Cutting some slack (for now) : Kevin Rudd

Little by little Kevin Rudd is starting to concern me. Is he more than a slightly more cluey Kim Beazley? The big question I guess is whether he is more than a more palatable John Howard-lite?

A story in The Age yesterday has me wondering. In essence it says that in spite of the fact that Alan Jones has been found to have
broadcast(ing) material on Breakfast with Alan Jones that was likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity

(essentially encouraging the Cronulla race riots of 2005), our alternative Prime Minister has said that

nothing he had read so far about the authority's report had caused him to reconsider appearing on Jones' show.

"In terms of the future appearances (on) Alan Jones' program, there's nothing I've read at this stage that would cause me not to go on," he told ABC radio.

Now I've expressed my feelings on the Cronulla riots before (here) and the disturbing racist/nationalist dogwhistling politics of the Howard government and so I'm not surprised that John Howard might come out and say that Alan Jones is a good bloke. Jones' audience consists of rusted on conservatives who appear to hang on his every idiotic word. (This is a guy who for a long time loudly supported a plan to turn around several Australian rivers to irrigate the dry interior of this country).

Kevin Rudd has a regular spot on Jones' show (one of the highest rating in Sydney) and is known as someone who enjoys and knows how to use the media spotlight so it's understandable that mightn't want to lose a media channel but he (or his advisors) have it all wrong in this instance for a number of reasons:

  • Jones' audience will never turn around and vote Labor

  • People who don't listen to Jones do so because they don't like him

  • Supporting Jones endorses his actions, which many people find distasteful

  • Rudd needs to emphasise the differences between himself and Howard

The final point, that of needing to emphasise the ways in which Kevin Rudd (and a Rudd government) isn't like John Howard and his mob is the most important of all.

In recent times, it hasn't just been the Alan Jones thing that Rudd has been following Howard on. There has been the issue of performance pay for teachers, "clean" coal, maintaining the current imbalance of funding between public and private education - (70% of students use public education but it only gets 35% of federal funding), dropping opposition to subsidising private health insurance and an Australia-China free trade agreement.

Now I'm still prepared to give the ALP and Kevin Rudd the benefit of the doubt here as the removal of the Howard Government from office is a priority. It may well be that Labor is trying to remove as many wedge issues from the debate as they possibly can as Howard is a master of wedge politics (the use of simplified but emotional issues to create division) and Labor is trying to focus as heavily on dissatisfaction with the new Industrial Relations system as they can.

I just get the sense that there is a little too much strategising going on and not enough principled planning. We want to know that things will be done better, not just slightly less worse. We want a West Wing kind of leadership, not a lesser of two evils.

Sucking up to Alan Jones is not what we want.

All is forgiven for now Kev in pursuit of a win at the next election but that had better be what it is actually about and not just being tweedle-dee to Johnny's tweedle-dum.

(Thanks to Certified_Su for the image too, it's great)