Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, June 03, 2004
PUNDITRY AND FLEXIBILITY go together, as Paul Kelly has shown us in his two most recent Australian columns.

Last week, reviewing the political tactics of Labor's Media Mark Latham, Kelly said this under the heading Howard's last stand?:
Is Latham under any pressure to release his policies? Listen to ANOP polling principal, Rod Cameron: "No, he's not, not at all... In the end he will have to give some detail but not chapter and verse. John Howard taught us before, you don't really have to supply all the detail."

Latham is right to play this situation very hard and very tactically. Nobody knows when Labor's package will come or whether the details will be provided. Clearly, it is not yet finalised.

This week, and one Newspoll later, Kelly endorses the view of Sol Lebovic:
"The long-term trend before this week's poll was looking comfortable for Labor," Lebovic says. "But I didn't think that Labor was ever going to keep that lead. At the end of the day, if Labor wants to win the election then it has to start talking about how it will make Australia a better country. I've been saying this for months now.

"The electorate is really saying to Labor 'we like what we hear but please tell us more'. However, Labor seems to be in the process of letting that opportunity slip away."

And in this comment you can see one reason for Howard's enthusiastic rejection of an Abu Ghraib-led policy of abandoning Iraq:
Asked how strong the mood is for a change, Lebovic says: "I don't think it is too strong at all. There's still a lot of respect for Howard out there."