Howard Roars Back
Obviously, it’s still a big lead for Labor, but the important thing is that it’s the Coalition’s best result since February. And let’s not forget that Newspoll on election morning in 2004, showed the parties level on 50/50 when the actual result later that night was 53.5 / 46.5 to the Coalition. So, going from the last election, Newspoll does have somewhat of an in-built, unintentional Labor bias.
Anyway, the important thing is that it gives the Coalition troops some heart. I’m sure they felt totally dispirited and incredibly punch-drunk after last week’s diabolical chain of events. I’ve been pretty disappointed at the lack of sharpness in the Coalition campaign though. Their response to the prospect of an interest rate rise typifies their sloppy performance to date.
That is, it took Howard from Wednesday when the CPI came out (which indicated a rate rise next week) until yesterday afternoon to finally come out with the line that: “Interest rates, even after the last five rate rises, were never this low under 13 years of Labor”. It was such an obvious line, but it took him five days to come up with it!
By contrast, as I told one of my friends last week, they should have had this line ready to go last Wednesday when the CPI came out. Even I thought of this line last week. Such a response should have been apparent to seasoned experts who are working seven days a week on this campaign.
Instead, Howard flailed around for four or five days; splitting hairs as to what he did and did not promise during the last campaign on interest rates. All that the splitting of hairs did was feed into the perception that he is sneaky and tricky. That it took him five days to come out with a convincing response, is not good enough. They have to do better than that.
In modern campaigns, the leader only gets 30 seconds of speaking time on the news each night. As silly as it sounds, you have to sit down the night before, and try to get your lines right for the next day - get your 30 seconds down pat, on what is likely to be the big issue the next day.
I also think the Coalition’s advertising has been below par. There’s too much focus on the unions. For mine, they’d be much better served having more advertising directly comparing the achievements and qualifications of the two men who would preside over our one trillion dollar economy - Peter Costello and Wayne Swan; and advertising directly comparing unemployment, average interest rates and average real wages under Labor and the Coalition during their most recent stints in Government.
I mean, with the Unions, who gives a **** what some fat unionist was doing at a Union meeting a couple of years ago? Yes, the anti-Union line has its place, but it shouldn’t be the dominant theme of the Coalition advertising.
In summary, the Coalition really need to lift their game. Their heart has to be in it; they have to be really passionate about it. They will still likely lose this election, but there are things they could be doing - like getting their responses in order much earlier (as per above) and sharpening their advertising - to make the likely loss much less than it needs to be.