How low can you go? Keneally fails to put gloss on popularity plunge SMH Sean Nicholls STATE POLITICAL EDITOR October 30, 2010 THINGS have clearly hit rock bottom when even Kristina Keneally's government struggles to spin a poll result. ''[It] confirms to me what I already knew - I have a tough job,'' the Premier said in response to a poll which found her government is now the most unpopular Labor administration in polling history, with a primary vote of just 23 per cent. With the cruellest irony, it coincided with a party gathering at Parliament House on Macquarie Street last night to celebrate 100 years since the election of the first Labor government. Guests of honour included the former premiers Neville Wran, Bob Carr and Morris Iemma. Advertisement: Story continues below But if the strategists at Labor head office are panicked, they might just seek some comfort with a glance overseas. They will find the Keneally government is in good company, as it has been a tough fortnight for political leaders. The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, beset with strikes and protests over proposed changes to the national pension system, crashed to a record low approval rating of 29 per cent. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, suffered a similar indignity. Amid calls for his resignation after surviving a confidence vote, his approval rating plummeted to 37 per cent, also a record. In this company and on that measure, Ms Keneally holds her own. Her personal approval rating is 38 per cent, which beats both European leaders (just) and remains 4 per cent higher than that of her predecessor, Nathan Rees, just before she replaced him in the job. Labor's primary vote is another matter entirely. As the ABC's election analyst, Antony Green, points out on his blog, 23 per cent brings the 2010 government level with its standing in 1904, six years before it first formed a government on October 21, 1910. How low can an approval rating go? John Howard set the bar at 18 per cent when he was opposition leader in 1988, prompting the Bulletin front page: ''Mr 18 per cent. Why on earth does this man bother?'' In his last poll before he was bundled out of office, George W. Bush came in at a lowly 22 per cent. An earlier Gallup poll found that only 20 per cent approved of Mr Bush's performance as president - the lowest level recorded of any president since the polling company began asking the question in 1938. The beleaguered British prime minister Gordon Brown suffered a similar historical indignity when a Gallup poll in The Daily Telegraph recorded its lowest ever support for a Labour government under Mr Brown, at 26 per cent. There was another unenviable first for the Keneally government yesterday. When the Legislative Assembly sat at 10am, it was Labor's turn to fill the Speaker's chair, but the designated Speaker, Tanya Gadiel, was nowhere in sight. The clerks were forced to turn to a temporary speaker, the Nationals' Thomas George. COMMENT: Health issues remain a MAJOR concern and a horn in the side of the present NSW government. Do you think it can be resolved in a short time? More likely in a generation!