Rudd’s had a good few weeks in the polls and the media, and things are looking up for the ALP. What do I think is going on here?
Firstly, I have a lot of time for Mumble, blogging at the Australian. Despite being a definite Rudd supporter, I think he’s calling things as they are. His view is that Rudd is assuming as much authority as possible, and looking as prime ministerial as possible, so that he can campaign as an incumbent. And he’s definitely doing that, moving into Yarralumla, holding a tea session with all the ambassadors in Canberra, and rushing around declaring stuff.
He’s also going out of his way to cauterise all the wounds, and campaign as though Julia never happened. In fact, as though the first 3 years of Rudd never happened either – without a hint of shame he’s campaigning as though he had no record that he needed to defend. It’s an interesting mix – claim the authority of being Prime Minister, but claim none of the baggage of incumbency. If he can pull it off, if the media let him pull it off, he could be in with a good shot.
Let’s look at some of the detail here:
- NSW Labor. The problem is that the corruption in NSW is dragging down the numbers in that state. So giving the impression of taking stern action to deal with the problems is critical to recovering vote share. The fact that what he’s doing is pure window dressing that has no impact at all (taking over the party for 30 days, changing a few rules to stop people from doing things that have nothing to do with the actual corruption, then giving it back) does not appear to be visible. This will help.
- Shifting the carbon tax to a floating carbon credit scheme early. The fact this creates a large budget black hole can be ignored apparently.
- Creating an accord style agreement with business and unions to work on productivity. No mention of the fact that productivity is dropping largely because of the laws that Labor changed, no discussion of the fact that in his first term he created a zillion enquiries and commissions that delivered nothing. Productivity is something that the papers talk about as a problem, he’s doing something, that’s enough
- No more class warfare. You make this true by just saying it, not by changing the policies that were creating it. Interesting.
- Changing the way the leader of the ALP is elected, partly to so that the party can’t sack him, partly because it gives the illusion of doing something. The changes are probably positive, but they don’t do what he’s claiming
- Challenging Abbott to a debate. Debates happen during election campaigns. He’s chosen to take back the prerogative on setting the election date, what comes with that is that you can’t have debates until you announce the date. He’s again trying to both have the benefits of incumbency whilst still acting like the fresh new guy
I don’t think this can all last. The first blush will wear off, and people will realise that they really don’t like listening to Rudd drone on about nothing with lofty ideas and no delivery. Hopefully. And the opposition are wise to keep their heads down a bit during this period, let him rush around announcing stuff, then point out that it’s all just piss and wind, and no delivery. The only things he delivered were pink batts and an education revolution, we’re paying for those now.