EDITORIAL MONDAY 22.11.10.
The latest Neilsen Poll published by the Sydney Morning Herald shows that the Gillard led Labor government is struggling to gain public support. With the two party preferred figures favouring the opposition 51% to 49%, it appears that if there was an election held today the government would lose office. Of course, the fact is that there isn’t going to be an election held today and, in theory at least, there won’t be until 2013. And in the unlikely even that a snap election is brought on any time soon, the fact is that calling an election actually has an impact on opinion polls because people are pushed into making up their minds. When an election is actually called, it suddenly becomes real rather than hypothetical. So, despite the continued poor performance in the polls for the Labor Party, it’s all really just academic.
Or is it? Already, barely three months since the election, and about five months since the sacking of Kevin Rudd by his own colleagues, there are hints of whispers of rumours of suggestions that Prime Minister Gillard may be targeted for similar treatment if the polls don’t turn around. At this point, it is not an imminent threat, but the prospect that such a thought could be contemplated by anyone in the Federal Labor Party is extraordinary. It is also an indication that there are at least some who have simply not understood the meaning of the message delivered to them at the election they so nearly lost. It is a lesson that the Labor Party has failed to learn in New South Wales, and can’t afford to ignore at the Federal level.
The idea that any government can avoid electoral defeat in the wake of poor opinion polls simply by bringing down a leader and replacing him with a shiny new one is not only misguided, but it is morally bankrupt. Perhaps it gained some acceptance because Morris Iemma won an election in New South Wales after replacing Bob Carr despite widespread discontent with the government at the time. But the difference was that Bob Carr actually retired, rather than being forced to leave. Paul Keating won a Federal election after bumping aside Prime Minister Bob Hawke, but that was only because Liberal Leader John Hewson couldn’t cut up a birthday cake without getting confused about the tax implications.
The bottom line for both the New South Wales and the Federal Labor governments is that dumping a leader in response to poor polling will always bee seen by the voters for what it is. That is, a pathetic attempt to hoodwink the voters not to notice that bringing in a new clown hasn’t changed the fact that it is still the same old circus. It’s a clear indication of a government which has become more concerned with polls than with policy, consumed by their own spin, and completely out of touch with the real world. If any such move is ever launched against Julia Gillard in the coming year or so, it will be a sure sign that the same old desperados are still looking to blame anyone but themselves for their failures.