It is rare that a political party would so obviously reveal the fruits of its internal polling and focus group work as the Liberal Party did today with the full court press of coverage provided via its friendly media publishers, News.ltd.
In an “exclusive”
advertisement for the Liberal Party interview with Gemma Jones (she of the bullshit beat ups about asylum seekers, articles about people struggling to pay the carbon tax even before it had started, and big scoops on the soles of Julia Gillard’s shoes) Tony Abbott’s wife, Margie, was out to say how great he was. Despite the story essentially being as newsworthy as “Wife loves Husband”, News.ltd ran big with it:
God I do love a diverse media.
Just think how bad the internal polling and focus group are that it has reached this stage.
Obviously as well the reason for the stories coming out today is that this weekend is a Newspoll weekend.
And here’s the lines that are meant to persuade us:
"Just to give you an idea of how it happens in the Abbott household, I'll be grabbing the remote control saying `Can I watch the footy, please?' he will be saying `Oh, but I would really like to watch Downton Abbey,"' Mrs Abbott said.
I mean wow. It’s really that bad that they needed to evoke one of the highest rating TV shows? Really? Geez, those focus groups must have been hideous – talk about aiming for the very middle of the middle ground. I’m surprised she didn’t mention that he often walks around the house singing Adele’s “Someone Like You”.
Aside from the fact the footy and Downton Abbey are never on at the same time (so perhaps Tony is downloading season 3 on Bit Torrent and wants to watch it while the footy is on) who gives a shit? If we’ve reached the point where talking about someone’s favourite TV shows is meant to give insight into their inner self and is deserving of being treated as news, then we might as well give up the whole thing as a joke. Sure put this in the Weekender Inside section, or Women's Weekly, but this is now Front Page News?
Even The Oz which didn’t have the story on its front page, chipped in with Dennis Shanahan in an amazing coincidence writing an article on (I kid you not):
What about the Prime Minister's problem with men?
- BY:DENNIS SHANAHAN, POLITICAL EDITOR
- From:The Australian
- October 05, 2012 12:00AM
Subtle Dennis, very subtle.
And next up in the advertorial is Margie Abbott appearing on Chris Kenny’s Sky News show this Saturday. That in itself shows not only how desperate the Liberal Party is given they have reached a point where they think that Kenny’s show would actually attract an audience worth getting her to appear on (yeah it’s the must-watch show for undecided voters), but also that they have had to pick out the most clearly Liberal Party friendly “journalist” to tell Margie’s story.
But the real upshot in all of this is that Abbott has revealed he is worried and that he is as weak-kneed when it comes to bad polls as was the ALP under Rudd.
Abbott has shown everyone that he has been badly wounded by the ALP’s attacks. How depressing must it be for back bench Liberal Party MPs to realise that their leader is so worried about Newspoll that a year away from an election he has to get his wife to do some repair work for him? Kimberly Ramplin on Twitter nicely pointed out that back in 2003 the ALP paid for an insert in the Women’s Weekly featuring Bob Carr and his wife, but that was:
a) A paid advertisement (here, News.ltd did the advertising gratis)
b) In the same month as the election. – Wives always become more prominent in elections or when a new leader takes office.
This is purely a case of a leader shitting himself about the polls. A leader whose party is leading easily in the polls.
That should scare the hell out of Liberal Party members when they think of what a Tony Abbott government would be like..
It is also all a bit odd given that the last Newspoll which was 50-50 seemed a out of whack with the other polls, so was likely to go back to 53-47 or 52-48, which is where most of the other polls are sitting, without the Liberal Party doing anything.
Clearly Abbott’s more worried about his personal standing than his party’s. It means as well that if the poll does go back to where everyone expects it to go, it’ll be because he had to "break glass in case of emergency”. If the poll inexplicably doesn’t shift much, then it looks like he is terminally on the nose with voters. It also means people will now really start to focus on his negative personal numbers – every poll will need greater mention of his personal standing, and reference to his strategy to “woo women voters”
Clearly, Abbott has been rattled by Julia Gillard’s numbers going up (and as Possum pointing up, increasing the ALP’s 2PP with it). The bad news for Tony Abbott is that Possum also notes that the standing of the Opposition Leader has absolutely nothing to do with the the party’s 2 party preferred polling number. That means to keep the 2PP numbers high, the Liberal Party has to keep focus on Julia Gillard, which essentially means Tony Abbott attacking her, which obviously the Liberals have found doesn’t go down well in the electorate, and leads to Abbott looking like a bully.
Which brings us back to where Mr Abbott finds himself today.
The other aspect is this “Women don’t like Tony” narrative is old hat. Why on earth he feels the need to go big on it now is beyond me. Gillard’s numbers have improved a bit, and Abbott’s have gone down a bit. But is this really panic stations?
Abbott’s big “women-friendly” policy was his “fair dinkum paid parental leave”. The problem is his own party hates it, and it treats rich women and more worthy of Government money than those on lower income which really is at odds with how women view coping with birth and bringing up babies – ie the issues and problems are the same for everyone regardless of wealth.
But instead of treating women as intelligent beings and developing more policies over the next 12 months that will actually affect them, he wants women to know he really is a nice guy.
Geez, he must think women are stupid.
I can’t see any aspect of this coverage today being about beating the ALP. The Liberals think the election is in the bag. This is all about Tony surviving till the election. That he has had to do it by getting his wife to tell us all how great he is shows just how bad he thinks things are for him, and how out of ideas he is.
Perhaps the headlines are right, perhaps we are seeing “The Real Tony”.