Modia Minotaur

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Leadership Furphies

Today's headline story in The Australian suggesting that the ALP machine have put Kim Beazley's leadership on notice is, once the story itself is read, somewhat misleading, and makes an interesting juxtaposition with last night's episode of SBS's Insight (check the menu on the left for a transcript). Though there is certainly some appetite for leadership change amongst the Labor rank and file, as well as amongst some in the union movement who feel a golden opportunity to push the impact of industrial relations changes is slipping away; it seems there is no such appetite within the party room itself, at least before the next election. This balance is much the same as what was reflected on `Insight'. Does this represent some disconnect between the party room and the rank and file? Arguably, yes (yesterday's poll putting both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd ahead of Beazley would certainly suggest it). It would also form a good argument for Gillard's suggestion that factional alliances prevent rather than foster internal party democracy, when a candidate that has the clearest public support can never get chosen because of whatever faction he or she is in. However, it also reflects a good deal of pragmatism on the part of the party room. The closer the next election comes, the greater the risk of a leadership change becomes, disproportionate with the possible advantages.

Meanwhile on the other side of the political fence, there's suggestions that a poll taken in the marginal Sydney seat of Banks is the Liberal Party's way of testing the waters for a possible leadership change. Do they really think so? I'm not so sure. Given it's a marginal seat, surely there's at least as much chance that this was Labor Party polling. To my mind, if this was Liberal polling, it's the other questions that constituents were asked that prove more interesting than the ones on leadership, because a number are on issues usually considered Labor territory, including industrial relations, healthcare and education. But again, I'm certainly not as convinced as the Herald that it was Liberal rather than Labor that the questions were being asked for.

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