Out of puff
Sean Carney's piece today highlights what was always going to happen with Abbott. He was always going to run out of puff: he's a sprinter, not a stayer. The cracks that are now starting to show are structural defects that have been there from the start. Here at the Politically Homeless Institute we have long argued that Abbott's weaknesses negated any strengths he may have, and Carney is seeking to warn against the inevitable and foreseeable.
It's about how each side is able to portray itself and its opponent day after day, piece by piece, shifting and pushing against the other side. The progress of the campaign so far shows how it is the cumulative effects of the parties' performances that really count, rather than any single event.
This implies that amid all the hurly-burly, the truth will out. In reality, the Coalition have been lazy in making the case that they should replace the Rudd-Gillard government, and that laziness has made them vulnerable against an incumbent government with both a valid record and a viable future.
The Coalition's campaign has had its moments. They have run a disciplined and united campaign, in comparison to the rabble on the other side. Labor has been slow in getting their act together, but the Coalition have helped them by:
- Refusing to debate (Gillard's Q&A performance was the debate she never had)
- Releasing badly thought-out policies that don't fit together (see previous post)
- Squandering the free-media opportunity that comes with a "launch", and
- Thinking that because the devil is in the detail, you don't have to go there.
The Coalition aren't ready for government. By this weekend, people will have stopped listening to them and tight races will come down to Labor (or if not, particular local issues will help the Coalition prevail as in Gilmore and Bowman). The Coalition will complain about bias but you can't keep an even keel without a countervailing force. Tony Abbott's piss and wind is starting to wane and there is nothing Prime Ministerial to lift the Coalition.
The indolence of Tony Smith, the cowardice of Greg Hunt in pretending to craft a climate change policy as front for a "weathervane" leader and a sneering party, the fact that Christopher Pyne would chirp and gibber his way into the media limelight while producing an education policy scarcely worthy of the name and adrift from wider economic or social policy, shows that the Coalition don't really want to be lifted. Those three are aged under 50 and would be expected, under notions of Buggins' Turn, to be ministers in a Liberal government. It's one thing to jeer at Kevin Andrews or Phillip Ruddock as feeble relics who've had their day, but when the so-called future can't be bothered or can't cut it then Liberals are bound for disappointment, and the country is doomed to the kind of ineffective opposition we've seen in NSW.