Talk of an interest rate rise off the back of a jump in inflation is all over the papers today, but would one necessarily be bad news for the government?

Yesterday, Kevin Rudd says he could not guarantee interest rates would not rise under Labor. The PM and the Treasurer, however, say there is no case for a rate rise. They say that the annual inflation rate is still running safely within the Reserve Bank 2% to 3% target band.

And even if rates do rise, there’s still a considerable case that the government will benefit.

Some voters will want to punish the government. More will want to stick with the devil they know. This is where John Howard’s 53%/28% lead in Newspoll as the better economic manager comes in handy. Punters have remembered his scare campaign on interest rates – and Labor not only dropped the ball on this one long ago, but lost it. Why?

Well, the highest point government interest rates reached under Paul Keating was 7.9%. The highest point government interest rates reached under Bob Hawke was 19%.

John Howard did better. In April 1982, he presided over government interest rates of 21.39%. You can see the spreadsheets for yourself on the Reserve Bank’s site.