Author(s): Toby Ralph
Toby Ralph, described as one of the 'most powerful spinners and advisers in Australia', joined a UN team to assist with preparations for Afghanistan's 2009 presidential elections. Ballots, Bullets and Kabulshit offers a rare glimpse into the chaos and danger of attempting to deliver democracy in a war zone. With the wry humour of a seasoned politico (or someone trying to distract themselves from the very real dangers of their situation), Ralph provides snapshots of life in Kabul, a primer in the political shambles of a failing state, and the reflections of a non-combatant working in a war zone in a suit and tie. He is whisked between meetings in armoured cars, tries to avoid sitting on the AK-47 down the back of the couch at his lodgings, dines with colleagues in sandbagged candlelit restaurants, and attempts to convince the Electoral Commission chairman - and friend of President Hamid Karzai - that having an election is a good idea. That the poll ended in farce, with Karzai's reinstatement by default, means the UN will be sending another group of advisors when next an election is reluctantly called.
Toby Ralph, described as one of the 'most powerful spinners and advisers in Australia', has worked on over forty elections across three continents, including all of Australia's federal elections since John Howard became prime minister. He calls himself a marketing bloke and sometime propagandist. The Sydney Morning Herald said: 'Look behind big political and corporate events - such as the four pillars banking debate in the late 1990s, the republican debate, corporate reviews, conflicts, takeovers, mergers and restructures in the media, construction, transport, superannuation, mining, export, gaming, and finance industries, environmental debates, many big listed company issues, and under-budget major infrastructure projects -- and find his handiwork.' Toby is a regular guest on Gruen Planet and Radio National, and has appeared on Insight and Q&A. He topped The Power Index's 'Five (relatively) unknown people running Australia', and was included in the inaugural BRW Power List as one of the fifty most influential people in Australian business.