The Australian’s customarily incisive but usually level-headed editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, has the column of the day, giving the ALP a thoroughly-deserved bucketing for its continuing leadership tensions which many believe will be brought to a head in the coming 48 hours.
Kelly has some key questions for the Labor party amid its dysfunctional antics, chiefly whether anyone has asked what Kevin Rudd is actually going to do if he becomes leader again:
It is not canvassed or assessed. His own supporters seem clueless on it. The media ignore it. Does anybody care? Have we become a brainless country?
It’s soap-bar-in-a-towel stuff as he picks apart the hollow case for switching to Rudd when the party looks doomed either way come September 14:
And in 2013 what does Labor want? It wants Rudd to save as much furniture as possible. That’s it. No glory. No Light on the Hill. Just a bankrupt party running desperate. This is why the 2013 crisis is so dispiriting. Is Labor pushing for Rudd with the argument he will be a better PM than Gillard? No. Is Labor pushing Rudd because he has a superior policy agenda that can revitalise the government? No. Or because it likes and respects him? No. Or because the party really thinks Rudd can regain majority government? No.
Labor MPs agitating for a Rudd return surely have considered some of these questions but in the headlong rush to switch leaders to save a handful of their seats there has been no forthright, intelligent or persuasive case aired for a change.
One thing’s certain. The Coalition will have a strategy mapped out for both Rudd and Gillard scenarios. They have recently referenced Rudd’s dismantling of the first Pacific solution in Parliament, a signal that if Rudd is returned, asylum seekers will be front and centre in the campaign. This is a major political weak point for the ALP federally, regardless of who is leader, but with Rudd reinstalled the electorate will be promptly reminded that it was he, not Gillard, that first unwound the policies that led to the current situation where people are drowning at sea and there’s no effective structure for dealing with those who make it.
Besides, it’s not as if there’s not plenty of material to work with in attacking both. As Kelly’s column argues, the problem goes wider than the leader. And voters know it.
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