RUDD RESIGNS February 23, 2012Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
Doubtless there are volumes of comments and opinions expressed about yesterday’s dramatic decision by Kevin Rudd to resign as foreign minister. I don’t claim any special insight, but it is an occasion that I should note here in passing.
The critical issue that Julia Gillard faces as prime minister is the low rating she is getting in the polls. It might be suggested that is more perception than reality, that in reality in terms of policy outcomes she has managed well in the circumstances of a minority government. Still the poll rating will not go away, and unlikely to change given Kevin Rudd’s resignation.
At the level of perception, and I have no idea whether or not this is widely shared, but I see Kevin Rudd’s actions as being consistent with the a strong and independently minded prime minister. This template of what critical qualities a prime minister should have applies regardless of party affiliation. There is a political game in play and the power plays are accepted if the winner is seen as having the necessary qualities. I believe, we do not expect our leaders to be perfect, but we expect to have guts and intelligence. The video shows that Kevin Rudd was not prepared to put up with nonsense.
As Kevin Rudd makes clear in his resignation speech, which in my opinion is a critical piece of oratory with historical significance, Julie Gillard, fairly or otherwise, is cast as a creature of the unaccountable, mostly unseen, machine men. I think, given our experience, this has considerable resonance for people in NSW, and for all I know other states as well.
Kevin Rudd explains his actions:
The question for Julia Gillard and those around her will be to find so means to win the next set. So what are her options? She could bring on a vote in the party room, but then Kevin Rudd could say he was focused on the Queensland Election. I have no idea how his resignation will have on ALP supporters in Queensland, but it could be positive and it may help Anna Bligh. But I don’t know for sure.
In my judgment, Julia Gillard’s prime ministership was terminal before this resignation and it is terminal now. Without any personal animosity toward Tony Abbott, I abhor the prospect on his ascension to the prime ministership as another example of ambition triumphing over substantial public policy and vision. So what can she do? I would suggest she go out of her way to listen to her critics within the caucus and address as best she can the perceptions, however misinformed they might be that are reflected in the polls. If she cannot do that successfully, I suggest she could follow Kevin Rudd and resign.
- ‘Soap opera must end’: Rudd quits (theage.com.au)
- Rudd’s audacious pitch (theage.com.au)
- Australia’s Foreign Minister Rudd resigns (thehindu.com)
- Julia Gillard facing ‘shootout’ against Kevin Rudd in leadership battle (dailymail.co.uk)
- Kevin Rudd quits over feud with Julia Gillard (independent.co.uk)
- Gillard reveals true reasons for 2010 coup (news.smh.com.au)
- Live: Kevin Rudd returns amid Labor leadership turmoil – Sydney Morning Herald (m.smh.com.au)
Labor View from Bayside has posted the video, in which the Prime Minister has turned the leadership decision over to the Labor Caucus:
I wonder whether any poll results will be out before Monday morning, and whether there are any alternative leadership teams in prospect. I think there are characteristics of this situation where a party was out of power for a length of time so that the leading members had no previous cabinet experience, including the PM. That was the situation in 2007. Also, as now, the ALP does not have a majority in the Senate.
The next few days will be an intense time for the Caucus and for the media, with the Opposition looking on as disinterested spectators and scoring all the points. There is a level of polling that any government needs to swing an election through the campaign. One of the critical qualities needed in a leader for any political party holding government under these circumstances is the proven campaigning skills and experience of the leader. On that criterion, Kevin Rudd is a better bet. However, if you cannot get people with their individual differences, to willingly unite and commit to a common cause, what level of leadership skills does such a person possess. Of course, it is all looks as easy as winning gold medals at the Olympics. The more magnified the scrutiny sometimes small cracks appear as great divides.
John Quiggin posits the formula: Rudd + Gillard = Rudd.
According to the figures quoted by Sinclair Davidson at Catallaxy, Julia Gillard is a safe bet – but presumably the odds might change.
If Kevin Rudd was as dysfunctional as claimed as Prime Minister, why apparently was he able to make a go of Foreign Minister? Why was his political execution as PM carried out in the manner it was by the power brokers?
The lack of legitimacy has dogged the prime ministership of Julia Gillard. What are the reasons for the base primary vote of the ALP? I was shocked when listening to Parliament mocking human rights. Policies are important, but so are values. ( I had the experience of misplacing my wallet a few days ago, so I am very clear about my primary existential values.)
Allow that I may be information poor, that I am not considering the critical variables, other than core support reflected by the polls (which I have a general sense of) and the capacity to turn votes in an actual election campaign. The ability to govern and get people to work together is important, although there is a general problem in democracies that campaigning is continuous. The circumstances of the disposal of Kevin Rudd were unknown to most of the electorate. Then there is the current political judgment of engaging in overkill, the nuclear option, without measuring the political fallout.
It appears to be the case that on Monday, at least two-thirds, and perhaps more of the ALP caucus will vote for the continuation of the Gillard-led government. Will she magically transform to becoming a political leader with vision and purpose once the incubus of Kevin Rudd has been lifted from her shoulders? I doubt it.
So who else is there?
Other Opinions, mostly via Blogotariat 2.0:
Brian writing at Larvatus Prodeo has a sympathetic portrait of Julia Gillard, but can’t see anyway of stopping Tony Abbott.
North Coast Voices quotes The Daily Examiner:
His axing from the top job may have been ugly, but these things are never pretty.
People might not be impressed with Julia Gillard’s leadership style, but she is getting things done, which is no mean feat in a minority government involving people like the Greens, some rural-based independents and Andrew Wilkie.
Voters expect their politicians to govern; to make decisions and stick with them. But what they are seeing now, largely due to Mr Rudd, is an in-fighting, back-stabbing rabble not capable of governing.
It’s time he pulled his head in.
It doesn’t matter if Kevin Rudd wins the vote on Monday or not, someone other than the talented Julia Gillard will lead Labor into the next election, says Benjamin Thomas Jones.
Gary at Public Opinion concludes is seems unlikely the Julia Gillard will defeat Tony Abbott and “We have reached the end of reform”. He observes:
It does look as if the Gillard Government will continue its relatively conservative set of policies that focus on economic growth over social wellbeing and downplay environmental sustainability. So the massive educational inequality highlighted by the Gonsky Review will remain. There will be little change to the decline in Australia’s school performance on international rankings. which coincide with the skewing of Federal Government money away from government schools and towards independent schools.
Loon Pond is not impressed with those who have put their hands up for Kevin 07.
Harry Clark observes Labor’s self-destruction.
At The Drum on ABC, described as an “amateur blogger”, Greg Jericho tears up the Kevin Rudd play book. (There are bloggers, and corporate bloggers, or so I would think.)
Greg Jericho at ABC The Drum takes Kevin Rudd to task as a victim. ” Amateur blogger” may be more pejorative than descriptive.
(more to come, I hope)
And what of the Polls?
According to Possum at Crikey:
Kevin Rudd is right about the situation faced by the Government, but is he the right person for the times?