Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Howard's Last Days

Prime Minister Faces Devastating Defeat At Coming Federal Election

The stunning downward spiral that is the Australian prime minister's political career is only matched for drama by the remarkable rise of the man who is now set to become the nation's newest leader, Kevin Rudd.

The right-wing media keeps beating up non-events in an effort to disable Rudd's rise, but nothing sticks. Clearly the Australian public have greater concerns than those the right-wing media tell them they must be concerned about.

After 11 years of John Howard, and a long series of shocking scandals - including the detention of dozens of legitimate refugee children in concentration camp-like detention centres in the heat of the Australian outback; the flat-out lies, distortions and corruption surrounding Australia's involvement in the Iraq War, and the federal government's blind-eye to the $300 million bribing of Saddam Hussein by the Australian Wheat Board - Australian voters have clearly had enough.

For more than 10 months, the Australian prime minister's popularity has been plunging, and continues to savagely decline, in poll after poll.

Australians hate the Iraq War, they're disgusted by the industrial relations reforms Howard forced onto them, they 're stunned that interest rates continue to climb after the prime minister guaranteed they would stay low at the last federal election, and they are sick to death of the constant bitching and whining and pathetic attacks launched by Howard's snarling dog pack of smirking federal ministers and back bench low lifes.

Howard and his crew still don't get it. Australians aren't concerned about whether or not Kevin Rudd (allegedly) distorted the childhood story of how his family were evicted from a farm after his father's death. Nor are they worried that Rudd's staffers have been caught up in a low-boil controversy about staging an early dawn service for Anzac Day.

The political belly button fluff that Howard & Co obsess over mean little to most Australians. They've told the Howard government, in poll after poll, that they are far more concerned about rising interest rates, the horrific failure of the Iraq War, the fact that their children will have less employee-related entitlements when they join the workforce and severe climate change, including droughts and water shortages. These are the issues that occupy their minds and keep them up late at night.

But Howard & Co aren't listening, and so they are continually punished for being so ignorant in virtually every new poll published.

Latest poll numbers show the Opposition government led by the team of Rudd, political fireball Julia Gillard and former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett, would win a federal election today by a margin of almost 20%.

And there is nothing, not a single solitary thing, on the horizon that is likely to change
Australians concrete view that the Howard government's time in office is now well and truly over.

Kevin Rudd would have to be caught on camera drowning kittens in a vat of burning petrol, while laughing maniacally and gnawing on a koala's face to drop as low in the polls as John Howard.

With a preferred leadership rating of a mere 36%, John Howard is stumbling into the unpopular leader territory that President George W. Bush knows so well. Howard's clearly lost the hearts and minds of the great majority of Australians. And that's without an Iraq War, or 'War on Terror' related, bodycount of Australian servicepeople adding to the misery.

With interest rates all but guaranteed to rise in the coming months; with the prime minister unable to shake the locked-on visage of being a cynical denier of the realities of global warming and severe climate change; with the Iraq War plunging into a carnage-soaked abyss of incomprehensible horror; and with workplaces around Australia filling with the voices of workers yelling, "What the fuck do you mean I don't get the weekend off anymore?" John Howard is a doomed politician.

The coming federal election is expected to held in October-November this year.

That is, if John Howard remains leader of the Liberal Party.

And there is no guarantee today that John Howard will still be leader when Australia goes to the polls. So bad are his numbers now, so awesomely has his popularity and credibility peeled away in the past six months to reveal little but a hollow shell of his former glory, that rumours are bubbling away that he may bow out as leader before the election, which could still be held as late as March, 2008.

If Howard does leave before the election, expect a health care scare for the prime minister, or a member of his family, to be the reason he cites for having to pack it all in.

If he can hang on long enough to host the APEC summit of world leaders in Sydney in September, the love-in with Bush And Blair will be his swansong. Who knows? He's probably already planned it to be.

But Howard's ego is so vast, yet fragile, he could not conceivably take an election defeat that sees him lose the most powerful office in the land, particularly by a shame-slapped margin.

And he certainly won't stick around long enough to get rolled by the rest of his party, despite his mantra that he would "remain leader of the party as long as the party wants me to remain leader."

The clearest glimpse so far that Howard knows what is coming was last month when he was read the then latest polls (not as bad as today's) during an interview on the 7.30 Report,

Howard said "it's long time to the next election." Halfway through that sentence, a terrible reality appeared to dawn in his mind, and the words "the" "next" "election" were punctuated by pauses and a barrage of blinking.

The End is a rampaging road train storming down the highway straight at Howard. He is unlikely to stand there and let it run right over him. He will step out of the road, and out of the way, so he can slink off and claim for the rest of his days, to whoever will give a shit, that he was leader of Australia for 11 years, that he won four elections and that he was never beaten as prime minister.

It will mean a lot to him, no doubt, but the rest of Australia will have to cope with the reality of what he has done, or not done, over the past decade, as the resources boom skyrocketed the Australian economy, all off the back of the tough economic choices made by Labor during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Howard, meanwhile, will wheel away to one of the most privileged lifestyles in the land. Or he will whip himself off to the United States. There's a lot of opportunities waiting for Howard in the US, particularly while President Bush remains in power.

In the United States, John Howard can look forward to a few seats on some of the boards of the defence companies he's helped to enrich through the Iraq War. He can expect huge paydays on the Republican-rich dinner-talk circuit, and he and soak up the praise from the increasingly irrelevant American right wing media and Fox News lap dogs who view Howard as some down under messiah-warrior during The Crusades II.

Here's the Newspoll numbers :

Labor leads the Coalition by 59% to 41%. A stunning eighteen point lead. And that's two points up for Labor from the last poll, and two points down for the Coalition.

Rudd remains the preferred prime minister at a steady 48%, while Howard's numbers have slumped once again, this time down to only 36%.

Interesting that the media have dropped the term "honeymoon" now when trying to explain why Rudd's numbers are so astoundingly good.

The honeymoon, then, may well be over for the Australian public when it comes to Kevin Rudd, but in the best possible way. Meanwhile, the protracted, messy, painful and dangerous divorce from John Howard has begun.

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