As Julia Gillard slides further into the abyss of unelectability, and as her government assumes ever-greater levels of electoral toxicity, the mutterers are again muttering; and again, it’s Kevin Rudd’s name those burblings are putting around.
Heartwarming, isn’t it? Just ten days after we last discussed the subject of Kevin Rudd and his ambitions to resume the ALP leadership and thus the Prime Ministership, the subject pops up yet again.
Reports today that Kevin Rudd has been on the telephone, working the numbers, is hardly surprising news, or news at all: he’s done his level best to undermine, frustrate, embarrass and/or thwart Julia Gillard — covertly, of course — ever since he was dumped in a brutal leadership coup last June.
What is surprising are the reports in the Murdoch press that he is eleven votes — and maybe as few as five votes — short of having the numbers to roll Gillard in a counter-coup to reclaim the Labor leadership.
As I said on 11 September:
“…he was rolled…because his colleagues thought he was an absolute, total, and complete arsehole…and because — dictatorial control freak that he is — he treated his colleagues like the scum of humanity.”
Make no mistake: Rudd treated his colleagues — the very men and women who had entrusted him with the leadership of their party in the first place — like the absolute filth of the Earth.
It’s very difficult to believe — if not inconceivable — that these same people would wave Rudd back into the prime role for two years until an election and another three afterwards if by some miracle Labor were to win.
Rudd’s leadership of the ALP lasted three and a half years; it’s hard to see his colleagues signing on for another five. And even harder to see them recruit him as a set-up to shaft him again after a theoretical election win: the Gillard experiment must surely and spectacularly have demonstrated the risks Labor faces in a midnight coup.
It faces the same risks in a midnight coup now in favour of Rudd, too.
The heady days of the soaring rhetoric, empty slogans and ridiculous expectations of the days of “Kevin ’07″ are gone.
It’s true Rudd could expect to benefit — in the short-term — from a honeymoon effect built on a sympathy vote as the avenged victim, certainly in Queensland.
But the wheels have turned since he was dumped, in more ways than one.
“Kevin ’07″ became “Kevin 24/7″ on account of his penchant for working his colleagues and staff into the ground; that gave way to “Kevin 747″ when it became clear that Rudd saw a major element of his role to involve international travel at public expense.
These travel habits have continued in his role as Foreign minister; to the extent that stories across the mainstream press today (coincidentally, I’m sure) report that in the past year Kevin 747 has racked up $1,000,000 in expenses on 14 separate overseas trips.
Remembering Rudd likes to lecture his foreign hosts, making a fool of both himself and of this country in the process, that’s a lot of public money to spend on self-indulgence.
And people are beginning to notice how much Rudd’s international antics are costing them.
The point has to be made, too, that Rudd was losing popularity quickly before he was ditched, and his government losing support in tandem.
The scope for a massive advertising blitz based on Rudd’s previous incarnation as Prime Minister — played squarely to his weaknesses and mistakes — is a potent weapon in the Coalition arsenal.
After all, it’s really only been five minutes in the big scheme of things since he was dumped.
Looking at the government as an entity, the wheel has turned too; people have had an additional 15 months to evaluate LABOR since Rudd was rolled — and indisputably detest what they have seen.
It’s true that the continuing government has operated under a different leader. But virtually all of the mainline policies it has opted to run with under Gillard — for better or for worse — are a continuation of the Rudd agenda in similar form.
Would Rudd ditch his carbon tax…(sorry, make that ETS)…again? It’s just an example but it would be a course of action utterly bereft of credibility.
Rudd would own the Labor agenda as it still stands, and with his hands suitably dirtied would end up just as trapped by it as Gillard is.
The irony is that where Gillard now stands in public opinion is precisely where Rudd was headed before Gillard ambushed him. To resume the Prime Ministership would to be to assume the rancour and odium that is the end consequence of his own agenda.
And to discard everything and start again would leave him open to an electoral killing at the hands of Tony Abbott.
Either way, Rudd’s screwed before he starts. Or restarts as the case may be.
Communists Greens and the Independents to consider.
The Greens will stick to Labor like glue, and anyone who thinks otherwise — especially in the present climate, faced with the prospect of a landslide win by the Coalition in any election any time soon — is a fool.
The Independents will do likewise, bleating and sabre-rattling notwithstanding. Andrew Wilkie might cause problems, but given he too would stand to lose his seat in any early election (exquisitely enough, to Labor) he also would probably end up toeing the line.
And then there’s the rest of the world — the real world, that is, not the jet-set world of a globetrotting bureaucrat talking to or lecturing at other bureaucrats.
Far from ideological and/or trendy ideas and social policies like carbon taxes, mining taxes and gay marriage, people the world over are realising that the so-called GFC many countries (including ours) borrowed and spent their way out of was actually the colossal global recession that is now bearing down.
The massive problem was deferred as a headcold, but is returning as a full-blown bout of influenza with likely complications.
And that blunt reality is scaring people: look at the lack of economic activity in this country at the moment once the minerals and energy sector is excluded.
For all the talk of being an “economic conservative” prior to the 2007 election, Rudd promptly embarked on a stoutly Keynesian agenda with the consequence that Australia is now $200 billion in debt — an “achievement” largely accomplished on his own watch.
If Kevin is coming, and I doubt it, who really wants him back?
Who wants him at all?
And if he is Prime Minister again, and when he reverts to type and people remember all the reasons they had begun to gravitate toward voting against him, how long will it take for the honeymoon to be over — again?
I’d wager that it wouldn’t even take long enough to make it through a snap election campaign.
Finally, tonight — and for a bit of a smile — the last word goes to an advertising agency.
Have a look at the link here…and remember that the large amount of money to produce this, and the even larger amount of money to broadcast it, would never have been spent if the premise behind it hadn’t been bang on the money.