“One thing the Labor Party has got to learn is that it doesn’t solve its polling problems by simply changing the leader.”

Wise words from Simon Crean today, who should know better than anyone.

The problem is, the current leadership tension — to which Crean has plainly added courtesy of his comments this morning — is inextricably linked to Labor’s decision to “simply change its leader” in June 2010.

That certainly didn’t solve its polling problems: after a momentary spike, Julia Gillard took Labor’s vote below the levels Kevin Rudd was achieving shortly before his removal, and has kept it well below it ever since. Julia Gillard — the deputy PM who seemed to promise so much — is deeply unpopular with the electorate. There is no sign of her government turning around its fortunes. She has begun the year terribly, and in Queensland it is likely to get worse before it gets any better.

Tony Abbott, meanwhile, happily feeds off the constant series of errors Labor hands him, and rarely offers anything of substance. Serious questions remain over the policies he has announced, and they come with a bill that runs to the tens of billions of dollars. There is little evidence he has the substance or temperament to be an effective prime minister. And, like Gillard, he is deeply unpopular with the electorate. But his position as leader is entirely safe, given the strong lead his party holds.

People get the governments they deserve, runs the cliché. Do we get the leaders we deserve? It’s unclear what sins we as a nation collectively committed to deserve Gillard and Abbott.