Today’s Question Time was as the same as all the ones this week: Kevin Rudd completely untroubled, the ALP front bench looking quite happy, sand the opposition punching away without any force or reason. The oppositions asked lame questions about the RSPT, and Rudd dealt with them easily (not as easily as a better performer could, but still easily). The Government was obviously not worried about the RPT too greatly because it asked a couple Dorothy Dixers on the issue, with a few other ones – such as health thrown in for good measure. It very much had the end of parliamentary sitting period fell about it.
But its all irrelevant, because this evening it was reported that moves were underway to oust Kevin Rudd as PM and replace him with Julia Gillard. The word is that the Victoria and SA rightwing factions are behind the move, and the AWU: namely Stephen Conroy, Bill Shorten, David Feeney, Fitzgibbon (and throw in Mark Arbib from NSW). The only problem of course is that Julia Gillard doesn't want to challenge. This is because she is not an idiot.
But that doesn’t matter, the story has taken hold, and Julia might as well take over now – what the hell, due to this, the election is pretty much gone now anyway, she might as well have 5 months as PM.
And those people behind it in the ALP should be taken out back and gently slapped around the head with a 4x2 plank of wood. And I volunteer to be the one wielding the first slap.
What idiots. What utter brainless, dullards. The latest Newspoll shows the ALP up 52-48. As Possum pointed out, of the 24 polls since the start of May only 3 have had the ALP behind. No Government has lost an election when holding such a position this close to an election. There is no desire in the electorate to make Abbott the PM, and even with the decline in the ALP vote, very little of that has resulted in an increase in Liberal Party vote - in fact Rudd still leads as preferred PM! (so Rudd is doing better now than Howard did against Latham in 2004!!)
And yet they want to oust Rudd?
What complete fools. They might as well give Abbott the keys to the Lodge now – because they sure as hell will be giving the LNP a huge boost in the polls. The electorate hates party-infighting; just hates it. Yeah everyone says Hawke won after taking over on the day the ‘83 election was called, but Hayden wasn’t PM! And yes Rudd has nose dived in popularity, but Gillard is hardly trouncing him in the preferred PM stakes – the only national poll to recently ask the question (done by Essential Media) had Julia ahead 36% to Rudd’s 33%! Yep talk about a tidal wave of support.
Utter, utter fools.
But remember as well, the Vic right, and Conroy in particular, are the people who decided to preference Steven Fielding over the Greens at the 2004 election was a smart thing to do – so no, we’re not exactly talking about the smartest guys in the room. Actually these guys would struggle to outwit the 4x2 plank of wood that I am currently hitting them with…
UPDATE: It all looks over for Rudd, and from Denis Shanahan’s story it may have started with Julia being pissed off with Rudd getting his Chief of Staff Alastair Jordan to do a ring around to see if everyone on the backbench was still loyal.
Prompted by reports that Mr Rudd had sent his chief-of-staff, Alister Jordan, to check MPs loyalty and whether there were moves to replace him with Ms Gillard, MPs angrily accused Mr Rudd of disloyalty himself.
Several MPs have told The Australian Ms Gillard has put every effort into killing leadership speculation surrounding Mr Rudd, but has effectively been undermined by the Prime Minister who had questioned her loyalty.
"She has stood by him through the toughest time. She has not sought to exploit his problems for her own gain and this is how he replays her?''
Whether or not she is behind the spill move, I think she now has to take ownership, to save looking like a puppet.
But geez what a balls-up.
UPDATE 2: It seems like Rudd is going to resign…press conference in 2 minutes…
UPDATE 3: Annabel Crabb has a different take on this. On twitter tonight she wrote:
If Julia Gillard becomes PM, the Libs can forget about it. Very hard luck for T Abbott. #spill
I asked her why she thought that. She replied:
Based on the theory of "changing the narrative". Very hard call for Abbott to win against a Gillard led Govt. In my opinion.
She may be right, and perhaps this is a genius move. My argument is it is a high stakes, high risk move that wasn’t needed. Perhaps they have internal polling that shows defeat is coming – and you’d bloody well hope they do, because otherwise you have to wonder why the hell they are doing this.
I agree there’s a chance Julia will get a bump in the polls – because she’s good and new and etc. But there is also the chance that this will make people think the federal ALP are just like the NSW ALP, and Julia is just a federal version of Kristina Keneally.
This view has nothing to do with my opinion of who would be a better leader (long time readers of this blog would know I am a huge Julia fan). My view is that given the polls (and the last Newspoll had the ALP up 52-48), this is a massive move done at a time that it didn’t need to be done.
UPDATE 4: Rudd not resigning, the spill is on tomorrow – Gillard approached him this evening asking to challenge, and Rudd refers to having lost the support of factional leaders. It’s a ballsy move by Rudd, and he is squarely making this about factions versus him. The problem is he’s going to lose and he’s handing Tony Abbott some easy lines.
This is horrible for the ALP. The best thing would have been for him to stand down. Though if Julia wins by a large amounts (and I think she will) maybe it won’t be too bad.
Rudd in the press conference talked about the ETS and asylum seekers – almost suggesting those behind the challenge against him want to go more hardline on the asylum seekers and to totally dump the EST – which is rather odd given Julia is from the left.
This is all very bizarre.
UPDATE 5: How bizarre is this? Well in what I’d say is a first ever, Kate Lundy on twitter has announced she will be supporting Julia Gillard:
UPDATE 6: Paul Howes on Lateline makes it pretty clear the AWU swung behind Julia, and that the catalyst for the challenge was Rudd getting Alastair Jordan to check numbers of backbench MPs. That’s pretty bloody thin – the leaders’ office should always be keeping tabs on the numbers (that’s their bloody job!), but it may be the way it was done. I think it is more just highlights how much the MPs and Ministers have been pissed off with the PM’s office. The young guys have ballsed things up – shown a complete failure to sell the damn good achievements of this government. If there is one lesson from this, it is don’t let a 30 year old with no real experience run your office.
I think Julia Gillard will be an excellent PM, I have long wanted her to be PM. But I am not convinced that this move is a good one for the ALP in terms of wining the election.
It’s the ALP going “all-in” in the poker game of Australian politics. It is easily the biggest bet in Australian politics since 1975 – even Hawke taking over is not this big, as it was only as opposition leader.
It’s all or nothing. I hope it’s “all”, I’ll stay awake tonight worrying that it’s “nothing”!
Wonder if The Oz is commissioning a special Newspoll for this weekend?