They’ve been trying hard, but the most recent press gallery efforts to get leadership speculation up and running have lacked a certain … something.

There was the effort to sell Joel Fitzgibbon’s remarks about unpopular leaders not remaining leaders — shock horror — as a new round of destabilisation. Even one the country’s most outstanding journalists, Lenore Taylor, joined in on that. Then there was today’s non-story about union leaders “shifting”, or as it turned out, not shifting, on the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister faces some ruthless maths. On current polls she will lead Labor to a massive defeat. Her long-term strategy, and defence against challenge, has been to start turning those terrible numbers around once the carbon price commenced and Tony Abbott’s warnings of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding into every town from Whyalla to Wangaratta were shown to be absurd.

Thus far, the polls are stuck fast, showing no signs of shifting. It is, of course, only a couple of weeks into the carbon price era.

But everyone knows that, as each week goes by and those poll numbers don’t change, Labor MPs will increasingly focus on what a post-Gillard future should look like. Politics is about numbers, and at the moment the numbers make for grim reading for Labor.

All of which is why there’s no point to leadership speculation currently. Everyone — politicians, the media, Gillard supporters, Rudd supporters alike — is watching and waiting, with each poll dripping out like water torture. The end game will not be played for some time. No point in trying to rush it forward.

Peter Fray

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