Problems of Structural Change
- Government Fails Spectacularly
- Know your proper place if you want the quiet life
- Bert Kelly on political speech writers
- Perish the thawed!
- Modest Farmer sees his ideas take hold
- Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
- Why no-one nails the Big Green Lie
- A case for ministerial inertia
- Why politicians don't like the truth
- Ominous dark clouds are gathering
- Better to be popular than right
- Crying in the wilderness
- Ivory tower needs thumping
- Bert Kelly asks, "How can you believe in free enterprise and government intervention at the same time?"
- Rural Problems
- Unholy state of taxation
- Boring economics worth a smile
- The Libido for the Miserable
- Agricultural Development and Tariffs
- Fred's too poor to have principles
- The Playford charade is out of date
- Bert Kelly: the odd man out who's now in
- Dries must resist giving up struggle as going gets tough
- Sir Roderick Carnegie's foreword to Bert Kelly's Economics Made Easy
- The Vale of Popularity and the Protection Procession
- Politics 101: Pay Lip Service to Capitalism and Shoot the Messenger