Rudd’s fate hangs in the balance today too
Veteran Labor heavyweight, Graham Richardson was asked several weeks back what Kevin Rudd would really think about a Labor defeat. The powder-dry former senator conceded that somewhere in the dark recesses of Rudd’s soul, he’d probably be delighted.
That may have been true just after his demise. And to be fair, a degree of schadenfreude is only human after such trauma. But a few weeks on and with the voters’ judgment hanging like Damocles’ Sword, Kevin Rudd must now be hoping for an ALP victory. His future prospects and his legacy depend on it.
Whether fair or not, nothing short of the Government surviving will salvage Kevin Rudd’s reputation with his colleagues.
Nobody will say it openly, certainly not before the election, but word from inside the Labor camp is, if the Gillard Government hits the fence tonight, he will be directly blamed - and become persona non grata in Caucus.
``They just don’t trust him,’’ a well placed figure said.
This level of enmity will come as a surprise to more distant onlookers who might expect that if Labor loses, he would be vindicated and Ms Gillard blamed. Her move on him viewed as a disastrous over-reaction to bad polls.
So why do Labor MPs see it differently? Principally because any loss will be attributed not to the leadership change but to its aftermath and particularly, to a series of leaks which crippled Gillard’s campaign, costing it three weeks and causing voters to consider Tony Abbott seriously for the first time.
Kevin Rudd, and some commentators, believe the switch to Gillard was the problem and that Mr Rudd would have done better than his replacement. According to this logic, voters saw the change as a damning self critique by Labor which of itself, rendered it unfit for office.
It has some attractions as an argument but advocates need to show how Mr Rudd was going to resolve the mining tax dispute which he was intent on allowing to drag on swamping all else for ``months’’ - his words.
With an election due, this self-started crisis was a political cul de saq from which Rudd (and Wayne Swan incidentally) showed no sign of even trying to escape. Exasperated Labor MPs concluded it was the triumph of bravado over strategy and felt they had no option.
Of course, the leadership change led to the three damaging leaks against Gillard so in that sense, his run would have been smoother. But she was riding high in the polls when thy occurred.
Few in Labor express any doubt about their origin pointing the finger squarely at Kevin Rudd. Leak one claimed Ms Gillard had reneged on a deal to delay any challenge until October.
Its main effect was to keep the coup in the headlines stealing Labor the oxygen needed to talk about the economy.
There was also a claim that she sent a junior staffer to National Security Committee of Cabinet. Again, its main damage was superficial. By far the most damaging, was the claim that Ms Gillard had opposed paid parental leave and a pension increase. This killed her new hero status with women.
Pollsters say you can chart Labor’s decline from this moment. A decline from which it never fully recovered.
Even if Labor scrapes through, Kevin Rudd’s future remains problematic given these events. It is a remarkable fall from grace. The actual source of the leaks will never be known. But this is politics, not a courtroom. Trust has been fractured.
Among the options open to Ms Gillard would be to install him as foreign affairs minister. This has the advantage of keeping her promise while also having him out of the country a lot.
Then there are outside posts. A UN role or senior diplomatic appointment possibly? Academia? Mr Rudd’s Alma Mater, the prestigious Australian National University, is searching for a new Vice Chancellor to replace Professor Ian Chubb next year. Perhaps a former PM would suffice?
While it is not known who did the leaking, one can imagine their thoughts today as Labor contemplates a devastating first term defeat. Like an accidental murder suspect on The Bill, who’s suddenly faced with the true consequences of his actions: ``I just wanted to scare them, that’s all, I didn’t mean to kill anybody’‘.
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@Kittu64 That's true. Pretty sure I referred to "high salaried" women.
@michelangeloruc not at all mate it is a great story and photo
@nswpolice very polite and helpful officers manning the Pyrmont road closures this morning
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