Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Export-quality John Howard, according to the Daily Telegraph's Stephen Robinson , and that call was made before last Saturday's election.
John Howard, prime minister since 1996, is a comical figure to young, sophisticated Australians in the cities. He is doggedly old-fashioned and conventional, unashamedly the ultimate suburban man in his slacks and golf club blazer. He seems almost like an Australian of the 1950s, of the whites-only immigration policy, of afternoon tea, and trips back "home" to Britain.

His hero is Don Bradman and, in recent speeches, he has taken to reminding voters that his parents gave him the middle name of Winston. He is in favour of the monarchy, of low taxes, of proper Australian sports.

The other lesson is that voters do not appear to be preparing to punish Mr Howard for being old-fashioned and stridently uncool.

Michael Howard would do well to try to mimic his namesake by keeping it simple, and staying true to his own instincts.