The would-be Australian Jose Zapatero, Mark Latham “” who has announced that if he becomes Prime Minister he will withdraw Australian troops from Iraq “” may not get a chance. From The Australian, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
THE surge in Mark Latham’s personal popularity has taken its first hit, reversing sharply after the Labor leader’s decision to “cut and run” on Iraq.
Mr Latham’s surging personal popularity with voters has been inextricably linked with the rising fortunes of the Labor Party since he defeated Kim Beazley to become leader four months ago.
It is too early to say the Latham honeymoon is over, but the latest Newspoll, taken last weekend exclusively for The Australian, is the first authoritative poll to show that Mr Latham’s popularity has declined.
The 14-point fall in satisfaction with Mr Latham’s performance, from a record high for an Opposition leader of 66 per cent to a three-month low of 52 per cent, is the first decline in his personal rating since he became Labor leader.
At the same time, the proportion of voters dissatisfied with his performance more than doubled, from 15 per cent to 32 per cent, in the fortnightly poll. …
In the two weeks before the Newspoll, Mr Latham came under sustained pressure from the Howard Government, which accused him first of making foreign policy on the run and then of misrepresenting briefings from intelligence services.
John Howard and his ministers argued that Mr Latham’s character had come into question, while Mr Latham accused the Prime Minister of using the public service for political purposes as he “thrashed about” looking for a new agenda.
Meanwhile, Latham has at least one vote: “The chief lieutenant of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr today called for Australia to withdraw from Iraq.” (Thanks again to Jean-Luc.)