Unconvincing win

Isobel Redmond used plenty of catch- phrases to describe her one vote win to keep the position of State Opposition Leader against challenger Martin Hamilton-Smith.
While the 13 votes to 12 result on Tuesday suggests she only had the support of half her Party room, the Hills MP insisted in her post-election press conference that the Liberal politicians were “locked in behind the leadership team”, were ready to “press the reset button” and “move forward”.
With a new deputy by her side – Norwood MP Steven Marshall, who went into the ballot on a double ticket with Mr Hamilton-Smith – she was adamant that the Liberals had secured the change they wanted and everything was now settled.
“Today marks a line in the sand for the Liberal Party and we are satisfied that this will the point from which we will be judged as the new team coming forward into the March 2014 election,” she said in her opening words.
As far as lines in the sand go, this one isn’t very deep and could easily be blown away.
Back in July 2009, when the Liberals were again going through some very public leadership disputes, Mr Hamilton-Smith quit the top job because he claimed the 11-10 vote in his favor failed to demonstrate a clear majority and he wasn’t satisfied that he had the support of his Party.
In the subsequent vote Mr Hamilton-Smith declined to stand and Ms Redmond beat former Deputy Leader Vickie Chapman 13 votes to nine.
Ms Redmond has now led her Party for three years and is polling well – despite some the leadership speculation and some very public gaffes – and she still couldn’t secure a decisive win yesterday (Tuesday).
To insist that a “vote of one is still a win” is technically true but it is hardly an endorsement of her leadership and will do little to hush the critics.
Perhaps the Liberals will “move forward” but it is doubtful that the question mark over the leadership will disappear.
Ms Redmond will have a big job ahead of her to keep the Liberals together and focused on policy going into an election campaign when she will have the Government bringing up her Party’s disunity, and her mistakes, including an incorrect policy announcement to cut up to 20,000 of SA’s public service positions.
The biggest loser in this political wrangling is the State Liberals who have, apart from failing to resolve the disunity in any meaningful way, lost one of their best performers with Mr Hamilton-Smith’s decision to give up his shadow ministry responsibilities and retire into the back bench.