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Abbott’s own team are getting uneasy about him as leader

November 22nd, 2014

The supporters are getting restless. Tony Abbott is disappointing them.

The number one cheer leader this morning:

Abbott doomed

These extracts give the flavour:

It’s a simple lesson that Mr Abbott has failed to grasp: talking points and three-word slogans can never suffice. “Australia is open for business” does not constitute a narrative or provide inspiration. “Team Australia” has hokey appeal, but it, too, does not work as an explanation for complex national security issues.

Limply, the Prime Minister is losing the battle to define core issues and to explain to voters what he is doing and why. At stake is his political credibility, no less. Mr Abbott risks becoming a “oncer” if he allows his opponents to constantly control the agenda.

… Other than in some formal set pieces, he has lost his authoritative voice. Of course, it is no use blaming ill-equipped, tyro advisers. The Prime Minister’s Office is too dominated by Peta Credlin, his chief of staff, including on media strategy.

… Where is the intelligent Rhodes scholar who has an easy rapport with Australians in any setting?

This communications malady is endemic. The Coalition’s failing media strategy is damaging its electoral standing and making it difficult to bed down policy responses to problems it was elected to address. The economy is where this ineptitude is most marked; the selling of the Abbott government’s fiscal repair job has been a debacle.

… In opposition, the Coalition had overegged the crisis alarmism. In truth, the debt overhang is a medium-term issue …

Certainly, Mr Abbott was right to recognise that the electorate had lost patience with the extravagant verbiage of the RuddGillard era. But there is a sweet spot between overblown rhetoric and the dot-point banalities pumped out by the PMO and the Coalition’s advisers.

… Without a clear narrative, the task will be beyond him; his communications strategy is in disarray. The Coalition needs skilful media personnel and new roles for its best ministerial performers; it must communicate like a team that knows what it is doing. Short-term tactical wins may offer a mood hit in the executive wing, but they are not the key to sustained governing. Mr Abbott must regroup, trust himself and speak with purpose. Right now, his insipid default setting is losing the people.

Interesting that the criticism is all about the poor salesmanship. There’s still a long way to go before the disappointed ones start realising that it is the product not the sales pitch that people increasingly don’t like.

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