Thursday, 13 May 2010

The politics of personality

The ongoing decline in the Rudd Government's popularity and approval rating is part of the inevitable reflection communities make on incumbent governments. How did it happen? How can a government that was so phenomenally far in front now be behind in the run-up to the election?
There is no doubt that the answer to that is: Tony Abbott. His political savvy and relentless discipline in the last little while has been remarkable. Not unlike that of his former leader and mentor, John Howard.
But it needs to be said that, by and large, the battle ground has not been policy (what are the Liberal policies any way?) but personality. The Liberals have ruthlessly and relentlessly painted Rudd as boring, wordy and remote. One would have to say that they have been successful.
They have also been able to hammer the enormous spending spree that the fiscal rescue seemed to demand. (What would they have done?) and despite the annoying nature of its repetition...the idea of the Great Big New Tax has been fed into the nation's psyche and people don't like such an idea.
Equally well, political liabilities have been kept out of the public eye. Where, for example, has the agressive Ms Bishop been? or the twee Mr Pyne?
I suspect that the Libs have had (good) advice that they are both political liabilities and so have been kept very much in the background.
Will the Labor party then be sucked into this game and start playing personality politics. It will be fun to watch! It will be dirty! But is it good?
I don't think it is yet all over for the Labor Party, but they need to get their act together if they are to be credible.

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