Should Bill Shorten give up?

Newspoll has the LNP on a comfortable lead of 52-48 on TPP terms. Last week Fairfax-Ipsos came in at 53-47, which is landslide territory.

If you go to Fairfax Polls and click on “Poll of polls” and go to last week, you’ll find that Labor averaged 46.7 across the polls. Roy Morgan has been the most negative for Labor.

In the Better Prime Minister stakes, Turnbull leads Shorten by a staggering 63 to 17 in Newspoll, nearly as low as Turnbull himself was in 2009, when as opposition leader he fell to 14%. Brendan Nelson had been at 7%.

The other performance measure is when voters are asked whether the PM and leader of the opposition are doing a good job. Here Turnbull has a net satisfaction level of 35 (58% are satisfied and 23% dissatisfied), while Shorten is negative 32 (26% satisfied and 58% dissatisfied).

Roy Morgan finds that Shorten is now fourth as preferred Labor leader after Plibersek, Albanese and Swan:

    Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek 27% (up 1%) of electors is still the preferred Labor Leader ahead of Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese 23% (up 4%), former Treasurer Wayne Swan 10% (unchanged) and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten 9% (down 3%).

    Tanya Plibersek 34% (up 2%) is also preferred amongst ALP supporters ahead of Anthony Albanese 21% (up 5%), Wayne Swan 12% (up 3%) and Bill Shorten 10% (down 7%).

Last Monday Tim Dunlop at The Drum wrote of the trauma inflicted on us by Tony Abbott:

    Mr Abbott was damaging our collective soul, making us feel bad about ourselves, hitting us between the eyes with the bullet we dodged by not electing Mark Latham.

    Nearly everything Mr Abbott did left people in despair: his first budget; his onion eating; his reintroduction of knighthoods, and then giving one of them to Prince Philip; his winking; his endless broken promises; his hyper-masculine attitude; his craven use of national security; his national-flag orgy every time he had a press conference; his instinct to treat opponents as enemies; his instinct to divide the nation; his flicking tongue; his inability to articulate anything remotely like a vision for the country.

Shorten was never much more popular or esteemed that Tony Abbott, and I think is going to have a problem cutting through. On RN Drive on Monday Shorten spoke with Patricia Karvelas, showing, I thought, an impressive mastery of detail and general good sense, but was almost impossible to listen to.

A lot can happen between now and the election, but a change of Labor leadership is unlikely.

Lenore Taylor thinks Turnbull is vulnerable on policy, because of the policies he inherited and the disposition of the party he leads. Intellectually I think Shorten is up for the debate, but falls short in rhetorical skills and personality.

Elsewhere, Michelle Grattan has a neat summary of Newspoll.

22 thoughts on “Should Bill Shorten give up?”

  1. Until I read the Tim Dunlop article yesterday, Brian, I think I would have agreed with you Shorten was a lost cause. He certainly is bereft of any charisma, physical or spoken< But I do think Dunlop might have a point that we're still swept with relief at having got rid of Abbott. If we needed any reminder the gunk he was laying on the Poms at the Thatcherite Love Fest this morning on the ABC was timely.
    I'd give Shorten a bit more time yet.

  2. Paul, I haven’t entirely given up on Shorten, but I’m not hopeful.

    If the present pattern in the polls continues until the end of the year, there may be leadership unrest within the ALP but they’ve made it so hard to change leaders that a change is unlikely. Any chat would leak to the press and make the situation worse.

    OTOH Turnbull may stuff up, as he did last time he was leader, but he seems more nimble-footed now.

    On the upside, Labor has some articulate people on the front bench and we may hear more from them.

  3. I gave up on Shorten long ago, but I think that he had done well in reframing his image, then Abbott was ejected and now Shorten needs to reframe his image again.

    The problem for Labour is they default to chewing gum policies of Education, Health, and Employer Relations, leaving the big “change” issues as being also-rans. The big three are important but after all of these years surely they are being managed effectively,… least this is what most people (I believe) are expecting. You can see the bias in the “we want your opinion” polls that have come out on the internet. They all lead to reaffirming Labour’s preconception.

    The issue is not about Shorten, it is about Labour’s message.

    The big issues in the near future are, if Labour wants to have the vaguest chance of re-election are .

    *NBN quality and cost Abbott and Turnbull have totally stuffed this up.
    * Climate change action Abbott attempted to put the wrecking ball through this but failed. It needs healing and energising.
    * Employment (as distinct from Work Choices and all of the other catch phrases). Re building our productive base and peoples impression of it.
    * National direction. The lucky country has been largely exported to China, so what do we stand for now. Surely it is not only about Olympic medals, beer and bloody Football. The “Solar Nation” would be a good start.

    At this point I quizzed Kath who works for us, and for whom issues are

    *Affordable accommodation. Massive issue, but few meaningfull solutions.
    *National image our self image in the world is declining.
    *Retaining Medicare. A must.
    *Employment ie having it or not and security of employment
    *Local content. She notices that Aldi are now using more local manufacturers. Yes people really do notice this stuff.
    *Quality of life. Cities too big. Would rather move away from city to regional city but no employment there (she and her partner looked into it), ie people are trapped by Australia’s disastrous performance at regional development.
    *Cost of living in relation to incomes. Cost of entertainment is prohibitive ( she is paying $80 per month for Foxtel with no movies). My family have dumped Foxtel and use the internet for entertainment but are now hitting bandwidth and data limit problems.
    *People are universally fed up with offshore call centres. Dealing with pigeon English and total lack of ability to resolve problems.
    *Immigration leave as is but be a little more humane about it.
    * The Commercial obsession for increased gambling is a bad direction. Kaths partner could spending $1000 on poker machines but now doesn’t, but still gambles on sport. Kath’s father lost $25,000 on poker machines. Real experience.

    That is from the factory floor.

  4. The polls are driven by the media.
    The attacks on LNP have totally stopped = polls go up.
    Let’s not forget 3 things. Turnbull is very popular with people that will vote ALP/green. The media love to attack, so who will they choose when their anti Abbott celebrations die of ( the actual media honeymoon, not voter honeymoon ). Polls have consistently been inaccurate at election time, leave alone 1 year out (latest examples Scotland and Canada ).

  5. BilB, plenty to chew on there!

    What it says to me is that every persons view is different and unique. People who make generalisations about what the voters think or feel without doing the research are having us on.

    Jumpy, polls are less accurate in places that have first past the post and voluntary voting. Still, we are a long way from the election, but the pollies take a lot of notice of them, especially Newspoll, or so it is said.

  6. Should we even have elections any more ?
    Or Government for that matter ?

    Why not just govern by sample polls ?

  7. On past performance Shorten listens, thinks carefully, lobbies and then comes up with good stuff like the disability scheme.
    I think he is doing the thinking about what to do about Turnbull and may well come up with something quite smart.
    Turnbull is a bit like Hawke in that he is someone people wanted to be prime minister.
    On the other hand Shorten is being damaged by the union commission in a drip drip sort of way.
    Bit early to tell.

  8. JohnD, I agree with your thinking. Shorten does havethe potential to win if Labour has a compelling message. Turnbull has a little stronger statesman presence. but has a weak platform to deliver compromised by his party’s obsession with killing off Climate Change Action. Labour still has access to Greg Combet who I see as being a fusion of personalities and personal presence, sufficient to become Greg “HawKeating”, the best politician that Labour, and Australia, can deliver in our time.

    But at the moment Bill Shorten has the stage. I think that he can pull it off, but in order to do that he has to power up and become the best that has right through to the next election. It will require real policies that are intuitive to Australians, though.

  9. If you look at the landscape Turnbull has the aura of business success (despite the fact that is [as I understand it] predominately from speculation ….not production) and Shorten’s pedigree is entirely to do with Unions. Territory,…people (I believe) have an innate respect for the boss, and they love to have the union. From a transactional analysis perspective Turnbull is a parental ego and Shorten is a adult/child ego.

    Despite all of that Turnbull is hamstrung by ideology, whereas as Shorten has a relatively clean policy slate,….if he chooses to take advantage of his relatively free hand.

  10. Dennis Atkins in his opinion piece in the CM today says people have probably stopped listening to Bill, the way they did to Simon Crean when he was leader. If so, any new policies will have to be pushed by the rest of the front bench.

  11. The Plibers clan ( Left ) are obviously on the phones.
    The Caucus went against the members last spill and got a dud, so much for ALP Democracy.
    Bill 40% v Albo 60%, remember.
    I can’t see either backing Bill over Plibers this time.
    The deputy will have to be from the Right faction, so my pick is Bowen.

  12. Shorten’s proposal to join the Greens and support the lowering of the voting age to 16makes sense from a policy point of view. My take is that it is important to give people whose future is being trashed by the decisions made by governments should have the vote. Think the failure to act decisively on climate change or Hockey’s young bashing budget. Or doing anything about giving the young a share of the available work. Or…….
    It is also good politics in that it is in Bill’s interest to move the focus on to policy and matters of substance. Turnbull is vulnerable on policy because he has clearly sold his policy soul for the sake of becoming prime minister.
    Good politics too because it gives the political commentators something to do apart from campaigning to get rid of yet another political leader.

  13. John
    That will die a quick media death and get no traction.
    Expect a Turnbull pressor tomorrow that will swamp it, probably about innovative, 21st century, bold new pedicure he’s subsidising.

  14. I don’t thik that it was such a good opening line. It would havd been better on the back of some resounding successes.

    I think at the moment he should be focussing on core employment. Hs should be emphasizing the jobs we are losing wholesale. Such as the car industry and the fact that Turnbull has not done an emergdncy visit to see if there anything to rescue from the Abbott employment train wreck.

    …..(Abbott’s version of envigorating the economy).

    Turnbull is getting a free hand on the subject with wild claims on innovation. Innovation is great, it is what I do, but it takes a long time to turn innovation into economic performance. The best jobs are the ones you don’t lose. Unfortunately or economy does not get a redundancy package when our politicians stuff up as Abbott did on a daily basis.

    Shorten should also be engaging with farmers on climate change. I was watching on Landline the account of a stud farmer relocating from Queensland to King Island citing climate variability, changing seasons, increasingly destructive storms, and increasing unpredictability of the weather.

    Farmers know that change is underway and the Labour party should be showing them understanding, and capitalise on the LNP ideological road block.

  15. It is good to see some reasonable discussion of Bill Shorten. I sometimes read The Poll Bludger site, but some people there get so angry and scornful whenever the problems with Shorten are mentioned that the discussion is not very good.

    I think Shorten is pretty hopeless, and interestingly some of the Victorian ALP people I know (or used to know) had a funny attitude to Shorten: a) they thought he was inevitably going to become leader, and b) they couldn’t stand him. That may have prejudiced me I suppose (I’ve never met him in person) but I’ve never been impressed by him.

    BilB upthread says the problem is not Shorten but the ALP’s message failure, but I think it’s deeper than – the problem is a lack of integrity in the ALP, which Shorten exemplifies. The rank and file ALP members wanted Albanese, because he personally, and the left generally (compromised as they are) are closer to what the ALP is supposed to stand for. But in the end they got Shorten, because that’s the default ALP machine outcome – right wing hollow men.

    From a public health perspective, I used to work with young right ALP staffers who thought private health insurance was a really good thing. They aren’t left, and they don’t even understand what it means to be left.

  16. Good on you ,Val.

    I don’t think it should matter if you are left or right. Good policy should be serviceable and acceptable to all.

    Rather than left or right think of it in terms of Female and Male. Think of the country as a family rather than a cluster of winners and losers. Men and women are completely different, havs different needs and timing for those needs, yet we all eat and poop and talk and laugh together. We all get along in the family unit, because there is an objective, a reason to do so. We need to translate this cooperation into our politcal ethos. Part of what makes a family unit work is, no not just thd sex, the recognition of mutual benefit, and the “its us against the world” unit thinking. In that there is an opportunity to externalise negativity and internalise positive effort. “Its to our benefit”. In times of war it is far easier to expand this thinking to the national level. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to learn how to do this during times of peace and prosperity.

    To that end if is vital to develop balanced policy that provides a variety of benefit in a sustainable way.

  17. Shorten was the main advocate, instigator and worker on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and was widely acknowledged as such by disability groups when he was minister with the disability portfolio.

    Shorten supports gay marriage and wants to wind back Julia Gillard’s vile laws that attack single mothers. I find it amusing that the same faux feminists who bleated and barked and woofed in defence of the right wing hollow woman, Julia Gillard, are now baying for the blood of the much more sophisticated and enlightened Bill Shorten, ostensibly because they think he is too right wing. Comedy Gold!

    Nonetheless, Shorten is wooden and unconvincing. This is the real reason to consider ousting him but he should first be given a shot at contesting an election. After Shorten, I would like to see Plibersek given a shot.

  18. Initially some younger people I know preferred Shorten to Albanese because he sounded less like a politician. I think part of Shorten’s problem is that he now sounds like a politician, but does it badly. Albanese OTOH sounds like a genuine politician.

    Albo’s time is past, however, and Plibersek looks like the heir apparent. Which is fair enough, but I’m not entirely confident she would do a good job,.

  19. I agree, “Albo” is a great public servant, but he is not a leader. Plibersec seamed to be struggling with the “content” one occaision when I saw her performing. Combet is the only leader I know of with substantially greater integrity, depth, substance and power than Turnbull. If the role to head hunt a PM fell to me, he is the person I would pursue.

  20. BilB, it take a rare combination of skills and personality characteristics to run 28 ministers and do the things a PM has to do on a daily basis, and give leadership as well. Gillard looked good when as deputy she filled in for Rudd but came up short, I think, when she was in the actual role.

    I think Shorten could run the show if given the chance.

  21. I am not saying BilB that one has to be left or right, and I think there are some values that should transcend that eg environmental (though if I said all the things I see as core values, I would be classified in conservatives’ minds as a lefty anyway).

    What I am saying is that the ALP is an ostensibly left wing (or at least social democrat) party that has abandoned its principles.

  22. Val I go way beyond opinion on this. I believe that we are left right or in beteen by nature. It is all to do with empathy distribution bdll curve. Dysfunctionally ultra empathetics on the extreme left tail off, and full on psychopath zero emps on the right, with every one taking a position in between. The other driver is cognition differences, strengths and weaknesses. I used to think deficiencies, now I think differences. You tea partiers are fairly far right, and hence their numbers are few, but they are less hindered by concerns for sharing due to their lower empathy state. You can pretty well map out party sizes by their base policy empathy levels. Overlaying female and male is quite valid.

    If you knw a person’s empathy index, their position amoungst their siblings, and domething of their educational history I think you would be able to predict the way they would vote on many issues.

    That is my thinking by way of understandin thd Republican and Democrat divide. Age is also a factor, particularly fo Republicans.

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