This has to be on of the biggest fiascos in the history of Australian politics. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard calls for a vote as to who leads the Party, and the one person who was plotting behind the scenes to take her job, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd doesn’t even stand for the position. All this has done is to further damage the Labor Party brand, and with an election planned for September, it now becomes even harder for the Government to come back from what is now a disastrous position. Supporters of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have come out of this with egg on their faces, and even supporters of Julia Gillard now look to be in shaky positions. Here, Andrew explains just some of what happened, and what led up to this fiasco.
Depending on who you chose to believe, Rudd had between 44 and 49 votes and that was not enough.
Then along came Crean who believed he could bring six or seven votes with him. This heroic bunch were supposed to file one by one into the Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon’s office and solemnly pledge their fealty to Rudd.
The Rudd supporters were reinvigorated. They believed they were back in the game and they were entitled to be optimistic.
Crean is the venerable old man of the party. He and his family have played major roles in the Labor Party for more than half a century. He had seniority. He had experience. He had gravitas. What he didn’t have was numbers.
When yesterday morning came, only one Crean-ite made the trip to Fitzgibbon’s office… The fact that two MPs almost certain to support Rudd were overseas didn’t help either.
By lunchtime yesterday the count could not go past 47 – hardly the mass caucus draft Rudd would have hoped.
No numbers, no challenge. The maths is simple, and those criticising Rudd for being chicken are just repeating Gillard’s spin.
And while Gillard is poison and Rudd popular, I cannot be this emphatic:
And there it all died. There is no talk of continuing the war. Every Rudd-backer I have spoken to has run up a white flag.
Even so, no one will believe the declarations it’s over and they’re all working together as a team to stop that nasty Opposition Leader from winning the election, and that, yes, of course they can do it with Gillard as leader.
They might mean it when they say it, although that is doubtful, but as soon as the next bad poll emerges, which is any day now, off it will go again. The wobbles and the night sweats will set in, they will toy with each other, muse about another tilt, Rudd will tease and stalk, and still fall short. Gillard will probably stare them all down again because she is, as she keeps telling us and on this she is right, tougher than all of them.
JULIA Gillard and all the ministers and MPs who support her are declaring Labor’s problems and leadership farce “at an end”. While the Prime Minister’s leadership is now stronger, Labor’s problems are far from over – in fact, they are entrenched and enhanced.
The Gillard government’s shortcomings are not just about the personal animosity and rivalry between Gillard and Kevin Rudd, they are deeper flaws about policy failure and corruption, short-term politics over long-term governance and a departure from proper process.
Simon Crean believed the Labor Party needed something approaching a bomb to blow a hole in its thin facade as a competitive political outfit.
He could hardly have imagined that instead, he would become a suicide bomber, abandoned to wander down a lonely alley and detonate himself, leaving the party he has served for a fair slice of his adult life a smoking ruin.
He began the day as a respected party elder and Minister for Regional Australia and the Arts. He ended it a backbencher, sacked by the Prime Minister he had long supported.
Crean was supposed to break the stalemate by declaring that he had lost confidence in the Prime Minister. In the leadership spill that would eventually follow, he was counted on to bring three or four other votes to give Rudd a winning edge.
But while he certainly broke the stalemate, he turned out to represent a faction of one.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.