With Newspoll giving Kevin Rudd – Krudd? Harry Potter? Boris and Natasha, anyone, anyone? – some clear blue water in voter preferences, it wasn’t surprising that the forces of darkness would start trying out a few lines of attack.

Andrew Bolt was quick out of the box, with a 6.51am sledge about the difference between what Rudd was saying and what he was doing. Piers Akerman had already glommed on to Julia Gillard as the trailing wildebeest, as had Christopher Pearson in The Australian. Janet Albrechtsen performed the difficult sledge-that-looks-like-an-endorsement, and the National Affairs Editor of this august publication is daily twitching like a seismograph at the mercy of large and distant movements.

But of course they’ve all got a reason to be nervous. If Federal Labor can win in 2007 – still a long shot, but less of one than a week ago – then the consequences are momentous, for Labor will not only have across-the-board control of Australian government, it has the potential to maintain such a situation for several years.

Given the performance of Labor state governments and Rudd’s stated policies (“Rudd ditches socialism” – Good God. The nationalisation of the 120 largest companies is off then? What next? The return of the DLP?) that is unlikely to be the October revolution, but more interesting is the likely fate of the Liberal Party.

Put simply, it will more or less collapse, in a manner far worse than Labor ever suffered.

The difference lies in the varying ideological bases of the parties. Labor can still call on the vestigial idea of a cause in its darkest hours. But anyone with an idea of civic duty has long since been driven out of the Liberal party – all that remains are men and women on the make, and creepy hardcore conservatives, with no real base in Australian public life.

Given electoral disaster those on the make will simply melt away, leaving the party in the hands of the meddlesome Abbotts. Demoralised, lacking staff, resources and power, the Federal Liberal party will have the same problem as the state ones now have, viz. they’ve fallen and they can’t get up – and there is nothing on the horizon to indicate how they’ll get up.

Of course News Ltd will probably pull the usual false honeymoon trick – wine and dine the new Labor incumbent and then… well, they don’t call it a honeymoon for nothing. Par for the course, but it would be a pity if independent media sources were disfigured by the same distorted motives.

Peter Fray

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