Campaign countdown: it’s a confidence game
The true states of mind of our politicians can be a tricky thing to pin down, but in less than 24 hours we’ve caught a couple of glimpses of what’s really going on in Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott’s minds.
This morning’s Sydney Morning Herald reports Kevin Rudd’s chief-of-staff has been quietly sounding out MPs, making sure the PM still has the support of his troops.
Meanwhile Tony Abbott has taken the extraordinary step of denying details revealed in an official party room briefing to journalists - for fear he may look too cocky.
First to Rudd. According to Peter Hartcher and Phil Coorey, Rudd’s right-hand man Alistair Jordan has canvased at least half the caucus to gauge the mood on his boss.
Most telling, according to the Herald, is that Rudd doesn’t fully trust the public statements of support from his deputy Julia Gillard.
While some caucus members are edgy about their electoral prospects, Mr Jordan’s exercise evidently discovered no defectors from the Rudd camp.
Well that’s that then.
One of the weird conventions of parliament in Canberra is the “off the record” briefings given to a room full of journalists are each Coalition party room, and each Caucus meeting, by an unnamed “spokesman.”
The cat was set among the pigeons yesterday when the Coalition briefing yielded this quote, attributed to Mr Abbott in the meeting: “Victory is within our ready grasp… we are in the reach of a famous victory.”
By nightfall on his way into a function Mr Abbott had poo poohed the quote, saying the “spokesman” has misinterpreted what he was saying, which was actually more along the lines of the election is winnable but don’t get ahead of yourselves, or something like that.
As much as both leaders like to claim underdog status, neither of them actually want to be the underdog.
In the Labor partyroom meeting it was a bit of same old, same old for MPs, who again urged the PM to “do something” about the mining tax, because clearly he didn’t get the message when they told him the same thing last week.
In the Labor partyroom yesterday, the NSW Right faction’s up-and-coming star, Lindsay MP David Bradbury, contradicted the claims by Mr Rudd and Wayne Swan that the weekend by-election in Penrith was exclusively about state issues. Mr Bradbury highlighted a range of problems and urged the Prime Minister to resolve the fight with the miners over the RSPT immediately.
So Rudd did what anyone else in this situation would do, and dispatched Swanny to the 7pm Project to talk up the mining tax.
One of the more entertaining sideshows to the main game has appeared in the last couple of days in the form of dumped NSW MP Belinda Neal - she of Iguanagate fame.
There’s speculation Neal, who lost her pre-selection in a hard-fought battle a couple of month ago, is considering running in her seat of Robertson as an independent. (Having spent a bit of time up that way I would be my house she wouldn’t make it into double figures).
But more fun, was her little kamikaze act yesterday, telling the SMH that yes, indeed there is talk in the caucus about Rudd’s leadership. Ahhh Belinda, the gift that keeps on giving.
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