Which side of politics is more prepared to back their prime minister when the chips are down? That’s the question asked by Bernard Keane in today’s Crikey.

Keane has compared John Howard’s first-term polling with that of our newest former PM, Kevin Rudd. His conclusion? “If you want collapses in voter confidence in first-term governments, Rudd had nothing on Howard.”

All of which suggests that even the twitchiest Labor MPs should’ve known (or did know) that they could win with Rudd, reinforcing the idea that it all came down to a bunch of hurt feelings on their part.

Keane’s potted history lesson also reminds us that “being an effective prime minister — or at least one determined to achieve real change — is hard, and takes practice”.

Rudd, like Howard, may have grown into the role given half a chance at re-election. The result might have been a more mature, more effective reformer.

Instead, the early signals suggest we’ve got ourselves a prime minister who’s prepared to walk away from just about anything that might hurt at the polls.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey