Monday, February 27, 2012

ALP Leadership Vote: Gillard 71–Rudd 31

So many media reports for so many months for so few votes.

All of that for 31 votes. Less than a third of the vote.

Back in September last year, Michelle Grattan wrote a report with the headline:

Rudd only nine votes short of top job: opposition

It began:

“SPECULATION about Prime Minister Julia Gillard's leadership has been re-ignited by claims Kevin Rudd canvassed with a Labor MP whether he would run for the job.”

All last year and this year so much speculation has been “reignited”, has been “mounted”.

Last week oh so many press gallery journalists took to Twitter with glee to tell everyone it wasn’t a beat up (or actually many chose to use “made up) such as SBS Karen Middleton:

“Hey you know I think there might be something in all this leadership talk. But then I could just be #makingitup”

As the blogger of the site “Things Bogans Like” tweeted in response:

“a great deal of replacing 'beating up' with 'making up' by journos today...”

It is almost churlish to single out Middleton, because there were many many other in the press gallery agreeing with her.

Sorry folks. It was media driven, not caucus driven.

How long has it been going? Well April last year The Daily Telegraph ran a story on Rudd “conducting a street walk with the member for the marginal seat of Banks, Daryl Melham”, which had this subtle headline:

Rudd's run for Labor revival

And yet the article by Simon Benson and Alison Rehn contained this line:

“Senior Labor sources maintain the caucus is unlikely to ever entertain putting him back into the leadership.”

Unfortunately those “senior Labor sources” (who have been shown to be spot on) were forgotten and replaced by othersenior Labor sources”.

But this was just the end of so much wind. In September last year a third candidate was being thrown around (though in the meantime we also had speculation about Peter Beattie coming back), and then the classic:

Coalition leader Tony Abbott prepares for Kevin Rudd

By the start of this year, the reporting went from predictions of a challenge happening sometime in the next 6 months to it a case that a challenge will happen – it must!. I said on Twitter at the start of February that it seemed like Gillard had entered “the killing zone” – and she had – there was absolutely no way “the story was going to go away”. It was a self-fulfilling proposition. Every press conference contained questions about leadership – she was being told in opinion pages that she had to bring things to a head – that if she didn’t call a spill it would be a sign of weakness – The “PM knows this farce cannot continue” type story.

And so a leadership vote was held and Rudd by all reports got one minister to change sides – Albanese and that happened on Saturday – ie not last year when “cracks were appearing”. Had there been any actual momentum building inside the caucus for a spill? Well Rudd got 31 votes, and given reports are that he had a bit over 20 votes back in 2010, we can quite clearly say the answer to that is no.

All this for 31 votes.

Once Gillard called the leadership ballot, it became so obvious that Rudd wasn’t going to win that the media needed a new narrative. This is the classic win-win for the media. Best of all for the press gallery, journos like Simon Benson, who has been the prime banger of the leadership-speculation drum, are now able to write:

THE outcome of today's leadership ballot no longer really matters. The damage has been done.

The spear throwers of the Labor Party have done their work well. They have mortally wounded not only Kevin Rudd but Julia Gillard as well.

And this apparently, was the point of it all.

Contempt is the emotion that most comes to mind.

And thus seamlessly the media shifts into the third-candidate story or the Rudd being drafted as leader story. Here’s hoping this time they wait to see if there are more than 31 votes for this option before shifting their reporting into overdrive.  

A nice little insight in to how many in the press gallery think came on Saturday just prior to Albanese holding his press conference to announce which side he was taking, the ABC’s Latika Bourke tweeted:

Very likely Anthony Albanese will back Kevin Rudd. #respill

The Australian’s Lanai Vasek replied:

I hope he does, for the sake of a very good yarn.

Yep – who gives a sh*t, so long as they can write a good story.


Anonymous said...

Got it exactly right, Grog.

They have levels of shame matching their credibility. No contest.

And that persona non grata among the media and the politicians, Mark Latham, got it right, too. He said Gillard could do the numbers; Rudd couldn't.

In his Diaries, written before Rudd's rise, he claimed that Rudd spent all his time working the media and none on caucus and policy. He proved then that Rudd leaked to Oakes and had others on the drip.

A sad outcome to a career which had some great moments.

This won't cure the media, but given the stunning drama attached to the challenge in June 2010, it will at last allow Gillard and team a chance to proclaim some of their achievements.

I don't care about current polling, or the dire Labor support in Qld, I'm convinced Labor will win in late 2013.

Gorgeous Dunny

Anonymous said...

I knew if I came here I could rely on a dose of sanity! I cannot express how much a tiny dose of anti-BS means to me at the moment.
p.s. You will have a nice big announcement here when the book is ready won't you :)

Greg Jericho said...

Cat - will do :-)

Miss Heliotrope said...

Thank you for sanity (as usual).

Can we have a popular vote for a new media?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the media is guilty of pushing this stuff. Sometimes it's just reporting what is actually going on. In this case I think it was the latter and this post is a little harsh and unbalanced.

Anonymous said...

On of the basic points of this post is spot on - namely, that the media managed to bring the spill to head, even though the ALP were never going to ACTUALLY change PM. The media probably didn't 'manufacture' the crisis - Rudd was clearly agitating from within the Party and denying it air. But it did play off Rudd's ambitions to manufacture a media spectacle.

For what it is worth, I think the response to the media that was driving Rudd's push (and to the Rudd camp itself) was excellent, including the much maligned letter from Swan. A line was drawn in the sand and the longer narrative of the ALP's policy ambitions and values became greater than polling and media image. About time!

An aside. It has ben disappointing watching a levelled headed political commentator such as Peter Hartcher so overtly campaign for Rudd in the media. He has been reckless in the manner of those listed in your above article. Would never have picked that from him a year or two ago.

Greg Jericho said...

Anon - yes Peter Hartcher became a virtual Rudd PR agent. Not his finest few weeks.

rhwombat said...

Grog. You return is as welcome as your commentary. When might we see the book?

Stephen Collins said...

The lowness of the Gallery has been laid bare throughout this farce. Electorally, Gillard is almost certainly doomed (and not helped by the drum-bangers), and the Gallery has been proven, unequivocally, to be rakers of muck and makers-up and runners of stories that have driven this issue and its outcome.

My very strong temptation is to no longer listen to any one of them. My reading list will be shorter and my Twitter stream quieter (and less breathless) as a consequence.

olde boots said...

I remember that Grattan article because it is so bad: speculation about Rudd being reignited by the oppposition?!

I think that Michelle Grattan might be a few votes short ...

dendy said...

Michelle Grattan has been completely discredited by this. Fairfax really must be wondering what on Earth they pay her for. Actually, anyone who pays journalists in the Press Gallery should be wondering exactly the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Back in April 2010 I wrote elsewhere that Rudd would probably go down in history as Labor's Billy McMahon, who is generally considered the Coalitions most useless PM (though IMHO it's a tie with Menzies).

After this king hit on Labor simple to stroke his ego, history might rank him as the party's most hated too.

farmland investing said...

This kind of media BS is not something purely in Australia as well. Just look at any US presidential election. The American media turn the entire thing into a "horse race" with the sole goal of making it appear as though there is a real contest going on well past its sell-by date.

steve harro said...

hey Greg tried to forward your great artcle this morning feb29th to some friends via email from the drum website but a page comes up at the drum site saying this page your article does not exist on their server?
Hey is the so called independant abc doing some internal filtering of their own these days ?

Anonymous said...

Spot on. The main criticism of the journos was that they were beating this up, exaggerating, giving undue prominence to whispers and unnamed sources.

For them to defend themselves by saying they didn't make it up is laughable, but hardly surprising.

They've missed the whole point for the last 12 months so we shouldn't really expect them to get it now.

(On an aside, f*ck me those anti-robot letters are harder to decipher than Grattan's latest fantasy piece!)

730rep0rtLand said...

It`s quite annoying that the Labor twits keep tearing strips off each other and gives the embedded media so many bullets to have to fire at them. Meanwhile Mr-Rabbit keeps getting a free pass with the press.

Nice post Grog, our next, 2013 poll still looks as though it will be as crap as the 2010 poll.

Anonymous said...

No-one has proved that Rudd did anything beyond still breathing.

Honest to god anyone who believes Mark Latham now needs their heads read.

Anonymous said...

And Rudd was done over by the AWU and the zionist lobby which these days are much the same thing. He dared to criticise Israel, that is his sin of destabilising.

But the worthless trash media in this country are so zionist with their free trips to Israel that they won't report facts, just inane drivel.

I reckon Mark Arbib resigning was a great big flashing neon screaming I DID IT.

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing....

Yowie9644 said...

Is it possible that Rudd really wasn't interested in the leadership (at least, not at this time)?

The one thing you can't accuse the man of is being stupid. To challenge, he knew he'd first have to resign from Foreign Affairs, something he was said to have loved, and he *must* have known that not only didn't he have the numbers, that he wasn't even close.

Most political commentators suggested that this was part one of a two part process to regain the leadership, but no-one has mentioned the possibility that perhaps Rudd fell on his sword for the sake of the ALP - the government - as a whole. That he chose that moment to challenge, knowing he'd lose, just to get the media to STFU and give the ALP - his party - a chance to get the message out there before the next election? That by staying where he as and letting the Leadership Crisis Story being the only story about the ALP the mainstream media ever published, his presence was pretty much handing the next election to the LNP?

Is it possible that Rudd in the end was an honourable man and put his Party before his Ego? Or is that notion even more ridiculous than the idea of Rudd winning the #spill? I guess only Rudd (and perhaps a few ALP insiders) will ever know.