If the past 48 hours hasn't been bad enough for Democrats, for the local variety it has just got a tad worse. The latest rearrangement of the deckchairs upon the Titanic sees the Skipper and his First Mate swap possies. The next leader will be Senator Lyn Allison, whilst Senator Andrew Bartlett will assume the deputy's position.
This is an inevitable move more than it is a desirable one. With only four Senators remaining after July 1 next year, there was little choice but for Allison to assume the leadership position. Stott Despoja wouldn't want it, Murray wouldn't win it and Bartlett was damaged goods. It's a painful but necessary question to ask whether the decision to elect Andrew Bartlett as leader in 2002 was the right one. Ariontheweb must confess his interest in this one - I was working hard inside the party to help Bartless beat Brian Greig for the top spot. Alas, the Bartlett leadership was a disappointment, and probably a mistake.
The task for the Democrats is a monumental one, and one that no leader - Allison or otherwise - would be able to achieve. The party brand name is seriously damaged in the public mind, and no amount of spin and new faces can change that. In the minds of most voters, the Democrats are associated with conflict, division, indecisiveness and the GST. All of those labels will remain with the party.
As a former staff member (briefly) of Senator Allison, I wish her well - it would be wonderful if the Democrats could return to the balance of power role in 2008, and they will be infinately more responsible than the Lib-Nats who will soon have it. In reality, however, the party is scampering around on its last legs, and the vet may soon be moving the curtain around to protect the racegoing public from seeing the splatter of blood in the final moments.