Kevin Rudd has just launched his first campaign ad. Of course he doesn’t want a “negative campaign”, because then he’d have to justify himself. Instead he’s trying to rerun the 2007 campaign. I’m not sure that he’ll be able to get through a whole election campaign kidding the country that he’s never actually been PM.
If he’s going to run campaign ads, then it’s time he went to the Governor General, called the election and went into caretaker mode. That would really raise the standard.
Of course, he’d be flat out running a positive campaign at the moment, because then he’d have to run on Julia’s policies, although, apart from Gonski, it’s hard to actually come up with a Gillard policy that didn’t have a Rudd genesis.
And this has a downside.
Gillard was in trouble as Prime Minister not because she was a woman, but because the policies were no good, and their execution worse.
Not only that, but they were contradictory as well.
Gillard’s basic strategy was to promise the world and leave Tony Abbott with the tab, that way, if he won and when the bill was found to be unaffordable, Labor would be able to come back at Abbott as a heartless slash and burner. And if she won, well, reneging on promises is a smaller problem than not winning.
In grabbing Gillard’s policies in order to run a “positive” campaign in the hope of winning Rudd swaps places with both Gillard and Abbott.
It’s also a campaign which is out of sync with the times.
Something happened between 2007, when Rudd devised the thought-bubble style of campaigning, and 2013, and that something was the GFC.
What the GFC has done is change the national psyche. We’re now all savers, and the glass is always half empty. Not only are we looking the gift horse in the mouth, but we’re increasingly sending it back. We know that the cost of hay could send us broke.
All of which swings the debate back onto taxes and debt, the Liberals’ strong suit.
It’s just not tenable any more for a government to promise the world and put it on the mortgage.
This bind isn’t going to go away, so Rudd might as well go the election now. He’s just going to irritate the rest of us by stringing it out, and pretending to govern at the same time.