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
“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
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.”
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.
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.