The Astonishing Election

How well did Labor and Kevin Rudd do in the 2013 Australian Commonwealth government election? I am astonished that the Federal Labor Party still has over 50 seats in the Federal Parliament.

Anyone who is not an inner city dweller or a Canberra staffer knows that the back lash against Labor has been building for over two years. When Julia Gillard initially called the election the talk in every bush pub in the country was that they had changed the date of Clean Up Australia Day this year. The punters were waiting with baseball bats.

The media portrayal of the Rudd campaign has been beyond belief. It was a true 1950s ‘we will tell you what is good for you’ exercise. The Murdoch press effectively acted as a storm anchor that pulled back any positive news abour Labor in any other media source.  The so-called objective opinion polls would have convinced the most loyal and objective followers that Rudd and Labor had absolutely no chance of winning the election. In fact as the election coverage started even the usually reliable Antony Green was calling the election a wipe out.

The Liberal party’s job was simply too easy. All that Coalition spokesmen and leader Tony Abbott had to do was agree with commentators about the inevitability of the Coalition victory. Even normally professional interviewers like Fran Kelly on the ABC’s Radio National gave the Coalition spokespersons a very easy time. Everyone it seems was convinced Labor had no chance and that this would be the worst election defeat of all times, and in the last days of the campaign there was even talk that the election result under Rudd would be similar to that expected under Prime Minister Gillard.

What seems clear is that the punters did not vote for Abbott in the numbers they were predicted to. Over the next few days I expect we will see articles appearing on how, in the privacy of the electoral booth, when faced with Abbott, many could not vote for him. But what I think is also clear is that the Rudd change had an enduring effect.  It clearly dissipated the angry mood against Labor. Restoring Rudd – the original Labor PM – appeased the masses.

When the change from Gillard to Rudd came about, the Coalition was initially all at sea. Labor people did dare to think they could win. The final election outcome does indicate that this was indeed a possibility.

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