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For caucus there is no alternative to 'Albo'

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 10 October 2013


The results of our poll on the Labor leadership should buoy Anthony Albanese, not only is he overwhelmingly the preferred ALP leader by a significant margin, but he comes with some of the most positive ratings that I have seen for a politician.

It doesn't matter what voting segment you are talking about but he blitzes his opponent Bill Shorten. While he's the preferred leader for ALP voters by 76% to 24%, it doesn't change much for Liberal voters who prefer him 74% to 26% with only the final digits swapping places.

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Only minor party voters resist his charm a little, but he still has a solid majority there too

These figures almost guarantee that Albanese has to win the leadership ballot. The new leadership selection process was chosen to give the grass roots a greater say, and those who should know, say that this opportunity has galvanised people to rejoin Labor.

If the party membership vote is genuine, and I have no reason to think that it isn't, then its result, although it is secret at the moment, will mirror what we are seeing here.

If caucus members vote differently, then we will have the spectacle of a house divided against itself. Labor lost the last election partly because it spent too little time listening to the electorate and its own natural demographic base and too much time listening to union and social media elites. If it votes for Shorten, then it will show that it is still not listening to its grass roots supporters and average voters.

If the Caucus vote prevails over the membership vote, then the grass roots, that has become invigorated, will wither away again. What is the point of voting in such large numbers for one candidate and still losing?

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We will also have proof that the Labor Party has been choosing parliamentary representatives who are very unrepresentative of its own base, and be entitled to ask just what that base actually is.

This is quite a different situation from the last parliament where both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott were not the leader most popular with the general electorate. Yet while the public would have preferred Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull respectively, it was never the case for the party membership. In both cases Gillard and Abbott had the support of those they most closely claimed to represent. That was why changing leaders to Rudd was so difficult for Labor - the grass roots didn't support his candidacy, even as they despaired of hers.

And things get potentially worse for Labor if they don't choose Shorten when you look at the qualitative results.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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