My attention was drawn to a series of articles under the heading The Meltdown by Peter Hartcher by Mark and then this post by John Quiggin. I thought them well worth a read, but found the links from Quiggin’s post less than straightforward to access. My purpose here is to facilitate such access rather than put a point of view. So here goes:
Actually if you click on the last on you get the links to the previous four.
This comes towards the end of Part 5:
Before the 2010 coup against Rudd, Anthony Albanese had presciently warned colleagues: “If you do this, you will destroy two Labor prime ministers.”
Penny Wong adds this postscript: “They were two extraordinary politicians. The great sadness of this time was that they were both in the same generation with the same ambition. Together they should have been invincible.”
Together they were essentially invincible, but Hartcher details quite convincingly how things fell apart after Rudd came back from the schmozzle of the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, apparently a changed man. A strategy meeting was held and it was agreed that they would press forward with the CPRS and take it to a double dissolution election ASAP after Australia Day. Instead Rudd went off and wrote a children’s book and came back in a mood of paralysis and avoidance, which persisted.
At this point I should say that I’ve recently read Jacqueline Kent’s Take Your Best Shot: the prime ministership of Julia Gillard and Bruce Hawker’s The Rudd Rebellion: the campaign to save Labor. I’ve read Kerry-Anne Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard: how the media and Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister, Nicholas Stuart’s Rudd’s Way: November 2007-June 2010 and parts of Barrie Cassidy’s The Party Thieves: the real story of the 2010 election. Now I’ve started on Mungo MacCallum’s The Mad Marathon: the story of the 2013 election and have lined up Maxine McKew’s Tales from the Political Trenches. That will be it for me.
My interim position is to agree with Albanese. I’m not so sure about Wong. Perhaps both Gillard and Rudd would have done well if the other had completely vacated the scene. Perhaps they both lacked a dimension the other could supply. I’ve had some experience with deputy-boss situations in public administration, and indeed where the deputy is promoted over the erstwhile boss. I do think Gillard was more active in canvassing the possibility of taking over from Rudd than she and some of her supporters would have us believe. I don’t think that anything she did was unethical or incompatible with being a loyal deputy who also had a mind for what was ultimately in the best interests of the party and the country.
Something similar may be said of Rudd when by mid 2011 the polls were running Nielson 39/61 and Newspoll 41/59 in 2PP terms against Labor.
Yet Gillard never had a clear go after attaining the PMship. After the 2010 election having Rudd as a cabinet member was basically intolerable, but with a hung parliament there was no other choice.
When Rudd finally took over Gillard stepped aside and maintained a silence in a way that was entirely laudable, and appreciated. However just 74 days was never enough. Bruce Hawker says he was involved in numerous election campaigns from 1998 to 2008 at state and territory level with a 100% success rate. He says 12 months is what you need to win a campaign.
Especially disappointing was a policy unit set up for the campaign. They seemed to come up with nothing, so the campaign theme of “A new way” looked rather stupid. The campaign effectively dumped it in favour of “Building the future” which didn’t fare much better, lacking substance except that Rudd wasn’t Tony Abbott. In the end Abbott not being Rudd won out.
Given our recent record on Rudd-Gillard threads I put this one forward with some trepidation. I’m more interested in sharing links than I am in arguing the merits of one or the other, assigning blame or arguing over what might have or should have been.
So please be gentle with each other and respectful. If you can’t, then ignore what’s bothering you. I don’t want to go to the trouble of making this a fully moderated thread.
On links The Piping Shrike has a piece on the Rudd resignation.
Kerryn Goldsworthy has done a review of five books published between April and July of this year all of which have Gillard as the central figure.
I used an image of Gillard and Rudd from happier times at the head of this post. Here’s another one I had on file: