Kevin Rudd: One million followers and counting
On Saturday night Kevin Rudd celebrated having one million followers on Twitter. “Thanks a million,” he tweeted.
But how many of those followers are members and senators of the Australian Labor Party?
Kevin Rudd can gathered all manner of tallies reflecting his popularity, but he has to get a majority in the federal Labor Caucus if he is to return to the job of Prime Minister. And Julia Gillard (67,131 Twitter followers) isn’t going to help him get it.
The next two weeks will be of paramount importance for Prime Minister Gillard as she helps launch the 13 pieces of legislation she needs passed to create the carbon pricing scheme.
The Government also will be heavily involved in repairing its shattered asylum seeker policy.
They are also the two weeks in which Kevin Rudd returns to work and renewed prominence after his heart operation.
If he attempts to exploit Ms Gillard’s vulnerability in this and the coming weeks to advance his leadership claims, many of those members and senators will be even more firmly set against him.
Three weeks ago a reporter took a seat on an inter-city flight to find he was next to one of those Caucus members. He barely had time to check his nearest emergency exit before he was being told what a bastard Kevin Rudd was.
The animosity lingers on. The personal ill-feeling towards Rudd which detonated his sudden removal as Prime Minister is still a critical factor in the leadership equation.
There are reasons worth considering for Mr Rudd to in turn push out his successor.
It is hard for Julia Gillard to get voters to listen to her. Her appearances on the talk-back radio networks which John Howard used so effectively to spread the word don’t whorl. Host and listeners are hostile towards her.
Mr Rudd was a favourite on some of these radio outlets and knew how to play TV air-time for political gain. People would probably again listen to him were he PM.
Mr Rudd had a reputation for competence which would have been diminished by his three years as Prime Minister, but would still be greater than that of Ms Gillard.
He would do more than Julia Gillard seems capable of at the moment to reduce the electoral smash-up Labor seems certain to be heading for, particularly in Queensland.
And as the Twitter following and the requests for pictures when he is spotted in public show, there is a significant amount of sentiment, even sympathy, for Kevin Rudd.
She done him wrong, just as many Australians believe the Prime Minister is doing wrong to the entire nation.
But the Rudd advent will depend on whether senior Labor figures believe they could again work with him.
News reports say he has promised he had changed. That’s what he told colleagues who had worked with or near him in the Queensland public service when he moved to federal Parliament. The general response was, no he didn’t.
The coming two weeks will help establish whether Kevin Rudd could be leader again, or just a popular chap with a lot of followers.
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