27 bad polls in a row take a toll on PM
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27 bad polls in a row take a toll on PM

The Gillard government is suffering a gathering crisis of confidence in its leader.

Not because of any assault by Kevin Rudd. Indeed, whenever he has tried to foment unrest, the Labor caucus has hardened against him.

Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

Labor's fast-draining confidence is because of the performance of Julia Gillard herself and her inner circle.

After deposing Rudd, Gillard argued privately that the reason she had moved against him was not because he was behind in the polls, but because he had no plan to put Labor in front.

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Today, the Labor caucus is asking the same question about Gillard.

Labor didn't win the 2010 election. Since then it has only lost support in the opinion polls.

''There have been 27 Nielsen polls since the 2010 election, and this is the 27th showing the Coalition in front,'' wrote the Fairfax pollster, Nielsen's John Stirton on Monday.

There are 178 days left until the election that Gillard has called. The question that Labor MPs are asking themselves now, in the words of Dirty Harry, is ''Am I feeling lucky?''

Not only is Labor consistently behind in the polls, its leader has not articulated a credible plan for any recovery.

And it's hard for her caucus to feel lucky with regular displays of political misjudgment by the Prime Minister and her closest allies.

At the end of last year, it was Wayne Swan's admission that the government's iron-clad promise of a budget surplus was no longer achievable, in the face of falling tax revenue.

Joe Hockey, who has no record of achievement as an economic manager, is now preferred treasurer to Swan, even though Swan has presided over one of the world's most successful economies during the global financial crisis.

And last week it was Stephen Conroy's media regulation proposals.

Gillard rammed the plan through her cabinet and caucus, angering many in the process, and started a major fight with the big media companies.

Yet all for nought - the plan is now set to fail in the House for lack of support.

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These are the reasons a key Left faction cabinet minister, Mark Butler, and a key Right faction cabinet minister, Bob Carr, are openly telling colleagues they have lost confidence in Gillard.

The dam of Gillard support has now been breached.

Peter Hartcher is Political Editor and International Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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