A delightful look at chance and outrageous fortune
In 1968, John Howard missed out on winning the state seat of Drummoyne by just 420 votes. Howard reflects: ‘I think back how fortunate I was to have lost.’ It left him free to stand for a safe federal seat in 1974 and become one of Australia’s longest-serving prime ministers.
In The Luck of Politics, Andrew Leigh weaves together numbers and stories to show the many ways luck can change the course of political events.
This is a book full of fascinating facts and intriguing findings. Why is politics more like poker than chess? Does the length of your surname affect your political prospects? What about your gender?
And who was our unluckiest politician? Charles Griffiths served as the Labor member for Shortland for 23 years. It was an unusually long career, but alas, his service perfectly coincided with federal Labor’s longest stint out of power: 1949 to 1972!
From Winston Churchill to George Bush, Margaret Thatcher to Paul Keating, this book will persuade you that luck shapes politics — and that maybe, just maybe, we should avoid the temptation to revere the winners and revile the losers.
‘A fascinating look at chance, the covert kingmaker in politics.’— Peter Hartcher
‘Andrew Leigh takes the simplest idea there is — luck — and threatens to remake your basic understanding of politics with it. Then he succeeds. Lucky for us.’— Waleed Aly
‘It’s rare to find a politician prepared to acknowledge the role of luck — sheer chance — in political success and failure. Andrew Leigh doesn't just acknowledge it, he interrogates it, using fascinating historical anecdotes to illustrate his tale.’— Lenore Taylor
Andrew Leigh is the federal member for Fraser and the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Before being elected in 2010, he was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. His books include Disconnected (2010), Battlers and Billionaires (2013) and The Economics of Just About Everything (2014).