Saturday, 29 June 2013

We Need to Talk Some More About Kevin

I should emphasise that while I believe a September 21 election is the most easily defensible, this does not mean I expect an election then. In the few hours since my last post, I believe I came to understand the nice little political play the Prime Minister is pursuing.

Some conservative sources have suggested that International events like the G20 might be used to boost Mr Rudd's popularity on the world stage - which would require an election post September. However, more left-wing sources report that Rudders is considering using the G20 as a road trip with Abbottsy-Wabottsy if the election is pushed back that far - the logic being not only to signal an end to negative politics but that the future leader should probably be involved in their commitments that the party will be held to.

Also, they get to meet the Putinator and squeal like little fanboys.

Mass-produced, commercial sources agree with these reports.

Now the great thing about politics is that you can make promises with a caviat, and then activate the caviat and still come out smelling like roses. So Rudd can support bipartisanship by offering to take Abbott if the election is pushed back that late, and then not push the election back that late. A pre-G20 election would leave Kevin looking like a co-operative operative, while Tony looks like a beligerent... something that rhymes with ligerent.

The latest date for such an election would be August 31 (the G20 Summit being on September 5-6), however the August 24 date would give the Rudd government (assuming it is elected) a chance to get things rolling before heading off.

An August 24 date would require, at the latest, that the Writs be issued on July 22 (see my discussion or the Constitution and Electoral Act, whichever you consider more authoritative). And this is the key; I believe Mr Rudd will advise an election be called as close as possible to the desired election date. By keeping that secret in the bag, Labor can plan and carry out a measured, well-paced campaign in the months ahead, while the Liberal/National Coalition are forced to operate without knowing the time scale.

One of the reasons I had believed Rudd would not contest the leadership is that we all know the Coalition and its backers have a dozen adds in the drawer ready to go in just such a situation. In reality, though, that is not such a huge issue since Labor know exactly what these adds will be - either endless spools of Gillard ministers roasting Rudd 1.0, or arguing that you cannot trust the ALP when they change their leader every other week (an argument so valuable to them that there was never, ever a chance of Turnbull or any other Liberal challenging Abbott for the leadership and undermining this trump). Labor, therefore, will have two dozen replies equally prepared.

Things get clever, however, when the ALP starts playing the people, not the system. By keeping the election date secret, the ALP is making the Opposition play a guessing game. Do they release their adds at one a week, and risk running out before a late election, or hold back a little and possibly not use all of their powder before an early election?

Now I said that Labor would be criticised for delaying the election significantly, being portrayed as holding on to illegitimate power. So Rudd needs to have at least requested an election before September 14, and probably before mid August when the Writs would need to be issued for September 14. I also said that a delay of one week would probably not elicit this kind of response, however that only applies if the date is known. If the date for the issuing of the Sept. 14 Writs passes without an announcement, even if it only means a one-week delay (elections always being held on a Saturday for practical reasons of voter/staff availability), then the Coalition can begin shouting from the roof tops that the ALP is clawing onto its ill-gotten power. If Rudd then recommends an election for Sept 21 or 28 it looks like he is responding to the Lib/Nats and confirming their accusations, while delaying longer will only ad fuel to the fire.

Rudd must therefore declare an election before Saturday 14/9, and probably before Monday 12/8, but also wants the shortest possible time between announcement and election. And this is why a late August vote is likely (Writs and announcement issued, say, Monday 22/7).

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