So, what do I think Rudd is up to now.
My take is that the party are happy for Rudd to “save the furniture.” But Rudd doesn’t want that – his view is that he’s the natural leader of the Labor party. If he just “saves the furniture” then he’ll get sacked again straight after the election, and basically he’s been used by the party. Whereas I think the party would actually like that outcome – the thought of serving under Rudd as PM again really doesn’t go down well.
So, we have a conflict. For Rudd this is all or nothing – anything less than winning isn’t really enough for him. He’s prepared to gamble on a win even if that means that a loss might be bigger than they expected. So, for example, he’d like to campaign in Coalition marginal seats, which raises the risk of losing Labor marginal seats. The party would probably prefer to just shore up the Labor marginal seats and not worry about the rest.
I think this also flows into calling the election. Rudd would like to call it for a time that he thinks he can win it. If that means delaying it, then that’s fine. He thinks that his popularity will grow over time. The party, conversely, just want to save the furniture. They’re worried that the more the public see of Rudd the less they’ll like him, so they want to go early to maximise the harvesting of the bounce.
I think there’s a Newspoll due on Monday. All outcomes lead to pressure on Rudd to go now:
- A drop would be used to say “go now before you lose any more ground”
- A plateau would be used to say “it’s as high as it gets, go before it starts dropping”
- An increase would be used to say “go whilst you’re high”
This is all informed by a party belief that it can’t get any better for Rudd. Rudd himself, of course, thinks differently:
- A drop is a temporary aberration, better to wait and tidy up a bit more of Julia’s mess so we can get a gain
- A plateau means that lots of bad news and “clearing the decks” happened this week, and notwithstanding that we held ground. Imagine how good it will be next week with clear air
- An increase is a sign of a trend, keep waiting and it will get better
Rudd may go on Monday, but it feels to me like he’s going to hold on. I don’t think the G20 is a real factor, if the G20 is right before the election there’s no way he can afford to leave the country and go to it. I do think that he doesn’t want to recall parliament, he has too little trust in those under him to let them get back in the public eye any more than absolutely necessary. So he has to call it in the next couple of weeks sometime.