23 June 2010

The longest night

Last night was the Winter Solstice in Australia, and many Australians will now be a-bed in order to get up and (hopefully) see Australia beat Serbia in the soccer. Tonight, however, will be a long one for Federal Labor MPs and their staff. It will also be a long one for the press gallery (and if the press gallery couldn't pick a story like this before it was announced, they should all be sacked).

The fuck-up squad that is the NSW Labor Right have struck again. Rudd is in trouble precisely because he followed their advice on emissions trading. The pollwatchers all assumed that dumping the ETS was like dumping promises on disability funding in NSW: all very nice if you can manage it but not core business. Now, they have the gall to throw to someone who's never courted them, who owes them nothing and who - when they come asking for protection from angry voters - will shriek 'betrayal!' should Prime Minister Gillard send them away with a flea in their ear.

Rudd is mainly in trouble because the micromanagement and policy constipation of his own office has reached a point where policies are being strangled and stunted. The RSPT should have been linked to the failure of the ETS. The mining companies whingeing about the RSPT should realise that they've blown $billions in "compensation by spiking the ETS, and now that they face the prospect of losing still more with an RSPT you have to wonder which clowns are doing their government relations these days - particularly now that Labor are removing the last doubts over their re-election.

Rudd is still ahead of Abbott, and the story of the coming election would be the story of Abbott being slowly exposed and ground down. He's not PM material, he'd embarrass a half-decent ticket of student politicians with garbage like "Kevin O'Lemon", he has no policies and no vision and will inevitably let his true self slip - the misogynist, fear-mongering, economically retarded narcissist who insists that he be taken at whatever face he presents at any random time. Gillard is his worst nightmare: she has it all over him and he knows it.

The comparison with the Libs in '07 could not be starker. They knew the incumbent was stuffed but wouldn't, couldn't take a chance on Costello. Labor would be mad to pass on Gillard. When she and Faulkner, the old undertaker, went to see Rudd it was already over.

Rudd is the first Queenslander to lead his party since Bill Hayden, but at least he got to the Lodge. Thank you for your leadership over the apology, Mr Rudd, and for lifting the nation above the financial storm - but all political careers end in failure and now here's yours. Rudd will be looked after because nobody would give him a serious job now that his management style has seen off one Labor government (Q'ld 1989-96) and has rattled this one so much that it's going to elect a leftie woman from Melbourne, via Adelaide and Wales. Wonder no more about those young-to-middle-aged women voters who were abandoning Rudd but not going to Abbott, and flirting with the Greens - Gillard will be given the benefit of the doubt, and for Labor Abbott is the gift that keeps on giving. Labor will win seats off the Coalition now, and it's too late for the Coalition to switch a fourth time.

Not since Billy Hughes shafted a Queenslander and put it all over Liberal Sir Joseph Cook during and after World War I - including stealing his party from him - have we seen two UK-born leaders of our national political parties. We've seen a corporate leader sacked for sexual harassment with a staffer (when in my day it would have been the young woman forced out for "causing a fuss") as a portend. Things are changing fast, and thankfully so because I was starting to get bored.


  1. I'm seriously frustrated by the shallowness this whole thing is revealing in our political discourse. It's got nothing to do with different policy approaches. Paul Howes was on Lateline a couple of hours ago complaining that Rudd had "lost message", and had dared to contact MPs to see if they were backing Gillard. As if they are good reasons to throw a Prime Minister out of office! You do something like that because a PM is defying the will of the party and the great mass of its supporters on important platform planks that derive from those supporters' aspirations. Except that no such planks exist anymore.

    All we have is Gillard atacking the Workchoices bogeyman while administering 80% of Workchoices as her preferred policy. How can she, as Rudd's loyal (till now) deputy, credibly offer a different policy approach? But in this age of hollowed-out politics this doesn't seem to matter.

    This is not meant to be a defence of Rudd - I loathe him, he's a bland right-wing managerialist who makes Hawke and Keating look like friends of the workers. But this affair is nothing more than intrigue between office-holders. It's not politics in the true sense of the word - the clash of interests of great social forces and groups of people - but a joke.

  2. Great analysis, great picture of Abbott, hope you're right, and Gillard will see him off. Sorry about Rudd though. I admired his grasp of detail. Wonder whether Mark Latham will emerge from the woodwork with an "I told you so".

  3. I won't miss Rudd, but I lament the hold the NSW Right has over Labor.

    I'm interested to see you think there won't be electoral ramifications over a first term spill. Doesn't this hold the voters who elected Rudd in contempt? Won't they be tempted to vote for a party that would retain the person they voted for?


  4. David J: I predict a flurry of activity around the RSPT and similar tweaks - nothing revolutionary, yet not static either - and in about six weeks we'll have an election, and as Garrett said in '07 things will be different.

  5. DH: I'll have more to say on Rudd later, but in the meantime see if you can read Marr's account at your local library.

  6. Kymbos: in 1991 I was sure that Labor had signed its death warrant by replacing Hawke with Keating - one bitten, etc. True, the Rudd fans are released from Labor, but Abbott won't pick up too many of them.

  7. You're predicting the election will be that early? Brave call! Although I suppose Gillard has no particular incentive to hang on into the late spring.

  8. Consider that Victoria goes to the polls in late November. For all Gillard's affection for Brumby, it's lineball and you don't want to mix Federal and State issues where you can avoid it. Work backwards from there: Melbourne Cup, then you've got the footy finals sucking media oxygen from September to the October long weekend - now you're in August. So if you're in Gillard's shoes you have basically got next week and July to create some clear air for yourself (and create a political persona different to Rudd), then get the writ underway. No choice, really.

  9. Latham's had his spray as I predicted. What do you reckon, Andrew?

  10. You may or may not find this funny: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bMXVA9qj5I


  11. Thankyou Kymbos, I did.

    DH: watch this space.

  12. derrida derider28/6/10 4:32 pm

    Probably your best-ever post, Andrew. A cracker.

    I like you have wondered what on earth the miners were thinking. In negotiations with them I reckon Gillard will quietly pencil in the links betwen the ETS and the RSPT that they should have seen from the start, and that should certainly have informed the government's media strategy too.