Colin Barnett certainly dominates politics in this state. No matter how hard his Labor opponents try, they just can't seem to land a punch on him. Desperate to turn voters against him, they constantly repeat this line that he's arrogant and out of touch. I don't think this is a majority view, nor will it ever be. Still, it is certainly proliferating. 

And I think it was one of the main reasons recent anti-shark-cull protests were so crowded. A substantial proportion of the crowd were not full-on greenies; just Labor voters desperate to have a growl about about "Emperor" Colin Barnett. This would explain the disturbing number of effigies of the Premier with a hook in his mouth!

Just as they do in the rest of the country -- although probably to a slightly lesser extent -- West Aussie journalists tend to lean left. So they will often echo the Labor line.

They'll beat up any quote that echoes this "arrogance" line. The most recent example was when he said that those who were against his planned big developments should "get a life". It was probably a bit tactless. But it was hardly the outrageously arrogant statement it was presented as by his political opponents and many in the media. 

This whole situation is reminiscent of Victoria back in the early nineties when Jeff Kennett was Premier. The level of personal hatred for this guy was quite something. He was very pro-business. And he came to power after a whole sequence of IR debacles and financial scandals under Labor.

When he was elected Victoria really was a rust bucket state. He vowed to get the state moving again. And he certainly did that. There was much leftie wailing and gnashing of teeth as he strong-armed the unions and privatized several public assets. 

I was living in St Kilda at the time, doing a lot stand up comedy. All the comics had routines about how much they hated him. I did a couple of Kennett jokes -- more to fit in than anything else. I wasn't a fan of the guy but I did find the intensity of people's hatred for him a tad alarming. It was a bit after that time, in 1995, that I started to realize I was becoming conservative.

Kennett certainly made things easy for his haters. He really was arrogant. And he revelled in his image as a villain. I remember him throwing sand in a news camera lens at some official opening or other (it was for a golf course, I think).  Then before the Melbourne Grand Prix was on there was a demo at Albert Park attended by thousands of foaming-at-the-mouth lefties. Kennett had the gall to front up there and walk brazenly through the crowd. He copped endless abuse. But he loved it!

Kennett really did fit the public image of him as arrogant. But I don't think Colin Barnett does.

That's why I believe it's a serious tactical error to attempt to demonize him in this way. It may gain a bit more public support than it has now. But if Barnett is toppled at the next election I doubt this view of him will be a deciding factor.