If a week is a long time in politics, then bloody hell, a weekend is an age

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Political musings
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard

Rudd and Gillard - this one could run and run. And if they don't, you know what? The other side could join in, too. Geez it'd be nice if they gave a toss about us out here in the real world.

So the Foreign Minister of Australia resigns in a fit of pique over criticisms that he is not being loyal to the Prime Minister – surely the worst kept secret in politics – and it’s on for man and boy as they say over here.

Well, woman and boy, actually, the woman being Julia Gillard, so recently fêted as Australia’s first female Prime Minister but now mired in accusations of incompetence – and Kevin Rudd as the boy she replaced when he in his turn was widely considered incompetent, and I say “boy” because he really does look like nothing more nor less than the Milky Bar Kid, which is very cruel for a man of some standing and intellect, but really quite amusing all the same.

So, we have a spill at the Labor caucus next week, and now the meeja blather on ceaselessly about the “leadership crisis” in the Labor Party, boring the pants off everybody except the politicians themselves and a tiny minority of political junkies and apparatchiks.

But to my mind, we do not have a leadership crisis in Canberra. We have an un-leadership crisis.

And ironically, it is not restricted to the ALP.

Whoever wins the caucus vote next week will get an opinion poll bounce – you watch – plucky little Kevin because he is undeniably more popular with the electorate anyway, who feel he was treated shabbily when they got rid of him, (conveniently forgetting that he was got rid of because the public were bucketing him in opinion polls), or “real” Julia, for successfully rallying her troops and finally showing some grit and mettle of her own.

And when that happens, expect the hard heads in the Liberal Party to start taking a long and detailed look at the relative popularity of their leadership options – Messrs Abbott and Turnbull Esq – versus whoever is Labor leader.

Think the faceless men of the Labor Party are ruthless? I reckon the top end of town leave ’em for dead. If there’s the tiniest inkling that the Mad Monk (aka current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, he of handlebar ears, ridiculous swimming costumes, and extreme right wing Roman Catholic-tinged views) could fall at the final hurdle then he’ll be replaced by telegenic moderate Turnbull faster than you can say “well, Abbott only won by one vote last time”.

Meanwhile the voters deal with ever rising cost of living pressures and look nervously over the horizon at the chaos in Europe and the USA and – quite rightly – mutter angrily that their political masters simply don’t live in the same anxious country as them.

Same country? They barely inhabit the same planet.

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Comments
  1. Julie says:

    Maybe we don’t live on the same planet either, Stephen. Like most people in this country, this has been a hot topic of conversation all day. I know no one who is backing Kevin Rudd – quite the opposite. They’re dreading the possibility that he might be PM again. And anyone who resigns via the international media before informing their boss just can’t be trusted.

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    • Oh come on, Julie, do you really, truly believe that either side in this ALP debate – let alone either side in the Parliament – are either behaving honourably or covering themselves with glory? So-called “ordinary people” are utterly ticked off with the whole nonsense, and it is doing damage to the fabric of our political culture.

      I am not choosing between the two of them, indeed, I am working hard not to – I am pointing out how stupid the whole schemozzle looks to the voting public. But you might be interested to know that at least three people have spontaneously said to me today that they would like Kevin Rudd back. Opinion polls reveal he is more popular with the public than Gillard, at the moment.

      And let’s be frank, Rudd’s hand was forced by comments being made back here while he was conveniently overseas, and – specifically – an apparently senior Labor source reporting that he was to be sacked by Gillard on Monday. Gillard has denied this, but there is authoritative reporting from America that Rudd had no intention to resign at this time until that rumour hit his metaphorical desk.

      I don’t think we can say either side is operating with the best interests of their party at the moment, and I do not think that next week will be the end of it, even after the ballot in caucus.

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  2. Dario says:

    A well balanced view, Yol!

    What about a prediction…if Rudd in fact challenges, then fails, he will resign from the labor party to become an independent…then they’ll have to sit up and negotiate with him. Possibly the only way the milky bar kid can regain any semblance of political power at this seemingly late stage of his political career. The irony is that even this move will be short lived as we are almost certain to go to the polls ahead of the next scheduled election in seventeen months time.

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    • I am on record in various places as saying that no one’s crystal ball is likely to be very clear at the moment Dario … what will happen will depend on the precise nature of the vote in caucus. I do return to my point in the original post, I think either Rudd or Gillard will get a bounce after the poll, for different reasons. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Liberal Party if either of them start to pull it around. Also, I don’t see the independents pulling down the Labor Government anytime soon – why would turkeys vote for Christmas? I’d say it was inevitable that Windsor and Oakeshott will lose, whoever leads Labor, for example. They’re going to keep the Government going for just as long as they possibly can.

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  3. Bill Hayes says:

    You think you’ve got problems, then how about the GOP in the States.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/23-13

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  4. Simon Disney says:

    Frankly I think this whole sordid business is damaging to the institution of the Parliament as a whole. So what’s going to happen? The ALP’s hard-heads will have looked at the PM’s polling figures. They know that voters are waiting for them with baseball bats and they will probably have concluded that even by the time the ‘compensation money’ from the carbon tax starts flooding into people’s bank accounts in May, it will be too late. People have simply stopped listening to Julia Gillard. When you reach that point, it’s a big problem and rarely reversible. No doubt that’s why Barry O’Farrell and other Liberals have been publicly cheering for Julia Gillard. (They do their own polling too, you know 😉 So the ALP are now in ‘defence mode’. They’re not out to win seats any more. The campaign now becomes an enormous effort to minimise the damage and hold on to as many seats as possible so that there is a slim chance of winning government again after an election defeat, rather than after two or three – which would see them in Opposition for the best part of a decade. Historically, the Australian people are pretty generous and usually give government’s a second term unless they really screw up. Nervous Government back-benchers in marginal seats will be looking for the candidate who gives them the best chance of hanging onto their seat. History shows that you should always back the horse called Self-Interest. Will this be the divisive Kevin Rudd…. Or will there be other candidates for the job throwing their hats in the ring on Monday morning? Rudd has around 35 votes out of 103 needed. Will Simon Crean put his hand up as a ‘safe pair of hands’ to spoil Rudd’s chances and attempt to unify the party after the turmoil? Will Stephen Smith stand? As a first-timer, Smith would be reluctant to lead the party to an almost inevitable election loss. You generally only get one tilt at the leadership and it pays to get your timing right. He is still relatively young and may decide that it is best to bide his time, let the Party take the ‘big hit’ and build his profile as Opposition leader before having a swing in 2017. Simon Crean on the other hand, might be the right man for the times. He’s had a long career already and may decide to go down in a blaze of glory for the good of the party, while hanging onto more seats than they would otherwise lose if Gillard or Rudd were to continue. This would leave a fresh slate for someone like Stephen Smith or Bill Shorten to re-build the Party after an election defeat. But who really knows what will happen. I’m only thinking aloud. We live in interesting times………(but I was a campaign manager for a State and Federal election once!)

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    • I have been impressed with Stephen Smith for a while now, but I am not sure he can affect the cheery common touch needed in a party leader … I expect to see him immediately appointed Foreign Minister again after Monday. I think Kevin Rudd is very smart to come out guns blazing against Abbott – that’s what everyone who thinks they will lose their seat in an Abbott-slide wants to hear. But what will actually happen? Lord knows. Confucious he say, may you live in interesting times. I have a very strong feeling Malcom Turnbull will be the next elected PM of Australia – exactly how that pans out, your guess is as good as mine. It would be a fool who thinks he knows for sure what will happen.

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