It Is On


English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

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English: Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Au...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Sunday I mused when I read the Psalm.

By Wednesday Kevin Rudd resigned as Minister for Foreign Affairs, dramatically and unusually, he resignation was declared from Washington , with no suggestion that he had tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. He cited reasons for the resignation, that I think were credible, as he can hardly serve in such a role if he does not enjoy the full confidence of the Prime Minister. Given their history it would be hard to imagine that he could enjoy such a confidence, and the general rumble is that Kevin is destabilising and undermining the Government.  I can understand that it is possible that such a thing could have happened, however on the evidence one observes over the last 18 months, one must conclude that Kevin Rudd has done a good job as Foreign Minister, however Julia must have always been concerned that the Australian Electorate by and large likes him, even if they do not agree with him.

On Thursday Julia declared that there would be a leadership spill on Monday and if Kevin wanted the job, he should bring it on.

Kevin Rudd has now put forward his name for the position.

Both of them are spruking that they will be able to win the next election and defeat Tony Abbott.  The numbers suggest that they may not be a easy task for either of them.

Watching K Rudd in a succession of press conferences he is the master of spin, whilst Julia Gillard has performed well as well, it really is all a bit of non sense. On Monday 103 parliamentary members of the Labor Party will meet on Canberra and they will decide. The press conferences are only about that group of people. The indications are that Julia will be returned and Kevin will needs serve out his days on the back bench.

Question 1

Has Julia Gillard in fact set this up to happen, declining to support the Foreign Minister whilst he was overseas so she can be shot of him whilst managing to avoid the flack for sacking him twice? The reason I ask this question is because I think this is exactly how she played Tony Abbott over the Malaysia deal so she would get what she wanted. Whilst I think Kevin is a better spin doctor, I think Julia Gillard is a better Political Tactician.

Question 2

Why bother with all the press and the drama, you only have to convince 52 people to see it your way, and you know who the 52 people are. The decision they make will be about who they like, who they trust, and who they think will keep the brokered deal with the Greens and the Independents in tact. By suggesting that all bets are off if there is a new Prime Minister, the independents have effectively force the hand, because if the deal fractures, the government falls, and we go back to the polls. Whilst Juila and Kevin argue they can win an election in 18 months time, nobody is suggesting that they would win an election in 8 weeks time.

Question 3

Does the Labor Party need reform?  On the 30th of November 2011 I referred to so K Rudd spin in the lead up to the ALP National Conference.

Kevin Rudd has gone on the record to suggest that if the Labor Party does not undertake major reform it runs the dire risk of becoming a less relevant minor party.

“There is a real danger that we simply fade away as other progressive parties around the world have done, becoming a shadow of their former selves against the aggressive conservative onslaught of a resurgent right,”

“We are fools if we do not understand that the public has had a gutful of what currently passes for much of our national political debate.”

Could this be correct or is it just a bit of jostling to make Julia Gillard feel less comfortable as she comes to the National Conference.

Perhaps Kevin has seen and developed this theme. The ‘faceless men’ of course goes back a long way to the 1963 comments by a conservative journalist looking and Labour Prime Ministers waiting to be told what the policy way from a Federal Conference they were not members of.  Certainly the ALP Federal Conference has much better representation today, however there still seems a rift between a membership of the Party that thinks it is a democracy and a Union Movement that believes the party is the political servant of the Union Movement that largely bankrolls it.

The Union  Movement is less central in the workplace than it once was. The influence, the membership, and the moral authority of movement, like many other institutions is not what it was. If the the Labor Party remains tied too closely to the Unions, it will suffer for it. The world today has the capacity to be more democratic than the Fathers of Democracy could have imagined. There have been many efforts to control that democratic tendency, and the ALP has many of them including a non-democratic National Conference, and a complex system of caucus and  faction which often means getting something through parliament is the easy bit. All these systems lack transparency, and this will be and ongoing sense of angst for the party faithful until it is fixed. Fixing it will require those who currently hold and exercise that power to share that power. History tells us that people give up power quite reluctantly. The change in the ALP will be either gradual or revolutionary. I suspect it will be incremental. Julia Gillard is not pushing this barrow, because this is the source of her power. Kevin Rudd tells us it needs to be quick, however it is the organisation that took back the power it had given him.

Kevin Rudd wants to change the Labor Party. And he wants to be Prime Minister on Monday.

In Short: He wants to have his cake and eat it too. However so does Julia in a different way. I think that K Rudd will go to the back bench and will be discredited and slandered by the machine. I think that is a little sad for a man who has done a great deal for Australia.

Most of us who buy the paper this weekend will be looking for the Sport, and not the blood sport on the Front Page!

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