Coal miners alone don’t decide elections. Joel Fitzgibbon ought to remember that before getting too excited about the recent Upper Hunter byelection loss.
On Monday morning, an energised Joel Fitzgibbon wanted the world to know that Labor had lost its base. A state byelection loss at the Upper Hunter over the weekend, deep in New South Wales coal country, was a sign working class men and women, with mining in their veins, were abandoning the party, leaving the ALP headed for another electoral disaster.
Every election brings with it a narrative. And just over two years on from the 2019 election, the story about Labor’s loss has hardened into one about the party’s failure to speak to blue-collar voters and offer miners a future. Through six media appearances before 9am on Monday, Fitzgibbon had helped strengthen the narrative.
But narratives are reductive, and can quickly sweep up all complicated data points. Upper Hunter has been a Nationals seat for 90 years. And while Labor certainly faces challenges, a look at the numbers suggests mining country alone will not decide the party’s electoral future.
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