The Liberal Party has entered the news business with a website that includes an article titled ‘Women are just people’ and another that portrays left-wing politicians Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn as creepy “grand-daddies”.
The Fair Go was launched at the Liberal Party’s federal council at the weekend by acting director Andrew Bragg, who said the new communications vehicle would reach “beyond the existing cohort of fellow travellers to speak to undecided and swing voters”.
The website, which tells readers it is powered by the Liberal Party of Australia, features a mix of policy discussion and comment pieces.
One article, titled ‘Who’s your grand-daddy?’, describes Mr Sanders and Mr Corbyn as “shuffling, slipper-wearing, above the workaday fray grand-daddies” who “slobber fondly on your cheek and push a C-note into your hand whenever you pop by to seem them”.
In another article, NSW Liberal local councillor Penny Fischer offers a critique of third-wave feminism in a piece titled ‘Women are just people’.
“If a woman dares to engage in public life simply as a person, she is deemed a traitor to her sex,” Ms Fischer writes.
The Fair Go is aimed at helping the Liberals compete with the digital campaigning of progressive groups such as GetUp!
Veteran political strategist Toby Ralph, who has advised the Liberal Party for over 20 years, said it was hard to believe the website would appeal to a broad audience.
“The pro-party aficionados will probably bless it and feel it’s making a subtle point to the persuadable, the antis will lampoon it, and the larger world will almost certainly ignore it,” Mr Ralph told The New Daily.
“So this is a worthwhile, refreshing effort, but I rather doubt it will pull in the disengaged.”
The social media reaction to the party’s foray into news publishing was less forgiving, ranging from bemusement to downright derision.
— Troy Bramston (@TroyBramston) June 24, 2017
The Liberal party have launched a new website and they're writing horrific pieces about feminism already https://t.co/loDe2ZIT9s
— Hannah McCann (@binarythis) June 23, 2017
— MarkJacka (@themarkjacka) June 24, 2017
The website was created in response to the party’s 2016 election campaign review conducted by former frontbencher Andrew Robb.
The Liberals had struggled to compete with the messaging of Labor and progressive groups such as GetUp!, the review found.
A furious Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull famously slammed Labor for its so-called ‘Mediscare’ campaign during his election night speech last year.
The Labor Party launched the Labor Herald in 2015, a similar website that is now “on hiatus”.
Mr Ralph said the website was a step forward for the Liberals’ political messaging and he praised its desire to “talk values”.
“It targets soft and swinging voters and is written in an approachable, if simple way, trying to appeal to our inner cab driver,” he said.
“It recognises people think politicians are a bunch of blokes in shiny suits doing back door deals and getting too much super, so it tries to talk values.
“While it’s not for me, they’ve had a decent crack at breaking the old scary problem, sexy policy, three-word slogan format that’s been so tired for so long, so it deserves praise. The question is who will read it?”
The Fair Go is edited by Parnell McGuiness, managing director of PR firm Thought Broker, who is a regular on The Bolt Report and who writes commentary for The Spectator, News Corp, Fairfax Media and the ABC.