Kevin Rudd's Campaign Is Taking On A Sense Of Impending Doom

Getty / Chris Hyde

Kevin Rudd’s campaign failed to make headway over the past week and marginal seat polling published today shows that the ALP faces what seems an impossible task in trying to secure the seats needed to retain government.

There are three weeks of campaigning to go, but the window for changing the momentum of the campaign is closing rapidly. Rudd’s messaging has taken on a new sense of urgency.

He gave what has been described as a “fired-up” speech to Holden workers today announcing a $2 billion plan for the car industry, with $500m in assistance between now and 2020.

Also at Holden he spoke about Abbott’s plans to “cut, cut, cut”. There are ALP television ads featuring a suburban mum asking: “What are you hiding, Mr Abbott?”

And then there’s a YouTube clip out showing Rudd addressing campaign staff. He urges confidence in the campaign “battle plan” and says emphatically that “we can and will win this”. Here it is:

In the clip he says much of the media coverage is “designed to play with people’s psychology”.

Well, so is this ad and more than anyone, it’s aimed at the Labor faithful, whom Rudd needs to remain motivated as the polls continue to show the party on the nose.

There’s a term in medicine for a condition, sometimes a side-effect of certain medication and present in someone experiencing an asthma or anxiety attack, called a “sense of impending doom” — an overwhelming sensation that something terrible is about to happen.

The Labor organisation has been showing the signs of its political equivalent in recent days.

There have been reports in the past two days that expose more than a hint of rancour and frustration growing in the Labor machine. There’s talk about tensions between campaign HQ and Rudd’s travelling party, and of failing to execute on some basic media management on visits to key constituencies.

The findings of the published polling are no doubt matched by the internal research which will be compounding the concerns.

Rudd’s chief strategist Bruce Hawker has ordered a revamp of communications strategy and has sent key adviser Matthew Franklin to campaign HQ in Melbourne to help co-ordinate with the team on the road.

The rallying call to the troops, the fired-up speech at Holden, the changes in the campaign team and upping the ante on the coalition in terms of asking what they plan to cut is a signal that Labor is confronting the reality of what could happen on September 7 if they fail to change the dynamics of the campaign, and quickly.

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