Wednesday, 24 March 2010
PM scored strong win against Abbott in health and hospital debate at National Press Club. Abbott too weirdly negative for mainstream Oz.
@PremierMikeRann Twitter 23 March 2010
The media’s conclusion that the worm’s positive reaction to Rudd yesterday showed that voters don’t like negativity is absolute nonsense, of course. If it were true, political parties wouldn’t run negative ads – like the ones Labor ran yesterday on Abbott’s record as Health Minister.
What the reaction of the worm (and the worm’s followers, the media) showed yesterday, was that Rudd is better at being negative. He was wrapping up in positive vibes an anti-political attack that is at the heart of the health debate.
When Rudd says now is the time for cooperation, it is not because he actually wants the Liberals’ help. What he is saying is that the Liberals are unjustified doing anything but cooperating. Much has been made of Abbott being at a disadvantage yesterday because he lacked a health policy. But as Laura Tingle noted last night on Lateline, he already has one, and it is pretty well the same as Rudd’s – devolution of power from the states to local boards.
Abbott’s attack on Rudd came not over any serious disagreement with Rudd on the policy, but because of his need to give the party he leads a sense of it standing for something distinct. This is forcing him to take a fight up to the government, even when it’s about nothing. This may be fine when it is done in front of assembled Liberals in Parliament who need reassurance the game is on. It is even fine when it is done in front of the media who seem generally to need the same thing. But when the media get told by the public what a turn-off it is, the narrative changes.
Abbott did the best he could by highlighting the government’s weak point in this debate, namely that there is no reason a federal Labor government will do better than a state Labor government (in fact given its lack of social base, it could do worse). But Rudd stuck closer to pin-pointing Abbott’s central weakness, that he has heightened the aggression on government when it is based on nothing. In fact, Abbott is putting himself in the way of where Rudd’s attack is really aimed, and which has so much support, the state governments.
Rudd was on his home ground, not health but anti-politics, and suddenly the media has noticed his linguistic problems have improved. As Bruce Hawker confirmed last night, the government is now zeroing in on how Abbott’s weakness comes out, an empty aggression matched with a flip-flopping that belies the ‘straight talking’ image. Hawker’s suggestion that this theme of empty obstructionism will be underlined with a Double Dissolution seems credible enough. ‘Kevin07’ looks to be making a comeback, as the media have noted, because Rudd will probably do Abbott in 2010 like he did Howard in 2007. It has taken a few months, especially given Labor’s natural inclination to make Abbott into an extremist that he is not, but the government looks as though it starting to get Abbott’s number.
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 24 March 2010.Filed under Tactics