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It’s on

February 22nd, 2012

A showdown over the ALP leadership, and therefore the Prime Ministership, has been inevitable for some time, and Kevin Rudd has finally brought it on, resigning as Foreign Minister in the face of direct personal attacks from Simon Crean (himself, apparently, a covert contender for the top job) and others.

Readers won’t be surprised to learn that I support Rudd. I have two reasons for this.

First, whatever his problems with interpersonal relationships and administration, Rudd is a serious leader with ideas for Australia’s future. Gillard has shown herself to have no ideas worth the name. Her policy agenda has consisted, almost entirely, of implementing policies introduced by Rudd.

Second, Gillard has totally lost the trust of the Australian people and if she leads the government to the next election, there is no chance whatsoever of a Labor victory. The result will be the election of Tony Abbott, someone who matches Gillard in terms of a lack of any consistent principles or concrete achievements, but adds to it a reactionary ideology and determination to undo the policies brought forward by (Rudd) Labor. Labor’s only chance of retaining office is to go back to Rudd.

Anyway, feel free to have your say

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  1. JB Cairns
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:55 | #1

    It is hard to see Rudd winning.

    It would mean the end of the factions and the factional leaders. This is afterall why he lost last time.

    The time to make a decision on whether the government can win next time is around August.

    The next budget will be in the black and the ETS will be seen having a far less effect than the critics said it will. ( most of whom believe it wil have a greater effect than the GST, a tax that will bring in over 5 times the revenue!).

    The main problem is that this government is hopeless at politics. This is never seen better than looking at Wayne Swan.
    His record shows him to be possibly the best treasurer we have had yet he is worse than useless at selling anything.

  2. derrida derider
    February 23rd, 2012 at 09:26 | #2

    John, the reason Gillard has not done bold new initiatives is because she leads a MINORITY government. The 2010 election dealt her a weak parliamentary hand (yes I know its partly her own fault – that doesn’t change today’s facts), which she has actually played very well. It’s a pity for her that her public persona does not reflect her face-to-face skills.

    Which is why, personal likes and dislikes aside, any caucus member would be utterly mad to put Rudd in now. Given his – ahem – unusual interpersonal skills, does anyone think him capable of keeping the independents happy from now till June 2013? And even the most enthusiastic Ruddolyte must see an early election would wipe most of the caucus out, Rudd or no Rudd.

    Rudd has made a huge tactical mistake in bringing it to a head in these circumstances. I reckon he’ll get less than 20 votes and that will be the end of his challenge, but also the end of the ALP’s electoral prospects. His far better tactic to become PM would have been to work towards a narrow ALP electoral defeat (while professing a suitably Xtian manner towards his enemies in the party), have the bloodbath after that to become Opposition leader and then wait for the Abbott government to self-destruct (which it probably will unless Abbott wins big). Revenge is a dish best served cold, and this one would have been better for all if it had been very cold indeed.

  3. derrida derider
    February 23rd, 2012 at 09:42 | #3

    “If … it were a straight “beauty contest” then Rudd would be in front. I find him less unpleasant.”
    - Fran@22

    ROTFL. It reminds me of Latham’s famous put -down of Rudd when they were both just shadow ministers:
    Kevin: “But I’m quite popular”
    Mark: “Yes, Kevin, but only among those who’ve never met you”.

    I certainly think Crean was most unwise to publicly call him a psychopath. Unfortunately, based on what I saw and what I heard from people who worked for him and whose judgement I respect, I don’t think the label was inaccurate.

  4. Ken_L
    February 23rd, 2012 at 10:13 | #4

    As usual, the discussion is almost exclusively focused on “OMG the next election!!!!”

    To my mind Rudd has been playing a long game since his election to parliament. He knows, as does anyone with an ounce of insight, that a trade union-based party has no future in this country. He tried to transform the ALP in top-down fashion, trading on his immense public popularity; as soon as that popularity waned cue Paul Howes and Sussex St sleazebags and the other small-minded union apparatchiks determined to keep control of their squalid little patch. Now maybe he’s decided to try to split the Party so a new centrist movement can emerge in place of the moribund ALP. Who knows what he’s thinking, but good luck to him. Fundamental reform is necessary if we are ever to have a viable centrist party again, not incremental change to the steaming pile of shite represented by the 2012 version of the ALP.

    I can see no sense whatsoever in this blind commitment to Gillard and all her cronies, either from a short or a long-term perspective. The likely next government of this country is going to see Tony Abbott as prime minister and Joe Hockey as his number 2. To suggest five years ago that this was even a remote possibility would have invited howls of derisive laughter, and rightly so. Yet now it looks a rolled gold certainty. How much more persuasion do Labor supporters need to convince them their cause is not just going through a bad patch, but terminally rotten?

  5. Troy Prideaux
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:01 | #5

    Been an ugly amount of Rudd’s dirty laundry aired publicly by senior cabinet ministers yesterday and last night. I wonder if we can expect any juicy insights of the CPRS saga and some names as to who said what in those cabinet meetings.

  6. NME
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 | #6

    Following on from Troy’s point, it’s interesting to speculate on the make up of the new cabinet if Rudd were to win.

    Rudd has been berated, sometimes scathingly, by at least Crean, Combet, Shorten, Burke and of course Gillard (who has just said she would move to the back bench if she lost a spill). Also Arbib’s copy booked is still blotted (in blood!) from two years ago. It’s hard to see how any of these can work effectively with him now, which, all in all, leaves a fair size hole in ministerial positions to be filled.

  7. Alan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:22 | #7

    Gillard’s opposition to bold new initiatives, indeed to timorous new initiatives, long predate the minority government. Her opposition to the CPRS happened when Rudd was prime minister and contributed significantly to destroying Rudd’s electoral standing.

  8. Troy Prideaux
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 | #8

    NME :
    Rudd has been berated, sometimes scathingly, by at least Crean, Combet, Shorten, Burke and of course Gillard (who has just said she would move to the back bench if she lost a spill

    Don’t forget Swan who was most scathing by a fair margin!

  9. Fran Barlow
    February 23rd, 2012 at 14:05 | #9

    @derrida derider

    I certainly think Crean was most unwise to publicly call him a psychopath. Unfortunately, based on what I saw and what I heard from people who worked for him and whose judgement I respect, I don’t think the label was inaccurate.

    It’s an impressive term but I’m unaware of Crean’s qualification to diagnose. I supect it was just bloviation. It seems to me that very few people can ever ascend to the highest office in any land without presenting as somewhat self-obsessed and ruthless. That is strongly pre-disposed by the reward and gatekeeping structures of elite politics. It has long seemed to me that the word “leadership” is simply a euphemism for “malignant narcissism” regardless of whether the people to whom it’s applied have rational plans and equitable goals.

    However they began their lives, whoever they were, anyone who can elbow their way to the short list for leader of either of our major parties has almost certainly committed multiple serious ethical breaches, lied repeatedly, including most often to themselves, ignored conflicts of interest, used and abused others who would not have done the same in return and so forth. In the end, the principal warrant for all this is that the careerist knows better than others what is right and what is not.

    Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were respectively the indirect and direct results of the factional system operating in the context of a thoroughly debauched and hollowed out marketing organisation of the boss class called the ALP. Kevin was selected by the factions because neither major grouping trusted the other and saw him as someone who could be neutral between them. As a man with no faction of his own, he could be given riding instructions. When his usefulness came to an end — i.e. when he was no longer winning the polls as convincingly (ironically in part because he’d done as he was told) — they dumped him in favour of the eminence grise, Gillard, who was nominally of the “left” faction but clearly had no distinctive left-of-centre politics.

    I’ve not exchanged words with her and don’t know her personally, but her public persona is quite as robotic as anything Rudd managed. That, it seems to me, is no accident. Her context determines her speech and engagement just as it did with Rudd. I’d be surprised if she has ever felt anything typical people would recognise as empathy. Her indifference to those in mandatory detention, her repeated use of the trolling “people smugglers’ business model” slogan to minimise public sympathy for asylum seekers betrays no flicker of humanity at all. I’m no expert, but at best, that looks sociopathic.

    As I said though, none of this matters right now. All that matters is that the boss class should not again get their way on the leadership and composition of the regime. My view would be the same if Rudd were in charge.

  10. Sam
    February 23rd, 2012 at 14:14 | #10

    @Fran Barlow
    That may be true Fran, but I think Rudd’s almost certain leaking during the election campaign shows that he’s just a bit too egotistical to be of net benefit to the party.

  11. Abhoth the Unclean
    February 23rd, 2012 at 14:17 | #11

    For Crean to come out with these sort of accusations is almost too rich to imagine. Amongst the serious faults that this fellow has exhibited, beside a total lack of ability and charisma, is his clear lack of understanding of how the subordinate clause works in spoken english. To listen to him reminds me of Molly Meldrum but without Molly’s command of vocabulary and clear sense of purpose.

  12. Dan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 15:33 | #12

    @Fran Barlow

    My understanding is that she’s warm, personable and considerate in person.

  13. wbb
    February 23rd, 2012 at 18:48 | #13

    Kevin Rudd is a “workplace psychopath”. Whatever the merits of his vision for the future, his profound inability to relate meaningfully with his colleagues disqualifies him from any further leadership consideration.

    Those who’ve experienced him up close and personal leave this in no doubt. Their accounts make for a very consistent and credible case.

    Let’s move on, at last. Rudd, Latham. Surely such a poor run of leaders can’t happen again for decades!

  14. Ken_L
    February 23rd, 2012 at 18:56 | #14

    ‘Those who’ve experienced him up close and personal leave this in no doubt. Their accounts make for a very consistent and credible case.’

    I’d very much like to read these alleged accounts wbb. And primary sources please, not the usual ‘people who have worked for him all say …’ disinformation or the transparently self-serving propaganda of political rivals.

  15. sdfc
    February 23rd, 2012 at 19:10 | #15

    His axing as PM seems pretty good evidence that his behaviour was unacceptable.

  16. wbb
    February 23rd, 2012 at 19:10 | #16

    Ken, the accounts I am referring to are being broadcast live on TV and radio all over the nation. Swan, Emerson, Burke, Crean, Conroy etc etc.

    Then there are all the insider accounts that were published 18 months ago, and susbsequently.

    David Marr.

    Ages ago, Mark Latham’s sketch.

    etc etc

  17. Ken_L
    February 23rd, 2012 at 19:18 | #17

    Sorry wbb but ‘Swan, Emerson, Burke, Crean, Conroy etc etc’ clearly fall into the category of political rivals spouting transparently self-serving propaganda and anything they say is worthless unless verified by disinterested sources. Moreover I would have thought being bad-mouthed by Mark Latham is actually to his credit.

    All froth and bubble, signifying nothing. But sfdc has hit the nail on the head: ‘His axing as PM seems pretty good evidence that his behaviour was unacceptable’. Unacceptable as in setting out to destroy the power of the hacks and time-servers who constitute so much of today’s ALP. It was always a Quixotic venture but I wish him well.

  18. Dan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 20:22 | #18

    @Ken_L

    It’s well-known, well-known, in Canberra that he’s an unworkably dreadful boss. This is not the word of Sussex St apparatchiks, it’s that of experienced, energetic and thoughtful bureaucrats who in many cases agree with his agenda and want him to succeed.

  19. BilB
    February 23rd, 2012 at 21:42 | #19

    I think, JQ, that you are forgetting one essential understanding. Rudd did not win the 2007 election, Howard lost it. And the little kerfuffle here in Penrith jammed Howard’s fingers in the door as it slammed shut on any hope he had of another “glorious” term. Rudd rode to power on a wave of environmental concern, which he then, once elected, proceeded to bleed to death with his endlessly protracted ever diminishing delivery of results. In 2010 he was set to be dumped by a disenchanted public who had by that time had more than enough of Rudd’s drawn out needlepoint speeches.

    For my part when Rudd was to give a speech, I kept the mute button handy so that after the first two paragraphs at which point I had learnt all I needed to know I could stop the noise and get on with anything else. That is not to say that Rudd has no substance, he very clearly does. But his delivery becomes a droning noise. You cannot win elections with that much baggage.

    Gillard has her own problems some of which you point out, but overall she is a far more successful deliverer of real results.

    I think that Rudd’s New York speech sealed his doom. It had all of the symptoms of a Latham outburst. I am expecting that he will get a maximum of 35% support, then quickly fade out of view. Listening to Therese Raine’s interview, I see a wife advising her husband to let it go, “I’m not coming with you again, particularly this way”. Perhaps Rudd’s experience as a globe trotting diplomat have led him to believe that he could make the long distance political love affair work, with Therese in Brisbane and he in Canberra.

    That is my take on the situation.

  20. Jill Rush
    February 23rd, 2012 at 23:39 | #20

    Rudd makes good speeches – however the fact that Gillard has translated those words into actions is reason enough not to go back to the paralysis that was endemic under Rudd. If she has only delivered the Rudd government agenda it shows how little he managed to do in his time as PM.

    He also bears a lot of the blame for the current woes of the Labor Party and may have learned to be a better political tactician against his enemies but has done little of substance. Foreign Affairs were ready to give the keys to overseas broadcasting of Australian content to Murdoch’s men until Conroy stepped in – a mess created directly by Rudd.

    I know he is popular in Queensland but his style is not what is needed by the nation. For him to demand that the PM back him when he has pointedly refused to back her for months was the height of hypocrisy. He is too self centred to actually do anything unless it is to his benefit and his hollow views about helping Anna Bligh must be horrifying to her as with friends like that who needs enemies. He didn’t even have the gumption to come back to Australia first before his grandstanding resignation over Crean’s remarks – which were after all a direct reaction to the destabilisation campaign Rudd has been running including during the election campaign which created the minority government.

    If Rudd’s actions are rewarded with the top job he will be far worse than before as he would know that there would be no-one who could challenge him again. He would have only learned to be more of a bully. If there is to be a change then Labor needs to look to those Rudd calls faceless (playing Tony Abbott’s tune).

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