Wendy Wedge has a good record tipping the Howard wedge tactics and now she’s predicting a hell of a backlash in the aftermath.

As you will all remember Wendy outlined, some months ago, the broad lines of the strategy John would follow to claw himself back into power. A few weeks ago Wendy also told you that he’d get back with an increased majority, warned of the retribution which could well follow and suggested that he probably wouldn’t step down as a leader during this term.

All that was easy but now politics really starts to get interesting.

Now Wendy admires Howard and believes that he, as predicted, is right up there with her other hero Richard Nixon. He’s not quite up to Ronald Reagan and George Bush standard with wedge politics because they managed to get others to do if for them as they remained “above the fray” as statespeople.

Poor old John, however, finds it hard to get good help and was forced, like Dick, to do it himself.

This is fine for winning the election but not so fine after the election. Indeed, it can be a nuisance because the wedge strategy does have a slight tendency to make your opponents both angry and determined to get even.

So what does Wendy think might happen next?

Well, first things first. He’s not going unless somebody blasts him out. Moreover, Peter Costello’s hapless efforts during the campaign make Wendy’s boy a good bet for a fourth go. This would put him in front of that awful socialist failure, Malcolm Fraser. Most importantly, in young Peter’s outings against Simon Crean during the campaign he generally got done like a dinner making it seem a tad odd to put him up against the incoming leader.

Which leads of course to what Labor might do.

Some soul-searching is obligatory of course. This can readily be dealt with by a campaign review followed by an announcement that there will be a major policy review. The first would take a month or so and the second could take more than a year giving Simon the chance to get on with the real business chasing scalps.

Now the Press Gallery, which normally gets most things wrong, will say that Labor has to focus on new policies and new approaches. Simon is much too smart for that. Policy can wait rekindling distrust and dislike of Howard is a much higher priority.

Already the proposed Senate inquiries into gagging Defence and the various lies by Ruddock, Reith and others give a good view of which way things will go. It’s also the right strategy because all those people out there who hate Wendy’s boy and want to get even are going to be cheering on every attempt to paint him as dishonest and illegitimate.

Now Simon may have been a charisma free zone but he is tough and has shown a capacity to re-invent himself at important stages in his career. He started his career in the Storeman and Packers when that union was both feared and formidable and has been a fearsome parliamentary head-kicker. In recent months, in contrast, he has segued into vision type speeches about the future and industry policy.

Most importantly he’s got good genes. No, not from the kindly and gentlemanly Frank, but from his mother Mary who makes Janette Howard look positively wishy-washy.

Meanwhile those narrow-minded and mean-spirited elites who don’t see Howard’s greatness can be relied on to do everything they can to support the Crean attacks. Indeed, if there is a Howard third term honeymoon it will be the shortest ever and probably ended with the headlines in Monday’s papers.

On the sidelines will be some other players. Ah Satan will have problems of her own as she continues to try to pretend that her leadership has not been a disaster.

Who thought up the slogan “Change Politics” will need to be shot for a start. Most of the Democrats’ natural constituency have had the misfortune to be in organisations such as tertiary institutions, the public sector etc etc wrecked by so-called “change agents” and probably had neurotic reactions the moment they saw the word change.

Neverthless, as she needs to continue to assert that it was only the Lees’ support GST which prevented her being swept into the Prime Ministership herself she clearly won’t make the mistake of supporting anything that Howard does.

And if the party which mixes with the fairies at the bottom of the garden will be bolshie what on earth will the Greens, who are out there with the pixies in the bush, get up to?

So what will Wendy’s boy do? As we said some months ago never under-estimate him.

He won’t be silly enough to try to re-invent himself as a caring, conciliatory uniter of the nation.

In the short to medium term he’ll roll with the punches and absorb the punishment.

When it gets closer to decision-time Wendy’s bet is a major terrorist security scare which becomes linked, in some way, to Labor.

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Peter Fray

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