No resurrection for 'Lazarus'
I write from the ballroom where John Howard delivered his first victory speech as prime minister in 1996 and where he has just conceded this election to Kevin Rudd. It is always interesting to get a close-up view of a political party losing power, especially when it has dominated the political scene for over a decade. And you can usually tell right at the start of a night that defeat is in the offing.
The long faces. The talk of the pivotal importance of postal votes. The clutching of straws. The slight whiff of decay.
When the Labor Party candidate in Bennelong, former TV presenter Maxine McKew, appeared on the big screens in the ballroom there were predictable boos and catcalls. The woman who used to interview the prime minister on the box appears now to have unseated him.
As I write, John Howard is milling around the lobby shaking hands with his party loyalists. All very slap-the-back bonhomie sort of stuff. "Thanks John". "Good on ya mate". He is, after all, arguably the world’s most successful conservative politician of the past decade. Who else has managed to win four elections in a row over that period?
Back in the ballroom, half-drunk champagne flutes litter the stage, and the scene is starting to look very desultory. Who is paying for this party, by the way. By all accounts, the Liberals are completely broke.
He calls himself "Lazarus with a triple bypass", but tonight he looked like a weary and slightly punch-drunk heavyweight champ who went for one title defence too many.