Abbott v Putin:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re “Abbott v Putin: it’s a man-off” (yesterday, item 11). David Ritter’s article will prove to be the most relevant Crikey analysis of all of the Liberal leader’s impending election success. It is an interesting comparison with Bernard Keane’s item, “Labor Will Return to the Rudd Brand“, which compares the merits of changing the leadership, installing unknowns to the leadership, or elevating established “personalities” to the leadership … it seems to be taken for granted that actually being a leader is beyond the abilities of the Labor cohort.

Abbott’s approach might look hokey and fake to those who prefer Julia Gillard’s more coached, professional fakeness. They spurn Abbott’s obvious play-acting and inability, or rather unwillingness, to articulate a policy. On the other hand, they perhaps regard Gillard’s confection of leader-ey sounding phrases and endless repetition for the sound bite market to be, if not inspiring, at least professional. Just like their own managers and colleagues, in fact.

But to the annoying millions who have to vote, there is no comparison between these images. Abbott looks far more like a workplace leader in a workplace that actually makes something. Gillard sounds more like the representative from head office who you suspect couldn’t lead boy scouts out of the bush, who is paid lavishly but is terrified of a shovel. Such leaders have to provide evidence of their entitlement: they must appear intelligent, to have a plan, and be able to explain the punter’s part in it.

The only way Gillard, or any other Labor leader, can regain momentum is to actually argue the case, relentlessly, expand the public agenda, convey ideas, promote discussion.  In short, sound like someone who knows about the policy, not just who has memorised their lines for the day.

Gavin R. Putland writes: Tony Abbott should have been wearing eye protection while hammering. Tough guys’ eyes get no respect from flying nails or any other shrapnel that might fly away from a hammer blow. As a former health minister, Abbott should set a better example.

Peter Fray

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