Home > Oz Politics > I may be some little time …

I may be some little time …

March 12th, 2013

Paul Norton has a post at LP, summed up by the teaser

current poll support for the election of an Abbott-led Coalition government is soft and brittle. Yet it exists, and persists. And voter opinion of what the Federal Labor government has actually done is not all that unfavourable. Yet people don’t think the government deserves to be reelected. What are we to make of this?

I don’t think it takes a genius to work out that a sufficient explanation for this paradox is the personal unpopularity (among a large group of voters, detestation) of Julia Gillard. Other factors may be relevant, but most of them are exacerbated by the leadership problem. In particular, the Obeid scandal is made worse for Federal Labor by the perception that Gillard is beholden to the same machine operators (Arbib, Bitar, Conroy and ultimately Graeme Richardson) who put Obeid in a position to corrupt the entire NSW Party.

For the sake of argument, let’s grant that this is all the result of misperceptions and bad press and that Gillard is both likeable at a personal level and someone with a “steely determination” to get the job done for Labor. It’s obvious, by now (and regardless of marginal fluctuations in polls) that this perception is not going away within six months. In these circumstances, wouldn’t a leader who cared about her colleagues, or one who was determined to do the best thing for the country, decide that this was the time to talk a walk into the snow, and give the rest of the party a shot at survival?

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  1. Uncle Milton
    March 12th, 2013 at 18:34 | #1

    In fairness to Conroy, I don’t think he had anything to do with Obeid’s rise to power.

  2. March 12th, 2013 at 19:20 | #2

    Undoubtably true JQ, and if there was a Bob Hawke waiting in the wings, it would happen. But Rudd pissed off so many of his colleagues in two and half near wasted years in the Lodge that it beggars belief they’d go back to him. Maybe I am wrong, I don’t know. But who is there that doesn’t owe it all to factions and patronage? There’s even less “dynamic range” in the Opposition. There’s something in the structural side of politics now (I guess the steep decline in party membership and activism through party structures, in large part caused by the way our members are elected in a media saturated world) that selects for people who are not strong on policy or originality. There’s a dire need for something fresh to come along. Can’t see it.

  3. John Quiggin
    March 12th, 2013 at 19:30 | #3

    @Uncle Milton

    He’s a machine operator on whom Gillard depends and who is compromised by his association with Obeid, but I agree he didn’t actually help Obeid’s rise.

  4. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2013 at 19:36 | #4

    you know my thought on this so i’ll get to the point.

    in my opinion, gillard did her country a grave disserve when she toppled rudd & then caved in totally to the multinational mining corporations. i don’t know how many voters see it this way but i sure as hell do – its my idee fixe, its the albatross around her neck as far as i’m concerned. she also did her career, her reputation, and her legacy a disservice at the same time, but i couldn’t give a flying eff in rolling donut for them.

    in my opinion, rudd was for standing firm & would certainly have prevailed if he hadn’t been removed as the crisis peaked & the public’s attention waned.

    in my opinion, the conspirators & their patrons knew this & knew they had to stop rudd before it was too late – before the caravan of public opinion followed the pipers of the press on to the next issue & rudd would win by default.

    in my opinion, gillard’s ambition was their tool & they chose their tool well.

    the reason i despise gillard, and will never reconcile to her participation in the removal of rudd by low life in the service of multinationals, is because, effectively, she wittingly or unwittingly, sold out her country in a crisis to further her career. tanner was right, she’s an amoral careerist, nothing more. -a.v.

  5. Jim Rose
    March 12th, 2013 at 19:52 | #5

    Labour and its policies and brand are unpopular. 66% of voters want someone else.

  6. Chris Warren
    March 12th, 2013 at 20:26 | #6

    Jim Rose :
    Labour and its policies and brand are unpopular. 66% of voters want someone else.

    As usual your facts are wrong. The latest poll puts Labor at 48%. And the rightwing capitalists are particularly rejected, see:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-12/gillard-regains-preferred-pm-title-newspoll/4566466

    62% of adults want someone else than Abbott.

    In Canberra, things are worse, no-one wants Liberal rat, Zed Selselja, except perhaps for 114 Liberal Party members he managed to corral into his covert power-play.

  7. TerjeP
    March 12th, 2013 at 20:35 | #7

    I reject the notion that the Liberals are capitalists. People who truly believed in capitalism wouldn’t do half the stuff the Liberals do.

  8. Fran Barlow
    March 12th, 2013 at 20:42 | #8

    I would object on a number of grounds to the claims you make in this topic Professor.

    1. It’s not clear that Rudd’s ostensible relative popularity owes anything to circumstances peculiar to him. The guns of the media have been trained unrelentingly on Gillard and those same guns would be turned on Rudd, were he to be reinstated. He could no more ‘run on his record’ than Gillard could in 2010, and perhaps less so, since she had been in 2010 a key member of the leadership group.

    2. The February 2011 challenge commentary would be trotted out. ALP in-fighting and hatred would be the key theme, and they could not avoid claims of being purely poll and media driven.

    3. If the ALP lost — as they surely would in such circumstances, they’d have self-inflicted an existential wound, having in successive elections tossed aside their leader on the eve of an election to satisfy the Murdoch press. It is one thing to lose, and even, lose badly, and quite another to be revealed by one’s own acts as standing for nothing and being in organisational terms, entirely a creature of the MBCM. Who with any self-respect could stay in such a party? It would be profoundly shameful.

    4. Rudd was as much a creature of factions linked to Obeid as Gillard. He was only chosen because the factions trusted each other not at all and accepted a marketable candidate who was of neither. The ‘left’ faction accepted Rudd as a compromise at the behest of the right. Rudd fell when the right deserted him. Nobody in the leadership group of the ALP can be above factions.

  9. Sam
    March 12th, 2013 at 20:45 | #9

    They’re buggered either way. If she left, it would cement the feeling of Labor not being in control of itself. Either way, it’s probably terminal.

  10. Fran Barlow
    March 12th, 2013 at 20:50 | #10

    @TerjeP

    People who truly believed in capitalism wouldn’t do half the stuff the Liberals do.

    Capitalism is too incoherent to be something in which one can ‘truly believe’. It’s a set of ill-defined appetites and impulses and fear and loathing mapped onto the existing structures of private property and their associated governance.

    People who ‘believe in’ capitalism believe that it should work to serve them alone, and if only they knew what it was exactly that would serve them best, they would know what they truly believed. Sadly, we have only the words of such folk rather than their beliefs, and they are in sharp contrast with the words of other ‘true-believing’ capitalists.

    The two major parties are full of such believers and they appear to be able to agree only in the necessity of shoving others far enough away from the trough to scarf down more than their share. That’s as true a belief in capitalism as one can expect of them.

  11. March 12th, 2013 at 20:53 | #11

    @Jim Rose

    Jim Rose is right for once.

    Labor and its neo-liberal, xenophobic, cruel, warmongering, climate-destroying, free-market fundamentalist, rabidly pro-Israel/US, news ltd toadying policies – are unpopular.

    Very unpopular.

    The faceless men know this and couldn’t care less. They are serving ‘higher’ masters than we simple citizens. I still can’t fathom why there are any Labor supporters out there at all.

    What is it? Nostalgia? Blind faith? Hope prevailing over decades of experience? Unthinking team loyalty?

    PS: re Rudd having another go – two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s precisely that sort of shadowy backroom stuff that the electorate despises about this crowd. In a fairy world far far away perhaps Gillard would do a public ‘mea culpa’ and gracefully hand the leadership back to Rudd. A kind of bloodless abdication for the greater good etc..

  12. TerjeP
    March 12th, 2013 at 21:00 | #12

    Megan – people so dislike neo-liberal market fundamentalism that they are prepared to vote for the Liberals. I suppose that stands to reason.

  13. Jill Rush
    March 12th, 2013 at 21:12 | #13

    Julia Gillard is far from terminal as a Prime Minister. There are fair men and women who realise that the Murdoch media dump on every initiative she undertakes and also that the Newspoll cycle is often the lead story. However the MSM seems to be out of touch with a lot of what is being thought.

    I know that Prof Q is a Kevin Rudd man but he is also yesterday’s man. There is no going back.

    Tony Abbott, as a man’s man who is unwilling and unable to call his supporters to heel despite the use of dog whistles, has shown clearly that women will not feature in any policies of a government he leads. Women who have always been conservative voters are worried about the way that the Liberals are behaving towards Julia Gillard. There will be many women who will change their votes based on the fear of changes to Medicare in relation to abortion or superannuation or school payments.

    The hate campaign in the MSM is doing damage to the PM but it is also being seen by more people as bilious. The election results are far from assured despite the MSM and many male commentators singing from the same song sheet.

    Obeid not only infected the NSW Labor right but rich people connected to the Liberal Party. His particular kind of poison is something that the rest of the country abhores but sees as a NSW disease. That is a pox on everyone’s house.

    Tony Abbott may well regret the fact that he didn’t complain today in Parliament when the PM was subjected to nasty name calling based on gender. He is no gentleman and is the best thing going for the PM.

  14. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2013 at 21:16 | #14

    Jim Rose :
    Labour and its policies and brand are unpopular. 66% of voters want someone else.

    @Jim Rose
    the point is that the labor brand is less unpopular when its sold without the lightening rod. -a.v.

  15. March 12th, 2013 at 21:21 | #15

    @TerjeP

    Yes, strange isn’t it? Apart from the binary nature of our democracy – agrarian socialists still seem to hold residual cache as being the lesser of the two neo-liberal machines on offer to those voters.

  16. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2013 at 21:35 | #16

    rudd’s the only one with charisma & sufficient gravitas. he’s made it clear they have to ask him back. the biggest impediment to that is gillard’s ego. he could run on the fact of his return: odysseus comes home. and socks it to whom among the suitors? to the multinationals? maybe, could he do worse than gillard? to the factions, of course! to be credible he needs to be asked back & given a mandate to clean up the factions. that’s sellable. and the voters who followed his rise on sunrise know he was cut down before his work was finished, before his time. -a.v.

  17. Jill Rush
    March 12th, 2013 at 21:46 | #17

    Oh goodnes alfred venison Julia Gillard has an ego. Of course not one of the previous PMs has ever had that. Nor has Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull or Kevin Rudd. Rudd won’t be asked back because although he has charisma he has some other failures of personality which his colleagues saw up close.

  18. rog
    March 12th, 2013 at 21:48 | #18

    There’s a lot to not like about Gillard, both in politics and in policy, but consider the alternatives – under Abbott

    No to climate change/ETS
    No to equality in education (Gonsky)
    No to equality in health
    No to FTTH
    Yes to austerity

  19. John Quiggin
    March 12th, 2013 at 22:04 | #19

    @Fran If Gillard stepped aside voluntarily, then these negatives would be avoided and there would be some chance of victory (a good one, according to the polls) or at least of stopping Abbott from controlling the Senate.

    @Jill When would say she becomes terminal? After September 14.? As I said in the post, fair or not, the mass of the public have written her off. If you want to make a case for some third candidate feel free, but misguided loyalty to a doomed leader will lead to disaster, as we’ve seen in several elections recently

  20. rog
    March 12th, 2013 at 22:11 | #20

    One thing very much in Rudds favour (and probably what had him deposed) is that he is against the factions incl those that supported Obeid.

  21. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2013 at 22:26 | #21

    @Jill Rush
    “personality which his colleagues saw up close.”
    i’m more intersted in the personality seen by those other colleagues who support him now.

    and none of those other egos you cite have yet sold out their country in a crisis to take a job that was theirs anyway in the fullness of time & when doing so gives multinationals a free ticket out of the crisis with their super profits intact. your country was rolled by multinationals & gillard was the tool their thanes used to do it. that’s what’s special about her ego. -a.v.

  22. Katz
    March 12th, 2013 at 22:31 | #22

    Julia Gillard isn’t a gallant gentleman.

  23. Jill Rush
    March 12th, 2013 at 22:32 | #23

    Prof Q, It may be terminal after Sept 14 or not. John Howard was written off in the months leading up to elections too and even went on to win occasionally. I am not showing misguided loyalty but thinking about political realities.
    However your push for Kevin Rudd does appear to be of the misguided loyalty kind. There are certainly a lot of men who seem to be uncomfortable with a female in the lodge judging by the sexist and violent language that has become the norm when discussing the PM.
    Whilst you say that people have written her off I know that many decent conservative people are most uncomfortable at the baying of the hounds of the press as they answer their dog whistle.

  24. Jill Rush
    March 12th, 2013 at 22:37 | #24

    alfred venison – It seems that you haven’t heard about the sales to Japan by Pig Iron Bob which was certainly selling out the country. It seems however that having an egotistical leader is only wrong when that leader is female.

  25. March 12th, 2013 at 23:36 | #25

    OK, the ‘John Howard’ defence:

    http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/shipdetails.aspx?MMSI=257497000

    Well the “Tampa” isn’t too far away. Perhaps the ALP could organise a 2013 re-run to get them across the line. Worked for Howard! (At least he was original-ish, and actually stood for bigotry, racism, refugee-bashing, illegal wars, environmental destruction etc.. rather than pretending he didn’t).

  26. Roxee
    March 13th, 2013 at 03:24 | #26

    The MSM are talking well of Rudd because it suits their purposes. If Rudd took over the leadership it would not change their reporting style imho. Rupert wants the party in that will get rid of the NBN’s FTTH. Gina et al wants the party in that will get rid of the MRRT and market based emissions trading. The fact that the party they are trying to get elected will impose idelogically driven austerity on the population is irrelevant to the media barons. They only care about their profits and will do whatever it takes to secure them.

  27. alfred venison
    March 13th, 2013 at 05:54 | #27

    “It seems however that having an egotistical leader is only wrong when that leader is female.”
    oh bollocks, not that tired old trope again! -a.v.

  28. Ken Fabian
    March 13th, 2013 at 07:28 | #28

    Pr. Quiggin I think that you are flogging a dead horse – a Rudd push now is going to be damaging, not healing. After the damage of his last long drawn out “I’m not challenging” challenge I think Rudd lost a lot of his lustre. With a hostile media determined to portray every difference within Labor as major division – and itching to see Gillard brought low – a rerun of leadership ructions is something they would fall on with glee. It’s not like they have to make it up completely when there are ongoing calls for Rudd to replace Gillard. They won’t spin it into a “Labor reborn, hopes revived” story but into a Labor is self-destructing and can’t function one.

    I thought his position on climate was flawed – a carbon trading scheme that he wasn’t prepared to fight for on top of unwavering support for the coal boom. I still recall his address to the UN urging the rapid development of clean coal technology – which I read as code for Australia isn’t going to stop digging up and selling coal, no matter what, so you (others) better come up with a solution that doesn’t involve replacing coal or leaving it in the ground.

  29. Tony Lynch
    March 13th, 2013 at 07:50 | #29

    At least the ALP will fall on a principle – the principle of sticking with a Leader through thick and thin – you know, like Julia did.

  30. Jill Rush
    March 13th, 2013 at 08:35 | #30

    Alfred venison – dismissing something as a trope does not change the fact that the criticism you made of the PM is that she has an ego as if this isn’t a prerequisite for the job. In and of itself it is not the problem.
    The push for the re-installation of Kevin Rudd is something that is being heavily pushed by the News Corporation. It sells papers and destabilises the government. If Kevin Rudd was re-installed it would be a nano second before they would cut him down too. He is an incredible speaker and I appreciate his intelligence and he certainly would make a great senior diplomat in the next phase of his career. However he is not the saviour.
    Reinforcing the denigration that papers such as the Australian have made their daily breakfast for angry old white men by taking the criticisms as valid and repeating them as if they are set in stone is stupid. We saw that last year when there was such an uproar when Tony Abbott pretended that he was a friend of women and the PM called him out. The MSM were as usual of one voice as they were last week about the trip of the PM to the Western Suburbs of Sydney.
    There are problems in the country and one of them is that there is too little critical thought and too much repetition of limited points of view. It surprises me to find them on this blog.

  31. John Quiggin
    March 13th, 2013 at 08:42 | #31

    To repeat myself, if

    (1) Labor is doomed under Gillard, barring a miracle; and
    (2) A contested ballot to bring back Rudd would be as disastrous as claimed

    then why is Gillard hanging on? Even making way for a third candidate like Stephen Smith would reduce the likely damage. By far the best thing she could do for the party is to go quietly. Can her supporters here explain why she doesn’t.

  32. m0nty
    March 13th, 2013 at 08:58 | #32

    Labor is not doomed under Gillard, Prof Q. They can win from 52:48 six months out. You are allowing your support for Rudd to cloud your judgement of poll numbers.

    Last time Rudd challenged, he got wiped by 40 votes. The only way Rudd can regain the leadership is if his opponent withdraws, which is what you’re agitating for. That would be like Michael Clarke asking the English cricket team to forfeit the Ashes. No, that’s not going to happen.

    Gillard does not need a miracle. She needs to keep delivering on popular policies, chief among them the NBN. She needs to wait for Abbott and his terrible front bench to stuff up, and minimise her own side’s mistakes.

    She also needs Rudd backers to stop destabilising the leadership. I could ask you a question: given Rudd is zero chance to be elected leader of the ALP prior to the election, why are you holding on to supporting him? By far the best thing you Rudd backers could do for the party is work towards the re-election of Labor. Can you explain why you don’t?

  33. Jill Rush
    March 13th, 2013 at 09:19 | #33

    The key word in your question is “if”. What you propose is far from certain and Tony Abbot will come under increased scrutiny as the potential PM as time goes on. He certainly didn’t produce the goods yesterday when he said nothing about the sexist abuse directed at the PM. In fact he enjoyed it. The MSM is leading you down a path to disaster by helping Rudd destabilise Labor. It gives no-one any faith that he understands why he was forced out as PM.

  34. Ken Fabian
    March 13th, 2013 at 09:55 | #34

    I’m not sure I rate as a Gillard supporter, just that no-one really stands out as significantly better. Would Smith get the unanimity of support, even if Gillard resigned? Or want to risk his future opportunities by taking over a party in trouble? There isn’t the party discipline to make such a passing of the baton smooth and free of stumbles. It’s a rare leader that thinks others can do the job better – no doubt such self-confidence is a prerequisite to aspiring to lead. I think Gillard is competent enough but not so noble as that.

    In any case I’m dubious that swapping leaders will do the job as I’m not sure the problem resides in Gillard – and therefore won’t be solved that way. Even when not stabbing their leader in the back, too many look inclined to shoot themselves and their party in the foot. There really doesn’t appear to be any viable alternative but making the ‘getting on with the job’ rhetoric as real as possible.

    It would help if Labor actually appeared to have their hearts in some of their policies and were not so apt to jump at their opponent’s dog whistles. Carbon pricing is something they have every appearance of wishing they’d never done and even if putting the boot into asylum seekers seems to get more cheers than boo’s there’s more respect to be had by showing some heart and backbone than by trying to be noted for kicking hardest.

  35. Tony Lynch
    March 13th, 2013 at 09:59 | #35

    JQ, on the evidence this bunch i) really want to go into opposition; ii) believe in miracles; and/or iii) exhibit (as I said above) a loyalty to those who themselves showed none of it.

  36. TerjeP
    March 13th, 2013 at 11:02 | #36

    JQ – I doubt she will go quietly even if it is the best thing for her parties fortunes.

  37. Hal9000
    March 13th, 2013 at 11:41 | #37

    @Fran Barlow
    Hear, hear! In response to your question, Prof Q, Fran’s point 3. See NSW for illustration of how well leadership changes work out in the electorate.

    I don’t believe Gillard has no chance, and counselling despair is to wish for a self-fulfilling prophesy. There is every reason to believe that this quarter’s MMRT receipts will be substantial, and this will focus attention on what Abbott plans to do – i.e. tax wage earners and cut services to pensioners in order to gift money to the likes of Rinehart. There is still plenty can and indeed may happen between now and the time voters actually start to think about voting.

    Just because the media focus on leadership to the total exclusion of all else does not mean leadership is the only or indeed major issue. It is generally true to say that leadership popularity polls tell you nothing at all about actual voting – Howard was never popular, for example. Moreover, 2pp voting intention polls were as dire for Howard as they are for Gillard this far out from an election on at least two occasions I’m aware of.

    If anyone needs to be jettisoned now, it’s Swan. The man is congenitally incapable of communicating anything except confusion and petulance, and gives a faultless impersonation of someone who does not understand his subject matter.

  38. Fran Barlow
    March 13th, 2013 at 12:12 | #38

    @John Quiggin

    Disclaimer: I am NOT a Gillard supporter, or even a friend of the ALP.

    1. I don’t agree that anything like a miracle is required for the ALP to win on Septmeber 14. All it requires is for the part of the election where the Liberals are forced to account for their policies specifically and incontrovertibly to arrive. If that occurs, (it didn’t really arrive in 2010, which is largely why they did so well) then the coalition which is (hanging together entirely on a “not ALP, hate Julia Gillard” + tribal Liberals basis) will fracture and their unfitness to govern will become clear to enough people to either return the ALp or protect them from a major loss.

    2. It is very clear that the LNP will not be able to govern effectively even if they do win, as they have done no policy work — a consequence of the media running interference for them. They are going to have to devise policy while implementing it. That will in short order reveal them as the misanthropic divided empty-headed or dogmatic blusterers they are. They probably won’t see out their term, but even if they do, the lesson should be salutary. In such circumstances, what the ALP needs is to be able to point to their record of implementing policy and build on this for the future. One thing that opposition will allow is for them to revisit key areas where they’ve had problems — asylum seekers, the MRRT and of course carbon pricing. Not all losses are bad.

    Also, it would allow the ALP to act to finally remove their running sores — Rudd and the corrupt elements in the NSW ALP.

    What they must do, in their own interest, is stand or fall by the current leadership. To declare that their leadership team can be vetted by Murdoch and the baying bands of yappy puppies trailing after his howling dogs would be the worst of all worlds, not merely for the ALP but for the left–of-centre cause fore generally in Australia. If even the generals abandon the field and beging offering up their leaders to the enemy, why should the infantry bother to care about the army?

  39. Alan
    March 13th, 2013 at 12:19 | #39

    When Gillard was elected, I was initially pleased and thought she would be a great prime minister. She had lost me by the end of the 2-1-election campaign with the ridiculous positions on climate change (remember the Citizens Assembly?), refugees, and marriage equality. The campaign itself is widely regarded as the feeblest in living memory.

    The worst gaffe out of many was the ‘real Julia’ trope,made worse by the fact that there was no difference at all between the robotic performances of pre-real Julia and post-real Julia. The very fact of the leadership coup made it impossible for Labor to play its strongest card, the GFC response, both because Gillard initially opposed those measures in cabinet and it would concede the obvious truth that in a major crisis Rudd conducted his government with nothing like the weaknesses the Gillard clique accused him of. Candidates were actively instructed not to mention the GFC and you ended up with a purely negative focus on WorkChoices.

    Since that time the great negotiator has reduced the mining tax to a joke by concessions to the mining sector, adopted all and more of the ‘deterrent’ measures that Howard applied to refugees arriving by boat, agreed to US basing in the Northern Territory, and continued and expanded Howard’s income management schemes, agreed to return environmental regulation to the States, and more or less strangled Gonski at birth. Only a caucus revolt prevented Gillard from casting Australia’s vote in favour of Israel at the UN in a way that no Australian government has ever done. Even she had lost the debate in the cabinet, Gillard at first simply declared it was a matter of the ‘leader’s prerogative’, whatever that may be. It took a caucus vote to instruct her to abstain.

    Although Gonski legislation has passed it includes a peculiar clause that makes the law meaningless until a funding model is amended into the law and there is no prospect of that happening before the election.

    Gillard’s sole contribution tot he art of government may prove to be the Gonski clause where you pass legislation that provides it has no legislative effect. The NSW Right’s passion for announceables lives on.

    Some Gillard supporters are pointing to the latest Newspoll as evidence that the government has a chance. That accepts the validity of the numbers in that poll. One of the numbers in that poll is that if Rudd were leader the labor primary vote would be 47% instead of 32%. That would be a landslide victory to Labor. Another number is that the opposition would win the election by a large majority. That result was supported by a poll of 4 electorates in Western Sydney, published last week in the fairfax press, where Gilalrd would lose all 4 and Rudd would retain 2.

    It’s said that if Rudd were leader he would be shitstormed by the Murdoch press, The weakness in that argument is that he has already been shitstormed by the Gillard clique and it has not significantly reduced his electoral standing. I agree completely that eh would be shitstormed by the Murdochracy. It hasn’t worked so far and there’s no reason to think it would work any better if he were leader.

    The other thing about Rudd is that he is capable of change. When first elected to parliament, he was a shocker at campaigning. He taught himself how to campaign with the results we saw in 2007 and the results we see now. MPs run like rabbits when the prime minister comes near their electorate. Ditto opposition leaders in state elections. Rudd is avalanched with requests to campaign with MHRs. My hope is that Rudd can learn how to run a more cohesive government. His great advantage over his last try is that he would not have a deputy like the present prime minister.

    Leaders don’t get the advantage of the stick to the leader principle when they shafted a previous leader in 2010. The most spectacular case of not sticking to the leader was 1983 when Hawke became opposition leader the day the house of representatives was dissolved. As we all know that led to be an electoral disaster and ensured a Labor loss. Um. not so much.

  40. Fran Barlow
    March 13th, 2013 at 12:22 | #40

    PS: IMO, whether Gillard stood aside and invited her supporters to choose Rudd or were rolled seems to me a distinction without a difference. I doubt the caucus would choose Rudd anyway. Gillard’s supporters — those most likely to accept her direction — would surely be aggrieved that she had fallen on her sword in large part because the trolling campaign of the Rudd supporters had whiteanted here into an irretrievable position. Cheats shouldn’t prosper would surely apply.

    Of course in that case, the stepping aside would achieve nought and simply underline the ‘dysfunction’ memes that would are already running in the MBCM.

    Nobody serious would step up — and by that I mean Crean — who would come as the insipid man to oversee the defeat.

  41. may
    March 13th, 2013 at 12:59 | #41

    alfred venison :“It seems however that having an egotistical leader is only wrong when that leader is female.”oh bollocks, not that tired old trope again! -a.v.

    calling ” old trope ” doesn’t stop the layered perceptions

    1) that the prime minister is operating from an egoist centre.

    2) that the prime minister is in the eyes of (dare i say all) religion flouting gods law.

    3) that the prime minister is an especially bad liar,worse than any politition ever.

    4) that the cave in to the mining business political party brought in less revenue than the first edition.

    as far as the NSW corruption saga goes.
    isn’t it amazing how quiet the broadcasting industry has gone now the ripples have spread to “respected business identities”and related monies paid to the conservative political election campaign and both QLD and federal upper echelon conservative identities have been shown to be connected.

    as far as “what to make of this” goes there is in todays nufin a small eye tweak at the bottom of an article would seem to cover it.
    two words had (inadvertantly) been run together.

    the eye tweak?

    abbot steam

    soh

    it seems a red herring strategy of leading scrutiny away from coalition policies is the conservative policy.

    in the west the public transport system is in for a rough time,another three years of cost savings via maintainance reduction/elimination.
    a train broke down in an inner city suburb the other day,the people had to pull the doors open to get out.

  42. may
    March 13th, 2013 at 13:42 | #42

    (inadvertantly)

    or

    (inadvertantly?)

  43. kevin1
    March 13th, 2013 at 13:55 | #43

    @Ken Fabian #34
    “It would help if Labor actually appeared to have their hearts in some of their policies and were not so apt to jump at their opponent’s dog whistles.”

    Gillard barrackers here think if we all stopped talking about leadership the problem would go away and a miracle will result, but from where? I didn’t see the footage, but it is reported that when asked for examples of 457 visa manipulation, she couldn’t give an example! This should be a sackable offence for the adviser, but Gillard’s unpreparedness shows no political nous on her part. Who believes the idea that the masses respond to grand declarations pulled out of the air without stories illustrating the problem? A problem which seems to one be of enforcement under her watch, and according to the Canberra narrative it has emerged overnight – is this going to be credible with voters?

    Yet I can give her an example from her own electorate: on a number of occasions recently, TV in Melb showed a picket line of skilled workers watching helicopters flying in foreign workers for jobs they had been excluded from consideration for, possibly they were blacklisted. How big the incidence is is another issue. Without the govt sharing more info., many voters will conclude it is an example of fakery and confected outrage for political mileage.

    Yes Rudd was found out to be mortal, but the polls continue to put him up on a pedestal. On this blog as elsewhere, we mostly spend time divining the meaning of poll numbers, including how fluid they are. What can we know about the national mood? I don’t have survey figures at hand but I think there have been psychological measures done – is anybody aware of this? My subjective impression (I invite evidence to the contrary) is that there is a secular rise in feelings of uncertainty and fear of the future, perhaps connected to the political powerlessness people feel and the “chaos and confusion” meme promoted. Remember how Workchoices was the winning factor in 2007 – the LNP couldn’t see that power distribution in the workplace was a strong motivator. My impression is that this is a large part of Rudd’s contemporary appeal – he sounds like he cares and can be trusted. In this respect he brings something Abbott and Gillard clearly lack.

    I agree that there is a risk that G stepping down and R coming back as PM is a bad look and manipulative because it lacks a rationale other than winning. Yet he does not undermine G in public and that should be regarded as important by Labor MPs– he’s not a Latham lashing out against all and sundry. Is it at all possible that the peace pipe could be smoked, and Gillard find a way to get him back on the front bench? For example, if Bob Carr’s prevarications about Eddie Obeid tarnish him sufficiently and he goes, Rudd should be restored. If MPs really believe as most of us do that Abbott could dismantle so many good things, then they will need to find a way to get their house in order. If Keating and Hawke could put on a public face for so long….

    Unlike others on this blog, I think the power of Murdoch’s gang is on the wane – today’s hysteria over the new media laws is a case of “they dost protesteth too much”, revealing to more people the self-interested defence of their power, and helping Labor’s cause. Labor’s prospects are firmly in its own hands.

  44. John Quiggin
    March 13th, 2013 at 14:04 | #44

    “See NSW for illustration of how well leadership changes work out in the electorate. ”

    That’s what they told us in Queensland. The Gillard loyalists here are using exactly the same arguments as those who urged Qld Labor to stick with Bligh, Fraser and their privatisation program.

    In response to Monty, if the poll average were 52-48 (which would mean some polls going Labor’s way) I’d agree there was some chance of a win – something like 25 per cent. But to pick out the single best poll in months and use that as the basis of the analysis is the kind of thinking that put Mitt Romney in the White House.

    At least Fran appears to concede that Labor will lose with Gillard. Why she prefers this remains unanswered.

  45. Chris Warren
    March 13th, 2013 at 14:14 | #45

    @John Quiggin

    A loss with Gillard may be better than a loss with a recycled Rudd.

  46. John Quiggin
    March 13th, 2013 at 14:15 | #46

    Given the striking loyalty to Gillard displayed here, I have to ask why? The policies on which I’ve paid attention to her are

    1. Equal marriage rights
    2. Government support for religion
    3. Refugees (and now 457 visas)
    4. Carbon pricing (We got the carbon price in the end, but only by the purest fluke)
    5. Mining tax
    6. Fiscal policy (the surplus promise and similar)

    On every one of these she’s been not only bad in substance, but either inconsistent or blatantly hypocritical. Her general rhetoric about values is pretty much the same as that of John Howard, except that she says nice things about unions (in fact, only blue collar unions like the AWU and CFMEU).

    So, what is the basis of her appeal? Given that you’re willing to see Abbott take the Senate rather than try to salvage the situation, there must be something I’m missing.

  47. Sancho
    March 13th, 2013 at 14:16 | #47

    @TerjeP
    They’re too unpopular to win elections alone, so they allied with the rural socialist party.

  48. Fran Barlow
    March 13th, 2013 at 14:24 | #48

    At least Fran appears to concede that Labor will lose with Gillard. Why she prefers this remains unanswered.

    Actually, while I concede that a loss is a serious possibility, I believe a win is at least equally possible. It’s hard to believe that when people are forced to make a choice that most will choose a party merely because they have been urged to hate the alternative. The country just can’t have that many witless people, surely?

    Perhaps this estimation is overly optimistic. Perhaps I’m doing ‘argument from incredulity’ here. Perhaps I just want to think most people aren’t that easily manipulated. Truthfully, I’m not that sure.

    However this may be, to suggest that I ‘prefer this result’ is clearly wrong. I’ve made clear in this place in very strong and colourful terms and quite recently how scandalised I’d be at that — to the chagrin of at least one poster. OTOH, I don’t imagine my sentiment will be decisive in the result, and can’t imagine that the replacement of Julia Gillard with Kevin Rudd or any other leader would predispose something better than what will occur with the status quo. Indeed, I see the downside risk as palpable in such a move.

    Worse still, losing with Kevin Rudd would be worse than losing under Julia Gillard because then the party really would have no basis for touting its achievements over the last three years, since by definition, they’d have repudiated them or would be forced to admit they’d dumped a leader based on nothing but fear of loss.

  49. John Quiggin
    March 13th, 2013 at 15:46 | #49

    “I can’t imagine that the replacement of Julia Gillard with Kevin Rudd or any other leader would predispose something better than what will occur with the status quo.”

    This is what I don’t get. The opinion polls have consistently said that replacing Gillard will help, a lot, and the opinion polls are much more often right than wrong in these matters. The rejection of polling evidence as ‘skewed’ was what did Romney in, and Queensland Labor (the polls predicted the NSW wipeout too, but NSW Labor were beyond salvation). Why do you imagine that your imagination is a better guide to how people will vote than their own statements on the matter?

    Note – this isn’t just to Fran but to anyone who wants to argue that replacing Gillard won’t help. Why do you think the polls are so consistently wrong?

  50. Fran Barlow
    March 13th, 2013 at 15:49 | #50

    @John Quiggin

    On every one of these she’s been not only bad in substance, but either inconsistent or blatantly hypocritical. Her general rhetoric about values is pretty much the same as that of John Howard, except that she says nice things about unions (in fact, only blue collar unions like the AWU and CFMEU).

    Well yes … this is the ALP we are discussing, rather than some left-of-centre party. Rudd (2007) ran as Howard-lite, much as Howard ran as Keating-lite. Rudd was {is?} the head of the Parliamentary Christian Group. I’m not sure but I suspect he might have coined the phrase “people smugglers’ business model”. There’s not a struck match between his style of right-of-centre xenophobic humbug and that of Ms Gillard.

    All that is in question here is how the ALP can avoid avoid losing to an ostensibly even more right-of-centre party than it is, apparently.

    So, what is the basis of her appeal? Given that you’re willing to see Abbott take the Senate rather than try to salvage the situation, there must be something I’m missing.

    I’d regard it as most unlikely that Abbott will take the senate, given that more Libs are up for re-election than ALP/Greens, AIUI. The more troubling probability if they lose is that he won’t take the Senate but that the ALP will roll over and attempt once again to pander to the Liberals right-wing base in an attempt to look ‘responsible’.

    IMO, this is about retaining both the right to claim the last three years of policy as one’s own, and some self-respect — whether they win or not. It has nothing to do with whether Gillard is personally more appealing than Rudd. I find them both egregious.

    Yet I regarded the ouster of Rudd in June of 2010 as mad and shameful with knobs on and would regard the departure of Gillard in exactly the same way, only more so, since we know that the ouster of an elected first term PM did the party nothing but harm.

    Mind you, it perversely helped us Greens. I doubt it would achieve this a second time though.

  51. Fran Barlow
    March 13th, 2013 at 16:02 | #51

    @John Quiggin

    Why do you think the polls are so consistently wrong?

    Because in this case they don’t measure what people who argue as you do, implicitly assume — that things can remain more or less exactly as they are with Rudd instead of Gillard in charge.

    For a start, Rudd is far more popular with Liberal voters. The fact that people intending to vote Liberal prefer to see a sitting ALP PM dumped doesn’t really require much explanation. I note that Turnbull is also much more popular with ALP voters as LotO. The reason for that is obvious.

    Even the ALP voters who prefer Rudd will vote for Gillard if she remains in charge. The sacking/deaprture of Gillard again in an election year, will demand an explanation and of course, there won’t be a flattering explanation. It might even be that the Murdoch press presents Rudd’s return as an admission by the ALP that they don’t believe the time is right after all for a female PM — that even policies they endorse and have said are good are only saleable by a male.

    That would be hypocritical of course, but as the press are not held to standards of ethical integrity that point will be moot, especially since this is not something that they would raise.

    Having claimed a second sitting PM, and having survived longer as LotO than almost every other one, Abbott could claim to be the most impressive LotO ever — an absolute genius. He really would be impregnable — and of course his style of campaigning — basically opportunistic rock-throwing — would become the established approach to political discourse by Liberals. Pardon me if that doesn’t sound like a very good outcome.

    And of course the Mining Council, the Murdochracy and every other ignorant ranter would feel that their day had finally dawned. The Murdochracy would then turn the blowtorch on the regime, speaking of chaos and dysfunction. Pretty soon, Rudd Preferred PM and 2PP would be every bit as bad as Gillard’s — and he’d have to disavow her policies.

  52. Jim Rose
    March 13th, 2013 at 16:06 | #52

    @Chris Warren labour primary vote up 3% to 34%.

    Voters are surprisingly forgiving of corrupt politicians that are otherwise competent. Throw the rascals out is not the winning campaign slogan we might all hope.

    Plenty are re-elected despite obvious corruption in the US. Politicians are elected after time in prison and even impeachment for judicial corruption.

    despite the worst of Peterson and co., Goss in 1989 just got 51% of the primary vote. the nats and libs had 35 seats after 1989 and formed a minority government in 1995.

  53. alfred venison
    March 13th, 2013 at 17:22 | #53

    @Jill Rush

    @may

    ok. there’s nothing wrong with gillard’s ego. the problem is with her amoral super-ego. the one that says its alright to bump off the leader in a crisis he’s finally winning and then cave in totally to the miners demands. she furthered her career by selling her country short. you honestly think i despise gillard because she’s a woman? -a.v.

  54. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2013 at 18:00 | #54

    This may be a little O/T, but it is connected with leadership change – two Liberal State/Territory government coups in a week?

    “NSW disease” is certainly fast-acting when it infects Conservative governments…

  55. Alan
    March 13th, 2013 at 18:06 | #55

    If you search the parliamentary debates at Open Australia for the phrase “business model of the people smugglers” you do not find a single speech or question where Rudd ever used that phrase. Rudd did speak of people smuggling 23 times compared with Gillard 45 times. If you look at users of the whole phrase you find the scores are:

    Chris Bowen 23
    Julia Gillard 15
    Scott Morrison 12
    No-one else gets over 10.

    The phrase was first used in the parliament in 2010.

    At the next Senate election, the numbers are:

    Retiring Senators:
    Coalition 16
    Labor 16
    Greens 3
    Independent 1

    Continuing Senators
    Coalition 16
    Labor 13
    Greens 6
    DLP 1

    I would count the DLP as a safe vote for the Coalition, Xenophon not so much. Xenophon, who almost got 2 quotas in his own right last time, will almost certainly be re-elected.

    Antony Green has a detailed if somewhat outdated discussion. Putting the best possible face on it, and using the recent Newspoll figures, the 2PP under Gillard would be Labor 48/Coalition 52.The 2PP under Rudd would be Labor 56/Coalition 44.

    Which of those sets of numbers do you think is likely to produce a Coalition Senate? How likely do you think it is that Labor will retain all it seats in NSW, QLD and WA where Rudd is most popular and Gillard is least popular?

    The infuriating thing about this whole issue is the way in which people repeatedly aver facts that are simply inaccurate.

  56. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2013 at 18:20 | #56

    There’s not a struck match between his [Rudd's] style of right-of-centre xenophobic humbug and that of Ms Gillard.

    This seems to be pure revisionism, Fran. Rudd had his flaws, but one of his better points was undoubtedly the changes he wrought to asylum seeker policy after winning office, with Chris Evans as Immigration Minister. Those changes have now all been reversed, and more.

  57. Alan
    March 13th, 2013 at 19:55 | #57

    Fran Barlow :
    @John Quiggin

    Why do you think the polls are so consistently wrong?

    Because in this case they don’t measure what people who argue as you do, implic

    Fran Barlow :
    @John Quiggin

    Why do you think the polls are so consistently wrong?

    Even the ALP voters who prefer Rudd will vote for Gillard if she remains in charge.
    That would be hypocritical of course, but as the press are not held to standards of ethical integrity that point will be moot, especially since this is not something that they would raise.
    Having claimed a second sitting PM, and having survived longer as LotO than almost every other one, Abbott could claim to be the most impressive LotO ever — an absolute genius. He really would be impregnable — and of course his style of campaigning — basically opportunistic rock-throwing — would become the established approach to political discourse by Liberals. Pardon me if that doesn’t sound like a very good outcome.
    And of course the Mining Council, the Murdochracy and every other ignorant ranter would feel that their day had finally dawned. The Murdochracy would then turn the blowtorch on the regime, speaking of chaos and dysfunction. Pretty soon, Rudd Preferred PM and 2PP would be every bit as bad as Gillard’s — and he’d have to disavow her policies.

    Even the ALP voters who prefer Rudd will vote for Gillard if she remains in charge.
    And of course the Mining Council, the Murdochracy and every other ignorant ranter would feel that their day had finally dawned.

    How can you possibly make this statement when Newspoll shows that the labor primary vote would increase from 33% under Gillard to 47% under Rudd?

    Why would the Mining Council want to see the back of Gillard when she reduced the mining tax to a joke and then agreed to subsidise them by having the Commonwealth meet any increased royalties levied by the states?

    And if the Murdochracy is going to campaign Rudd what new stuff do they have that is going to dent his electoral standing after Gillard has already thrown all the mud she could think of?

    I suggest to you a simple and more rational analysis. Rudd is more popular because his profram is not a grab bag of ill-informed populist rightwing shibboleths like Gillard’s. Or do you actually think that inspirational policies like the motorway into the Sydney CBD are a good idea?

  58. March 13th, 2013 at 20:07 | #58

    The Fairfax media has an opinion piece today which is on topic:

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/life-under-abbott-please-dont-panic-20130312-2fyet.html#comments

    I find the comments on these pieces interesting and informative. At a rough guess – more than 60% of commenters are either one-eyed party faithful hacks or professional trolls.

    Reading between the lines, the “talking points” for cheerleaders from the ALP & LNP are identical. They both seem to have been instructed to ferociously attack the suggestion that there really isn’t much material difference between the two leading political franchises on offer.

    It’s like stumbling into a passionate argument between Coles and Woolworths shoppers about which is the best place to get Kellog’s cornflakes – surreal.

  59. Jill Rush
    March 13th, 2013 at 21:45 | #59

    “Why do you think the polls are so consistently wrong? ”

    I don’t think the polls are wrong I just don’t believe that they are in cement. The polls will inevitably tighten. Once the reality of an Abbott led government sinks in there will be a rush to Katter’s Australia Party, the Greens, Independents and others including Labor. Although the MSM will be slow to acknowledge that Mr Abbott is highly flawed there will certainly be a campaign of another sort waged by Labor to get this message across.

    Now if Malcolm Turnbull were leader of the Opposition there would be no hope for PM Gillard. Since the Liberals will show the same antipathy to that change as Labor have to Rudd it will be game on and a contest will emerge.

    While it is popular (especially in the monopoly press) to write the election off the volatility in the polls suggests that there are significant numbers that are there for the winning – perhaps not the misogynists and tea partiers who have crawled out of the woodwork in the last few years but fair minded people who may not like the dog whistling and bad policies but see an Abbott led government as potentially far worse.

  60. Jill Rush
    March 13th, 2013 at 22:04 | #60

    alfred venison – you may not realise that you don’t like Julia Gillard because she is a woman but you betray yourself by criticising her for having an ego and for betraying the previous leader. Both of these things are very common in former PMs – the only difference is that she is a woman and stereotypically she is not meant to behave like that.
    I am sure that like Tony Abbott you love women.

  61. Alan
    March 13th, 2013 at 22:08 | #61

    What volatility in the polls? They have been dreadful since shortly after the 2010 election. They lifted in the second half of 2012 and now they are reverting to the previous pattern. Meanwhile Labor has lost a string of state and territory elections, 3 of them by landslides that not only wiped out Labor but significantly reduced the Greens vote.

  62. March 13th, 2013 at 23:41 | #62

    When Gillard formed a minority government in 2010 the crucial “country independents” (used pejoritavely by the media and LNP) forced some changes to parliamentary procedure – Abbott, reportedly, agreed to those.

    They pretty much got them in place and it would be hard to argue that we are worse off for it.

    The Greens settled for a bit more access to the PM’s office (she screwed them) and protection of some old growth Tasmanian wilderness (she screwed them, again).

    Wilkie, the guy who risked his career (and possibly his life – if we look at Bradley Manning or Julian Assange) to call BS on Howard’s Iraq war lies, only asked for a bit of restraint on pokies in return for support. Not abolition, just a trial of some limits to how much a pokie addict can throw away in a night (she screwed him, too).

    Blind Gillard fans forget all of this but out here in real world people form opinions slowly but hold them tightly. She is simply untrustworthy. No wonder the puppeteers of the knuck-draggers honed in on the idea of “Juliar” – she handed it to them on a silver platter.

  63. Alan
    March 14th, 2013 at 00:14 | #63

    @Megan

    Indeed. She also agreed to the creation of a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner, effectively a federal ICAC, as an item on the agreement with The Greens and with the country independents. The government has done nothing and refused a hearing to the bill moved by Adam Bandt.

    And having promised more independence for the speaker Gillard proceeded to knife Harry Jenkins to get Slipper’s vote, then declared eternal loyalty to Slipper and then knifed him in turn. There are rather a lot of bodies lying about the floor of the house.

  64. alfred venison
    March 14th, 2013 at 06:09 | #64

    Jill Rush
    its not her sex, its that she sold her country short to further her career. she is an amoral careerist. vid. tanner. there is more socialist conviction in one fibre of rudd that in the whole of gillard.
    a.v.

  65. Tony Lynch
    March 14th, 2013 at 09:26 | #65

    For God’s Sake, Let Her Resign!

  66. wilful
    March 14th, 2013 at 11:03 | #66

    Tim Macknay :

    There’s not a struck match between his [Rudd's] style of right-of-centre xenophobic humbug and that of Ms Gillard.

    This seems to be pure revisionism, Fran. Rudd had his flaws, but one of his better points was undoubtedly the changes he wrought to asylum seeker policy after winning office, with Chris Evans as Immigration Minister. Those changes have now all been reversed, and more.

    Indeed, in his resignation speech he warned about what was going to happen.

    Lets not forget that the crisis that initially spurred the leadership spill (dumping the CPRS) was Gillards idea.

    While Rudd had to pay attention to the faceless men such as Bitar and Arbib, Gillard is owned by them.

  67. March 14th, 2013 at 14:15 | #67

    I tend not to drop many responses, but i did
    a few searching and wound up here John Quiggin

  68. han
    March 14th, 2013 at 14:24 | #68

    @Fran Barlow
    “Even the ALP voters who prefer Rudd will vote for Gillard if she remains in charge.”

    Then even the ALP voters who want to stick to Gillard will vote for Rudd too.

    This is exactly the reason why there should be a change back to Rudd. Hardcore Labor voters will always vote for Labor (even if you put Eddie Obeid there as PM), but that group has shrunk to historical low levels now around 30%. The reason Labor under Gillard is in such dire straits is soft Labor voters, lots of Green voters and soft Liberal voters just don’t warm up to her, and it is not hard to understand why (citizen assembly, east timor solution, real julia, opposition to gay marriage despite living in a unorthodox relationship herself, the Israel vote in Cabinet, the questionable association with union crooks in her earlier years, coddling of Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, the crass exploitation of the 457 visa issue …… the list goes on). I think a lot of these voters are the ones who switch their votes to Rudd when given the option in the news poll survey. This probably explains the personal unpopularity of Abbot. These voters dislike Abbot but they also dislike Gillard more, so they grudgingly park their votes to the Coalition waiting for some change.

  69. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 15:12 | #69

    @wilful @TimMacknay

    Indeed, in his resignation speech he warned about what was going to happen.

    And it was hypocritical. Alan may be right in that he never used the ‘people smugglers’ business model’ phrase, but he did call ‘people smugglers’ the scum of the Earth in April of 2009 and later (2011) put his name to a statement invoking the ‘people smugglers business model’ meme. He was the guy in charge of the Pacific Viking matter.

    Rudd had a chance to correct the Beazley error of 2001 and failed to do so, presumably out of the desire to pander. He was as much an author of what we have now in theis area as Gillard.

    Let’s also not forget that he tried to game the ETS to wedge the Greens to his left and the Libs to his right — and then got cold feet and dumped it entirely. He dumped on things he ought to have praised. Then he tried to claw back by a crash through or crash attempt at RSPT. He precipitated the crisis that led to his ouster. The man lacks both acumen and integrity — much like his successor, though in her case, she has actually got some modestly useful things done (plain packaging, carbon pricing, maybe NDIS, NBN) in a hostile parliament along with some real nasties (asylum seekers, Newstart).

    Ultimately, this ought not to be a beauty contest because that is no longer the key thing. The key thing is for the ALP to show some spine in the teeth of fierce aggression by the MBCM.

  70. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 15:16 | #70

    @Email Console

    These voters dislike Abbott but they also dislike Gillard more, so they grudgingly park their votes to the Coalition waiting for some change.

    Anyone who is ‘parking their vote with Abbott’ is not someone the ALP wants to pitch at. Such a person is by definition, ignorant, deluded or reactionary. No person whom one could describe as thoughtful or in some insistent way attached to social justice and equity could contemplate such a course. That would be acting as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

  71. wilful
    March 14th, 2013 at 15:20 | #71

    Fran Barlow :
    @Email Console

    These voters dislike Abbott but they also dislike Gillard more, so they grudgingly park their votes to the Coalition waiting for some change.

    Anyone who is ‘parking their vote with Abbott’ is not someone the ALP wants to pitch at. Such a person is by definition, ignorant, deluded or reactionary. No person whom one could describe as thoughtful or in some insistent way attached to social justice and equity could contemplate such a course. That would be acting as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    Under those conditions, while waiting for enlightenment to occur across Australia, it sounds like you would prefer the very slightly more progressive party to disappear.

    You’re a Naderite.

  72. Tim Macknay
    March 14th, 2013 at 15:27 | #72

    @Fran Barlow
    So you admit that the asylum seeker policy under Rudd was different from (and better than) that under Howard and Gillard.

  73. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 15:45 | #73

    @Tim Macknay

    So you admit that the asylum seeker policy under Rudd was different from (and better than) that under Howard and Gillard.

    I’m not sure how you get that conclusion. While I assumed that rudd would be as hostile to workers as Howard was, I was modestly hopeful in November 2007 that Rudd would be better than Howard on asylum seekers and climate change policy.

    When it became clear that he was no better in either of these areas, it was a blow, and I was embarrassed at having given him too much credit.

  74. han
    March 14th, 2013 at 15:59 | #74

    @Fran Barlow
    “Anyone who is ‘parking their vote with Abbott’ is not someone the ALP wants to pitch at.”

    If we don’t pitch at those parkers, then where else exactly will we get those votes to get across the 50% finishing line? Pitch at the Liberal base?

  75. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 16:09 | #75

    @han

    If we don’t pitch at those parkers, then where else exactly will we get those votes to get across the 50% finishing line?

    I’m not sure to whom “we” refers above. If it’s the ALP, then the the party’s first task is to reinvent itself as a party, if not of progress than at least not of xenophobia and rightwing populism.

    It needs to try to change the conversation so that a substantial number of those supporting the Liberals in ignorance and delusion and misanthropy abandon ignorance and delusion and misanthropy and seek out instead enlightenment and insight and authentic community. It’s success in doing that will be measured in people declining to “park” their votes with parties openly spitting on enlightenment, insight and authentic community merely because the person in charge of a party only doing it in a weaselly dogwhistling kind of way happens to be not all that personally appealing and also the subject of hostile media coverage.

  76. Chris Warren
    March 14th, 2013 at 16:11 | #76

    So, what is the basis of her appeal? Given that you’re willing to see Abbott take the Senate rather than try to salvage the situation, there must be something I’m missing.

    Focussing on:

    1. Equal marriage rights
    2. Government support for religion
    3. Refugees (and now 457 visas)
    4. Carbon pricing (We got the carbon price in the end, but only by the purest fluke)
    5. Mining tax
    6. Fiscal policy (the surplus promise and similar)

    as due to Gillard is a mistake. What you are missing is the fact that, in general, the direction of a ALP government is driven by the Parliamentary Caucus and Cabinet. While there is no record of Caucus decisions, presumably all of your 1 to 6 would have been exposed in Caucus and therefore supported by a majority or consensus.

    While the PM has great influence, changing leaders would not produce significant change in Caucus. It would only produce different policy within limits if different Ministers are appointed from different tribes within factions.

    To get different policy outcomes from the ALP, you need to change either the ALP itself or preselections.

  77. Tim Macknay
    March 14th, 2013 at 16:20 | #77

    @Fran Barlow
    So you think the abolition of Temporary Protection Visas, the cessation of the detention of children and indefinite detention were of no significance whatsoever?

  78. Jim Rose
    March 14th, 2013 at 17:02 | #78

    http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2013/03/could-western-australia-deliver-the-coalition-control-of-the-senate.html has a great post showing that the WA Nats could win the 4th senate seat in WA. Libs should get 3 quotas, and Labor 2.

    in 2010, the greens and Christian democrats fought it out for the last seat!! the Christian democrats are separate from family first.

    The rise of family first, Christian democrats, DLP, WA Nats and Katter’s mob suggests that the greens are for a decline.

    These parties will end up with the balance of power because they appeal to social conservatives and economic nationalists across the spectrum.

    The greens are cannibalising the Left Labor vote and a protest vote that second preferences the liberals. 20% of green voters second preference to the Liberals.

  79. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 17:49 | #79

    @Tim Macknay

    So you think the abolition of Temporary Protection Visas, the cessation of the detention of children and indefinite detention were of no significance whatsoever?

    The cessation of TPVs was matched by reinstatement of Christmas Island as a full scale detention centre. Some 522 children were in detention under Rudd in April 2010. The assessment regime at Christmas Island was and is opaque, and those deemed ‘security risks’ need not be told the information relied upon to assess them.

    Rudd did nothing at all to attack the paradigm in which irregualr maritime passage applicants were seen as a threat to Australia. The bulk of those ‘people smugglers’ he tarred as ‘scum of the Earth’ (IIRC 483/493) turned out to be poor unsophisticated fisher folk from rural Indonesia — some of them children.

  80. Alan
    March 14th, 2013 at 18:33 | #80

    @Chris Warren

    I agree completely that changing the ALP is a dire necessity. The most immediate way to effect such change is to deal the factional oligarchy a defeat from which it will never recover. That defeat’s initials are KR.

    It really is extraordinary to read arguments that the way to change the ALP is to support a member of the factional oligarchy on the basis of an insupportable claim that she is somehow to Rudd’s left. The strangest of those arguments is taxing Rudd with the ETRS (which he did in an act of deep folly) when abandonment of the ETRS was forced upon him by one Julia Gillard.

  81. Tim Macknay
    March 14th, 2013 at 18:34 | #81

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran, I wasn’t aware of the statistics or detailed facts regarding the continued detention of children under the immigration system in various forms, despite it being official government policy not to detain them, and law that they be detained only as a last resort.

    Sadly, it seems that you are correct, and the comparatively high-minded changes announced by Rudd and Evans in 2008 have not really been implemented in practice.

  82. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 18:53 | #82

    @Alan

    It really is extraordinary to read arguments that the way to change the ALP is to support a member of the factional oligarchy on the basis of an insupportable claim that she is somehow to Rudd’s left.

    I’m yet to hear anyone but you make that claim, even to ridicule it.

  83. Alan
    March 14th, 2013 at 19:06 | #83

    You make that claim, Fran, among others, although not in those terms. Your defense of Gillard has involved a series of claims representing Rudd as having exactly the same polices as Gillard although those claims, when tested, often prove to be inaccurate.

    It is true that at the end of Rudd’s term children were agin in detention. It is also true that according the >a href=”http://www.immi.gov.au/managing-australias-borders/detention/_pdf/immigration-detention-statistics-20121231.pdf”>current statistics are that 1222 children are in detention. Solving the asylum seeker criss was one of the Gillard’s 3 signature issues. Her solution is the same populist grab bag of detention and deterrence as Abbot’s, with the significant difference that Abbot at least accepts the terms of the Refugee Convention.

    I did ask if you thought last weeks motorway to the CBD was a good die or not. Somehow you have not answered. I also wonder what you think of basing US troops in the Northern Territory is a good idea. Or voting with the US and Israel at the UN? Or demonising the 457 visas as a flood of foreigners taking Aussie jobs? Or declaring Assange a criminal without bothering to establish if he had actually committed any crimes?

    You apparently don’t want the votes of anyone prepared to vote for the Coalition, but you want the leadership of someone almost indistinguishable from the Coalition.

  84. March 14th, 2013 at 19:14 | #84

    @Fran Barlow

    There are 1,983 children in detention as of 1/3/13 “under” Gillard – 998 of them under lock and key, including on Christmas and Manus Islands, and 985 in “community” detention (effectively the same thing).

    The UNHCR report released on 4 February 2013 following a visit to the Manus Island facility noted that: “When viewed against the applicable international legal standards, it is clear that the current situation for detained children is profoundly unsatisfactory and UNHCR is therefore of the view that it is not currently appropriate for children to be transferred to Manus Island.”

    Unlike most commenters, I’m not raising this to make some pointless “lesser of two evils” argument for/against Rudd/Gillard – the point is that ALP is the Govt. and are going to get slammed on September 14 for abandoning the key reasons they were elected convincingly when Howard got turfed out.

    I’m not getting this one-eyed support for Gillard coming from people otherwise critical of ALP.

  85. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 19:38 | #85

    @Alan

    You make that claim, Fran, among others, although not in those terms.

    Or, put honestly, I don’t make that claim.

    Your defense of Gillard

    Or, put honestly, in the course of my non-defence of Gillard, in which I explain why ousting her right now, especially in favour of Rudd would be a bad idea even though there’s not a struck match between the two of them in nurturing hatred of asylum seekers …

    It is also true that the current statistics are that 1222 children are in detention.

    Which is quantitatively worse but qualitatively the same as with Rudd. The numbers are immaterial and really not in the power of either to vary greatly without a substantively different policy. In any event, as I’ve noted repeatedly, which of them is more egregious hardly matters when that is not germane to the argument at hand, even in your opinion. You seem to be arguing that Rudd’s return will improve the ALP organisationally.

    I did ask if you thought last weeks motorway to the CBD was a good idea or not. Somehow you have not answered.

    Because the question was silly and not germane and not even a fair description of Gillard’s policy. It was a trolling question which didn’t deserve an answer in this topic, which is about the merits of ousting Gillard in favour of Rudd. I don’t know that Rudd has a view on it, but even if he did — so what?

    I also wonder what you think of basing US troops in the Northern Territory is a good idea

    .

    Doubtless Rudd would favour it. The US alliance is a sacred cow with the ALP. They started it. They aren’t handing that to the Libs. Again though, this is not germane to the question — and certainly not until Rudd camapigns against it.

    Or voting with the US and Israel at the UN? Or demonising the 457 visas as a flood of foreigners taking Aussie jobs? Or declaring Assange a criminal without bothering to establish if he had actually committed any crimes?

    Oh … FPS … see above.

    You apparently don’t want the votes of anyone prepared to vote for the Coalition,

    I don’t seek the votes of fools, misanthropes, hypocrites, tantrum throwers and oddballs, no. I see that as tainting the integrity of voting. Relying on such people can only taint the party and make them part of the problem.

    but you want the leadership of someone almost indistinguishable from the Coalition.

    The fiscally and socially conservative, narcisisstic, xenophobic, Murdoch promoted putative autocrat Rudd or the fiscally and socially conservative, xenophobic, Murdoch-opposed putative autocrat Gillard?

    I’d like neither thanks very much. They are, as Humpty Dumpty reportedly said ‘much of a muchness. ‘ For better or worse, I’m not being asked to choose, but it seems to me that Murdoch would love to knock off another ALP leader, much as he knocked off Rudd in 2010. I’m even less well-disposed to him or his Liberal catspaws than Gillard or Rudd — and therein lies my position.

  86. Chris Warren
    March 14th, 2013 at 19:44 | #86

    @Alan

    Yes I agree, but I do not think that factions are the problem – they may be the solution.

    Although I well understand the arguments of those who are working in and with the Greens.

    Whether Rudd, or whether Gillard, really misses the point.

  87. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 19:48 | #87

    @Megan

    Unlike most commenters, I’m not raising this to make some pointless “lesser of two evils” argument for/against Rudd/Gillard

    You do a fabulous parody of them then. I really believed the performance. Thanks for setting me straight on that.

    the point is that ALP is the Govt. and are going to get slammed on September 14 for abandoning the key reasons they were elected convincingly when Howard got turfed out.

    I don’t agree that’s clear at all, but if it turns out that way, I will call that tragic in a Greek or Shakespearean sense. Rest assured, neither your opinion nor mine will measurably affect the outcome. More powerful forces than us are at work.

    I’m not getting this one-eyed support for Gillard coming from people otherwise critical of ALP.

    Well you’re certainly not getting it from me.

    I have both my eyes open and she and Rudd both look repulsive. As I’ve said elsewhere though, there are worse things than political parties losing elections — particularly, as you note, when they have done serious things wrong.

    At that point, ethical insightful people must be able to step forward and explain to those ready to think and learn, how the whole sorry mess arose. It seems a lot of people are not yet ready to think and learn. I suppose we will see on September 14.

  88. March 14th, 2013 at 20:09 | #88

    @Fran Barlow

    Why so snarky?

    The “Gillard” children detention figures were quoted in direct response to this sentence of yours:

    Some 522 children were in detention under Rudd in April 2010.

    To be clear: I despise Gillard/Rudd/ALP’s policies and their effects (as at March 2013) pretty much equally.

    As you find both Gillard and Rudd repulsive – why so defensive of Gillard, particularly, in this case? I’ll be surprised to be wrong, but I’m fairly sure that the Federal result for Labor this year will look a lot like the last State elections in NSW & Qld, and for much the same reasons and with much the same complete lack of reflection or introspection afterwards.

  89. Alan
    March 14th, 2013 at 20:11 | #89

    @Chris Warren

    I suppose I should make myself clear. The current factions are divorced from any real ideology and essentially function as employment agencies for their members. Factions that actually argued policy would be a viable model.

    I cannot see a new factional system emerging under the present deeply centralised oligarchy where, among other bad practices, executive intervention in pre-selections is so common that plebiscites are almost entirely a thing of the past. I do not say that making Rudd leader would democratise the party overnight. I do think it would open the way to change that is clearly closed at the moment.

    @Fran Barlow

    I don’t think we should continue this exchange. Neither of us are being particularly respectful and fisk and counter-risk is not a useful dialogue.

  90. Tony Lynch
    March 14th, 2013 at 20:46 | #90

    ]
    Fran, is this an Ancient Greek Thing? You know, a tragedy…

  91. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 21:24 | #91

    @Megan

    Why so snarky?

    I suppose I’m a touch miffed at being insistently verballed by some of those apparently urging a change in the ALP leadership. Me a ‘one-eyed’ Gillard supporter? Good grief!

    As you find both Gillard and Rudd repulsive – why so defensive of Gillard,

    You and Alan assert that I’m ‘defending’ Gillard but really, I’m not. I’m saying that the status quo is almost certainly going to work out no worse for the ALP in the short run, and less worse for the ALP in the long run. It’s mere coincidence that the status quo is Gillard.

    I said the same thing when Rudd was in charge, in 2010, and on exactly the same grounds. It had nothing at all to do with their alleged relative merits at the time.

  92. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2013 at 21:37 | #92

    @Tony Lynch

    It is kind of a Greek-style tragedy. When they ousted Howard in 2007, they had a chance to press the reset button and rewrite the parameters of political discourse in favour of something that would have laid the foundations for a substantially more just society and in ways that would have marginalised the Beazley-Howard consensus.

    Instead, they governed as Howard without Howard, and invited the mess they are in now. At state level Bob Howard Carr’s proteges finally took the final logical step and imploded in a last days of Rome-style binge and handed the Feds a huge mess. QLD did similarly after doing their best to imitate the worst of NSW.

    It is dreadfully frustrating and tragic — if not for the ALP, then for those of their supporters who continue against the evidence to believe that their party is connected in some way with the idea of progress towards social justice.

    For me it’s a bizarre and compelling proof that the elite are not by and large, nearly as collectively clever as they like to pretend nor even are they cleverer than the populace or any more ethically coherent.

    Were I minded to serve Australian capitalism, I could do a far better job of running their party and keeping it in or near to power than they could, and I’m just a lowly school teacher.

  93. March 14th, 2013 at 23:52 | #93

    @Fran Barlow

    I was completely with you at comment #8 (above).

    Then at comment #38 this:

    Also, it would allow the ALP to act to finally remove their running sores — Rudd and the corrupt elements in the NSW ALP.

    What they must do, in their own interest, is stand or fall by the current leadership. To declare that their leadership team can be vetted by Murdoch and the baying bands of yappy puppies trailing after his howling dogs would be the worst of all worlds, not merely for the ALP but for the left–of-centre cause fore generally in Australia.

    You must be aware of the “no media allowed” cosy meetings between Gillard (and Abbott and anyone else who might have any influence for that matter) and Murdoch’s executives at his Surry Hills HQ?

    You can’t believe Gillard is any less of a Murdoch construct than any PM we are likely to have. She and her faceless men are the “Free-Market-Musketeers” from hell.

    Still can’t work out how you think Gillard is the ‘best of a bad batch’. I don’t get your reasoning. Margaret Thatcher was a woman, but she wasn’t very nice.

  94. Fran Barlow
    March 15th, 2013 at 05:38 | #94

    @Megan

    You’re misreading. I was speaking in the passage above not of Gillard’s leadership but of the opening after a loss — one which would almost certainly end Gillard’s career — for a re-examination within the ALP of its usages and relationships with the MBCM.

    There is already within the ALP a palpable sentiment that the MBCM is another quasi political rival, alongside the LNP. A loss in such circumstances as September 14 would surely let slip the dogs of change if not outright war on the Murdochracy. One saw some of this in the remarks of Gillard herself at the NPC in June of 2011 (?). Unconstrained by the fear of loss of government, one can believe people would stop biting their tongues.

  95. Chris Warren
    March 15th, 2013 at 06:29 | #95

    @Alan

    Yes, changing the ALP also means changing the factions.

  96. March 15th, 2013 at 07:55 | #96

    Sorry, still not following.

    The time for “war on the Murdochracy” would have been the window that opened with the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone and will inevitably close with the impending ALP defeat. The ALP have “used” that window to give Murdoch more power and to toady to him even more than before.

    Conroy’s current stunt is designed to achieve precisely nothing of substance in fixing our media and is a charade to show the ALP ‘standing up’ to Murdoch without taking one iota of power from him. Halving the rego fees for Murdoch’s Channel 10 and Stokes’ Channel 7 is just an added bonus.

  97. Jill Rush
    March 15th, 2013 at 08:21 | #97

    Good analysis Fran Barlow.

  98. Fran Barlow
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:00 | #98

    There’s been some talk above (and very widely elsewhere of course) about the pernicious role of “factions” in the ALP — and if one reads Faulkner et al, “sub-factions” too.

    There does seem to be a tendency however to treat “factions” as a self-evidently bad feature of party life, but it’s probably worth reflecting on what constitutes a bona fide faction (as distinct from a clique) and what the drivers of party policy would be if there were either no factions or those that existed were merely cliques.

    Factions, in a healthy party develop around sets of coherent ideas. They are an attempt to win the party for some related and wholistic vision, typically in circumstances where there is a substantial disquiet within the ranks about party policy or its implementation.

    It seems to me that the ALP’s factions do not at all fit this description. Most obviously, the factions are permanent rather than conceived to realise a specific set of goals, and are composed of people not bound by a common vision but merely an interest in positions within the party organisation or the public serrvice bureaucracy or parliament. Thus makes them not really factions but cliques. Cliques are signs of an unhealthy organisation, and the existence of cliques within cliques, especially so. The spectacle of someone like McDonald being ‘of the left’ when his position ended up being supported by the right underscores how far from factions within a healthy party what goes on in the ALP is. The idea that thwese cliques and sub cliques can successively bind their members does sound a lot like a rotten borough system, and seems an obvious example of inauthentic power.

    That noted though, one can at least say of factions and cliques that they are composed of definite people and in theory at least, accountable for their conduct. They are at least, composed of party members. One might well ask — who would in practice determine ALP organisational life if there were no factions or cliques? The question is silly at one level because any large organisation without a clear vision of its purpose grander than some purely instrumental goal will tend to produce cliques, official or unofficial.

    It’s hard to escape the conclusion that if the ALP lost its cliques or they were seriously weakened, then power would move rapidly to power sources outside the party. To a large extent, this is already so, because the ALP, like the Liberals, isn’t in any meaningful way independent of the boss class, but depends on momentary alliances of fractions of it, who insinuate themselves into party life through its connections with government and its usages. The cliques, to use a physiological metaphor, are something like the connective tissue or the synapses in the ALP for boss class influence over policy and conduct. This is probably why there will always be cliques — they exist not because the ALP is a healthy vibrant party but because the boss class, or fractions of it need the party and a mechanism for directing it. In a very real sense, folks like Arbib and Richardson and Roozendale and Obeid are merely expressions of the wider usages of the boss class. The problem for the boss class is that if these cliques are to do their job effectively, they have to appear not merely as catspaws but as being a legitimate part of party life and thus may not always give the bosses exactly what they want.

    If these cliques were to disappear though, it would be because the boss class, perhaps through the media or some other agency outside the party would control it at arms’ length.

    It seems to me that ‘abolishing the factions and cliques’ isn’t, within the context of a fundamentally flawed and moribund party, not all that useful or progressive a demand for those interested in a healthy pro-social polity, even were there someone capable of carrying it off.

  99. derrida derider
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:53 | #99

    Me, I think Labor’s election chances are nil, but not for the reasons people think. 52-48 six months out should be manageable, but once the ALP looked like it might win that hypocrite Rudd would do what he did in the last election to make sure his enemies don’t triumph (his enemies, of course, not being the Opposition). Gillard stepping aside for him would be no good either – there would still be a bloody fight as much of the caucus looked for an “anyone but Rudd” candidate. If he did get into the leadership his enemies might even do to him in the 2013 campaign what he did to Gillard in the 2010 campaign.

    As for the stuff about Gillard’s irreedemable personal unpopularity in the electorate, I think JQ has mistaken noise for substance. For a start, John, don’t forget you’re in Qld and Qld popular opinion on Rudd vs Gillard is not the same as Australian opinon. There’s more than a hint of “southern selectors dudding our team – again” up there.

    Yeah, you can find plenty of people who hate her with a vengeance but then you could always find people who similarly hated Howard personally. Its true some people have never forgiven her for 2010 – but then they haven’t forgiven her colleagues either. That’s not really about Julia’s personality. Besides her approval ratings have always been better than the government’s and consistently better than Abbott’s.

  100. kevin1
    March 16th, 2013 at 08:44 | #100

    @Fran Barlow

    “It seems to me that the ALP’s factions do not at all fit this description. Most obviously, the factions are permanent rather than conceived to realise a specific set of goals, and are composed of people not bound by a common vision but merely an interest in positions…”

    I just read parts of the book Betrayal by Simon Benson, a Daily Tele journalist, about NSW Labor written in 2010 before Rudd’s demise, which reports the internal fights about …. well, bragging rights for winning battles for something. I presume most of it is largely true, based on first-hand accounts from Iemma, Costa, Keating and Unsworth. A grubby story which makes you feel like taking a shower afterwards, but interesting to find out the personal background of the various characters and speculate on what drives them. Benson claims the Rudd powerbase in NSW collapsed as a result of the Obeid-Tripodi group ascendancy over Arbib-Bitar-Albanese.

    Anyway, my point is that I agree with you that factions are a just a human trait, and can be purposive and progressive. But it is this NSW faction, till now seen as permanent and disabling, that Alan and others have said needs to be smashed, and KR is the only one who might do it, and now, while Obeid is under pressure. Gillard barrackers don’t want to talk about anything which might lead to voter desertion, but that elephant in the room looms large and needs decisive action.

    The latest Gillard gaffe, being her comments on 457 visas, not only reinforce the opportunist image (now Hanson is on board) but make her look foolish. The whole concept of 457 visas is that it fluctuates with the ups and downs in the economy, yet her stupid advisers make misplaced comparisons between rates of 457 increase and rates of employment increase, and she also can’t understand the simple maths involved. Respected demographer Peter McDonald has called her comments “extreme” and the problem is only in the order of 3%.

    Prioritising the denial of another scalp to Murdoch’s gang is an indulgence, when compared to avoiding some big steps backward by defeating Abbott. Those of us who see Rudd as a sidestep not a backward step, think it is worth having someone who can increase the chance of that.

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