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The irrational slide to Rudd

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Nemo surdior est quam is qui non audiet - no man is more deaf than he who will not hear. Or so Janet Albrechtsen believes.

Last Friday, conservative commentator, Janet Albrechtsen, let fly with her thoughts on John Howard and his reluctance to surrender the office of Prime Ministership in favour of one Peter Costello (The Australian, September 7, 2007).

For the last six months the media has portrayed Labor's looming landslide as virtually a fait accompli.


Fairfax Media is keen on it, running an A.C. Nielsen poll on Monday, September 10, foreshadowing the annihilation of the Liberal Party. Crikey! runs story after story about the Liberal Party’s death throes. The socialists in every state and territory are bursting their bladders with glee. And now, some conservatives are barking madly, hoisting the white flag and running with their tail between their legs. Quite a sad sight really.

Yes, Ms Albrechtsen, current polling is indeed a shock for conservatives (including me) but your petulance regarding John Howard’s grip on the nation’s highest office is frankly unwarranted, undignified and more to the point, misreads the evidence.

Where Ms Albrechtsen sees symptoms, such as recent (bad) polling, just like a graduate med student with sweet little medical experience, she draws the wrong diagnosis and ponies up the wrong prescription.

The recommendation for a baton change from Howard to Costello as the cure-all for the Grand Old Party (GOP) of Australian politics is flawed for three reasons.

First, her claim is unsupported by public polling, where Howard consistently outpolls Pierre. And a hand over to Pierre assumes that he is more popular than say Alex, Malcolm, Tony or Brendan. Is that true? And what about the very bright, high achieving and telegenic Julie Bishop? Surely there is more vigour and more marketability in a Tony Abbott-Julie Bishop tag team, than there is in a Peter Costello and whoever-he-chooses as his No. 2? That said, poll after poll after poll indicate that no Liberal is more effective or popular than Howard. Not one.

Second, Liberals (not to mention socialists) are all too aware that Pierre (as leader) will be more vulnerable (than Howard) to a smear campaign by the ALP, given (on the stump) he’s a less skilled opponent than Howard, less in touch with the battlers, and oh-so-easy to paint as a popinjay. Ditto Alex, ditto Malcolm.


Third, Ms Albrechtsen’s suggestion that Tony Blair’s passing of the baton to Gordon Brown should be emulated by John Howard, is truly laughable, as it spotlights how badly she misunderstood not just what Blair did, but when he did it. What part of “Blair was not on the eve of an election when he and his vulgar, loud mouthed, leftist wife moved out of No. 10” don’t you understand Ms Albrechtsen?

The truth is that Rudd’s electoral appeal is a product of five factors:

  • the ALP’s gross exaggeration of the impact of WorkChoices;
  • the media’s lust for new personalities on which to comment;
  • the media’s inability or unwillingness to remind the public just how badly the socialists mismanaged the economy when they were in power under Keating, and earlier than that, under Whitlam;
  • the harvest of not reminding the public of Labor’s incompetence has fed the fantasy that the economy can run just fine under the socialist yoke as it has for 11 years under the masterful stewardship of Howard and Costello; and
  • the sleeper issue of course has been Rudd’s stunning ability to silence all those in his party whose comments could shatter the ALP’s “moderate” facade. Witness Muslim apologists like Tanya Plibersek and Julia Irwin who have been missing in action. Witness Shadow Environment spokesman Peter Garrett, who seems to have developed laryngitis. Ugly unionists have conveniently had their tongues removed. Note also the skill shown by the ALP in containing the anticipated rage of their natural constituency, the great unwashed, who it was believed would cause untold damage and run riot through the streets of Sydney during APEC. While credit is due to New South Wales Police Commissioner Andy Scipione let’s not forget the hard yakka of the ALP machine men in demanding their protesting comrades behave well and not give succour to the Liberals by acting wildly and being arrested for being good Bolsheviks.
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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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