31 July 2011

A leadership vacancy

According to this article:
Mr Weatherill has previously said that if there was a leadership vacancy he would be a candidate.
Let's leave aside the fact that the word "previously" is redundant because the sentence is expressed in the past tense. There is already a vacancy, with almost no prospect that it can or will be filled. Rann has been terminally undermined and anybody who ends up in the big chair cannot escape the perception of being there solely because of the backroom boys.
The much anticipated move on Mr Rann was made late on Friday, when he was given an ultimatum by two senior members of Labor's Right faction - stand down or be removed.

In a meeting in his State Administration Centre office, the pair, Right faction powerbroker Peter Malinauskas and Treasurer Jack Snelling, told Mr Rann the factions had agreed on a new leadership ticket that would see Education Minister Jay Weatherill installed as premier and current Deputy Premier John Rau continue in the role.

Mr Rann was told that the factions wanted the new leadership team in place before the start of the spring parliamentary session on September 13 and that he must stand down during the winter break.

The factional deal means that if Mr Rann opts not to stand aside and forces a leadership ballot, he would lose if members vote along factional lines.
SA Labor had been headed for defeat, but now it is bound for the kind of shellacking that makes those who care about such things fear for its future. Why aren't Malinauskas and/or Snelling running for Premier? If factionalism meant anything, both those guys would die rather than have someone from the Left in the job.

Kaeting fronted Bob Hawke in 1991 and told him the challenge was on. By contrast, from the above we can only assume that Weatherill will be carried into his state's top job on a sedan chair. He will never be able to escape perceptions the reality that he will not be his own man and he will not have the scope for action that leaders should have.

Not only is there the recent example of NSW Labor, where Rees and Keneally learnt that the top job isn't worth having unless they can have full scope within it; but there is the example of the SA Libs in the '90s, where Nick Minchin took a mannequin from the window of John Martin's and put that in place of a popularly-elected and decent Premier, scuttling a Liberal government so as to free up resources for the feds.

Rann's only hope is to campaign against Malinauskas and Snelling (and Weatherill, insofar as he matters), causing such a ruckus from one end of suburban Adelaide the state to another so that Labor MPs take a chance on popular support rather than publicity-shy factions. He can then return triumphant, sack Weatherill and Snelling, and cruise past Bannon and Dunstan in style rather than limping into the spring.

The Liberals are being very quiet and the SA media are too stupid to throw the spotlight on them at the very time when their victory seems more assured. Now that Minchin is spending more time in Action Town he will be playing a similar sort of role in determining preselections etc to that played by Malinauskas and Snelling. Isobel Redmond faces the very real prospect of being overridden and undermined by Liberal backroom boys.

Worst of all, the people of South Australia face being presented with two bunches of front-people; while those who make the decisions which affect voters, and who should be held to account in a democracy, can stymie democratic checks as well as the supposedly fearless media simply by refusing to answer phone calls.

Update: Rann quits - no doubt he's sick of all those jerks and he's well and truly had his go. However, if he stood and fought he coulda been so much more than Media Mike. Now we face a future where Rann will stand as a titan merely through longevity, and that's sad.

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