As regards the election, I’m feeling more optimistic than at any time since the first flush of Lathamania around New Year. Howard looked like a beaten man on TV tonight, and with more than a week still left to go, I think that will sink in with enough voters to make the required difference.
Howard has nothing coherent to offer. His foreign policy is to follow Bush to catastrophic failure. Domestically, he has accepted that the public want services more than tax cuts, but he’s too much of a Thatcherite to change his own thinking. The result is an incoherent spray of spending promises, targeted tax breaks, and so on. The result is that his $6 billion has been generally derided, and Latham’s $3 billion generally applauded. And of course his reputation as a responsible economic manager is gone for good.
Against this, there’s the fact that incumbent governments tend to survive unless there’s a really compelling reason to throw them out. Howard may not be much good, but there isn’t a recession on and the Iraq catastrophe doesn’t affect us directly. Until now, I’ve felt these considerations to be evenly balanced. Now, however, I think the odds are significantly in Labor’s favour.
fn1. Our only hope here is that our jihadist enemies have shown themselves more than a match for Bush in both stupidity and capacity for pointless evil. Their brutal atrocities, many committed against fellow-Muslims, have largely, and perhaps completely, offset the support they have gained as a result of the invasion of Iraq and Bush’s continued backing of Sharon/Likud against the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians. A large number of Muslims, I think, have the same view I do: “a plague on both your houses”.