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As I’ve said before, Abbott’s special skill is his almost magical power to repeat a line ad nauseam in slightly different iterations until it finally sinks in. And that special skill will be the way he wins – if he can find a sharp message against Gillard that she herself cannot spin as being sexist. (Invariably any message can be spun as sexist if it comes from the mouth of Tony Abbott).

The latest opinion polls show exactly such a message has sunken into the mind of the electorate. The message that has dominated the news, overwhelming the (few) policy-related announcements by the Government has been the Rudd-Gillard feud. As I said in my last post, I don’t think there’s much reality to the Rudd-Gillard feud, but the Opposition has very skillfully maneuverered to take advantage of it.  The latest Neilsen poll shows an overwhelming 70% of people disapprove of the way Kevin Rudd was overthrown and, as a poison pill if the Government is elected, 68% believe he should be made Foreign Minister after the election.

Moreover, because the Opposition is using Rudd as a cover for their own messaging, they avoid the misogynist subtext that Gillard might overlaid the argument (remember Hockey’s ‘handbag full of knives’ comment?).

When I had first heard the message, it seemed rather innocuous. So Rudd was overthrown. So was Hawke, Latham, Beazley, Crean and Beazley not to mention Nelson and Turnbull. I thought it would be transient. But then again, I had thought the same thing about the Liberal’s messaging over Rudd’s language skills. It’s harmless, it’s a joke. But it ultimately destroyed him. It showed a man without passion, a character flaw which combined with his (apparent) lack of conviction over the ETS lead to his downfall.

Similarly, the fall of Rudd is playing out very well in a key battleground state – Queensland. There are only two battleground states – Queensland and NSW, so it looks like the Opposition has won half the battle already.

And yes, yes, this whole series of events hasn’t been concocted like some kind of evil conspiracy by the Liberals. The Ruddbot image was concocted by Annabel Crabb. The tragedy of Rudd sonata was composed by the media. But what the Liberals did was seize the advantage of the circumstances. If anything can be said of Abbott is that he’s a tenacious fighter. He is, despite the stereotype, incredibly smart. I think he saw the advantage and relentlessly pummelled at it.

The question is, can he hammer through that message in just one month? Gillard, for one, doesn’t think so.

Edit: As an aside, this doesn’t mean I think Abbott will win. On balance, Abbott must appear Prime Ministerial in order to win. And it will be an insurmountably difficult task to constantly criticise the government in this way whilst also appearing positive and good for the country. This post is just a commentary on the current state of affairs.

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