It’s Gillard

By skepticlawyer

I am watching all this unfold from afar, with a special kind of awe. My understanding — even though Kevin Rudd had tanked personally in the polls — was that he’d still win against the (equally unpopular) Tony Abbott on Green preferences. Clearly I was wrong. I can’t imagine Labor’s Sussex St Minions (insert BWAHAHAHA to order) ballsing something like this up. I really can’t.

Of course it’s harder for me to follow Australian politics with the same detail and precision one would expect from persons still ‘in country’, so I freely concede that this is all a bit strange and overwhelming, and that I am likely to be wrong in both the general and the particular. I must admit that when the item popped up in the BBC’s newsfeed, I went and took a look at Larvatus Prodeo, which now has so many posts on the issue I am struggling to keep track of them all. Labor types are thick on the ground there, so I counsel a visit. Start here.

I do think this is borne of panic, and of political carelessness, and (without having heard it; I’ve only read it), I also think Rudd’s speech before the vote (kindly provided over at Catallaxy) was both combative and gracious in equal measure. But then he chose not to stand, meaning that Julia Gillard now resembles UK Labour’s Gordon Brown: a Prime Minister not even elected by her own party, never mind by the people.

To my mind, she now needs to call an election without delay, partly so she can gain the benefit of her political honeymoon (which will, inevitably, last a little longer both because she is Australia’s first woman PM and a physically attractive woman at that) and partly so that she can wash the odour that attaches to unelected leaders off her person forthwith.

Often, when I think I understand Australian politics, I find it bounces away from me, hiding behind trees and rocks and jeering and wriggling its fingers. It is doing all of those things now.

Explanations are, of course, welcome.

24 Comments

  1. Peter Patton
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    SL

    The huge recent discovery is the lie that Labor gets Greens preferences. In fact, latest polling and analysis shows that the Libs are getting around 40% of Green preferences.

    The glitch has been that traditionally pollsters divide the minor party preferences according to the results of the last election (2007).

    Recently pollsters have been asking minor party voters how they intend to direct their preferences. This has captured not only the fact that the pattern has changed since 2007, but has also captured those minor party voters who intend to Vote 1 only, with no preferences.

    This new polling vaporized the whole truism about Labor winning on the preferences of the ‘Useful Idiots’ Green voters (as Graham Richardson so astutely observed). Much of this played out in the recent state Penrith by-election.

    This reflects something I have been arguing for years now – as I am a prime example myself. The % of rusted on Labor/Liberal voters has been declining for a while. I think the ‘Howard Battlers’ phenomenon was one moment in that trend. That is, Labor’s base (I mean its lower-skilled base; not public servants/teachers/academics/arts tax-eaters) finally woke up that Labor took them for granted.

    Those Laborites who still chant that elections are won by a ‘tiny’ group of swinging voters better wake up. We are all swingers now.

  2. Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    My understanding was that at Federal (as opposed to State) elections, it was still compulsory to number all the boxes. Has that changed since I left Oz? (before the last general election).

  3. Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    To my mind, she now needs to call an election without delay, partly so she can gain the benefit of her political honeymoon (which will, inevitably, last a little longer both because she is Australia’s first woman PM and a physically attractive woman at that) and partly so that she can wash the odour that attaches to unelected leaders off her person forthwith.

    She has to balance this I think by establishing a distinctive style as PM, that is establishing that she is not Kevvie.

    On Greens preferences, a lot of the Greens’ vote comes from the Right. And the Greens have moved away from giving their prefs automatically to the ALP. So I reckon Julia will be buddying it up with Bob this winter.

    Sorry but I like her. And I’ll really enjoy watching her nail Abbott to the wall by his ears. Whatever happens it won’t be boring.

  4. Fran Barlow
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I disagree about the early election option.

    August is really the earliest you would want to go now — as Gillard has to be not only the first female PM, but not Kevin Rudd. She has to have time to promise through her intervention to be good where he was weak and to make Tony Abbott appear unfit to govern in the eyes of those considering it (but not rusted on).

    She needs to resolve the mining tax issue in a way that is not seen as caving in to the miners. (I did that pun accidentally). If she took the RSPT out of the budget and the forward estimates and said that this was something she wanted a fresh look at, and which for which she would seek a mandate at the next election, that might be a good move, as it would diffuse the issue. At worst, it sets back the timetable by a few months. She gets to axe the government ad campaign and re-affirm the “no political ads by the government” mantra. That’s a win right there, and a point of distinction with Rudd. Suddenly, the mining ads are redundant. She renames her new goal to be the “National Resource Sharing Framework”, aimed at “establishing how best to share the enormous bounty won from Australia’s resources with Australians now and into the future” and talks about putting money away for the rainy days to come.

    She also needs something tangible on climate change that wins green approval and annoys the coalition. Garnaut anyone?

    An obvious shot (since it was in the news this week) might be some new and binding commitment on mental health and the return of Mendoza. That would look pretty good.

    With all that in mind, November looks pretty good. She gets the AEC to get cracking, tracking down new voters or those that have shifted address. These people are going to vote ALP pretty heavily and reportedly, there are about a million of them.

    This is what I would do.

  5. Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    This is what I put in response to your request for explanation at LP:

    “Would greatly appreciate explanations from persons who understand what just happened.”

    Hahahaha. No person on the planet knows fully what just happened, skepto. 2 basic narratives:

    – Down to earth, grounded loyal deputy feels betrayed because a chief of staff started asking questions about his boss’s support, reluctantly accepts the pleading of the wise owls of the party to step up and provide some leadership, swallows her misgivings, and with humility and sadness steps forward to do the right thing.

    – Brutal machiavellan set play pans out, after minor indiscretion by PM’s hack provides an excuse that had been watched for by hawkish eyes, most assured and composed political operator in parliament then steps in to take power with the calm assurance of a samurai disemboweling an injured opponent, with the support of the hardest of the labor union and faction based machine players.

    I dunno, still picking over it myself.

  6. Peter Patton
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Armagny

    My closest mate is a union bigwig. He has been in close meetings with Julia about a dozen times over the past 12 months, and has spent much of the last 4 weeks in Perth.

    You do the math. 😉

  7. Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Fran, that sounds like a canny strategy, but then I haven’t seen Australia since July 2007. It does have the merit of making sure that she doesn’t resemble Gordon. At all.

  8. Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Most recent Newspoll had ALP ahead on 2-party preferred 52-48, that is, at the same level as the last election. Don’t assume that Sussex St are smart just because they are evil. This has nothing to do with politics as such (the clash of interests of large-scale social forces). It’s just court intrigue. Gillard won’t do much different but she’ll suck up to the right people better, while keeping strikes illegal.

  9. Peter Patton
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    DJ

    I’ve always said she will make a brilliant PM. But she will be quite liberal-conservative. I’d say the girlchild of Hawke and Howard; if that image doesn’t put you off your tofu! 🙂

  10. Patrick
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Gillard will deliver a compromise on RSPT that the miners will love, bury the ETS underground, and possibly win the election.

    OTOH the libs will now run ads showing Gillard as a union puppet.

    So to win she will have to fuck the unions that backed her…

  11. pete m
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Please don’t call her attractive. Ever.

    A lot of people voted for Rudd for the man, not the party. It will be interesting to see how they respond to having their choice stabbed like this.

    The simple reason why the move was made is that all polling showed labor support at 35%. You cannot win with that low a primary vote, no matetr what the Greens do with their preferences.

    they also had polling that he was tanking in the marginal seats big time. the mortgage belt is stressed. Ignore the unemployment rate for the moment and remember many employees are on less hours and had wages frozen, while cost of living continues to soar.

    With further rate rises likely before year end (I dare RB to raise them during the election), and petrol prices increasing, this cost of living pressure makes it impossible for them to listen to the govt. It is what whacked Howard more than anything else, even WorkChoices.

    She will do well as a leader, but it will be a close election as she cannot change the economic fundamentals, plus she’ll be carrying Rudd’s failure baggage.

    The miners will not roll over just ebcause she asks them to. They will go for the sure thing with Abbott.

    Just when I was enjoying the Kevin O’Lemon ads too!

  12. Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    August is really the earliest you would want to go now — as Gillard has to be not only the first female PM, but not Kevin Rudd
    .
    Isn’t August early? 5-9 weeks? But yeah, pretty much.

  13. MikeM
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Sussex Street has been ballsing up the NSW state government for most of the last decade. Supposedly it was some Sussex Street political genius who persuaded Rudd to abandon his climate change policy..

  14. Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Don’t assume that Sussex St are smart just because they are evil.

    HAHAHAHA

    This has nothing to do with politics as such (the clash of interests of large-scale social forces). It’s just court intrigue.

    Dude, Marxism has limitations. Court intrigue is at the core of power. Courtiers have controlled the world since the State arose and still do. Please see Cheney, Rumsfeld, resumes. (and yes they are agents of social forces)

    Gillard won’t do much different but she’ll suck up to the right people better, while keeping strikes illegal.

    I think Kevin Rudd is exactly the kind of technocratic robot he denied being in his kaspeech. Gillard is a true personaility. So is Abbott. That’s one of the reasons this election is interesting.

  15. Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    So to win she will have to fuck the unions that backed her…?

    Or demonstrate well that she's not a puppet? Hawke was well associated with the unions. Didn't do him any harm did it? The working class asserted their interests at the last election. The reasons why they did are still pertinent.

  16. Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Um

    Kevin Rudd is exactly the kind of technocratic robot he denied being in his kaspeech

    Should read: Kevin Rudd is exactly the kind of technocratic robot he denied being in his maiden speech.

    Apologies.

  17. Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    The Pointy Haired Boss is no longer PM. This is an unambiguous improvement in good government (as I posted here).

    The biggest danger for Julia (who is both competent and personable) is that the things which were annoying voters about Kevin get to be-splatter her. So, she has to defuse the time bombs in Kevin-generated spending and be seen to be different in her approach. So, she needs enough time to establish herself as a functional PM but perhaps not so much time that said time-bombs go off before they can be defused.

    I would also be wary of making the same mistake about Abbott as people did about Howard pre March 1996 (and then strangely kept making). Tony is highly electable because people have a sense of him. i seriously doubt the new PM can make Tony seem unfit to govern, but all she has to do is seem a reasonable bet–which I take to be well within her capacities.

  18. Melaleuca
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    David Jackmanson says:

    “Most recent Newspoll had ALP ahead on 2-party preferred 52-48, that is, at the same level as the last election. Don’t assume that Sussex St are smart just because they are evil”

    You haven’t been paying close enough attention.

    Newspoll allocates preferences based on a formula as it doesn’t actually ask voters about their preferences. Polls that do ask voters about their preferences show that a much larger proportion of Greens voters will preference the Coalition ahead of the ALP than Newspoll believes.

  19. TerjeP (say Taya)
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Marginal seat polling showed the ALP losing badly.

  20. Posted June 25, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    It was certainly a panicked move, but the panic had some basis to it.

    As usually happens, the leader suddenly starts making good heartfelt speeches once it’s too late and he’s already lost.

    On a human level you have to feel sorry for Rudd, not least because of the shock at the speed with which it happened – in a way it has been brewing for a couple of months, but few people really thought it likely to happen, not least because it has never been done before. Even on Tuesday you would have got long odds from most Labor MPs that Rudd would be gone on Thursday.

    Personally, I think it wasn’t so much that Rudd/Labor was in trouble that tipped things, it was that he didn’t seem to give any indication that he knew what to do about it, (or perhaps even that he accepted that he/Labor was in trouble).Rudd’s well documented (and I believe accurate) lack of even the most basic skills in managing and working with colleagues provide the tipping point.

    An extraordinarily fast fall

  21. TerjeP (say Taya)
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Gillard holds an ideological worldview quite different to my own. However for the moment at least I feel much more comfortable with her in the top job instead of Rudd. She also neutralises Tony Abbotts “fair dinkum” slogan because she is fair dinkum. Now if only we could get the ALP to cut taxes, or at least keep tax reform revenue neutral, instead of dreaming up new ways to screw us then I could vote for them. As it stands I’ll be holding my nose and giving my preference to Abbott.

  22. Deano
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    The majority of Australian voters didn’t realise Rudd was destined to be a disaster because they were force-fed rubbish by media pundits and never questioned its wisdom.

    Will they be so foolish a second time around?

    Dare I suggest Australia starts thinking for itself instead of swallowing the muck dished out by the Canberra press gallery?

    Collectively, the press has crawled so far up Julia’s backside they’ll never see daylight again. All we read (and hear) is spin, spin, spin. How pathetic.

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