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The News-poll this morning is even worse for Labor than even I expected:
JULIA Gillard’s personal standing has crashed to a 19-month low and Tony Abbott is clearly back in front as the nation’s preferred prime minister after Labor’s “appalling” two weeks of political and policy failure.
According to the latest Newspoll survey, Labor’s primary vote has slumped five points to a disastrous 30 per cent after a fortnight that ended with the aborted leadership spill and mass cabinet resignations, with one in two voters now siding with the Coalition.
The collapse in the Labor vote has completely wiped out the party’s recovery in the second half of last year and has entrenched the prospect of a landslide vote against the government in the election scheduled for September 14.
After taking into account preference flows, federal Labor’s support is eight percentage points below its level at the 2010 election, at 42 per cent – a swing that if replicated in September would remove about 30 Labor MPs, including at least five ministers.
This can only be described as a electoral Tsunami and Ray’s 25% primary vote seems possible now . just imagine what it will be in September.
poem ditty by GD
Kevvie in his kevlar suit
laughing ‘cos it’s all a hoot
Simon Crean gets the boot,
another day in Labor
Stephen Conroy’s face is red
his underpants are on his head
the censorship is all shot dead,
another Labor failure
the deficit is on the loose
Swan is looking like a goose
spending all with no excuse,
another a drunken sailor
the rusted-ons believe in Rudd
to save them from this bath in mud
but really he’s another dud,
not a Labor saviour
the voters wait with bated breath
to hear about a Labor death
but Joolia is such a pest,
it’s six months more hard Labor!
By Ray Dixon – reproduced from my home blog Alpine Opinion
The first inkling that Simon Crean’s new-found support for Kevin Rudd may not have been exactly a sincere change-of-heart, came soon after his surprise announcement – that he was seeking a leadership spill – when Crean suddenly (and angrily) gave an answer to a question in which he clearly chastised Rudd over his previously stated position of not mounting another challenge:
”He can’t continue to play the game that says he is reluctant or he has to be drafted. I know the party will not draft him.”
That did not sound like a friendly ‘defector’ and, furthermore, if Crean knew “the party will not draft (Rudd)” that suggests he also knew Rudd did not have anywhere near the numbers required to take the leadership – so why was Crean ‘going out on a limb’ giving everyone the impression he was in favour of Rudd being reinstated?
Looking back at Crean’s full announcement it then became clear (to me at least) that it was full of typical, evasive and ambiguous Crean ‘doublespeak’ where everything he was saying could be taken two ways. For example:
“I have talked to the prime minister yesterday and today….I am asking her to call a spill for all the leadership positions in the party. If the PM does not agree to it, which I suspect she won’t, I am calling on members of caucus to form a petition. This is not personal. This is about the party, its future and the future of the country. I believe we can win the next election.”
That’s clearly a neutral position and he’s not calling for Rudd to be PM there.
“We need to settle this and move forward. As for the position of positions being declared open – Kevin Rudd has no choice but to stand for the leadership. He can no longer say he will only be drafted. That’s why I’m putting myself forward as part of the leadership group.”
There he goes again, telling Rudd off by insisting that he challenges. And “putting himself forward” as Rudd’s possible deputy could simply be Crean trying to make his defection seem genuine – in the end it amounted to nothing.
“I’m doing this in the interests of the Labor Party and, in turn, the nation.”
And “this” could mean setting Rudd up to mount a challenge he can’t win.
“I look forward to caucus making a mature decision….I will be supporting Kevin Rudd. He has got no option but to run. I want no more games.”
Supporting him to do what? To challenge and lose? Crean’s trying too hard to force the issue here and his reference to “no more games” is actually another slur on Rudd.
“I’m urging Mr Rudd to put his name forward….I do not believe simply changing from Ms Gillard to Mr Rudd will solve anything. The internals must stop. We must be an inclusive party.”
That’s almost a dead giveaway that Crean is still in Gillard’s ‘corner’.
Mr Crean is asked if Mr Rudd has the numbers: “I wouldn’t be doing this if I did not believe there was the mood and the need for change within the party.”
There’s the ambiguous “this” word again. And yes, there was certainly a “mood” to change to Rudd among some party members but perhaps Crean means he’s out to kill that off.
And later yesterday (after the non-vote), Simon Crean’s appearance and demeanour on ABC TV – grinning like a Cheshire cat – was hardly that of a man who had failed in his mission.
For someone who had just been sacked from the Ministry position he held under Gillard after his so-called defection, Crean seemed mighty chuffed with the overall outcome and Gillard’s so-called victory … and his assault on Rudd continued:
Sacked arts minister Simon Crean says he cannot understand why Mr Rudd did not take on Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a special caucus meeting earlier on Thursday.
“I can’t understand why all of this agitation would be on, including the need to bring it to a head, then for the contender not to stump up,” he told ABC television.
… “He had an obligation to run. He didn’t discharge that obligation so he has only got one obligation now and that is to back off,” Mr Crean said.
… “I think he has demonstrated that he isn’t a threat to the leadership because he didn’t stand when he had the chance,” he said.
“(Rudd running) in itself would have been an important cleansing for the party,” he said.
Mr Crean is calling on the rest of his party to take the result as a circuit breaker to end speculation and get on with “inspiring the nation again”.
He had no regrets about acting in “the interests of getting the party back on a solid footing.”
Call me a conspiracy theorist or wise-in-hindsight, but I think those comments clearly demonstrate that, for Crean, yesterday’s outcome was mission accomplished.
Crean knows exactly why Rudd didn’t run – because he didn’t have the numbers – but feigns surprise and faux anger at Rudd for letting him down.
He’s stuck the knife in … and turned it. Again.
And Crean could barely contain his delight last night, even using the same “Rudd has/had” to challenge rhetoric he used in the morning. He didn’t miss a beat but it all sounded hollow and insincere to me.
You see, it needs to be remebered that Simon Crean was also the instigator of the first Rudd challenge just over 12 months ago when, while Rudd was overseas, he launched an extraordinary public attack following the release of the infamous ‘F-bomb’ blooper tape (that seems most likely to have been released by Gillard’s office) on the grounds that Rudd was ‘destabilising the party’.
This lead to Rudd having no choice but to resign from the position of Foreign Minister, following which Julia Gillard then announced a leadership spill to force Rudd’s hand and challenge (while he was still overseas). Crean knew then that Rudd didn’t have the numbers to topple Gillard just like he would have known the numbers yesterday – so why did he go ahead?
As for Crean being sacked as a Minister by Gillard (for his so-called disloyalty), it’s not inconceivable that that was a ‘bullet’ he was willing to take to get rid of Rudd. After all, Crean’s been around for a long time and might only have 6 months of his career left.
But as to what happens now, well, when the dust is setlled maybe it’ll become clearer that yesterday’s events will actually make Gillard’s position worse, not better.
Wait for the next opinion poll but after this debacle I reckon Labor’s support will fall even further – perhaps as low as 25% primary vote – and stay there.
And that spells real (and fatal) disaster for Gillard – maybe Rudd’s not dead yet?
With a leadership ballot within the federal Labor Party now imminent, it is worth considering Labor’s options. As I see it, there are three options – and none of them are particularly desirable.
Option 1 – Stay with Julia Gillard
As I have previously noted, Gillard’s political judgement is appalling, and is also the main reason why Labor finds itself in such dire straits today. Whether it’s the broken promise on the carbon tax, having a formal alliance with the Greens, mishandling the boat people issue on numerous occasions, the Australia Day protests or her appearance on Four Corners, the PM has time and time again displayed a complete lack of political nous. She is a master of political disaster when political judgement is an essential requirement for being Prime Minister.
The only benefit from keeping Gillard is that Labor will almost certainly go full term. The Greens and independents Oakeshott and Windsor will continue to support the government, ensuring that the next federal election will be pushed well into 2013.
The disadvantage with this option is that Labor faces an eventual election rout of epic proportions. The voters who hate Gillard will punish Labor for keeping her, and the risk is that Labor will be reduced to little more than a cricket team in the House of Reps in the next parliament.
Option 2 – Replace Gillard with Rudd
The major advantage here is that Labor will immediately become more popular, as Gillard is responsible for the government’s current position. The electorate may even give Labor credit for righting what many see as the wrong in Rudd’s political execution in 2010.
The risks however are numerous. Firstly, Labor may not get as much of a bounce from this option as it expects. Secondly, Rudd’s popularity may fade very quickly and Labor may end up in a hardly better position than it was under Gillard. This is particularly the case when tricky political issues such as the carbon tax, boat people and the economy will need to be dealt with. Furthermore, voters could be soon enough reminded of what made them turn off Rudd in the first place.
The other risk is that the party will tear itself apart. Many MP’s hate Rudd. Cabinet processes could become centralised again and policy execution dysfunctional. There’s a small possibility that some MP’s could even bring down the government by pulling the pin in disgust.
Option 3 – Elect a third candidate
When Simon Crean realised in late 2003 his leadership was doomed, he stepped down and moved his support towards Mark Latham in order to prevent Kim Beazley, who had earlier challenged Crean regaining the leadership. It may well be that Gillard and her supporters will do the same when they see that Gillard’s leadership is coming to an end.
The first question that immediately arises is who such a third candidate would be? The three people that come to my mind are Bill Shorten, Stephen Smith and Crean.
The advantage from this option is that it may prevent the party from tearing itself apart if one of these men is elected as the compromise candidate from a caucus bitterly divided between Rudd and Gillard.
The risks however are numerous. Firstly, one of these men are particularly well known, and so the public may react adversely, particularly with the Coalition certain to liken it to the NSW Labor leadership revolving door. Secondly, neither Smith nor Shorten have held leadership roles before, and it is unknown how any of them would fare. The Gillard experiment failed badly enough for many members of caucus to have second doubts about trying another experiment.
As the above analysis demonstrates, there are no easy options for Labor. I would love to hear from readers what their thoughts are.
What do you think Labor’s best option is?
Just a quick thought on one way that Gillard can keep the keys to the lodge a bit longer and stave off her removal from the leadership of the Labor party and that is for her to tell her party that if they repalce her as leader then she will quit politics altogether, precipitate a by election and by necessity destroy Labor’s wafer thin majority….
Just a quick thought for those who are wetting themselves with the thought of Brother Number One making a comeback or any other Labor faces making a grab for the poisoned chalice of minority government at the behest of the Greens and independants…