The polls are confusing me. I have studied goodness knows how many opinion polls over the years I have been involved in running election campaigns but I have never come across anything remotely like a seven percentage point change in support for a political party in the course of a fortnight. Something very strange has gone on and I simply cannot take this morning’s Newspoll result seriously. It will take another couple like it — and with all the other pollsters pointing in the same direction — for me to change my mind.

I will stick for guidance from the Crikey Federal Election Indicator, which this morning has Labor still an 80% chance to win the next election.

The only speculation I can make, which goes halfway to explaining things, is that those people surveyed were in a mood to give Kevin Rudd a kind of “by-election shock” where, knowing that their vote is not actually going to count for anything, they let him know that they don’t like what he has been saying about boat people. And those people who don’t like his words are in two distinctly separate categories. There are those with a dislike of the whole notion of coloured refugees and think Labor should be sinking boats rather than rescuing them and then bleeding hearts who think that his get-tough rhetoric and actions are totally inappropriate for a Labor Prime Minister.

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Spare a thought for the President. As Mourilyan goes around at Flemington this afternoon, spare a thought for the horse’s owner, who has been doing things a bit tough back in Chechnya in recent days. They play their politics tough in the Russian Caucasus and the Chechen’s race horse-owning President Ramzan Kadyrov was the subject of an assassination attempt just over a week ago.

RiaNovosti reports that Chechnya, which saw two separatist wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is being swept by a fresh wave of violence. Shootouts and attacks on troops, police and other officials have been reported daily and Kadyrov, a former separatist who fought against Russia in the first Chechen war but who now has pledged to end militancy in the country, occasionally leads police operations. His father, the previous leader of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, was assassinated in May 2004.

After looking at that picture, my advice to jockey G. Schofield is to make sure that he gives his mount every chance as his seems to be an owner you would not want to upset.

A firm favourite at 2.30pm. The punters dithered around early in proceedings and toyed with making half a percent the favoured way but it is the 0.25 per cent rise that has ended up on top of the Crikey Interest Rate Indicator.

The probability that the Reserve Bank this afternoon will announce an increase in its official rate of 25 basis points — I’m tossing in that piece of money market jargon to pretend I know something about this interest rate caper — is put at 79%. My actual expertise is shown by my earlier decision to actually put some of my own hard-earned on there being no increase at all, which has blown out to a starting price near 50/1.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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