Dumb and dumber

Has anyone else formed the impression that the Australian Labor Party – right across Australia – is behaving like a bunch of headless chooks?

The latest illustration of this syndrome is Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh. On the day it is revealed that her opinion poll support has reached ‘toxic’ levels (according to local media), it is revealed that she is about to assume the mantle of Labor Party national president.

So badly disliked is Bligh in her home state that her disapproval rating is TWICE that of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd! You wouldn’t want to be standing downwind of someone that on the nose. Nor is this fresh news. Her popularity has been on the wane for the past two years and reached slippery slope status a long time back. So what does she do? She decides to drag her attention away from Queensland and turn it elsewhere.

Which is kind of remarkable, really, given that Labor is in dire straits right across the nation. So, they turn to a discredited and thoroughly disliked premier to ask her to neglect her own state and – in the face of all the evidence that she can’t do anything right at home – task her with helping saving Labor nationally.

If any further evidence was needed that Labor currently exists in a state of denial and comprehensively lacks the political nous necessary to salvage its reputation with the electorate, it is surely this extraordinary appointment. How Bligh could have believed she could offer anything worthwhile is a stinging commentary on herself. That Labor had no-one else to turn to is a stinging commentary on its own inability to regenerate and to appreciate its utter inability to connect with voters.

Truly, this is like watching a train wreck unfold. Labor is a party normally highly-skilled in the political arts and yet it behaves currently as if it were the most naive novice. Observers in all walks of life are astounded at what is unfolding and the sense of incredulity is simply staggering.

Explanation appears impossible. Yet, when you delve into the past, evidence suggests there was a single trigger point. It was when Labor assumed political control of all states and territories a few years ago. An amazing political feat. With wall-to-wall hegemony, Labor gave humility the flick and embraced hubris. Voters understand the temptation and, in Australia, are reasonably forgiving. But not when arrogance becomes entrenched. We hate being played for suckers. And Labor is now reaping the whirlwind. Anna’s personal hubris will almost certainly see her consigned in the history books to presiding over not just a state but a national calamity that will envelop her entire political movement. As you sow so shall you reap. Sad, in one way, that it need not have been thus and therein lies the lesson for the conservatives. Here’s hoping they heed it.