Kevin Rudd’s best assessment of his political position came on Channel 9 this morning when he rejected suggestions he could almost taste victory, not at his party’s national conference over the weekend.

“I have a sense that this is a marathon race,” he told Today.

“What I know is that I’m up against a very clever politician who is my opponent and at best I think we have just rounded the halfway point.”

There was a constant sense of anxiety at the Labor national conference. There was anxiety before Rudd’s speech. There was anxiety before the uranium debate. Feelgood moments like the presentation of life memberships to Gough and Margaret Whitlam couldn’t end the tension.

The party is pleased with its performance, but terrified of messing up.

“We are up against a very clever politician who has been in office for 11 long years. We have made some real progress. We got our policy up and out there to protect fairness for working families right across the country.” 

The Budget is the defining moment of the political year – particularly election years.

The defining moment of the Labor conference had nothing to do with debate. It came when people crowded into the media room to watch the Prime Minister interviewed on the Sunday program on the big plasma screen.

Rudd might have the poll lead, but John Howard still has the job of Prime Minister – with all the powers it commands.