So, if we start with the SMH, they have little good to say for Gillard today, although again some luke warm praise and careful phrasing to explain that it’s not Labor that’s the problem, things just haven’t worked out well.
Paul Sheehan spruiks Bill Shorten’s chances. I can only interpret this as a realisation that Gillard is in trouble, coupled with a determination that Rudd shouldn’t come back. Problem is that Shorten is so closely associated with the unions, in particular the AWU. So whilst the argument that Gillard might stand aside for Shorten where she wouldn’t for Rudd is perhaps a good one, I’m not sure that moving to Shorten would help Labor’s chances. Sheehan notes
“It did not get much better when the Prime Minister campaigned in western Sydney last week. If the public buffeting her class warfare received is reflected in the next set of polling numbers, a pall will have fallen over her leadership that will be difficult to remove.
Even though Gillard is ahead of where Kim Beazley, Simon Crean and Mark Latham were in public opinion polls before they were deposed as Labor leaders, if she falls any further it will finally be time to treat the poll numbers as a prelude to panic.”
I think it’s stretching things to suggest that Gillard is doing well in the polls. Labor are doing very poorly, only in the preferred leader stakes is Gillard doing well. And remember that those other leaders were not Prime Minister, actually being PM is worth probably 10-15 points in the preferred PM polls.
There is also this interesting observation: “As for Shorten’s own behaviour lately, he has been manic. Privately, he has been counting heads. Publicly, he has been seeking to mobilise both the left and the right of the union base, the 18 per cent of the workforce given such priority by the federal government.” Interesting in that I haven’t seen comment on it before, the fact it’s being talked about now could presage something.
From Katerine Murphy we have “But former WA Labor planning minister Alannah McTiernan called for Julia Gillard to resign, saying the party faced an ‘absolute massacre’ in the federal election.
Ms MacTiernan told ABC news on Monday that she believed the federal result could be worse in that state, such is the animosity she observed towards the Prime Minister.
‘It’s pretty simple and it’s pretty brutal,” Ms MacTiernan said. ”They’re saying they don’t like Julia Gillard, they don’t believe her.
‘The overwhelming reportage from the doorstop, from the shopping centres, was that people were saying, in Labor heartland, they were saying ‘ok we’ll vote for you guys but no way are we voting for federal Labor and Julia Gillard‘.”
I wonder whether they’re building up to a leadership attempt in the next two weeks. It’d be a big call, the budget isn’t far away, so whomever took over would be faced with presenting a budget that they hadn’t created. But there isn’t a lot of time before the election. The last speculation I saw had June as the likely spill date if one was coming, allowing the election to be pulled forward to take advantage of the honeymoon period. Interesting times.