Peter Van Onselen nails his colours to the mast

In the Australian over the weekend, we have this.  I really can only interpret this long diatribe as:

1. The Labor party have been mean to Rudd

2. That’s not fair

3. By the way, I liked Rudd

4. Labor will now lose in the election, and I for one will gloat about it

I always thought that Peter was a not-so-closet lefty, but frankly with this article he’s bought heavily into Labor internal politics, and quite clearly taken sides in that.  Sure, it’s an opinion piece, but Peter’s position has always attempted to be (so far as I can tell) that he is above the fray, a dispassionate observer.  This article definitely puts paid to that fiction.

Key quotes are:

Unfortunately, journalists cannot give up their sources because I would defy any journalist to claim that Rudd himself had committed to running against Gillard this week.

He never was going to.

Then:

Anyone feeling sorry for the way that Rudd is alleged to have treated Simon Crean by not following him over the top (keeping in mind that Crean went beyond even the mandate Rudd supporters gave him by running for the deputy PM’s position) should remember the way that Crean has treated Rudd in recent years.

I think these were arguably true statements, and not as partisan as some later stuff:

Wayne Swan takes the cake, however. How can a deputy prime minister, representing the same state as Rudd no less, issue a media release claiming – among a host of other insults – that Rudd has “never had Labor values” yet not begin the process of expelling him from the party?

And:

Stephen Conroy cannot seriously be left in the communications portfolio after the way that he (mis)handled the media reforms, or following the delays to the National Broadband Network rollout sneakily announced on the same day as the spill.

I actually hadn’t noticed that sneaky announcement.  But who’s not in favour of government funded broadband, even if it is late?  It’s not like you’d have to personally pay taxes to get it.  What’s that you say, actually I do pay taxes?  Well, who would have guessed.  🙂

What has been done to Rudd goes well beyond anything we have seen before in Australian politics: the trashing of his name, the weak removal of him as leader, without even giving Rudd a chance to reform his ways.

Those actions by Gillard and her close supporters, more than anything else, are to blame for the state of federal Labor now.

And

We’ll see how in awe the caucus is of these skills come September 14, when Gillard and her team go up against the most unpopular opposition leader in Australian political history, and are comprehensively demolished.

Can you say dummy spit?

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What next for Labor?

Gillard has declared that it is over and we’re moving on.  A decent chunk of her front bench have gone to the backbench – 7 I believe including all three whips.  She now has to replace them all.  I saw someone on the internet pointing out that those who resigned and went to the back bench generally had very safe seats – they will still be MPs after the election.  Those who stuck with Gillard such as Swan generally are on paper thin majorities, most of them aren’t going to be MPs after the election.  Makes you wonder what logic they’re using really.  Gillard will have a loyal cabinet.  But will that cabinet have the horsepower to run an election?  And are those on the backbench just waiting it out – after the election Gillard clearly won’t have a majority of caucus any more.

Who will be left?

Martin Ferguson.  Looks like the Rudd supporters are taking Julia and the party at their words – if you wanted Rudd, if you think that Julia has lost her way, then you should resign.  And they are actually doing that – usually they’d just keep their heads down and pretend it’s not happening.

Problem is, do you get to a point where there aren’t enough people left?  And to be fair, those that are left aren’t necessarily the brightest lights.

Misdiagnosis by Gillard

Listening to the radio this morning on way to work.

Gillard using the famous phrase “moving on.”  Not sure whether she’s deliberately harking back to a period when we were doing that, but it didn’t work well last time.  I’d have stayed away from that.

She is declaring that it’s all over.  That’s because she’s misdiagnosed the problem.  Her belief is that the cause is some people destabilising her leadership, and with this spill and mess, that they’ve now lost legitimacy and it’s over.

That’s a wrong diagnosis.  The problem is that her leadership is in trouble, she and her advisors are making poor decisions and mismanaging the political process.  As a consequence of that people are disenfranchised and looking for a saviour.  So unless she’s going to start making good decisions and managing the political process well, it is most certainly not over.

As per yesterday, I predict a small bounce for Gillard with the end of this process and the end of sitting.  Probably not in Newspoll next week, but in the poll after that.  But it won’t last, and as long as Labor are down at 3x%, this unhappiness will continue.  Unfortunately that is a self-reinforcing cycle, so it’s hard to see the circuit breaker that they’re looking for.  Perhaps the small bounce from the ending of this process can be coaxed into a trend, but I doubt it.

Gillard comes out on top

So, we’re back where we started.

Winners: Albanese, Gillard, Swan, Conroy.  They were having a disaster of a week that would have really taken the shine off.  The story has now shifted from that disaster to Gillard staring down the nay sayers.  My pick is that she gets a small bump.  But it won’t last, because in a few weeks all people will remember is the mess.

Losers: Rudd – because he clearly still doesn’t have the numbers.  Fitzgibbons and Crean.  But I suspect Crean is retiring anyway.  Abbott, because he chose to focus on the process and not on the mess in parliament, so now he’s landed no punches today.

My money medium term is on Carr.  He’s the only one I reckon could unite the party and save the furniture.  He’s not Rudd, he’s not Gillard.  So that’s half way there.  He’s enough of a Labor man that he’ll take the job even though he knows it’s a losing election and he’ll get the knife afterwards.  He’s not a threat to Shorten et al who have aspirations for the future.  It’s either that or stick with Gillard.

Another knife edge day

I don’t think that the Rudd supporters have the numbers, the reporting in the SMH is painting it as “potentially the most vulnerable day of [Gillard’s] 2½-year leadership.”  Certainly Gillard has put her weight behind the media reforms instead of ditching them, and that means she needs to get something over the line.  It isn’t clear that she’s going to, although there seem to be ups and downs.  I’d pick her to get something and try to claim success, whether she gets away with that will depend on how much the media and the Rudd supporters allow her to.

Another interesting day, I think the real problem is the lack of clear air, and the general day-to-day crisis management that continues to make Gillard and Labor as a whole look weak.

SMH again: Crean today, The Australian half hearted

Today the SMH is spruiking Crean.  Apparently if Crean put his name forward, then that would allow Rudd to nominate, and some reckon Rudd would win.  In my view the media laws are giving the air time that Gillard’s detractors need – she needs to either save the laws or ditch them.  Realistically she should have ditched them a week ago, as they clearly could be a test that she didn’t need right now.

Funnily enough the SMH says “The manoeuvring came at the end of a day in which two ministers had to reaffirm their support for the Prime Minister after reports in The Age that they had lost confidence in the Prime Minister.”  Have they forgotten their own article?

I wonder how long before they speculate on Carr being a compromise candidate – he goes over well with the public.  Instead they have a nothing article about him being at the UN.

The Australian is slow to the party.  Peter Van Olselen is suggesting that the spill will come before the end of the week – but like the SMH he has been pushing for someone (anyone) to do something before Labor lose all hope.  Quote of the day would be “Is this the Gillard government’s equivalent of the last days of Rome?  ‘Nah, mate, Rome was great once, one Labor MP pointedly tells The Australian.”  They do speculate that Gillard is good negotiating “inside the beltway” and might be capable of saving the media laws.  The opposition have said they will vote for two of the six, that’s a start, no doubt the Greens support a couple.

It’s feeling a bit more like something might happen this week, I still think 50/50 chance on that.  I still don’t see the clear alternate, nor the clear misstep that would bring Gillard down.  A bad Newspoll next week could do it, but parliament isn’t sitting next week, so would be hard.  The Australian is talking about the possibility of caucus getting back together before the budget though, which is an interesting development.