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The Forum > Article Comments > Beware a mere spin doctor > Comments

Beware a mere spin doctor : Comments

By Tony Cutcliffe, published 26/4/2007

Australians want to see that there’s more to Kevin Rudd than great style.

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Spin rules OK. Has anyone read the superb Global Spin by Sharon Beder?

The media also plays a relentless gotcha game. It either trvialises everything or blows the most trivial detail(s) compeletely out of proportion. Those on the "right" specialise in this dumb-ocracy.
No real substance allowed.

The current government is 100% spin.
All froth and bubble, with seldom any real substance and huge dollops of manipulative lies. Everything it says, from John Howard down, is an exercise in manipulative spin-ning. A prolonged ten year exercise in adolescent hoonery. Much of it is based on last nights focus group research.
Posted by Ho Hum, Thursday, 26 April 2007 10:28:13 AM
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Thin gruel.

It is perfectly standard practice for an opposition to keep their policy powder dry until the moment is right. That usually happens when an election date is either called or clearly forecastable.

Drawing comparisons with Blair is also unrealistic.

The actions of a political party in power are always fundamentally different in content and texture to those of an opposition, whatever apparent "colour" of that party. To that end, Rudd's actions would be better compared to those of Tory David Cameron, another opposition leader trying to unseat a long-standing prime minister hanging on well past his use-by date.

To add one more frisson, both have apparently anointed successors whose popularity amongst the electorate is somewhat suspect.

One further puzzle in this piece was also a reference to Blair's government.

>>most of the Australian Labor leaders, including Rudd, have adopted UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as their model of electoral success. Sadly, they have replicated none of his success in health, education or technology<<

Success? The health system in the UK is still in disarray despite enormous sums spent over the Blair years. Education is another continuing disaster, with standards continuing to fall and schools groaning under the weight of over-administration. And I haven't a clue what you determine as "success in technology".

The throwaway line is key, though.

>>the Blair Government’s perpetual state of campaign mode.<<

Another way to look at this is that Blair has never been comfortable in government, so permanently acts as an opposition leader – full of sweeping rhetoric and broad brush “initiatives”, but uninvolved in the implementation .

In opposition you have no power, so all you can realistically do is talk.
Posted by Pericles, Thursday, 26 April 2007 10:49:53 AM
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There's some good and some bad in this article. I tend to think Cutcliffe isn't being objective here.

I agree on the Tanner V Swan section, though Tanner is evidently still very close to ALP treasury policy. His input will remain, and while I'd have preferred him to be in the top spot, practically speaking, as long as he's on the inside I'm happy.

Disagree totally about McKew - we've heard plenty of the ABC demographic - Rudd also managed to insulate the ABC from further attacks during an election year, and effectively gave them more room to manoeuvre. Plus, McKew has profile - much like Garrett. It may not be the best in terms of knowledge (though McKew's ahead of Garrett here) though to the average punter, it looks good.

Here's Cutcliffe's main problem - he's not writing this for the punters, he's writing this for a select few pro-liberal aristocracy, while the majority of voters aren't actually scanning the paper daily for more policy from Rudd.

I tend to agree with Cutcliffe that Rudd's being light on policy and I for one am rather concerned about it. But it's not damaging him, all the evidence points to the contrary.

Beware a spin doctor indeed - but also beware rose coloured lenses and seeing what you want to see.
Posted by TurnRightThenLeft, Thursday, 26 April 2007 11:12:16 AM
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Rudd's Team is doing very well on Policy. It is the begining of the 'not on' yet election campaign.

More importantly, be it Rudd or Howard... one thing is clear. We need "institutional and administrational reform" across Australia.

Infrastructure is key and this is where I agreed with Cutcliffe.

We the public as well as governments need to discuss openly, pressing issues like improving civic engagement activities, and policies in;

' health, mental health, civic health and education, enterprise development, export performance, civic infrastructure as a goal toward sustainable development, and our immigration, refugee and foreign engagement policies '

Well done Gillard and Rudd!

I believe you have it right with the 'Fair Work Australia - with the power to resolve industrial disputes and set the minimum wage'.

We as Australians are a highly innovative and enterprising nation community.

I feel this kind of work policy will help inspire us - the public, to access the true value of our nations Human Capital.

Many of us are being pacified as a negleted Human Capital.

A Human Capital that is currently untapped.

Australia's Human Capital is our number one, principal national resource.

Australian's are innovative and enterprising.

We all need to open our minds to the potential of our full potential, and utilise pro-actively our joint knowlewdge, as a key pathway in securing this untapped human resource.

Win or Lose ALP, your campaign through this federal election will change the face of Australia forever.

As a public we are learning quickly about Australias future agenda. We all continue to have the courage and strength to learn more, listen more, talk more - speak out publically on critical issues by participating as a whole nation in these serious and highly stimulating home grown debates.
Posted by miacat, Thursday, 26 April 2007 1:27:55 PM
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I think miacat's onto something there.

Agree with TRTL that it would be good to see more policy, but also that it would be stupid to release it too early. Apart from anything else that would allow Howard to adopt the most popular bits of it and claim them for himself, which he's done in the past.

Disagree with the article on Maxine. It was clever to put her up against Howard instead of dealing with the old 'parachuting/safe seat' accusations.

At this point spin is all we could reasonably expect, and Rudd's has all been about the future. Good move I think.

It draws attention to Howard's age and the possibility of his retirement.
It focuses on what we haven't done to prepare for the future education, training and R&D-wise.
It supports the global environment issues the Liberals can't win.
Works well with the innovation arguments miacat makes which is a much more optimistic picture for our yoof.
Says subtle things about the consequences for Australia if the Dems get up in the US.

I could go on all day. It's also more gender friendly than 'Australia rising' which is a bit gender-specific, if you get my drift.

There's nothing 'mere' about spin. In the age of celebrity politics it's central.
Posted by chainsmoker, Thursday, 26 April 2007 2:26:02 PM
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Rudd and his team will not even need to worry about policy. They have the media right behind them. Rudd is not allowing anyone else to say too much, thus limiting the chance of gaffes. He only needs to continue denigrating everything the government says or does. This is what we get for a system which requires compulsory attendance at the ballot box. Comparing Australian politics with British politics is of limited value because of what is widely believed to be a compulsion to mark a ballot paper. Real reform in Australian politics can only come with a change in electoral laws to non-compulsory attendance at the ballot box combined with an intensive non-partisan education of the populus about the importance of being involved in the democratic process. The two things are not imcompatible but Rudd, even more than Howard, would hate to lose all those "I have always voted ALP and always will no matter what they might do or say" voters....and yes there are some of those on the other side of politics too. If we got rid of that element politicians might need to work harder and be more accountable.
Posted by Communicat, Thursday, 26 April 2007 3:52:29 PM
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