Being the Opposition Leader standing against a wildly unpopular Government should be the easiest job in the world.
All you have to do is stand there while the other team slowly burns themselves to the ground, reiterate the dumb things they’ve done to the public, and occasionally offer up basic oppositional policy that more or less amounts to “whatever it is that they did, we won’t do.“
Tony Abbott himself proved how goddamned easy that job is during his own tenure as Opposition Leader. He was ranked as unelectable time and time again, yet swanned into Canberra in a canter because it’s infinitely easier to hate someone who already has power than it is for someone who simply desires it.
As a political party in opposition, finding yourself standing against a Government with approval ratings in the toilet should be a godsend. All you have to do to knock things completely out of the park is ensure that whoever lobs as your party leader isn’t a complete muppet.
And yet, the Labor Party have wound up with Sweetums (the biggest Muppet).
To say that Bill Shorten‘s approval ratings are completely in the toilet is a gross understatement, and the latest polling from Newspoll – as revealed by The Australian – reflects this.
Whilst the public’s satisfaction rate with Prime Minister Abbott is now at a woeful 33 percent, Shorten’s is much worse – a measly 27. In fact, the dissatisfaction rate with both political leaders is alarming – Abbott at 60%, and Shorten at 59%. Both figures have spiked since the delivery of May’s Federal Budget.
The lead Shorten has given up to Abbott overall in public perception rates as even more damning when you consider the fact that the ALP still holds a rather distinct lead over the Coalition on the two party preferred stakes, with a lead of 53 to 47. The Coalition’s far more palatable, almost Labor-like second Federal Budget has done nothing to shift its primary vote, leaving Labor as the preferred party of the Australian people, but Shorten not their preferred leader.
On paper, the Opposition Leader’s job in 2015 should be absolute child’s play – after all, you’re standing against a man who has routinely gone above his own party hierarchy to make wildly shortsighted “Captain’s Picks”; whose press conferences are time and time again a mere example of a man who repeats himself, who repeats himself; who legitimately thinks his Government is straight-up killing it despite a ballooning debt ceiling, crumbling commodities market, soaring budget deficit, shocking moralistic policy making, totalitarian naval policy, lynch mob-like mentality tactics shown towards impartial Government officials, the criminalisation of criminal reporting, and wilful ignorance of potential human rights abuses. All this while senior members of his Government who hold ceremonial Parliamentary positions are swanning about in taxpayer-funded private helicopters and limousines looking like they’re an amalgam of Thatcher and the bloody Queen.
Bill Shorten’s job should be the easiest job in the world. And he’s somehow managed to make a spectacular mess of it.
We’d say the sun will come up tomorrow, but TBH that forecast is bleak.
Photo: Darrian Traynor via Getty Images.