Back in June pollster Mark Textor reported to the Liberal Party that the Government had to stop Labor setting the agenda, stress its economic management record and paint Labor as a risk – or it would face electoral oblivion. At the National Press Club this afternoon Prime Minister John Howard certainly stressed his economic management record and the risk posed by Labor but he discovered again just how difficult it is to set the agenda.
As this election campaign draws to a close, Labor is clearly making all the running. Try as he might to put an emphasis on the economy, Mr Howard could not divert the attention of journalists from the latest dirty tricks and questions about his own retirement. The media coverage is bound to revive memories of the headlines which accompanied the leaking of the Textor research back in August.
“Leaked dossier reveals Howard’s desperation” said the Tele.
“Old Tricky and Losing” screamed the Melbourne Herald Sun.
In the Adelaide Advertiser the Prime Minister was “Dishonest and Too Old”.
The antics of the Liberal Party in the electorate of Lindsay have surely ruined the attempt to get voters to concentrate on the Howard message that his government had transformed the nation for the better and that a Labor government would undo all the good work.
Most people will not even get to hear or read Mr Howard’s chosen words. The television grabs will all be about Labor’s subjects.