Monday, 5 July 2010

Dear Kevin: My Name Is Todd, I'm From Queensland, and I'm Here to Help (You)

Dear Kevin,

You have been a former Prime Minister for less than 12 days. It’s been the saddest 12 days I can remember since I have been involved in politics. I really feel like I’ve been kicked in the guts. I coped when our party struggled for 12 years in opposition, confident that one day the majority of Australians would hate John Howard as much as I did. That day came care of you. But I am really and truly struggling with the current political climate. While the rest of the country welcomes Julia with open arms, I greet our new PM with a mixture of scorn and derision. The flame haired Prime Minister, standing behind YOUR podium in YOUR courtyard, standing where you should be standing, flirting with the press corps, the same mob who were co-conspirators in your demise.

Julia as PM is like an ex girlfriend. There are things I once liked about her. I studied her, thought she was a good sort, kept an eye on her, made plans for her, but now all that I liked about her has withered away as I am overcome with pain. I am sure you feel the same. I cannot take her seriously as PM because she does not deserve my respect. My heart aches for the days of 2008. You were the man. You said sorry (twice), you ratified Kyoto, you stopped the evil demon known as WorkChoices, and you worked bloody hard to make sure the national economy was ticking over in the midst of the greatest economic downturn in 80 years. In other words, you did more in 2.5 years than your predecessor did in twelve, and much more than I suspect your successor will do.

I am sure you have looked at the events of the past week with as much bewilderment as I have. Julia, after all has kicked you in the testicles with a shit eating grin. The Resource Super Profit Tax (RSPT) was one of your best ideas yet. Julia even agreed with you, and so did Wayne, and yet they have spent this week running away from the idea as fast as Carl Lewis with the breeze at his back. Unfortunately the problem was not the tax itself, but more about your inability to sell it. Your ability to communicate policies with the electorate at large was not your strong point. I’m sure you’ll agree that is a fair ‘shake of the sauce bottle', no? Yet Julia has caved in to the mining bosses by cutting the tax in half and renaming it! When you do your tax this year Kevin, make sure you go to your accountant and say you think your paying too much income tax, and demand it be cut in half. When your accountant asks you where you come up with such a fanciful notion, you tell them that you are just being a consensus builder like Hawkey.

Take a few days off shopping at Sunshine Beach, did you know that’s only about a half an hour drive from where I live? Come visit me Kev, now that your Chief of Staff has been vilified and sent to the political dungeon, I’d like to apply for the position. Together with your biggest fan, the three of us will plot your comeback. Here’s how:

  1. Take a cabinet position after the election, doesn’t matter which one, and work the media like you did in the middle of last decade. Go on Sunrise again, but stop trying to act like everyone’s best mate, and drop the oker language, because the public is not stupid, we know its bullshit
  2. Play to your strengths and use your intelligence, but don’t be arrogant. We all know you’re the smartest guy in the room, but you don’t have to prove it all the time
  3. Further to that point, quit acting like a ‘wonker’, communicate with the people using snappy, digestible language. Throw the thesaurus out, and take notes from Julia, she is the master of communicating the complex and turning it into either warm fuzzies or a kick up the arse
  4. Go back to Brisbane and start being a top notch local member for a while, like you were back in the day
  5. Mend some fences with people in Caucus, because if you are patient, your time will come again

Even if it doesn’t, its time to rebuild your personal brand. The press are already assessing your legacy and it is not pretty, but I don’t like the direction that Julia is taking YOUR government. Its not an ALP government at least one that I know anyway. The only thing that inspires me to volunteer at the upcoming Federal Election as much as I have done in the past, is not to reaffirm Julia, but to ensure Abbott never sets foot in that courtyard, its bad enough that Julia is there already. Whilst I doubt I’ll ever reach Phillip Adams type proportions, my faith in our party is wavering.

Whilst current historical comparisons may equate you with John Gorton, I am going to pay you the biggest compliment any ALP member can bestow. You are my Whitlam. Sure, you may not have ‘crashed, or crashed through’, but you Kevin represent the 21st Century ALP: intellectually rigorous, centrist, with socially democratic policies. While the public at large think you are yesterday’s news I have faith in you. You won’t recapture the days of 2008, you have the potential to do better. Kevin, the ALP needs you more now than it did in 2006. Will you let me help you accept the challenge?

In Solidarity,

Todd Winther

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