“The Bomber has to start hitting his targets,” Dennis Shanahan wrote in The Australian last week. Really?

If we’re going to have fun with nicknames – and if, more importantly, Labor wants to win the next election – then a different message is needed. We need to bell the cat – or rather, the roosters. We need to go back and have a look at Shanahan’s yarn:

Kim Beazley is going to have to change his front bench or practices before Christmas. If he doesn’t, he will be leading a divided and dysfunctional Labor Opposition into an election year…

It is a familiar refrain within Labor ranks about Beazley and does not presage a leadership challenge, but its intensity is at a new high.

For months, Labor has been competitive in the polls and taking advantage of dissatisfaction with the Howard Government over industrial relations reforms, the impasse in Iraq and rising interest rates…

It goes on to talk about Labor’s poor performance in last week’s Newspoll and “Beazley’s prolonged lagging behind John Howard as preferred prime minister”.

What’s really behind the supposed Labor leadership challenge? Well, it’s a very good way of drawing attention away from the poor performance of the roosters in the shadow treasury and IR portfolios.

What better way to avoid blame by pinning the blame on your leader? Have the roosters set the chooks running? And will the chickens come home to roost?