Body language: how readers saw the Rudd-Gillard photo
Divorce can be a bitter and messy affair. Political relationships are no different, especially when the break-up has hinged on a power play for the highest post in the land.
When Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd met on Saturday for the first time since the Labor leadership coup they looked more like a divorced couple reluctantly brought together to iron out a settlement than a reunited team working together to win an election.
The body language between the pair in the pooled video and pictures from the closed-door meeting spoke plenty to many outside observers.
The reaction from readers of online news sites showed widespread scepticism about the stage-managed event and the sincerity of the two key players.
Lew of Longreach picked up the unease between Gillard and Rudd, commenting to The Courier-Mail: “Kev looks a bit edgy. But I notice he has his bullet-proof vest on under his suit and was careful not to turn his back on her? Even though his back has been stitched up he must have some painful memories of Julia.”
David White wrote to the Daily Telegraph: “When are these two going to stop playing charades. It’s like listening to or watching a soap opera. How long before one or the other again gets the sulks, spits the dummy and takes their bat and ball home?”
Many saw the decision to bring Rudd into the election campaign as a sign of desperation on Gillard’s part. Matt12 of Brisbane wrote to The Courier-Mail: “It’s a sure sign things must be bad when you’ve got to invite your defeated opponent to come help your vision of conquering Australia.”
Colin of Seaford thought the move did not help Labor’s credibility, writing to Adelaide Now: “This is extraordinary! It’s only a few short weeks ago since Julia Gillard deposed Kevin Rudd as PM on the grounds that he was a liability to the Labor Party. Now, suddenly, he is going to rescue Labor’s diminishing fortunes in Queensland. Julia and the Labor Party are completely …. lacking credibility.”
Courier-Mail reader Joan questioned who Australians would be getting if Labor is re-elected: “Gillard and Rudd have turned the Australian Election 2010 into a Monty Python routine. Does Australia get two leaders for the price of one - Gillard and Rudd if they vote for Labor?”
The unexpected appearance of former Labor leader Mark Latham and his attempt to quiz Gillard after her meeting with Rudd only complicated matters further, as Aaron of Newman noted to Perth Now: “Mmm, two former Labor leaders, one snake in the grass PM. If you still think Labor can run this country then you are delusional.”
Gillard’s public resolution last week that voters would see the “real Julia” from now on was similarly greeted with scepticism.
John Saxon of Melbourne questioned the Gillard persona, writing to the Herald Sun: “There’s more than one Julia? Has the Labor Party perfected human cloning? Is the real Julia really the real Julia?”
Therese had some advice for Gillard in a comment to Yahoo7 News: “Julia, you need to get in touch with your inner self to find the real Julia. You need a dose of humility, thankfulness for your strengths and time to ponder on your lack of insight of what the average Aussie is looking for in a leader.”
With less than two weeks to go before election day and with Rudd returning to the campaign trail, Labor does not seem to be able to rid itself of its own leadership woes after the Gillard-Rudd divorce.
As Ben of Sydney suggested in an election prediction to the Daily Telegraph: “Gillard is going to learn a hard lesson. We might have been sick of Kev, but we liked him more than her.”
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