Kevin Rudd, damaged goods:

James Burke writes: Re. “Essential: Rudd is damaged goods, and badly damaging Labor in turn” (yesterday, item 1). It’s easy to say that Kevin Rudd has no one but himself to blame for his plummeting popularity. But he shares the blame with the cult of populist, principle-free propaganda that has come to dominate the ALP, pushed by the Right faction, not only but most noxiously in NSW.

Euphemised as “Spin”, this cult bewitched the Carr government into photo-op/media-release atrophy, was exported to Britain, undermining good intentions and poisoning the Labour brand for the long term, and has managed to capture the Lodge under Kevin Rudd. It is a philosophy that admits only one hope, one goal: the exercise of power.

Many have commented on Rudd’s deterioration as a communicator, and the impact this has had on opinion polls. I’m sure it is connected to his relations with the NSW Right. The parasites of Sussex Street started out as unionists working for their own careers, at the expense of the union members they purported to serve. They have no compunction in selling out voters for the same goal.

Everything is geared to the tactical victory, the favourable headline in the Daily Telegraph or screech from the Parrot. The careerists don’t care that the legions of the reactionary media will inevitably turn against Labor in government. By the time the shit hits the fan, they’ll be out working for Macquarie Bank, or the Minerals Council, or the Australian Chamber of Human-Sourced Soap Product Manufacturers.

If Rudd wants to be remembered as Big Kev, the worker’s friend, the hero of Australia, he should start by insisting on a widening of investigations into electoral office rorts, as sparked by the Paluzzano affair in Penrith. He will certainly lose some colleagues in these necessary purges, but his opponents will suffer equally.

He might follow up by promising a Royal Commission into the global warming debate and the influence of vested interests. This would be charged with the mission of figuring out if the entire phenomenon of global warming is merely a propaganda effort of little green Jewish Freemasons from Pluto. Or not. And if not, who paid the piper? Of course, this would mean taking on his opponents. Which as a PM shouldn’t really be so hard.

Vincent Mahon writes: Many within the ALP are angry, devastated and shattered at its plunge in electoral fortunes and staring at the prospect of the Rudd Government becoming a one term government. All this is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s own doing.

The latest polls understate the problem for the government. A comparison of the Nielsen polls conducted in November 2009 and the latest May 2010 poll shows the growing headwinds.

27-28 November 2009
2PP BY AGE 18-24 25-39 40-54 55+
ALP 53 62 55 63 48
Coalition 47 38 45 37 52
PM’s Performance
Approve 74
Disapprove 22
Uncommitted 4
6-8 May 2010
2PP BY AGE 18-24 25-39 40-54 55+
ALP 50 66 51 52 42
Coalition 50 34 49 48 58
PM’s Performance
Approve 45
Disapprove 49
Uncommitted 6

In less than six months Rudd’s approval rating has plunged by 29 points and his disapproval rating worsened by 27 points. A remarkable negative 56 point turnaround.

With the exception of the 18-24 age group, the other groups’ voting intentions have all changed substantially to the government’s detriment. Such changes will be significant in swing seats. The resource super profits tax will have the greatest impact in QLD and WA. SA and northern NSW will also be affected.

Government held seats in rural and regional QLD are under threat, as are seats in WA, northern NSW and parts of SA. The back flip on the ETS will put safe government inner city seats under pressure from the Greens.

The government has created uncertainty with these decisions and also with the botched insulation rollout. The government cannot rely on retaining government because Abbott is Opposition Leader.

The ALP underestimated Howard in 1996 believing voters would not elect him as Prime Minister. It then did not believe voters would re-elect him. Similarly the Howard Government in 2007 underestimated Rudd believing voters would not make him Prime Minister.

The government’s problem is Kevin Rudd. It will be promoting a leader who stands for nothing and creates uncertainty. Not a winning combination in marginal seats-especially in QLD and WA.

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Mungo: when Rudd goes, it will be kicking and screaming” (yesterday, item 16). Crikey has always been brave enough to print my rants about the phoney who is Rudd and the old left fellow traveller who is Mungo. Mungo seems to think that a BER which delivers a $1500/sq.m school hall for $5000/sq.m is good enough for hard working families who pay the taxes to support such manifest waste and rorting.

Older and wiser heads saw through the Mandarin Candidate quite early — the goody two shoes posing for door stops in front of churches on Sunday, while abusing hapless staff on Monday morning’s VIP flight. Rudd the false prophet leading us to the promised land to defeat the “greatest moral challenge of our age” — climate change. Sorry, the opposing army turned up and er … er … Kevin07 called off the battle and did a runner. It was so much nicer in Bali or Copenhagen waltzing about with the Obamas, Gores and other assorted green ratbags.

You name it, Rudd the bureaucrat and backroom manipulator has stuffed it up. Pink Batts from China, electrified foil from Queensland; BER school halls which normally cost $1500 per sq.m morph into $5000 per sq.m barns (darling Julia never did maths while running a student union). All totally predictable and predicted by those of us who inhabit the real world — not that world of policy wonks, tickboxers, and sanctimonious prats like Kevin bloody Rudd.

Tony Abbott’s election campaign:

Maire Mannik writes: Re. “Here come the towelheads — Abbott hits his stride” (yesterday, item 9). The Liberal map with the great big red arrows coming down is nothing but a big steal from the Democratic Labor Party campaigns of the 60s and 70s except that in theirs it was the Commos not the Arabs coming down. Still with both parties leaders unreconstructed Catholic fundamentalists with close links to the cardinal of the day, one can hardly be surprised. And does the Abbott image have some sort of hair paint? I think we should be told.

Denise Marcos writes: Immediately following Abbott’s “real action” ad on TV I expected normal programming to resume i.e.: to a recent episode of Leave It To Beaver or Rawhide. But then I realised my mistake — back in the 1950s Australia actually encouraged, not discouraged, different cultures to settle here.

Glen Frost writes: That picture the Libs are using with all the big red arrows pointing into Australia (representing the tsunami inflows of illegal boat people) reminds me of the beginning of that great BBC institution, Dad’s Army; whereby Adolf’s red arrows flowed across Europe and almost invaded England, thankfully Sir Winston and Dad’s Army saved the day. Surely the BBC could sue for copyright theft?

Could you run a photo of the Dad’s Army “Map of Europe” next to The Liberal’s “stop the illegal’s” advert so your readers can compare (the farce)?

CRIKEY: Sorry Glen, we looked but couldn’t find it. If any Crikey reader can, send it to [email protected]

Full Metal Burqa:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “To burqa or not to burqa?”  (yesterday, comments). The yellow peril. Reds under the bed. Burqa terrorism? But wait a minute. This wide brown land’s own culture hero Ned Kelly wore, albeit made in metal, a costume closely resembling the burqa. Is the national subconscious alarmed — in a purely Freudian way?

Frank Birchall writes: In Western countries the face is an essential part of one’s identity and social interaction. We all rely on the face as an expression of who you are and the emotions you feel. In many ways, you are your face; without it, you are a figure without identity.

People with covered faces become in a sense invisible. In particular, one’s eyes and mouth can convey a lot in conversation. What a loss to us all if smiling and laughing are no longer visible. So I have no problems with the hijab, but the niqab and burqa are out!

Potential immigrants to Australia should understand this as a condition of entry and wearing the latter two in public should be banned. The “freedom of expression” argument is a red herring: freedom can never be absolute and if we are not free to walk around naked in public, people should certainly not be free to wear the anti-social burqa or niqab.

Demand-driven universities:

Danu Poyner writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 15). Regarding Richard Farmer’s snippet yesterday about cutting resources to philosophy and other humanities courses, I can confirm that the same is already happening here at home.

The Bachelor of Social Science (Policy & Research) program at RMIT is being shelved as of next year. Despite being popular among students and highly regarded in industry, the university has decided it can make more money by giving places to only the highest-demand programs.

A fast recipe for intellectual and cultural paucity if the trend continues, and as the Government is moving to demand-driven funding for university places in the next couple of years, it looks like it will.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey