Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Who's Got The Numbers?

Virtually all media outlets are calling Monday's leadership ballot in favour of Kevin Rudd. Based on my infallible politico-scientific methods, combining those who have declared their position, study of the way votes fell in the last leadership vote, and other factors such as who might have been promised what cabinet position should they make the front bench, I've arrived at the figure of 47 for Rudd, 34 for Beazley and 7 impossible to call, having refused to make any public statement and/or being too difficult to predict. This is roughly in line with the numbers being quoted in the media. If I'm even roughly correct, that means a pretty easy win for Rudd. Neither man - but Beazley in particular - can afford a result as close as that in the last leadership ballot.

The Rudd-Gillard team has certainly been hitting the hustings (yes, you'll find no mention of the term `Dream Team' here), looking rather like the mortal enemies who've just become School Captains. Rudd has been criticised for not clearly enunciating the different policy directions that they might take. I think this is a wise move on Rudd's part - anything clearer and further away from current policy, and he'd be forced to backtrack and accused of insurrection should he lose the ballot.

The most interesting aspect of this leadership battle is that it appears to be a slap in the face to the factions and unions, who are themselves unnaturally divided over the vote (on the other hand, much is being made of the fact that the Ferguson brothers are each plumping for a different candidate, yet they did exactly the same for the Latham vote). Also notable is the changing patterns of support amongst the states. Unlike his predecessor, who registered his support not for Beazley or Latham but for Rudd (who, let's not forget, was a formal candidate in the last leadership ballot), Morris Iemma is backing Beazley, while Peter Beattie, always a vocal supporter of Beazley, has switched his allegiance to Rudd. Unsurprisingly, WA's Alan Carpenter is backing Beazley, while both Victoria's Steve Bracks and Tasmania's Paul Lennon, both Beazley supporters previously, are now refusing to comment. No word on Jon Stanhope, Clare Martin or Mike Rann, though I have a feeling Rann would be supporting Beazley. Unions NSW have also withdrawn their long-standing support for Beazley, and a major factor in the battle could be the way members with strong union background or backing may vote. Satisfaction with Beazley's performance in the area of IR isn't enormous, given that it's supposed to be the key issue for the next election - but Rudd has not exactly been an outspoken commentator on the issue, and his comments at yesterday's various press conferences were ambiguous, particularly on the crucial issue of abolishing AWAs.

All four players in the drama have made their cases in this morning's political TV, Gillard and Rudd on Rudd's regular stomping ground, Sunrise. Rudd's weekly appearances on this show should not be under-estimated (there's even suggestions that the fact that the same audience who know him from Sunrise are the same who would have been appalled by Beazley's Rove McManus/Karl Rove gaffe was a decisive factor in the leadership issue coming to a head). As did Mark Latham, Rudd has always known the value of reaching over the heads of a disinterested or hostile caucus and making direct representations to the public to increase his support.

Meanwhile, Beazley appeared on Channel 10's Meet the Press, and Jenny Macklin on Insiders, the latter attempting to push home the view that Gillard - no big fan of Rudd's - is only agreeing to the challenge in order to best position herself for a leadership coup later on. Now, Macklin has produced a lot of policy behind closed doors, some of it good, some of it - such as changes to voluntary student unionism policy - lousy. But one thing is for certain - she's just not a very good public performer. It would be in everyone's best interests (excepting her own, obviously), if she moved to another role. Though, as Mr Minotaur pointed out this morning, he had no idea who Macklin was but also only knew who Mark Vaile was because he's always in trouble for something. One school of thought says the best way to avoid being a target is to be invisible.

I imagine that, in the back rooms, a fair bit of anxiety is being stirred up by raising the specture of the `failed Mark Latham experiment' as it is invariably termed, particularly given Gillard's strong support for Latham. This has always been one of my worst fears after Latham resigned - that the party would never make an audacious decision again. This is a party that should make audacious decisions - in fact, will not go forward without them.

If I were considering my vote this weekend, who would I vote for? Still a very difficult question, but I think I'd tend towards Rudd. Still, I'd be lying if I confessed to the sort of excitement and catharsis I felt before the last leadership ballot.


At 2:20 pm, Blogger Denis Wilson said...

Nice, calm rational analysis. I have been saying for ages that Kim cannot win against Howard, who has his measure completely.

If it has to be Rudd (no-one else is putting their hand up) then, fine, lets go with him.
He has been the most hard working Shadow Minister, and so he seems an obvious choice.

Is that damning him with faint praise? Maybe, but Lindsay Tanner is not running.
Wayne Swan is smiling like a Cheshire Cat. That's a worry.

As I see it - we cannot afford to waste any more time, by sticking with Kim. So, take a deep breath, folks, and go with Rudd.

At 4:16 pm, Blogger Armagnac Esq. said...

Agreed, good work.

BTW are you a labor member and if not when am I getting to sign you up??

At 6:26 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

Cheers, you lot ... :)

It's funny how Rudd's a figure that never inspires a great deal of passion - perhaps it's his media style, which is quite measured and dispassionate. That makes it hard to do more than damn him with faint praise, as you say - he seems to hold the public at arm's length, so it's hard not to do the same with him. I hope he does loosen up a bit - I've heard him in less formal interviews, such as the one he did with Radio National about his interest in Chinese culture, and he's much more engaging when he loosens up a bit.

Where is Lindsay Tanner? I don't know whether he's the perennial bridesmaid or simply has no designs on the top job (a shame, as I think he'd be good at it). Perhaps he's looking to be more of a John Faulkner conscience-of-the-caucus type figure.

Oh, and Armagnac - believe me, if I wasn't already an active member I'd have a lot more time to spend blogging! Oh, the irony ...

At 9:37 am, Blogger aboshady said...

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