I was going to start with a little story but I read a column in “The Age” today. And I’m pleased to say that after last week with their column from Nicole Flint calling Abbott the “thinking woman’s candidate” and their editorial calling on Gillard to stand down, they’ve restored some balance: They have an article from an ex-Labor State MP… calling on Gillard to stand down. But they’ve balanced this by another opinion piece saying that Labor shouldn’t put their hopes in Rudd because he’s too flawed.
Of course, I’m all too aware of the irony of writing a blog about how we’re all sick of people talking about the topic of this blog, so I thought I’d start will a story that has nothing to do with politics.
Once upon a time, Keith and Leanne were a couple, but someone stole Leanne away. Keith was bitter and started saying things, behind their back. Eventually, Keith made an attempt to win Leanne back, but this was unsuccessful. At this point, he said that he wished them well, and that he was going to get on with his own life. About a year later, a friend to both Leanne and Keith said that it was obvious that Keith wasn’t getting on with his life and that Leanne’s current relationship wasn’t working out. So Simon arrange for Keith to meet with Leanne. Keith didn’t show. When asked why, he said that there were no circumstances under which he would be getting back with Leanne. A few months later, Keith starting to help organize Leanne’s engagement party. Some people said that this was Keith’s way of getting Leanne back. When asked about this Keith replied, I’m just helping out and I already said a few months ago that I didn’t believe there were any circumstances under which I’ll get Leanne back. The gossips who’d been repeating all the things that Keith had said, now started to say that there was a BIG difference between the two statements, and Keith’s denial was further proof that he was still after Leanne.
Ok, I’d like to deny that the above story is an allegory where Keith is Kevin Rudd and Leanne represents the leadership. Simon is, of course, a made up character. And…
Yes, that’s right. You don’t believe me. It’s clear that I’m not telling the truth. But let’s just look at the story as a story for a second, and asks ourselves the simple question, what if Keith is telling the truth? What if he has decided that he has no chance of getting back with Leanne?
I – like everyone else – think that Rudd would like to be given the opportunity to be PM again. And I think that if he had the numbers, he’d challenge. But let’s just consider the possibility that there is no challenge this week. Everything he has said publicly is consistent with him working toward a Labor victory. And we’re very much in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario here. If Rudd campaigns, he’s undermining Gillard. If he sits back and does nothing, he’s refusing to help.
Yes, we all KNOW what Rudd is thinking. The media tells us all the time. And yes, the polls say that he’s much more popular than Gillard. But will responding to bad polls so close to an election just make Labor looking poll driven and lacking in a clear vision.
Gillard may well lose. And maybe Simon Crean had the right idea a few months ago when there was time to give people the idea that Labor had “united” under Rudd. But it seems to me that Labor’s best hope is to be able to into the election saying these are things we’ve achieved, these are the things we hope to achieve and we’ve stuck to our principles against all attempts to divert us from what’s important.
The cliche “the only poll that matters” does have a certain truth. But I also think that elections are not just about winning. They’re sometimes about presenting a clear view of how you see the future. When the Liberals lost in ’93, several of them said it was a mistake to let the public in on what they intended to do. I disagree – if you get elected the public find out anyway. If you don’t, at least they know what you’re arguing for. But there’s one poll that I think is relevant now, and I’ve framed it so that Abbott should be a shoe-in.