Leadership watch – Howard at the launch

Tuesday, 13 November 2007 

The warm, valedictory music to announce Howard’s arrival was perhaps not a good idea. It gave a feeling of the final episodes of the West Wing with Martin Sheen hobbling on his stick to the podium. All the cast was there, all the old differences reconciled, Janette even gave Tanya a hug.

The schools initiative was targeted at the Liberals’ base to help with private school fees. In reality so was the housing initiative. Howard doesn’t really get the housing affordability crisis. It is an anti-politics issue not a straight-out financial one. It is not so much a hand-out that is wanted but empathy, and an admission by the political class that it was wrong to deny its existence. There will be less concern on the numbers being handed out by Howard or Rudd but the message behind the hand-out and Howard’s remains that the economy is strong and you are on your own. In fact because the right message is not there, all the numbers being handed out in this election are fairly meaningless. For this blogger, about the only two numbers that can be recalled from this entire election are the $34bn tax cuts and the $500,000 going to the lucky orangutans.

Howard twitched and squeaked a couple of times at the beginning of his delivery, which is not surprising given that he was being forced to do what he has avoided for the last six weeks, talk about a future that he has promised not to be part of. Rudd, at last, was spot on message that there was in fact only one response to the launch’s promises, Howard will not be around to deliver them. In fact, it has been the message of the entire campaign, something that Labor has only just managed to discover.

This was not the usual rally of a government party heading for certain defeat, which are usually kicking and screaming affairs asserting tribal values. This was flat and low-key and Howard’s values came from a Menzies speech from 1942(!). Looking back to the party’s pre-history is probably appropriate given what is coming, the most poignant sign of which was the choice of the Brisbane Lord Mayor to open the launch. On November 25th he will hold the highest office of any Liberal in the country.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 13 November 2007.

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