Of the many commentators in both print and blog media who’ve written their views, I think the most accurate were, Margo Kingston and Ross Gittins. My main views:
First, the poll-driven choice of Beazley as the anti-Crean candidate turned the ballot into a referendum on the ‘small target strategy’ run by Beazley (advised by Swan and Smith) in 2001. My waning hopes for the Federal ALP have been strengthened slightly by the fact that Beazley was so thoroughly beaten.
Second, having positioned himself as the ‘policy’ candidate, Crean now has to actually deliver on this. In particular, , he has to decide whether he’s for lower taxes or higher services. At present, as Ross Gittins points out, Labor is the ‘denial of opportunity cost’ party. Of course, this is true to some extent of all opposition parties.
Given the absence of any serious policy initiatives from Labor for the past seven years, and the sporadic attention of the government to anything more than triumphalism and wedge politics, a serious policy program could make a big impact.
Third, and assuming he meets the policy test, Crean’s position has been strengthened by this episode. He called Beazley’s bluff, faced him down and beat him decisively, and, in the process, acquired some sort of identity. I don’t know whether this will be reflected in the polls, but it should be.