When Kevin Rudd seized power from Julia Gillard, it was expected he would call an election that same night – he didn’t, and I was the first commentator to write why conventional wisdom went out the window on that occasion – See, “Rudd’s Agenda – why no election date”, also on this blog.
So, CAN Kevin Rudd win this election? The answer is very simply YES! However, WILL Kevin Rudd win this election is a more complex matter.
It’s no secret it’s a closer contest since the Gillard dumping, but as I’ve reported in previous posts, it was always going to be a matter of whether Kevin Rudd moved quickly to a polling day, or made the mistake of giving the electorate a chance to be reminded of what he’s like.
He’s named the date and even chosen a date earlier than the September 14 date Ms Gillard had selected. There’s a reason for that – it’s because Rudd’s original plan to appeal to the electorate over time has proven a failure.
He’s enjoyed a brief jump for himself and the Labor party and such should have been an obvious result given the level of disdain the electorate had for Ms Gillard. Let’s face it, Julia had become so unpopular she was leading Labor to a defeat of such magnitude, it likely would have eclipsed all previous disasters.
Just about anything was going to improve Labor’s polling, so the jump Kevin got shouldn’t be a surprise, but equally quickly, he started to be himself once again and in his own unique way, he’s undermined the gift that change gave him.
It has been said the election will be won for Labor in Queensland, and also that it will be lost for Labor in NSW – there’s merit in both statements. If Rudd can win back more seats in Queensland than Labor loses in NSW, he’s on his way to a win, though there are issues elsewhere that play a role.
I spent a lot of time campaigning throughout Australia, especially in Queensland. It’s nothing like Sydney and even quite a bit different to rural NSW. Queensland is like a couple of different states – in southeast Qld, they see NSW as filled with foreigners and Victoria, well, as another planet.
Then there’s the Far North Queenslanders – they don’t necessarily see the southeast of the state as, ‘Real’ Qld.
While Rudd is a Queenslander, his appeal was multiplied by the QLD view that Ms Gillard was the wrong woman and from another planet – Victoria. Just changing Gillard improves Labor’s prospects in QLD, but will it be enough?
In the past 10 days or so, Labor would have become aware of a movement back against Rudd and the most recent polling points to a dangerous slide for Mr Rudd and a victory for Tony Abbott and the Coalition.
As egotistical as Mr Rudd clearly is, even he may have become concerned by how much more of the reclaimed ground would be lost if he went on any longer with, “Hi I’m Kevin, I’ve changed and I’m here to rescue the Nation from Negative Tony.”
So we are witnessing a return to the conventional wisdom that was cast aside on the night of Julia’s assassination – call an election for as soon as possible and blur matters with a hard fast campaign.
I have no doubt that if current signs had been different, Rudd would have dragged the election date out much longer, as he flitted about appearing to be all things to all people – in the first few days of his reclaimed Prime Minister-ship, it must have looked to him like the strategy of going longer would work – how wrong he has been thus far.
Kevin Rudd is his own worst enemy – the more we see of him the more ground he will lose, but the biggest issue for him will be his own mistaken belief in himself – to the end, he will believe himself to be the saviour, and should he lose, he’ll hate we Australians for not seeing in him, what he sees in himself.
To the numbers: will Rudd effectively win more in Qld than he loses in NSW and elsewhere? 24 hours in politics is a long time, and we’re weeks away, but I think the answer is No.
While I very much recognize an election can be won or lost in the last 48 hours, sometimes the last 24 hours, if forced to make a pick right now, I’d place my bet on Tony Abbott as the next PM of Australia.
That said, a lot can change in the next few weeks – Labor usually campaigns harder and better than the Coalition and decisions made by state governments at this time can be a strong localized factor. I don’t think the minor parties will have any significant impact outside QLD, but the Coalition needs to campaign at least as well as Labor to finish in front.
There are too many overall factors for one article, but at this time this far out, all things being equal and as they currently appear, I’m of the view there’ll be enough of a victory for the Coalition for them to govern comfortably on their own. Not anything like it would have been with Ms Gillard as Labor leader, but enough to send Kevin off looking for a job with the United Nations.
As things progress and the election draws nearer I’ll write of any changes and the specifics of how those involved are dealing with the campaign – the most important campaign since John Howard sent Paul Keating into retirement in 1996.
SPECIAL NOTE: Nothing I’ve put here should be even slightly construed as suggesting it’s a lay down Misère for the Coalition – it’s just how my experience causes me to view things at this time. Election Campaigns are a minute by minute affair – even more so in this 24/7 news cycle.
Regardless of how positive anything may appear or anyone might suggest, the Coalition needs to be working their backsides off all the way past scrutineering after 6pm on Election Night – no slacking off and nothing left undone!