How Gillard could have won for Labor (repost)

I see from my Twitter feed that the viewpoint I expressed a year or so ago is becoming more widespread. Of course, it’s too late now for anything but damage mitigation.

Repost follows:

How Gillard could win for Labor

By resigning gracefully. If I were advising Gillard on how best to secure her place in history, I’d suggest waiting until the 1st of July and then making a speech along the following lines

The carbon price, legislated by my government is now in place. It will soon become obvious that the scare campaign run by Mr Abbott and the Opposition has no basis in reality and that our plan will achieve cost-effective reductions in carbon emissions, while making most Australian households better off. I am proud of my government’s achievements in this and other areas. Nevertheless, I recognise with sadness that I am not the best person to take this message to the Australian public. I have therefore decided to resign the office of Prime Minister and advise my Labor colleagues to support the return of Mr Kevin Rudd to this position. Mr Rudd and I have had substantial disagreements over matters of managerial style, but we are agreed on the need for a Labor government with Labor values, and on the need for action in key areas including the carbon price, the mineral resource rent tax and the successful management of the Australian economy. I will give the new PM my enthusiastic support, and work for the re-election of a Labor government.

Would this work? I’m not really sure. But given Abbott’s failure to achieve any popular support at a time when Labor has plumbed unheard of depths of popular support, it would have to be worth a shot. At a minimum, it would help avoid the Queensland-style wipeout that is currently on the cards. And if it worked, history would certainly look kindly upon a PM willing to give up the job for the sake of her party and, more importantly, in the best interests of the country.

118 thoughts on “How Gillard could have won for Labor (repost)

  1. The issue is not how one votes, it is who should lead the ALP. I may well cast a Langer vote myself.

    The Murdochracy was bitterly critical of Rudd when he was prime minister and helped the plotters by creating a false atmosphere of crisis. Even now, the Murdochracy is not giving Rudd any better treatment than Gillard. I am unmoved by the theory that they will switch fire to Rudd if he becomes leader because 1 they have never really taken the pressure off anyway and 2 they will only be alleging against Rudd what the electorate already believes about Gillard.

    Moreover, the power of the ALP rightwing oligarchy only becomes more entrenched the longer Gillard staggers on as prime minister. Those people are prepared to throw away any chance in the election so long as they control the leadership after the election. The way to open the ALP to new ideas is to break the stranglehold of the right. So single decision could weaken them more than reinstating Rudd.

    Rod Caneron put it better than I could on Lateline:

    “Her credibility is absolutely zero in the electorate,” he said.

    “Fairly or unfairly the electorate is just not listening to her.

    “If they do listen to her and not many do, but if they do they get angry and it reinforces their decision not to vote Labor.”

  2. @Alan

    The issue is not how one votes, it is who should lead the ALP.

    I don’t agree that it is. The issues surely are:

    What kind of party is the ALP? Does it serve any worthy purpose at all? If it does, how can the ALP be best configured to realise that purpose on a credible timeline?

    Who leads the party is a question that is entirely subject to the answers one concludes to the questions above.

    The Murdochracy was bitterly critical of Rudd when he was prime minister and helped the plotters by creating a false atmosphere of crisis.

    Misleading. They were very positive until about October 2009 — and far more critical of Turnbull. They were clearly wanting a more rightwing, LNP. Rudd played into their hands, helping to wedge Turnbull against his in-house rightwing populists. He sabotaged the carbon price legislation as part of his desire both to exclude the greens and wedge the Liberals and pandered openly to xenophobia over asylum seekers. By February, with the Murdochracy firmly behind Abbott he began spitting on his programs such as HIP, BER and punted carbon pricing into the too hard basket, and entered a politcal spiral to defeat. In desperation, he reached for the RSPT but it was already too late. Everyone could smell political necrosis. When he was rolled, and Gillard relented to the miners, it was safe for the Murdochracy to begin undermining the new leader.

    The ALP handled this very badly — and I’m not just blaming Rudd. Rolling him was high-level stupidity. The ALP failed to see the danger the year before and none of their leading officers acted to staunch it because for much of the time they had an unassailable lead in the polls, which masked their political fragility. Rudd, a Beattie-style populist was no longer up against a merchant banker opposed by the Murdochracy but against a rightwing populist backed by them, and he had disavowed policies that were part of his popularity. His authenticity was shot.

    I am unmoved by the theory that they will switch fire to Rudd if he becomes leader because 1 they have never really taken the pressure off anyway

    Unpersuasive. They are in a temporary marriage of convenience, based on the common desire to undermine Gillard. That will end if that result is achieved and Rudd will know whom he owes and to whom he must answer — the genuinely faceless men of Murdoch. He will be a caricature of a leader.

    and 2 they will only be alleging against Rudd what the electorate already believes about Gillard.

    The focus will be on how it could be that the ALP, which voted 70/30 against him could claim to be behind a man described by a senior colleague as a psychopath. There really will be only one plausible answer — a cynical desire to put a more electorally pleasing patina on an entirely dysfunctional regime. A rightwinger pointed out the other day on another blog I visit that the ALP had over the last few years chosen Latham, Rudd, Gillard (and if a change does occur) Rudd again and asked what that would say about the party. The rightwinger had a fair point. Any party that could choose so many politically inept people in such a short time to lead them had a governance problem.

    OK, the Liberals have chosen in reverse order, Abbott, Turnbull, Brendon Nelson so it applies to them as well — perhaps more so — but this simply underlines for me the appalling state of governance in this country. How can so many plainly unfit people rise to seniority in the major parties and threaten to become head honchos?

    Australia is beginning to take on some of the smell of a failed state. Neither of the major parties has any substantial connection with the population at large in between election periods. Membership and political activity is tiny, and such as it does exist these bear little relationship to policy making. Party membership of the majors is like being in the P&C. You raise money and concern yourself with minutiae but you lack any reall influence over anything — in part because most of them simply have no place in the administation and have a purely tribal connection with the institution.

    The wider population has, by and large, at best only a passing grasp of the usages attached to governance and policy and is not consulted substantively on priorities and goals — still less implementation and its constraints. There simply is no way in which, even if substantial layers of the population became informed and interested in policy, that they could see this realised in government. Instead, policy is the intersection of marketing and the appetites of the elite, and thus ultimately a creature of the interests of people entirely hostile to public engagement in policy making and whose media organs actively seek to confuse and dissemble and turn public policy into entertainment — like sports.

    I am not convinced that the ALP has any further useful role to play — at least, not for working people. It is in its current state, merely a means for the boss class to manoeuvre the LNP into whatever it collectively wants at any given moment, and occasionally a vehicle in which various fractions of the boss class can contend for influence over policy. It seems to me that if it were reduced to a rump, the boss class might well be a little worse off, at least in the medium term. The ease with which they could persuasively present their own interests as those of the nation as a whole would decline. Without the ALP as cover, the unseemly haggling would at least be educational.

  3. It seems to me that if it were reduced to a rump, the boss class might well be a little worse off, at least in the medium term. The ease with which they could persuasively present their own interests as those of the nation as a whole would decline.

    An interesting point.

    After the landslide in Qld the ALP didn’t have enough seats (10) to technically qualify as “the opposition” but their supposedly arch enemies, Newman’s LNP, granted them opposition status. That bestowed financial and resourcing benefits to which they wouldn’t have been entitled as well as the stature of being the official “Opposition” – useful for the exact purpose you describe and allowing the Qld mono media to report ‘The Leader of the Opposition says…..’

    When a bunch of people left the LNP to join KAP and attempted to form a real “opposition” the mortal enemies in the ALP and LNP voted together to slam through legislation the night before they applied for opposition status to change the laws and lock them out. What was most telling was that the LNP don’t need the ALP vote, the ALP could have abstained or opposed and they would still have been the “Opposition”.

    Too many people still believe in the fantasy that we have some kind of democratic choice when offered ALP/LNP as the only allowable alternatives.

  4. I am not completely and utterly convinced that the case to retain Gillard is strengthened by referring to Australia as a failed state or close to it. Fran and I actually agree. Our only disagreement seems to be whether the prompt and utter destruction of the ALP is a good or a bad thing. I have no idea why discussion of the claimed electoral impact of a spill matters at all in
    the eschatological narrative of the imminent emergence of a Pinochet on the Molonglo.

    That of course leads to the interesting psychological question of why this prime minister is so determined that the ship should go down with her.

  5. @Alan

    I am not completely and utterly convinced that the case to retain Gillard is strengthened by referring to Australia as a failed state or close to it.

    It neither strengthens it nor weakens it. Australia will continue to be as failed under Rudd or Abbott. These would simply be different iterations of the same underlying reality, though the ascent of Abbott would be a further advance along that path, much as degenerative diseases in humans have a sequence.

    At the expressive level, one may be horrified at the ascent of Abbott, much as when someone’s degenerative disease produces some ugly physical or intellectual manifestation but even if someone devises some way to obscure this, the disease will be no better or less harmful. Having Rudd take over probably wouldn’t even achieve this as it would signal the complete collapse of the ALP’s internal coherence. The persistence of Gillard points to the possibility that the disease isn’t terminal — that they can still resist Murdoch at some level. Either way though, the ALP is profoundly ill and of almost no use to anyone — not even the majority of its own spivs.

    That of course leads to the interesting psychological question of why this prime minister is so determined that the ship should go down with her.

    It’s not an interesting psychological question. It may well be that she believes that the party could do no worse with her than Rudd and that Rudd might do even worse than her. That case is entirely plausible.

    It may be that she thinks that if she goes down swinging then the policies she implemented need not be abandoned, and could form the basis of a future ALP regime’s legacy. At least, unlike with Rudd, they could at least put their policies on their CV, and if the regime gets hammered, then her successor can inherit them.

    Really though, should a left-of-centre person care what passes for reason in the heads of socially conservative populism-mongering boss-class spivs like Gillard or Rudd? Only, in my view, if it helps refute their political legitimacy in the eyes of working people. Apart from that benefit, it’s worth nothing.

  6. Gillard is playing the abortion card. Abortion law is a state matter and a conscience vote.

  7. @Jim Rose You are playing the joker card; abortion is subject to Medicare rebate and regulation by the TGA, both being Federal govt responsibilities.

  8. @Jim Rose Try viewing medical procedures without the ideological strings – you need funding to set up medical facilities and without external funding only the wealthy can afford medicine.

  9. @Jim Rose Terminations are either medical or surgical. Public clinics/hospitals provide the service free while the few private centers that conduct the procedure usually require card + cash. The Medicare rebate does not fully cover charges incurred by private clinics.

  10. The problem, John, is that the “speech” does not ring true. It sounds like the usual spin. The electorate has stopped swallowing spin. So have good people like Mr Ferguson and Mr Crean. Time for a re-think. Conviction, conviction, conviction.

  11. @Jim Rose

    Jim, your comment that appears to have started this thread was:

    “Gillard is playing the abortion card. Abortion law is a state matter and a conscience vote.”

    Wisdom trending to profundity, mate! But may I assume that your first sentence was not meant to be complimentary?
    I thought so.

    Your second sentence implies that you naively believe that Abbott, despite his stated opposition to abortion, will not have the power to change the existing laws.

    Are you upset that she has had the unladylike gall (she with the small breasts and big thighs; Brown’s bitch; the possible poofter’s partner; unmarried; backstabbing; barren; atheistic, no dress sense; Juliar, to name but one clever observation) to remind the 70% of voters who agree that a woman has the right to an abortion without question, that it is imminently possible that a wall punching, wild oats sowing and thus hypercritical, indoctrinated seminarian drop-out will be able to impose his threadbare theology on the aforementioned 70% by, say, changing the rules on Medicare rebates for abortions and/or introducing a conscience vote that could persuade any right wing State Premiers, who just might be around at the time, to amend any law.

    But thanks for reminding us that the concept of “conscience vote” with it’s overtones of democracy and smug morality will suddenly be a “mandate”.
    (WHAT? You mean that all the other votes cast in Parliament are NOT based on conscience, even in the L+NP parties? … but I go on…)

    Changing the subject.
    What do you call a group of men who wear dresses and believe they have God’s “thumbs up” to control women’s bodies?
    The Taliban and their evil foot soldiers, of course!

    But back to “conscience votes” and your timely suggestion.
    Here’s an idea that’s probably been echoing around the polished panels of the Melbourne Club: why not slide Kevin Andrews out of the bottom drawer of the cryogenic cabinet after 14th September, whisper “euthanasia conscience” to him and give him an HB pencil to draft another law to over-ride a lesser legislature?

    Gillard didn’t “play a card”: she drew the electorate’s attention to the hypocrisy of the whole of the Opposition.

  12. geoff, abortion is not legal in most parts of australia. what is an unlawful abortion is left mostly to case law see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Australia

    an early term abortion by a competent doctor would never get passed Australian jury to a render a guilty verdict. the police know that.

    after a few failed attempts, only the Australian Capital Territory has removed abortion from the Crimes Act.

    as for your other points, ill-mannered people also spoke crudely of palin and thatcher not too long ago. they had no excuse for that crudeness either. I am sure you agree.

  13. I think that what must happen the next cycle of Federal Labour government is the deamalgamation of media interests.

    This election is shaping up to deliver a media organised result, and that is not good in any way for democracy.

    Media reporting of the last 3 years has been anything other than “news delivery”.

    Media has become a vehicle of ideology delivery with near zero informed commentary and debate, and this must end.

  14. @BilB

    Hear, hear!

    It can be done. One of the first and easiest actions would be to hold the ABC to its charter and ban News Ltd staff (or Fairfax & APN – although nobody can remember the last time they heard from these outlets on the ABC) from appearing, being interviewed or quoted.

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