Thursday, September 29, 2005

New Captain of the Titanic #2

The release of Mark Latham's diaries was never going to bode well with the fickle electorate and, surprise, Beazley and the ALP took a big dip in both the Murdoch and Fairfax polls.

Now, the Divine Ms G (who for some reason always reminds me of Jodie Foster playing Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs), who despite offering unconditional support for Beazley, is obviously a little bit happy that the polls show over 40% of voters believe Labor could win the election under her captaincy. She's now offering leadership-esque speculation on the future of the party. Sure sounds like she's still got her eye on the prize to me.

Quoth the Gillard: "Labor is the party of compassion, (but) should not be the party of welfarism."

Reminds me of my far-right yet somehow still very likable Year 12 Economics teacher: "Welfare should only be a safety net, not a hammock." Poetry in motion.

You've got to admire Gillard for coming through Latham's shit-throwing smelling sickly sweet, even though this led to the Latham-endorsement-for-leader kiss of death. She's a smooth operator and plays the boys' game better than most of the boys.

But all of this is a bit irrelevant, really.

Labor would be very, very stupid to change leaders again before the next election, which I predict they will lose no matter who is at the helm.

The fact is, sadly, Gillard is wrong when she claims: "I do not believe that the only way Labor can convince the electorate of its economic credentials is to be able to point to a conservative government's responsibility for bad economic times."

Labor will not win an election, the Coalition will lose it. And they will lose it only because of one or a combination of the following:

a/ interest rates rise substantially (there's already talk of this on the cards);

b/ the full sale of Telstra leads to a total collapse in rural communications;

c/ all the dire predictions of Labor and the unions about the government's IR "reforms" obliterating blue-collar worker rights come true;

d/ petrol hits $2 a litre.

The electorate has already demonstrated that the incompetence, corruption, lies, regressive social agenda and steady decimation of civil rights that define this government will not stop the majority of Australians voting for it - in fact, judging by the 2004 election, such features seemed to encourage more people to vote 1 Howard.

And when Kim Beazley engages in a pissing contest with Howard over who can infringe on civil rights more comprehensively rather than oppose such extreme measures, as Labor once might have done many years ago, it's clear there is no opposition for the (apparently few) voters for whom this is such a critically important issue - invariably, the same people who believe the Iraq war lies, Children Overboard, same-sex marriage ban, attempts to restrict reproductive rights, the Kyoto protocol etc, ie non-economic factors, are important electoral issues that should, but don't, relegate the Howard government to the political scrap heap.

Labor is not playing "me too!", keep up with the Liberal Joneses politics by accident, however. The reality is that the country has shifted to the right and the majority of Australians are not willing to let that stop at this stage. People, myself included, who lament this shift to the right may vote Green, Independent, or somebody else to send Labor a message, but will eventually vote Labor through preferences - and with the combined Labor/Green primary vote something like only 44%, we're clearly the minority.

Given this, the neo-conservative electorate would certainly not be ready for a female PM, let alone a childless woman whose residence includes the unspeakable sin of an un-cooked in kitchen. Remember, even in the left-leaning Herald poll, nearly 60% of those surveyed don't think Labor would win with Gillard as leader. Of course, there's two distinct issues here - whether people believe Labor could win under Gillard as opposed to if they should or deserve to win, but in politics often perception is reality, and if most people think she wouldn't win, then most likely she wouldn't.

So I hope for the sake the party and her own career, Gillard is smart enough to remain the skilful and effective Opposition frontbencher she is, or if she's really itching for a promotion, nobble Jenny Macklin for the Deputy role. The best person to take Labor to an election victory is still Kim Beazley - and believe me, I find it extremely depressing typing that sentence.

However, I hold onto the dream of Prime Minister, or even President Gillard, to ease my pain.


At 29/9/05 2:47 pm, Anonymous Stu said...

Careful there QP,

"...who despite offering unconditional support for Beazley, is obviously a little bit happy that the polls show over 40% of voters believe Labor could win the election under her captaincy."

Wouldn't want you slipping into the opinionated speculation that keeps so many News Ltd journalists employed. From everything written about Gillard there’s nothing to say she’s gloating whatsoever.


At 29/9/05 3:14 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Oi! No likening me to a News Ltd journalist in any way shape or form, thank u very much! Unless you're talking about Phil Adams or at a very big stretch Emma Tom.

I didn't say she's gloating, I just think the timing of her Big Speech on the Future of the ALP is very interesting is all.

At 29/9/05 5:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Gillard could be a Helen Clark only better.

Thanks for the Clarice image! I will never be able to look at Gillard again without thinking of Jodie.

- Ron

At 30/9/05 10:30 am, Anonymous stephen said...

I found myself wondering yesterday just how far Gillard had engineered her "I protest again I am not going to unseat Beazley" speech.
And how far it is bored Canberra journos trying to play the political agenda. Even more it the superb Liberal strategists who conspire to keep Labor division on the front burner.
I am inclined to think that it is one of the latter two alternatives. Women, it seems to me, are less likely to engage in the sort of manipulative shit that male power brokers get off on.
I think you are right that the last two elections and numerous other issues have shown that we-the electorate couldn't care less about lies and lack of integrity.
I am not so convinced that you are right that the only way Labor will win is if the Liberals lose. Gillard yesterday reaffirmed that what they need to do is reassert Labor as a pioneer in Health, Education and Welfare and that it leads the way in innovative thinking. The trouble is they have been seduced from the time of Hawke on into being a conservative why choose them over the real Tories.

At 30/9/05 10:32 am, Anonymous stephen said...

as for Gillard being Helen Clark only better...God help us.

At 30/9/05 11:35 am, Blogger Sam said...

Stephen: I'm sure it's a sign of my rotten cynicism, but I just don't think that's the case.

Labor could reassert itself as the health, education, welfare and innovative thinking pioneers - and indeed the bulk of the electorate usually believes Labor has the upper hand in all these areas - but that will not intice the swinging voters in marginal seats back to them.

Such voters, in marginal outer suburban seats at least where Labor is struggling, are driven purely by their economic self-interest. They care less about schools or hospitals than they do about a rise in interest rates, and the misperception that rates will only stay low under a Coalition government. And they can easily be bribed by various one-off or increased welfare payments by the government at election time.

It's a sad fact that such people determine elections but they are in the marginals and they have no noble political allegiances or philosophies, and so long as they believe Labor offers nothing new to them they'll never allow them to form government.

At 30/9/05 4:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always voted Labor but how can I support a party that can't even be a half-way decent opposition? I hope Julia G starts going for the Howard jugular to show us we have some hope for the future. I wish someone would dip into petty cash and buy some balls for the rest of them. (Love my word verification, great blog name) JT

At 3/10/05 9:02 am, Anonymous maddy said...

I think the electorate are actually somewhat smarter than you give them credit for. You're like Alan Ramsey who continually chastises them as being greedy and/or asleep at the wheel and/or fickle and/or stupid - it's an extremely arrogant position to take don't you think? Yes the Libs tinker policy to grab votes in some marginal seats but Labor is/would be no different. I think they saw Latham as a risk they weren't willing to take a chance on, and we all know how that ended.. I too am upset that Labor don't (yet) constitute a credible opposition but until they do people will continue to stick with the devil they know.

At 4/10/05 9:22 am, Blogger Sam said...

Maddy: I don't think the entire electorate is stupid - only, unfortunately, many voters in marginal seats who determine elections. The fact that they are swinging, determining their votes entirely by their self-interest rather than solid political philosophy, demonstrates that they are indeed greedy and/or fickle. I don't believe acknowledging this is arrogant at all.

As for everything else you've written, I agree.


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