JULIA Gillard came out fighting this week and her burst of prime ministerial pugilism did her no harm at all.
Thursday’s blast at the blogosphere where she has been the subject of a conspiracy theory dating back to her days as a lawyer with Slater and Gordon was Ms Gillard at her best, but unfortunately a Ms Gillard we rarely see.
Denouncing ‘nutjobs’ and ‘misogynists’ and forcing an apology from the Murdoch press was a golden moment in a positive period for Labor that has left Opposition Leader Tony Abbott looking ineffectual and negative by comparison.
Exasperatingly for Laborites the party has made a point of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over the past 18 months, but can they now dare to believe that something is changing?
By accepting the recommendations of an independent committee on asylum seekers, Ms Gillard effectively took the political sting out of the boat people issue for the time being and silenced the opposition.
Gillard can also take some satisfaction out of the High Court’s decision to back the government’s push for plain packaging on cigarettes.
This was one Labor had to win. Imagine how bad it would have looked if the court had gone the other way, another expensive debacle that would have made the government look incompetent.
Then there’s the carbon price: the big, horrid new tax that, according to Tony Abbott, was going to bring the sky falling down on ordinary Australians.
It has been in operation now for seven weeks and the sky is still very much intact, despite dubious efforts by some right-wing commentators to blame the carbon price for BHP’s decision to pull the pin on the Olympic Dam project when even the company’s CEO was saying it had nothing to do with it.
Yes, it has been a purple patch for Labor, but can they sustain it?
The relentlessly negative Tony Abbott is still very much in the box seat to win the next election, but when pressed he lacks detail and sounds bland and uninformed.
Recent opinion polls indicate that Ms Gillard has improved her position slightly. If she can spearhead a revival of Labor’s fortunes, Mr Abbott will need to step away from the campaign of negativity he has used so well up to now and demonstrate to us that he has the intellect and the leadership skills to be a realistic alternative.