It doesn’t look like Kevin Rudd will win this morning’s ballot, but if he did he could not become prime minister today, if at all.
That’s because Labor’s majority is based on personal deals between Julia Gillard and the independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. Kevin Rudd would have to renegotiate them, which would take time (17 days?) if it could be done at all, and the Governor General would be unable to appoint Rudd as prime minister until he had a majority of the lower house.
This is interesting but academic because Gillard will comfortably win the caucus vote. And that’s because her situation, and that of the ALP, is not all that dire; they don’t need to go back to Rudd to win the next election. If it were that clear they did, Rudd would win.
Independent polling analyst Andrew Catsaras presented a stunning analysis of the polls on the ABC’s Insiders program yesterday which put the almost hysterical coverage of the supposedly disastrous position of the ALP in a whole new light.
Catsaras combines the results of the five major pollsters: Neilsen, Newspoll, Essential, Morgan and Galaxy, which produces an average monthly sample of 8,700 respondents and a margin of error of 1%.
He said yesterday that the primary vote of the ALP is 33%, the Coalition 46% and the Greens 11%. That translates to a two-party preferred vote of 54-46 in favour of the Coalition, or a 4% swing against the government.
He then said: “I think that something people need to realise is that governments have been in poorer positions than this government much closer to the election and yet they’ve still won. That’s happened three out of the last seven elections.”
The other important point he made is that Julia Gillard still leads Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister. This would be news to a media consumer: you would think, reading the newspapers and watching the TV news bulletins, that she was Jim Scullin, about to suffer a swing of 22%, as Scullin did in 1931 to Joe Lyons, or as one newspaper actually suggested, Billy McMahon, the least popular PM of all.
It’s not the most appealing story to tell, but the Gillard government’s position is not all that desperate, at least going into today’s ballot for the leadership.
It will presumably worsen this month following the sudden frenzy of public recriminations over the past week, but from where the polls stand at the moment, the government would only have to recover 3% of the two-party preferred vote to be guaranteed of victory at the next election, at least according to Andrew Catsaras.
But it’s been awfully interesting to watch someone so consumed with frustrated ambition and bitter resentment that they explode before our eyes, like a sort of manic blonde suicide bomber.
At least with most unfair dismissal cases, there’s a chance of a settlement and a nice cheque to go away and shut up. This preposterous escapade – effectively a late unfair dismissal action – by Kevin Rudd, could only ever end in disaster for him, and for the party.
You’ve got to wonder, though, what is going through the mind of Anthony Albanese.
Robert McClelland and Kim Carr you can understand, motivated as they are by petty vengeance over their demotions. But Albanese tearfully supporting Rudd because of the 2010 coup? Please.
This article first appeared on Business Spectator