It’s her party and she’ll ignore it if she wants to
Kevin Rudd’s much-criticised failure to look NSW Premier Kristina Keneally in the eye ahead of health reform talks last week was a supremely weird moment. Keneally is in the equally bizarre position of leading a party voters say they are going to crush in the polls but also decisively support her as preferred premier ahead of Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell.
Rudd’s gaze-averting and fist-banging had all the hallmarks of a snub but taken with the Premier’s attempts to brand herself as Kristina Keneally and nothing to do with Labor, you have to wonder whether the incident may in fact have suited her strategy of putting distance between herself and the party.
With polls on the two-party preferred measure indicating voters are waiting with baseball bats for the NSW Labor Party in next year’s state election it’s perhaps understandable that they would want the focus to be on personalities rather than the party machines.
Keneally’s website launched a few weeks ago and on the home page there isn’t a single mention of the Labor party, save for a sheepish reference in the bottom right hand corner saying the site was authorised by the party’s state secretariat.
It is a breathtakingly brazen strategy that seems to assume voters will be so bewitched by the Keneally’s magnetic personality and media presence that come polling day everyone will vote for her and cast aside memories of the party’s tawdry behaviour and inability to organise anything that even remotely looks like actual policy.
Her slogan is “a new direction” - the precise direction isn’t clear but you’d be hard pushed to find any level-headed NSW voter who thinks the state is capable of going in any direction under Labor, other than backwards or down the gurgler. (Still “a new direction” is at least preferable - and mercifully shorter - than Morris Iemma’s risible “more to do, but we’re heading in the right direction” from 2007.)
But watch this space - or rather, watch the space between Keneally and the ALP machine from Rudd down over the coming months - and see if it keeps getting bigger.
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