THE repeated calls Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has made for an early election are sounding more compelling by the day. Leadership battles are always dirty and traumatic, but to have trashed two leaders and its brand is Labor’s disgrace.
Just consider the leaking of the Rudd video at the weekend. Each camp blames the other. One can see why the Gillard forces might have leaked it, but the Rudd people? Just to turn up the heat, the Gillard supporters claim. Whatever the truth, the video strike shows a government in declared internal warfare, with venom being sprayed everywhere.
Obviously, after a weekend of unhinged self-indulgence – including one MP describing Kevin Rudd as a psychopath – the leadership has to be resolved quickly. But only supreme optimists in Labor can believe that ”resolution” – in the form of a vote – would bring any sort of satisfactory closure.
If Julia Gillard hangs on, it will be near impossible for her to regroup in the party and she certainly won’t be able to lift the Labor vote much. If Mr Rudd triumphs – the better alternative after all that’s happened – he will find it difficult to unite the government although he would probably get some improvement in the vote.
Just as he has been understandably resentful of what his enemies did to him, so the opposing camp would seethe at a Rudd resurrection. Despite his suggestion that he is a changed man – well, sort of, even he doesn’t push the point too far – reconciling the party would be supremely difficult.
The voters had no say in the 2010 change of prime minister. In the current battle, they are again having no input, save by giving the ALP such a low primary vote in the polls that the leadership has become the issue.
Mr Rudd’s earlier inclination, if he became leader, was to call a quick election. But he has changed his mind – he’d try to go the distance. He has reassured Andrew Wilkie of that in their talks last year.
• Andrew Wilkie and Kevin Rudd
There has obviously been much public discussion and media commentary about my revelation yesterday that Kevin Rudd and I met in Canberra in November and discussed the leadership of the Labor Party. Some of this has been inaccurate or misplaced.
The facts of the matter are that Mr Rudd and I met in his Canberra office for about 90 minutes on 3 November.
Mr Rudd requested the meeting to discuss my public call for the Prime Minister to instigate another enquiry into Australia joining in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
When we’d finished discussing Iraq I raised with Mr Rudd the leadership of the ALP. This was unremarkable as the issue was being much spoken about in Parliament House at the time and I’d also discussed the matter with other Parliamentarians including Labor Members.
Mr Rudd and I discussed the leadership in generalities only.
At no stage did Mr Rudd ask for my support on the floor of the Parliament or did I offer my support.
Nor did Mr Rudd take the opportunity to criticise the Prime Minister.
From here I intend to try and work effectively with whoever is Prime Minister: Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull or whoever.
But I would find it easier to work with Kevin Rudd than Julia Gillard, considering how she reneged on her written agreement with me and the fact she hasn’t spoken with me for the month since I withdrew my support from her government.
This is entirely consistent with what I said yesterday on Sky.
One of the powerbrokers of the ALP Left faction has come out in defence of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, amid continuing leadership speculation.
Senator Doug Cameron says Mr Rudd is not planning a leadership challenge and his critics should stop publicly attacking him.
He says the recent attacks on the Foreign Minister, particularly by the former leader Simon Crean, are unfair, unprincipled, and undeserved.
And he says Prime Minister Julia Gillard should not bow to some ministers’ suggestions that she sack Mr Rudd.
His intervention is the strongest endorsement of Mr Rudd since leadership tensions escalated at the weekend.
“I just say exactly what the Foreign Minister says himself – that there is no challenge and there is no spill,” he told AM.
“People are saying that he shouldn’t be treated like this. [He’s a] former prime minister, former leader of the party, and Kevin Rudd has got a lot of support in terms of him doing his job and doing it effectively.
“I just think people need to recognise this and lay off the unnecessary and gratuitous attacks on Kevin Rudd.”
Senator Cameron described Ms Gillard as hardworking, intelligent and one of the best politicians in the country, but says there is still “lead in her saddlebags” because of the way she came to power by ousting Mr Rudd.