Mandate shmandate

I have mixed feelings about the unceremonious dumping of Kevin Rudd by the federal ALP. On one hand, Kevin Rudd was failing miserably to sell his governments achievements and communicate with the public, on the other the way that a sitting Prime Minister was executed because of a few months of bad opinion polls could set a bad precedent.

Is it possible that internal party strategists and pollsters and bi-weekly opinion polls have killed off Australia ever having a long term Prime Minister like Howard, Hawke or Menzies ever again? Are we heading to a trend similar to NSW where cosmetic makeovers in a leadership change replace any attempt to govern better in the long term?

In the last 3 years the Liberal Party has gone through 4 leaders. The two leaders after their election loss, Nelson and Turnbull were constantly hampered by poor opinion polls. Media analysis of their policies (or lack there of) style and ideology was sidelined for the simple  two party prefered and prefered Prime Minister opinion poll. Politics had become a football game, nice and simple with a score and clear winners and losers.

The euphoria and popularity of Rudd was never going to be sustainable in the long term, and the ALP should have known this. Politicians are not naturally “popular” and shouldnt be expected to be, they are there to govern. Even long term governments, such as most recently the Howard government were very rarely hugely popular. Howard rode high in the prefered PM stakes when he was against ineffective Labor leaders like Beazley and Crean, but this soon changed when he faced a stronger opponent like Latham and Rudd.

Credit to the Liberals, they showed that you can turn votes around and win elections from strong oppositions by more than just a cosmetic change of leader. The Labor Party should have come up with a plan to work out why people were disenfranchised with the government, worked to appease their concerns and communicate the governments successes more effectively. Instead it gave up, treated the electorate as mugs that would change their votes purely because of a different face in the top job.

Governments should govern for the sake of improving the country, not as a game just to stay in power. If governments continue to dump unpopular leaders then no long term reform would ever be achieved, the hit in opinion polls would scare them off ever making necessary but unpopular decisions.

For what its worth I like Gillard much better than Rudd and I hope she leads Labor to victory this year, but like many I have a sour taste in my mouth at the way our democratically elected Prime Minister was dumped because of ALP power brokers, mining executives and Newspoll.

IF Labor do lose the upcoming election, a saving grace could be that it would scare future governments from the short term poll driven musical stairs style leadership we have seen recently and think long term even if it means being unpopular.

rant over.


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11 Responses to “Mandate shmandate”

  1. Iain Hall Says:

    And what a good rant it is BTW 🙂
    Nice to see some realism from the left!

  2. Executions near and far | IAIN HALL Says:

    […] of the political execution of poor old Brother Number One by the Big Red ( a good rant about it here) this morning I want to turn to a  different issue, an  execution of a very different […]

  3. Leon Bertrand Says:

    The decision to axe Rudd was based on internal polling which showed that across marginal seats, he was an outright liability for Labor. The polling revealed that voters became very disillusioned with Rudd after his many broken promises, lies, backflips and bungles.

    With voters so angry and dissapointed, Rudd was at the stage where voters weren’t listening to him anymore, and wouldn’t believe him when he promises again to deliver.

    The decision to dump Rudd was therefore a wise tactical one. There is no doubt that Labor faces a much greater chance of winning under Gillard than with Rudd, as she takes far less responsibility for the government’s mistakes than Rudd does. Unlike Rudd, people are willing to listen to her and give her a chance.

    Rudd was given a chance and blew it.

  4. Chasy Says:

    I think you’ve summed it up nicely. We’re in an age where we are governed by media, not policies. I’m not saying that I was Rudd’s biggest fan, but the way in which he was chucked was definitely lacking in integrity, that’s for sure.

  5. cosmicjester Says:

    Leon I think once the spill was called he never would have regained authority and Gillard was the best bet. I havent seen this polling but as Rudd still beats Abbott in prefered PM and some polls have put the ALP in a winning lead on preferences I dont think the election was unwinnable for Labor.

    Howard got away with lies and backflips and still got elected, and if Howard can go to an election on a 10% GST and win then I think it’s possible to win an election with a profits based tax on mining.

  6. Spock... Says:

    Good stuff.
    I also prefer Gillard to Rudd, and am excited about our first female PM. But not like this.
    How much better would it have felt if we went to the polls and elected a female pm for the first time. We could have owned it.
    I also agree that we are in a bad place democratically and for good governance if PMs can be treated with such litte dignity and dumped by their own party because of some bad polls and some heat from the mining lobby. A very bad place indeed.

  7. Tweets that mention I ranted on the #spill and poll driven politics when I couldnt sleep last night. -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by cosmic jester, Kitty Farrell. Kitty Farrell said: RT @cosmicjester: I ranted on the #spill and poll driven politics when I couldnt sleep last night. […]

  8. rayedish Says:

    Nicely put and I agree. I too prefer Julia Gillard (but don’t like her education policies) and think she’ll make a good PM, but it hurts seeing Rudd cut down like, and, as you point out, the longer term implications of pandering to the polls are quite disturbing.

  9. Bronwyn Says:

    As Peter Hartcher points out:

    Rudd’s polling support had taken a brutal hit but two polls this week put his government in a winning position. A Newspoll and an Essential Media survey put Labor ahead by 52 per cent to 48 on the two-party share of the vote.

    It’s just ridiculous, the whole thing. Rudd would have won. Why? Tony Abbott.

  10. Leon Bertrand Says:

    The 52-48 poll was based on the assumption that the vast majority of Greens votes would have preferenced Labor. Given the anger with Rudd and the disengagement and dissapointment of many voters, that’s a shaky assumption.

    Furthermore, a poll the fornight before put the Coalition in a 53-47 lead.

    Finally, internal party polling in marginal seats showed that it was Rudd himself who was the biggest barrier to swining voters voting for Labor.

  11. Bron Says:

    So, anyone think Jillard is any “better” than Rudd, still? She’s not going to change a fucking thing — the big fuss about a female PM is ridiculous.

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