Ask the right question to get the answer you want. A wonderful example this morning of how if an opinion pollster asks the right question he can provide the headline his client wants and quite clearly the Sydney Daily Telegraph did not want another of those boring “Labor still comfortably in the lead” stories. It was after something bigger, brighter and more controversial so toss in a question asking the mob if they think Kevin Rudd is someone who can turn nasty if he doesn’t get his own way. Even raising the question will leave the impression that there must be something in it and hey presto we have “evidence” for the catchy headline:

Yes, the polling found that 43 per cent of voters agreed Mr Rudd was someone who can turn nasty if he doesn’t get his way, compared with 31 per cent for that nice Mr Malcolm Turnbull. Not that it means much, mind you. Like all of the other major pollsters in the last month, The Tele ‘s Galaxy poll still has Kevin Rudd clearly preferred as Prime Minister over Malcolm Turnbull, and Labor keeps cruising along with a bigger lead than it had at the last general election.

There’s not much joy in those figures for the Liberal and National parties and, if you believe they indicate what might happen when the next election is actually held, Labor should be a very short priced favourite indeed. Out there in the market, however, that is not the case, with the Crikey Australian Federal election indicator, based on the probabilities indicated in prediction markets, pointing to quite a close contest.

Retail sales strong enough to keep interest rates on hold. Another month in April of growth in retail sales is probably reason enough for the Reserve Bank to keep official interest rates on hold when it meets tomorrow even though the rise was less than that predicted by financial industry economists. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures out this morning showed turnover increased by 0.3% in April, following a 2.2% increase in March, a decrease of 2.0% in February and increases for the previous four months including a 3.8% increase in December 2008.

The level of turnover, in seasonally adjusted terms, remains above the level of the trend at November 2008. The median forecast of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for an April increase of 0.5%. According to the same group of economists, the Reserve Bank board will probably leave the benchmark rate unchanged tomorrow at 3 percent for a second month to gauge whether the stimulus helps the nation rebound from its first recession since 1991. The Crikey Interest Rate Indicator clearly points in the same direction.

Imagine the fuss. I can not put it any better than the comment made this morning by a reader on our new daily media summary page:

Imagine if 70 Australians had been attacked in India in the past year. The media here would have frothed a lot sooner than the Indian media has. The true number of attacks is far greater than 70, as many go unreported. The police have a lot to answer for. Shades of British police in the 60s and 70s- an institutionalised culture of denial. Can [Victorian Police Commissioner] Overland see this?

Relations between Australia and India are in danger of deteriorating to a very dangerous extent and our politicians do not seem to grasp the anger being created in India by Australian police downplaying the significance on the series of assaults on Indian students studying in Melbourne. The scenes of riot police wading in to demonstrating students yesterday will further inflame passions when shown in India today.