Labor leadership woes: The more things change…
The cocked-up coup to oust SA Premier Mike Rann (read all about it here) has left a stain on the Labor Party carpet, and the various men responsible are either staring at it in disbelief or pretending it doesn’t exist.
The Premier himself has flown to India, and seems quite happy to let it fester.
A clean kill is the Holy Grail, the perpetual motion machine, the leprechaun’s gold for Labor party operatives. You would think the Gillard/Rudd experience would highlight just how difficult that is, but the factional warlords were optimistic enough to give it another go with Mr Rann.
Instead of a swift and quiet assassination, though, their shanking left him bleeding, angry, and frothing at the mouth. And the calm, quiet voice of his successor, Education Minister Jay Weatherill, is failing to throw a rug over the ALP’s mess.
Rumours of Rann’s demise have been floating around for years, although he has consistently claimed they are greatly exaggerated.
But one need only look at his plummeting popularity to see something had to change. From stratospheric heights in 2004, when he was the nation’s most popular Premier, his approval ratings started sliding, dropped off sharply with the allegations – which he has denied – of an affair with Michelle Chantelois, and continued to disintegrate.
The ‘accepted truth’ has long been that he is past his use-by date and decidedly on the nose, and Mr Weatherill is Labor’s only hope of retaining power at the next election.
The question is whether any of the protagonists in this dramatic saga have worked out a better way to play this political game.
They clearly haven’t worked out a way to change leaders without bloodshed. Mr Rann reportedly exploded when union boss Peter Malinauskas and Treasurer Jack Snelling told him it was time to go, and promised to “make more noise than Kevin Rudd”.
They don’t seem to have worked out that people like straight talking. They don’t like backroom deals. They dislike the impression that leaders are puppets on strings held by the factions.
What other lessons have they missed?
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