Another small sign. The  Westpac/Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment perhaps provides a clue as to why Labor has been improving its standings in the recent opinion polls. People are getting more confident again after quite a dip earlier this year.

The index increased by 6.3% in November from 97.2 in October to 103.4 in November, coinciding with the Newspoll finding of Labor getting up of its two party preferred vote floor of 42% to a more respectable 47%

A difference of opinion. Same story. Same city. Two newspapers. Different owners. And a dramatically different interpretation.

While it might be tempting for some to detect an anti-Labor government Murdoch bias (or a pro-government Fairfax bias if you prefer to look at things that way) there was considerable variety in the way that the News Limited papers covered the passage of the carbon tax law.

Not much evidence for conspiracy theorists in that lot.

Not meeting a deficit abolition timetable. I suppose it is easier for a government that has just won re-election than one that can be forced to the polls at any time on the whim of an independent. Canada’s finance minister Jim Flaherty announced yesterday that he will not be able to balance the country’s budget by 2014-15 as promised during the May election campaign. The  European debt crisis was portrayed by Mr Flaherty as the villain.

In Australia, meanwhile, Treasurer Wayne Swan is staying committed to his balanced budget by 2012-13 promise made just over a year ago before Australia’s last election. “That means tough decisions will have to be made in terms of the budget,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.

When the microphone is actually on. It was just a couple of leaders having what they thought was a private chat before making a joint public appearance but the microphones giving an instant translation for journalists were already on.

“I can’t stand him any more, he’s a liar,” said President Nicolas Sarkozy in French about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day,” replied President Barack Obama.

Not the most diplomatic exchange between leaders about a supposed ally but not the first moment of truth reported when politicians thought it was safe to say what they really thought. The BBC has collated some of the famous ones including Ronald Reagan doing a sound check with radio engineers and joking around about annihilating his Cold War enemies:

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” The tape was later broadcast. Note to all current and future politicians: when working with audio engineers from the news media, keep the jokes to a minimum.

It pays also for politicians to remember that television cameras are all pervasive as Kevin Rudd learned years ago

So did Victorian MP Jason Wood with this extract from one of his speech’s in the House of Representatives captured for posterity:

My personal favourite of a private joke that went embarrassingly public remains the occasion when Bob Hawke addressed 700 people at a dinner function and told this story as recounted on the amusingly good Amazing Australia website:

The Indian PM Indira Gandhi was looking for a way to divert attention from the political and economical mess of her government and one of her staff suggested a national lottery. The idea was accepted, the lottery was organized and the whole of India bought tickets in the hope of winning one of the three mystery prizes.

The draw was done in a large stadium, watched by millions of people. First the third prize was drawn; a first class ticket around the world on Air India, the winner was pretty happy with this. Then the second prize was drawn; a fruit cake. The second prize winner was very unhappy, he loudly complained that the third prize was better, and normally one would expect the second prize to be larger than the third.

The compere explains; oh, but this is a very special fruit cake, it was baked by Mrs. Gandhi! To which the winner replies; F%#*! Mrs. Gandhi!

The compere; oh no, that is first prize!