Labor has started tearing itself apart over its State election defeat as debate rages over whether Julia Gillard's unpopularity was to blame for its poor showing.
Endangered MP Mick Murray yesterday joined calls for the Prime Minister to quit.
But John Halden, who ran former Labor premier Geoff Gallop's winning campaign in 2001, said it was "outrageously disloyal" to blame Canberra.
The party's introspection after Saturday's morale-sapping defeat was dominated by the view a good campaign had been unable to overcome powerful factors including the Liberals' first-term incumbency and "toxic" Federal Labor.
A rival postscript began to emerge yesterday as former Perth MP John Hyde became the first defeated Labor candidate to turn on the local campaign, saying it had been perceived as "very anti-CBD, anti-inner city".
"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to convince my comrades and colleagues in the party a year ago that this is what was going to happen," Mr Hyde told 6PR.
Labor's former Pilbara representative Larry Graham told the radio station Opposition Leader Mark McGowan presented well as energetic and youthful, which was "good if you want to be a game show host".
The complaints came as Labor hero and Olympian Peter Watson, who defied a Statewide swing to retain Albany a third time, called on the party to stop preselecting "union hacks".
That view was broadened by former Bassendean MP Martin Whitely in his blog, which warned against Labor preselecting shop union secretary Joe Bullock to replace the retiring Chris Evans in the Senate, a vacancy he is also contesting.
Mr Murray, whose vote count was neck-and-neck with Liberal Jaimee Motion in Collie-Preston last night, said Ms Gillard would be a "major factor" if he lost.
He echoed concerns by former State minister and Federal candidate Alannah MacTiernan that Labor would be wiped out at September's Federal election unless Ms Gillard stood aside.
"It will just be a bloodbath at the next election," Mr Murray said. "There has to be a change of leader."
Mr Halden - a former State secretary and a key player in WA Labor's 2001 election win - challenged the view that the local campaign had been well-run, describing it as a "one-trick pony" centred on the Metronet rail plan.
"What we now have is the party office and people in the party running around trying to blame the Federal party and its leadership," he said.
"I can just be nothing more than totally offended and aghast at that sort of tactic and don't accept it. I'm sorry, this is just the worst example of trying to shift responsibility."
Mr Halden, now a lobbyist, said polling he commissioned for a client late last year showed cost of living was the major issue for voters, yet Labor had largely ignored it during the campaign.
He said the unpopularity of Federal Labor had been factored into polling published weeks before March 9 suggesting a 4 to 6 per cent swing to the Liberals. But that doubled in the final week as support for the WA branch evaporated.
"The Labor Party's stance against Elizabeth Quay and various other developments probably cost them Perth and also put them in jeopardy in terms of Belmont," he said. "Then in the last week the Labor Party, instead of issues, talked about personalities."
State secretary Simon Mead said neither he nor Mr McGowan had "blamed the Feds". He defended the campaign strategy.
"Cost of living is incredibly important to one section of the community, congestion is incredibly important to everybody who lives in Perth," he said.
UnionsWA and United Voice defended their advertising campaigns against privatisation, saying it was a big issue for members.
United Voice acting secretary Carolyn Smith said there was "general agreement" that Mr McGowan ran a decent campaign and that Metronet was a good idea.
She said the Liberals outspent Labor with a direct mail blitz, but admitted "hard conversations" were needed after the result."I don't think you can sugar coat the fact that there are issues with the Labor brand," Ms Smith said.
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