Bazza Jones was assuring us this morning that ALP leadership was not about beauty, it was about policy. Well, perhaps. But if he comes near you with a Knowledge Nation policy proposal, you’d be well-advised to run like fuck.
Given that this wisdom echoes Simon Crean’s “this is not a popularity contest” dictum, I think we can safely assume that the bloke who won more Pick a Box prizes than Bob Dyer ever dreamed possible, is backing Simon. On the other hand, the bloke who’s won more elections as Labor PM than any other, is backing Kim. At Royal Randwick yesterday Bob Hawke railed against “the most conservative government in Australian history” and demanded “what of the poor?” Indeed. Gone are the days when they could drag their raggedy-arsed misery down to the Double Bay Ritz Carlton and thrill to the sight of Their Hero arriving to tie the silvertailed knot with a daughter of the labouring classes like Blanche d’Alpuguet. There’s been precious little of those beautiful, morale-boosting spectacles in recent times. Bob knows beauty is a winner and Kim’s a looker in his book clearly.
Of course it’s not just about oodles of political charisma and a Zegna suit, though you do need to be able to be presentable sufficiently to stop people going eewwwkkk and switching off. If that happens, you’re sunk. Face it. You can have the most brilliantly crafted policies, of Solomonic depth and alluring reach, and you’ll still get some bloody voter saying “I dunno. I just don’t like him. There’s something about him.” The art of leadership is to maximise the former advantage whilst minimising the latter disadvantage. Howard did it. He trimmed his eyebrows, bought new glasses and got a GST. No-one owns to “liking” Howard, it’s much more about “respect” – which can cover a multitude of positive and negative facets.
Crean isn’t liked and no-one seems keen to respect him much either. Beazley is liked. But Beazley’s been beaten twice, Crean just sounds like he has. But Crean’s the incumbent and Beazley isn’t and ultimately there won’t be sufficient momentum for the Beazley candidacy to dislodge him.
I’m quite comfortable predicting next Monday’s ballot outcome at this stage, it’s just that I can’t see an ALP win in this, anywhere.