Friday, August 13, 2010

Election 2010: Day 28 (or, the longest week)

So we’ve got seven days to go. Yes I know it is eight, but nothing that happens on Saturday the 21st is really going to affect any votes. In fact you could argue nothing much on Friday will affect them either – unless some really bad news about one of the candidates comes out – and even then it better come out before the 6pm news. And given Wednesday night is the advertising cut-off date you could almost say that Thursday as well is a bit of a non event.

941855-tony-abbott-in-deakinOf course anything could happen – and you know both Gillard and Abbott will hardly sleep on those days, but at that point the only “game changers” can probably be bad ones. In terms of good “game changers” the ALP has got till Monday and their campaign launch. The Liberals I think are pretty much done on that score. Take today – they made a big announcement about spending money on technical colleges – essentially reviving Jon Howard’s old hatred of the TAFE system. And yes it’s a lot of money, but to be honest I’m not sure if it is much of a vote changer.

The ALP have trades training centres, the Libs have Technical Colleges. Most voters will be hard pressed to see the difference – and to be a vote changer there needs to be a discernable difference. Like a no NBN or an NBN – no MRRT or an MRRT.

In 2007 Rudd made a big deal of the trades training centres – it was a set piece of his budget reply speech in 2007 and it flowed through with his message that education was his priority. Abbott may too want to make education a priority but in all honesty, no one is thinking of Abbott being the education Prime Minister.

It’s like the Liberal's health and hospitals plan. No one really could tell you unless they had been paying particular attention what the difference between it and the ALP’s is. The big difference in health is the Liberal’s Mental Health Policy, and the ALP’s GP Super Clinics.

972423-gillard-building-siteToday Julia Gillard announced a $334m plan for apprentices. Again it may very well be a good policy, but it’s not a game changer. What it did do (as with Abbott’s policy) was allow her to get some good pics of her with workers. Some days policy is about the policy, other days its more about the vibe and the visuals.

Today was a visuals day.

So what do we have ahead of us? Well we have a big weekend – especially Sunday. Julia is fronting up to Laurie Oakes; Abbott has the more easier task of Barrie Cassidy on Insiders. Cassidy is not much of an interviewer it must be said. But given we;re at the pointy end of the campaign he might step up and try to get in some hits.

Then on Sunday night on Channel 7 Kevin Rudd will chat. I doubt there’ll be too much in the way of “bombshells” – if there was Channel 7 would be letting us all know about them – you know adverts like: “the bombshell interview that will change the election!” Commercial TV advertising is never subtle. Over on 60 Minutes the biggest wanker in the Australian politics new reporter Mark Latham will give his report. I expect basically a plague on both you houses story.

This weekend we’ll also get a Nieslen Poll – and given last week the Libs were up 51-49, the ALP needs to improve or they really will start to panic. UPDATE: as I write this the amazing “Ghostwhovotes” has leaked that Neilsen Poll has the ALP on 53 and LNP on 47 – a 4% swing to the ALP from last week – which is not too great a surprise given how bad things were for the ALP seven days ago, and how pretty pathetic the Libs have been this week – I mean can you think of anything of any real worth that Abbott did this week? He didn't even turn up to a $6b announcement. One hour at Rooty Hill RSL ain’t going to cut it.

On Monday we’ll get the last Newspoll before the final ones on election day – they will be crucial for giving either side any “momentum”. The ALP will do its launch, and that night Abbott will have a go on Q and A – I expect him to do well, though the audience will perhaps not be as friendly as the multi-planted Rooty Hill event.

Just think, this time last week Mark Latham was still just a writer of columns in the AFR and occasional talking head on Sky. Kevin hadn’t met Julia. Julia hadn’t knocked them for dead on Q and A and the 7pm Project, and Abbott hadn’t gone on the 7:30 Report and made a fool of himself. It was a long week; and this week looks to be just as long.

For Julia Gillard it is a very long week. Lose and her career is effectively over. If she can’t win as PM she won’t win in three years as the opposition leader. It’s all or nothing. Lose and she’s a trivia question; win and she’ll ironically reap many of the benefits of Rudd’s term – the GP Super clinics will start to spring up, the trades training places as well. The computers in schools will be pretty much done; the NBN will be well and truly on the way – and certainly passed the point of winding up. Of course overseas the economy looks bad, so it won’t be all smiles and sunshine, but win this and she will have a lot firmer foundation than did Rudd – because a lot of his plans were long term.

For Tony Abbott I will say it is not as long a week. Sure he wants to win. But if he loses I don’t think he loses any where near as much as does Gillard. The expectations for Abbott were so low, that even getting to this stage is a win for him. If he loses does he stay around? I can’t see him wanting to hand over the leadership – for a start the pay is good. Unless things go bad and it does become a big win for the ALP, he’ll have strong support in the party. That said if he loses I can’t see him leading them to the next election.

For Kevin Rudd it is a long, odd week. The ALP has to win or his Prime Ministership will be trashed forever. If they win then at least the seeds he planted – NBN etc – will grow and bloom. If the ALP wins and the swing in QLD is not big, he’ll also be a bit of an ALP hero, and will be able to demand whatever position he wants. I’m just not sure he actually wants any position – I think he just wants to be able to demand it.

For Joe Hockey it is an interesting week. If the Libs win he’ll be happy as a pig in poo, knowing that he can be treasurer and just do whatever Treasury tell him to do. If they lose he has to decide if he wants to be leader. I’m not sure he does.

For Malcolm Turnbull it is a very big week. If the Liberals win he will never become Prime Minister (he might as well start his own party for all the chance he would have). And you just know he really wants to become Prime Minister. I mean he really, really wants to become Prime Minister. He would like, you think, for the Libs to be pretty well beaten. It would show the Party that the far right way is not the winning way. He has repaired a lot of damage within the Party through the way he has campaigned for other MPs. Whether or not he’s done enough for them to give him another chance and the merry go-round that will inevitably occur is another thing. Either way Turnbull will do all he can to look like he wants the Libs to win, and in his heart of hearts you know he wants Abbott to lose almost as much as does Rudd. At 55 years of age, time is running out for him

For Greg Combet and Bill Shorten and Tony Burke and Chris Bowen it will also be an interesting week. If the ALP wins they will all want to get a promotion – that Finance Minister spot would look tasty. If the ALP loses, then all of them will have to think about doing a numbers count. I’d back Combet – he at least has a reputation as Mr Fixit, so he would be a good solid option. But Shorten is as ambitious as perhaps all but Turnbull in the parliament, so I doubt he’ll die wondering. Burke is still young – 41; Shorten is 43 and Bowen is the youngest at 37. So they all have time on their side – they don’t need to win in 2013. Combet is 52. If he is going to lead, he would need to lead now.

For Julie Bishop it’s not a big week at all. She’ll probably remain deputy whatever happens.

For Chris Pyne it’ll be a long week. The betting market have him an easy favourite, but he would be a fool if he is not worried about the local girl swing in SA. And if there is a swing on in SA not even his personal standing will be able to hold it back. Personally I think Boothby is a more likely loss for the Liberals, but at $3 I’m tempted to put $10 on Rick Sarre.

For me it will be a long week as I know I will go through more highs and lows than a bungee jumper taking a cocktail of Ecstasy and Mogadon.

I have to say I can’t wait for the damn thing to be over.


lyn said...

Hi Grog

Thankyou for your fantastic column Grog.

Brilliant insight, I don't bet, but, exception here,I bet you are right.

The polls have boosted our morale somewhat, I must say I am suffering a slight bit of hubris, especially after the "I'm not a tech head debacle & the car analogy by Phoney.


Greg Jericho said...

Hubris is not allowed Lyn!

Repeat after me: "There's still a way to go". "It will go down to the wire".

jackson said...

Why do you say Kevin Rudd will be trashed if Labor loses? The commentariat will say that deposing him for Gillard was what lost them the election, surely?

Jaeger said...

"A week is a long time in politics." - Harold Wilson

The recent poll results look good, but I won't believe them until Possum has given them the thumbs up.

Elisabeth said...

I just spat coffee all over the keyboard at your last sentence. Great to read unbiased opinion - makes for a nice change. You'll need a holiday thought once this is all over...

Checkers said...

I have to say I can’t wait for the damn thing to be over.

And a week after it is over, you will be reminiscing about the special moments, and eagerly anticipating the next election.

At least I hope you will be, for your loyal reader's sake.

In the meantime, I eagerly anticipate to next week's offerings.

Greg Jericho said...

jackson - I say Rudd will be trashed because (as I wrote a couple week's ago) if the Libs win they will totally rewrite history to ensure that everything that was done in the last 3 years was horrible. They will push with all their might the line that this govt was "the worst since Whitlam".

They will make Rudd a by-word for incompetence. And because history is told by the winners it will become the truth in many people's eyes. After all, they will think, it is wasn't true, why did they lose?

Checkers - I actually will be taking a week off after the election - I'm moving house and will be probably be without the interntet for couple days.

sm said...

Thanks as usual. Been a very long week, next week should start intense but I think by Thursday it will have set one way of the other.

I suspect like Possum suggested months ago, it will probably boil down to who runs the better marginal seat campaigns. There will no doubt be surprises either way.

I think if there has been any winner this election it has been the online realm. I feel that the real conversations have been taken place on Twitter and places like here. Look forward to reading about things not so politically intense

dedalus said...

Grog, I think you're missing the point about Latham. First, the guy has guts. Second, as someone who almost became pm of this country, he would know more about the inner workings of the political system than all the media commentators combined. Third, and for me most importantly, he satirises the commentariat and shows them up for what they are - a pack of hyenas who can't get all that much right and certainly can't rise above the level of journalistic cliche.

RodH said...

Nicely said, Grog, and pretty much my own thoughts w, with one exception.

If Abbott loses, I suspect he will very quickly face a lot of "heat" from within the party.

Sure, some people are saying he did "better than expected", but the only time in this campaign when Labor was actually losing votes had next to nothing to do with Abbott. It was the period when it was Labor versus the Media, when every question, every opinion piece, every news story, ever image and every lead story on every news bulletin was about "leaks' or "Rudd".

It gave Abbott a huge leg up - bringing the Libs back to "level pegging" at the very least.

But Abbott failed completely to capitalise on it. He was, it now seems, unable to turn any of the disgruntled into real voters for the coalition. He didn't have the ability to push out any sort of positive message in terms of policy to present the opposition as a viable alternative. He simply persisted with little more endless recitations of the "GBNT, stop the boats , stop the waste" mantra that the public have got so utterly bored with at a time when he needed to shift into a different gear. (He is still doing it this morning. It sounds less and less convincing every time he opens his mouth).

People in the Liberal party are going to very quickly notice (if they haven't already, that Abbott simply couldn't "convert", despite being given a seemingly heaven sent opportunity to win by the media. My bet is that they will spit him out quicker than a rotten oyster.

You can already see the signs in some of the News Ltd coverage today.

DR_WHO said...

RodH ahas it right.

Abbott can't claim to have ownership of how the Libs do in this election because he hasn't been Real Tony. He's been the carefully stage-managed recipient of the ALP's woes. The minute attention turned to Tony, the polls swung the other way.

If the Libs lose, he's gone, if they win, he won't have much of a hold on the party because it wasn't him that won.

Checkers said...

This election is Abbott's one & only shot at the top job. He will not get any second chances, and if he loses he will be replaced before too long.

And with a bit of luck the Libs will heed the message from the electorate and move back towards the centre a bit.

dedalus said...

Hi Grog
Just wanted to say that long piece on the rooty hill fiasco by anonymous on aug 12 was probably the strongest piece I've read so far anywhere during this election. Better even than Bob Ellis.

the bogan whisperer said...

tony abbott will be the smell that surrounds the liberal leadership the rest of his career. he knows and loves nothing but the parliamentary fight. he will lose this electon and will always fight to be liberal leader. never assume that the liberals won't be too stupid to make him grand wizard yet again.