The ALP Tosses Itself Into A Washing Machine

What A Mess

It’s a good a time as any to come back and write something here, now that Kevin Rudd has tipped his hand and resigned as Foreign Minister. I’ve been gingerly watching this saga of Rudd vs. Gillard unfold for some weeks now as incessant reporting made out the picture the Rudd’s challenge was imminent and immanent. I just figured that the election in Queensland was enough of a sideshow that Kevin Rudd would have his hands full being helpful up there that this challenge would not come for a good few weeks. As they say, a week is a long time in politics and now it’s all on.

Long time readers of this blog know that in the balance of things I’m probably leaning to the centre-right of the ALP in policy issues, which means my horse in this rate ought to be Julia Gillard backed by the likes of Bill Shorten and Simon Crean. Except it’s not. I vowed I wouldn’t vote for her in protest of the manner in which Kevin Rudd’s prime minister ship was cut down mid-strream. I’m sorry, but I have principles. I have spine. And so I voted Greens for the lower house and the Sex Party for the Senate, largely in protest. I’ve written this before but Kristina Kenneally and Julia Gillard represent a certain kind of quota-driven politics that elevates mediocrity dressed as elites.

While Kevin Rudd might not have been my preferred Labor leader, the ‘coup’ (as the SMH calls it), essentially highlighted what a bunch of conniving bastards the ALP power-brokers were – and for heaven’s sakes these bastards have never apologised for it. So there’s something in me that approves of Kevin Rudd trying to have another shot at office, even if it gets really messy.

I’ve been searching my feelings about how I feel about Julia Gillard but all I come up with is a blank. Kevin Rudd might not be everything I’d want in the PM – he’s no Gough, Bob or Paul – but there’s something critically lacking in Julia Gillard (and no, it’s not a penis or a pair of testicles). I’ve been told she does committee well, and policy has been sound, but it’s essentially a Prime Minister-hood that started in connivance and conspiracy; and both the nature of her rise to office and the manner have constantly cast a dark shadow over her work. It’s a weird thing to say but she has the same lack of moral authority that say, George W. Bush had when he came to office in the USA in 2000. Just as the sense of dodginess never left Dubbya’s side, the ‘coup’ has stayed wit Julia Gillard.

Everything that her time in office has accomplished has been compromised by the lack of moral authority, which in turn caused the election result of a hung Parliament which made her enact policies she promised she would not do and made her look even dodgy. Which is what a lack of moral authority on a politician can do for you. It is exactly like that joke, “You fuck one goat”. In her case, her goat is coming back mighty angry,bearing a grudge, claiming it was rape.

I understand that in Canberra, Kevin Rudd has been seen as the terrible outsider hijacking the ALP, but from outside of the political sphere, it simply looks like the ALP drifted off into the land of self-interest and forgot public interest until Kevin Rudd came along and said it was important again. Even if I don’t agree with everything he says or does, it wasn’t as if Kevin Rudd was not a good Labor leader in his time. It is also entirely self-evident to the people outside of Canberra that Julia Gillard has been at best a mediocre leader, and it does not matter one bit how good her policy work has been. She’s been compromised and then went on and compromised herself further.

And this is what is really interesting about these two people and the ALP. While questions of performance might actually be of value in understanding and assessing Kevin Rudd’s place in our polity, with Julia Gillard these questions are moot because her own integrity got severely compromised on the very day she came to office. It begs the question, was it really worth it to Julia Gillard, to squander so much, to be Prime Minister? Stranger still, it seems the ALP cannot get to its future without having this stoush. So this is it. Like it or lump it, the ALP has to have this leadership challenge. As ugly as it’s going to get, this is their destiny.

It raises even more questions too.

  • For instance if the point of the Centre Right and the vaunted NSW Centre Right was to win at all costs, then how can they justify sticking with Julia Gillard with her bad polls?
  • If Kevin Rudd is so bad for the ALP, then why don’t they just kick him out than suffer this leadership tussle?
  • And if they aren’t kicking out Kevin Rudd, doesn’t sort of mean that the various factions are essentially just grubby little interest groups pushing their self-interest agendas? Isn’t that exactly what the Liberal Party is, except with different paymasters? When is principle going to come into any of this?
  • And if they do bury Kevin Rudd this time and chuck him to the gutters, you have to ask yourself what the hell is going on with the ALP that it has burnt through two leaders – Kevin Rudd AND Mark Latham – to keep pushing these self interest agendas?
  • Even if she survives this spill, will winning this spill give Julia Gillard any bounce in the polls? The electorate is not warming to this PM.

I don’t think I’m being all that cynical in asking those questions. Inquiring minds would want to know the honest answers to those questions from ‘the faceless men’. I kind of held my tongue and stayed my pen this early part of the year because I thought I should give Julia Gillard a fair crack of the whip but the more I think about it, I can’t see how the ALP can’t go back to Kevin Rudd and hit the polls. Unless they really want to be in opposition for another 10 years. I guess for the insiders, this is a terrible choice, but …don’t they want to win? Or can they really hate Kevin that much?

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