Saturday, June 26, 2010

Half of what I say is meaningless

On Wednesday night I wrote when I heard that Julia Gillard was challenging Rudd that it was a dumb thing to do because the ALP was in front in the polls on a 2 Party Preferred basis and Rudd also led on a Preferred PM basis.

However, having made the challenge I did think there was no alternative but to dump Rudd.

The basis for the challenge all seems to be the ALP internal polling which showed the ALP losing pretty much every marginal seat – including seats like Adelaide (held by Kate Ellis with around 10%).

Now whether or not party polling can be completely believed – the seats shown on Andrew Bolts’ site (and the word is they were leaked to him by the ALP National Secretary, Karl Bitar, because Rudd’s chief of staff would not let him show them to Rudd!!) imply that there has been national polling done, which would be damn expensive to do it right, and the rumour is that the ALP kitty is not exactly overflowing at the moment. But still, faced with a list that says you would lose these seats:

Labor-held marginals:

Macarthur - huge loss
Macquarie - big loss
Swan - huge loss
Corangamite - big loss
Hasluck - huge loss

Bass - narrow retain
Bennelong - big loss
Robertson - big loss
Solomon - big loss
Gilmore - huge loss
Herbert - huge loss

Deakin - narrow retain
Longman - big loss
Eden Monaro - big loss
Flynn - big loss
Page - narrow loss
Dawson - huge loss

Braddon - retain
Forde - loss
Franklin - retain
Brisbane - retain
Dobell - either way
Leichhardt - huge loss
Petrie - either way
Kingston - big loss
Hindmarsh- loss
Adelaide - loss.
Wakefield- loss
Makin – retain

would be damn sobering reading for many MPs (not the least those in those seats). Were I them, I would probably have acted as well – especially as I don’t think were I an MP I would have been in the Rudd camp anyway (I would have voted for Beazley!).

And now having made the change, they seemed to have caught the Liberal Party flat footed. Thus far it seems like the Liberal Party doesn’t know what to do. They wanted desperately to fight Kevin Rudd – think about the Kevin O’Lemon advert; it was pretty devastating really – the analogy fit (fair or not) and when shown on Q and A it got a huge laugh. Now that ad is wasted money – in fact the Libs may have found themselves in the same position the ALP was in 1995 – Keating killed off Alexander Downer so quickly that they were faced with John Howard – an opponent they never were able to undermine and in fact an opponent in the end they could not defeat.

Apart from died in the wool Liberal Party voters (or those who say “I used to vote ALP , but no more”) I haven’t heard from those I have chatted with at work much discontent with Labor; it’s all been anti-Rudd. In fact the most voracious feeling of anti-Rudd sentiment has been from ALP voters who were pissed that he might stuff it up and let Abbott win.

So while on Wednesday night in the flush of excitement I wrote:

What complete fools. They might as well give Abbott the keys to the Lodge now – because they sure as hell will be giving the LNP a huge boost in the polls.

I now take that all back. After watching how Julia has charmed the shock jocks (Neil Mitchell was about to volunteer to be the father of her children after hearing her first speech); watching her absolutely destroy Tony Abbott in the Matter of Public Importance on Thursday in Parliament, and watching Tony Abbott dither and jump all over the place on the 7:30 Report tonight – admitting that what he had previously said was not true about him saying the Libs were on the verge of a famous victory was actually true – I am now feeling pretty sure the ALP will win. And win well.

She has got the mining companies to stop their adverts. She has got them to come out and say she is someone they can do business with (well not Clive Palmer, but he’s a joke so that’s irrelevant). 

She sounds so calm and collected. She sounds so real. She has outlined her tasks – the mining tax, asylum seekers, and climate change. But unlike Rudd she has not stated what her goals are – ie what will determine success or failure – just that she wants to work on these three things. She wants to negotiate with the miners and bring in a profits based tax – but the rate and everything else is up for review, so she is not putting herself in to a position of “backing down” on anything, because she has not said what things are set in stone and cannot be changed.

That’s smart operating.

I have long been a Julia fan ( a huge fan) – as readers will know she is the only one of whom I’ve ever transcribed whole answers from Question Time. I didn’t think the polls showed any need to change leaders, but if the internal polls are for real, then they really had no choice, and the ALP should just be thankful that in changing leaders they really are upgrading.

No disrespect to Kevin Rudd – he did some excellent things, and he  outplayed Howard, Costello, Nelson and Turnbull (pretty bloody amazing that) – but Julia is a once in a generation figure. He is a one slam wonder; Julia is Steffi Graf.

So I’m jumping on the Julia bandwagon (well I’ve been on it for a while, but you know what I mean) and will declare this far out that the ALP will win with an increased margin. William Bowe at Poll Bludger thinks the same, and I have to say I agree with him all the way. He was onto the Rudd slide pretty quick – countering a lot of the arguments of those on his blog (me included) who thought Rudd was doing ok.

Rudd’s defeat proves once again that great polling maxim that when your net satisfaction rating goes negative, you’re buggered. Abbott is in the negative zone, and has been for ages. Will the Libs move to dump him? I have often said that were this any other year, the polling numbers would have been putting more pressure on Abbott than on Rudd because with the way Rudd had dived in the polls, the Liberal Party should have been way out in front – instead all those disaffected ALP voters went to the Greens. The hope of the Rudd camp was that they would come back via preferences. The Gillard camp thinks she’ll get them back as primary votes.

I now agree.

I think (as I wrote yesterday) that SA will be great for the ALP now. I said that the state would claim her as their won. Here was the font page of the Advertiser031044-25page1:

It quotes her line about how she grew up in “the great state of South Australia”.

Just wait till she goes back to the Adelaide – no doubt she’ll stop by Unley High. I think Chris Pyne will be very worried. Very worried.

Last week I was spending a few night lying in bed thinking about what the hell was I going to do if Abbott won.

It is such a stupid thought. I mean Tony Abbott!!! – a nothing Minister, hated by everyone. A guy who consistency ran 5th in most favoured Liberal leader polls. How the hell could he become PM?

I consoled myself that it couldn’t happen, that people even thought they hated Rudd (and more than 50% were unsatisfied with him) they hated, or distrusted, Abbott more. I was prepared to wear a narrow win.

But now I’m not thinking narrow win. Everything that was wrong last week is not wrong now. The ETS back down – sure Julia was there, but it was Rudd who said “greatest moral issue of our time”. The miners and their $100m ad campaign? Gone – and how pissed off must Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party be about that – it is akin to the union movement in 2007 saying they’d drop their anti Work Choices adverts and negotiate with John Howard.

What the Liberal Party found out is the big business is not to the Liberal Party like the unions are to the ALP. The unions are the ALP; big business is big business. They use the Liberal Party if it is in their interests, but at the end of the day they don’t have membership of the Liberal Party. So suddenly the Liberal Party has to recalculate its advertising budget, because the miners aren't doing their work for them.

Yes the Libs will try to tar Julia with the Rudd brush, but it won’t work, because the voters are not anti-ALP – the Government remains in the lead (the latest Morgan Poll taken before the spill has the ALP up 53-47). And while that is good, the reality is after leading Australia through the world recession in the way it did – let’s face it were the World Cup be fought on economies and not soccer, we would be World Champions at the moment – the ALP should actually be more in front. They should bolt in this election. And when Rudd was riding high, they were going to. But when he stuffed up. When Rudd made the mistakes, things went bad.

People who wanted to vote for the ALP were not going to because of one reason – Kevin Rudd.

Me, I was going to always vote ALP, and was content to think the ALP would get over the line because ever first term Government usually loses some seats. But in 1984 Hawke should have increased his majority but had a horrible campaign and Peacock was brilliant. And in 1998 Howard had to contend with One Nation referencing away from sitting members. All the ALP in 2010 had to beat was Abbott – why on earth would they lose votes?? And yet they were going to.

Many will say Abbott did well to beat Rudd, and I guess we have to give him some credit, but to be honest I think all of Rudd’s wounds were self inflicted. He was the one who admitted defeat on the insulation program, he was the one who hyped up the health and hospitals reform only to come up one state short and yet still say it was a win, he was the one who dropped the ETS on the quiet, and failed to show any sense that this was a big decision.

He was the one who despite showing a great ability to make good speeches kept talking in his sludge of buzz words and focus grouped sound bites.

I wrote yesterday that he wasn't as good a PM as was his Government.

This Government deserves to win and win well – especially if the Liberal Party is so contemptuous of the electorate as to have Tony Abbott as leader. Yes Rudd deserves credit for being PM of a Government that deserves to win well, but if he was unable to deliver that victory – and there was even suggestions that he might even lead them to a loss – why then they had to act.

Especially because they have put in someone better.

There’s a way to go – hell the Libs might even dump Abbott and put in Hockey – but I’ll put my money on Julia (and Hockey won’t change that). It may even take a week or two – people will feel a bit sorry for Kev and they may want to see Julia a bit before they change their vote. But the more they see of her, the more they will like her.

Back in 2006 I thought she was a handicap for the ALP, but through 2007 the more closely I watched QT, the more I realised she was a gun, and during the 2007 election she was actually better than Rudd. By election night, Kev might have been PM, but she was the favourite of the true believers.

After 11 years of Howard the voters may have needed a Howard-lite to help them vote for the ALP, but once they did, they remembered the reason they vote in ALP Governments is because they are different to Liberal Governments. I think once the put Rudd in power, they wanted a true believer. They thought Rudd was for two years (certainly was with the apology and the way he responded to the GFC – that was true ALP work), but post the ETS dumping they knew that is was a sham. He was Howard-lite – perhaps “Howard-less”. They didn’t want Howard – they kicked him out, they still wanted the true believer. And they were bloody annoyed – annoyed that he was making them even think about voting for Tony Abbott (and if that wouldn’t make you feel annoyed then I don’t know what would)

In Julia they have the person they want.

I’m locking in an increased majority.

I now wait for the polls, because, yes, nobody knows anything, but my gut tells me now that this was the smart play.

*fans of The Beatles will recognise the title of this piece is from their song on The White Album called (what else) “Julia”


Hillbilly Skeleton said...

'Steffi Graff' is good, but, for mine, Julia Gillard is Margaret Thatcher, except from the Left! Brilliant!

Bondles said...

The moment my jaw really dropped was when Gillard made her challenge on the mining ads. A brilliant move, and if she keeps displaying finesse like that, she's going to be a fearsome PM.

The Greens voter in me is a little disappointed that the 15-odd point primary is going to plummet. But if that's the price of having a Prime Minister I can take pride in (even as the chorus of "Won't Get Fooled Again" echoes around the back of my mind, as it has since Thursday morning), then so be it.

That said, if you get to feeling like you want to wager $10 on an increased majority in the House, I'll take that bet.

country kid said...

Priceless piece.... again. Sending up yourself is almost as good as slipping the boot into Abbott.

Like you I thought it was madness on Wednesday night - 9.30ish when I first heard about the spill. And there is sadness for the brutality of Rudd's demise - but like you I have been a big fan of Julia and she looks unstoppable.

Anonymous said...

While Beazley was still opposition leader, just after the Karl Rove mix up with Rove, I wrote to Julia Gillard about her help in replacing Beazley. What I asked was that although Beazley is well loved he is tarred with the brush of past elections. He was a well known and people weren't listening to him, they were just listening to his stuff ups. A week later Julia and Kevin became the new leadership team of the ALP.
People were only listening to Rudds stuff ups and not his policies wins. Paid Parental leave, GFC,etc was lost, BER <1% of complaints and the insulation scheme became their theme.
Grog like you I thought it stupid and incredibly brutal of the treatment of Rudd, still do. Arbib, Shorten, Feeney and the others will always be in my 'I hope they lose their seats' book, but I loved Julia before Kev, I loved they way she communicated, plain speaking with humor puts people at ease. Rudd doesn't have that ability.

jude said...

You say that Abbott could never be PM, that it's laughable. Cast your mind back to the mid nineties, and remember how laughable the prospect of silly little Johnny Howard being PM was! The electorate is a scary thing. So, you see, it all comes down to your opponent. Abbott COULD have been PM with Rudd as his opponent. Not now.

Greg Jericho said...

Yep Jude, spot on. For lefties the thought of Abbott as PM was laughable - and so it should have remained - but Rudd's performance was making it a possiblity.

Those laughs were quickly turning from the scornful ones of last November to very nervous ones.

Roger said...

Could be that the money-quote in your piece, and the money-thought in your head is: "...if the internal polls are for real...."

Is it fair to recall that the report we have of "the internal polls" comes from Andrew Bolt?

As against Bolt's claim, there is the actual Morgan poll (which you do mention) showing 53/47 prior to the spill and, of course, prior to the campaign - and suggesting to my mind, anyway, that the panic merchants prevailed.

My impression is that there is a great deal of 'wishful thinking' (as to the ultimate outcome) in the rest of your article, Grog. This is not to say, of course, that your wishes will not be granted. My meta-wish is that Grog's wishes will be granted. But I have long since learned that my wishes and the electorate's wishes frequently part company. I dare say you have a similar history.

Greg Jericho said...

Oh absolutely, there's a lot of wishin' and hopin' in this piece.

I'm inclined to trust that the polls Bolt published were for real, how accurate the actual polling is however up for debte. I seriously doubt Ellis would have lost Adelaide.

But that said, this morning's Nielsen poll which was conducted post the spill does seem to support my argument - ALP:55 - LNP:45.

Whatever this spill has done, it certainly has changed the story; and changed the momentum. Prior to the spill the momentum was a slow, steady leak of votes from the ALP to the Greens and then the ALP was reduced to praying they'd come back to them.

Now it looks like they won't be in the lap of the preferencing gods.

vote1maxine said...

A good post. Just remember without Rudd there wouldn't be a Julia as PM. He set the policy agenda and provided a solid foundation for a Great Labor Government to build on.

Greg Jericho said...

Bondles - I'll take that bet - $10 it is!

vote1maxine - I have never disputed that Rudd was the one who beat Howard. He did it brilliantly.

chrispycon said...

I still think you were right to despair on Thursday night. A normal, dragged out leadership contest, Rudd just squeaking home, and ensuing tension between him and Julia would have lost the election. Thankfully Julia is a safe pair of hands, and Kev a better party man than i for one gave him credit for.

chrispycon said...

woops, i mean Wednesday night :-)

CFC1892 said...

I love Kevin, but always cringed a little at his communication skills - he just seemed a bit plastic.
I am wrapt Julia is the big cheese - she's smarter by herself than the opposition benches put together.
I know its been said before but I must finish by saying how impressed I was with the courage of Kevin fronting the presser to sing the praises of his govt and the govt's achievements/policies AND THEN going to the back bench same day!
If anyone thinks he isn't 10 times the man Tone is they've rocks in their head

Anonymous said...

Just read Abbotts 12 pledges aka action contract...there's a little something in there to alienate just about every Australian. Talk about out of touch.
Its almost worth a Darwin award.

Greg Jericho said...

Anon I was going to do a post on the 12 point action plan - might get round to it tomorrow.

I always thought with a 12 step plan, the first step was to admit you have a problem...

Anonymous said...

I love Julia---two firsts as PM, woman and ranga! She's awesome, not the least because she kicks TA's butt more effectively than a machine expressly built to kick TA's butt and permanently attached to his trousers.

But I am very sad to see Kevin go. I thought he had great integrity in a profession in which integrity is usually a handicap. He was my local member for a while, and even in opposition, was a good rep.

I feel a bit like a person who won the lottery on the day their grandmother died.


PS Please do a post on TA's 12 step plan!