Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

A final comment on Labor’s leadership laments

Fundamentally, I don’t greatly care about the outcome of Labor’s leadership travails. As my previous post indicates, the bigger issue is that the ALP is being fundamentally damaged by the toxicity of this brawl, and the fact that the brawl is happening in this way is a sign of some much greater problems within Labor. Whatever the immediate outcome, I think those problems are likely to continue.  The outcome of the leadership contest (including the size of what will surely be a Gillard victory) will shape how those problems play out, but they will still be there.

Not surprisingly, I see this as presenting an opportunity for the Greens to build some support, but more importantly it presets extra responsibility and obligation for the Greens to be a stronger counter to what is a seriously reactionary Coalition.

But seeing we’re all pundits now, and despite having little inside knowledge, my prediction is that there will be no ‘third candidate’ in tomorrow’s leadership ballot.  Julia Gillard will win comfortably. The instability will not disappear. It’s quite possible there will be another leadership ballot before the election but Kevin Rudd will not become leader then either. No matter how good Kevin Rudd looks in the polls, that polling lead would disappear very quickly if he was back in the PM’s job.

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29 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Dean Bain

    Hmmm…not sure KR would poll badly immediately if he got the job. Think there could be a bit of a love in with ‘the people’… re-united and it feels so good. The greater disappointment from all this is the expressed view from many MPs that they would rather lose than see him back in the job. Irresponsible and shows more contempt for the party, processes and the greater cause than anything I have witnessed in the partys history. Love the way JG showed us the ‘real Kevin’…echos of earlier desperate grabs in campaigns. She has developed a habit of spinning her way into highlighting she’s been less than honest in the past. We can’t expect pollies to not bend and omit facts, but we can expect them to be good at it. Thank god we are as stupid as JG seems to think we are or she’d be in real trouble… hang on, she is…Shorten[ing everyone else’s career] is lurking.

  2. How piquant that the advert currently on your blog is for ‘THE GOOD GUYS’, and as further coincidence would have it, where we bought an upright freezer the other day.

  3. … insofar as one of Kev07’s control mechanisms was to freeze out dissenting voices.

  4. Yes,perhaps you’re right Dean – it might not disappear straight away. But there is too many comments about Kevin Rudd now on the public record that are far too damaging – most of them openly from his Labor ‘comrades’ and at least some of them able to be substantiated. I can’t see how his public popularity could survive the constant regurgitating of those, especially in the sort television adverts we’d see come election time. But I could be wrong. I never thought Rudd would be popular as a leader in the first place when they replaced Beazley with him, so I don’t make any great claim to punditry perfection. I can’t see how Labor can now avoid being seriously stuffed whichever way they go – but it’s also not really my main interest, so I shouldn’t really be commenting (except I am anyway cos everyone else is).

    Love your name for Mr Shortening. Must play Shortening Bread on the radio tomorrow in tribute.

  5. Anna

    Not that surprising but from the Abbott camp this morning came an email displaying a sour lemon in red hair. It has come down to this disgrace. All are equal in stupidity and pettyschool yard tactics. Not one of them will restore all our human rights afforded to many around the world. The Bill of Rights is worthless without a signature.

  6. Liz

    I think you’re right that nothing will shut krudd up – losing again won’t crush his delusions, unfortunately. But he has publicly said he won’t challenge again in this term. I wouldn’t put it past him to force an election and be hoping that the ALP loses (which it would, of course, at the moment) and he gets to become leader in opposition – the saviour, leading the ALP back from the wilderness he helped put them in.

    Did you see Nicola Roxon on Insiders today? She was very reasoned, sensible to the longer term problems this is creating for the ALP, and aware of what they need to do between now and next election. Maybe there’s hope for them (and all of us).

  7. Thanks Andrew,

    I think it’s pretty clear that the likes of Gillard, Swan, Conroy, Burke, Roxon, Crean are in the business of killing their challenger dead. With Rudd dead, maybe we can get some ‘clear air.’ Yeah right.

    But it won’t happen because Blind Freddie knows that Gillard is noxious in the electorate – ‘repels votes’ as Mumble says. So they will have trashed the man they made Prime Minister and She made Foreign Minister. They will probably end up in Opposition, which will be bad for the country, bad for Labor, bad for progressive, social policy, environmental policy etc. Abbott will unpick Labor ‘reforms’, bad, bad, bad, (sigh).

    But the question remains, does a party ‘led’ by those who would happily eat their own actually deserve our support? Despite the fact that I detest Abbott, I don’t think so.

    And to add to comments re: 2 stage action, prospects of Shorten/Combet/Smith removing the electoral poison of Gillard closer to the election: Perhaps, but how did the NSW model work out in NSW?

  8. red crab

    i think you rite Andrew it dosent mater who wins the leadership on monday.
    it dosent mater when the next election is.
    labour will lose what they do from now on depend s on how much they lose by .
    there will be a massive campaign against them from western Australia because of the carbon tax the minning tax and the asylum seekers all of which affect w.a more than any other state and now the gst rip off . .

    the labour will try to shift the blame onto the greens as the liberals shifted the gst onto the democrats .

    the coalition will win govt how much by depends on who is there leader at the time .

    i think that the current situation was set up a long time ago even before Rudd was demoted by the tacticians of the labour party
    i also think that this show is set up just to take the heat off the Queensland elections Rudd is intelligent enough to know that he cant win if he did there would be untold damage to the labour party .
    as far as his popularity go.s he is only popular in Queensland because they are still smarting from having there prime minister bumped.

    neither of them have been to w.a to campaign yet maybe they value the skin to much..

  9. Lorikeet

    I think we will just have to wait and see what pans out tomorrow.

    I predict that Bill Shorten will eventually be elevated to the Labor party leadership.

  10. togret

    If I were somene who cried, I’d shed bitter tears about the short-sighted people who are throwing petrol onto the flames, when in other parts of the world people swallow hard and get on with the job of working for the good of the nation, even if they don’t always like their colleagues.

    My first vote as an adult was for a government that dragged this sontry away from Menzies British bootliking, and tried to set it on a path of its won – and for all its faults, the Whitlam government made great strides – they were people of vision, though flawed, just like Gillard and Rudd, but still head and shoulders above Abbott.

    I will not vote for Abbot, or to advantage him -but I’m sick of being taken for granted.

  11. TerjeP

    I’ll just vote for the Liberal Democrats (LDP) like usual. I simply can’t stomach the strong authoritarian streak within the Greens. And both Labor and the Liberals have a policy set that is too social conservative for my liking.

  12. Roger Marchant

    Australia: a lucky country, exploited by second-rate politicians who share its luck.

  13. paul walter

    If you’re ever guaranteed a good laugh, it’ll be from Terje. “..authoritarian streak within the Greens”.
    Rofl.
    You know, I agree with Andrew, I’m not convinced they’ve “got it” even after all this angst, but there would have been no point in putting Kevin Rudd in, at this time.
    He has massive potential, but not until that ego is finally mastered.
    Gillard gets first run with the breeze, she also needs to get her attitude sorted a bit;its not a game and less timidity, please.
    She also needs in a quiet moment to think of Bob Brown’s kindness, as well as patching things up with Kevin Rudd, if ever there were two people who ought to be friends rather than enemies it’s these two.

  14. Dean Bain

    Agreed. re:regurgitation. Horse Trading has done equal damage to JG methinks. How many caucus votes for Abib’s head? Don’t get me wrong, I’d have done it for none. I was relieved by his announcement…as it implies at least fifteen votes weren’t all garnered from preselection intimidation.

    I’m not pundit perfect either…I don’t even realise how hated I am :)

  15. Jolly

    Were there any such groups of pollies in our history who were known to eat their own? The public stabbing of their own, their insatiable lust for personal power, their total disregard for respectable public behaviour have all been dragged out from some wretched fathomless pit.
    That Rudd may have been the best or the worst PM remains purely hypothetical. That he was not given a ‘fair go’ (or the time to do his job) is rather ‘un-Australian’. This is a nation that prides itself in its cultural bias for giving everyone a fair go. That this was denied our very own PM evokes strong emotions in most decent Aussies (what ever our political preference). Apparently it was not ‘disloyal’ for Gillard and the ‘faceless men’ to ‘politically assassinated’ the then PM but it is deemed ‘utterly disloyal’ of Rudd to challenge Gillard? What sort of logic is this? To then get the ‘weaklings’ in Labor to publicly ‘character assassinate’ Rudd is gutter politics. It is not that we are Rudd crazy, rather we are simply outraged by Gillard and her henchmen’s deplorable treatment of the then PM (and us in an indirect way).

    I had often admired the social policies/reforms, the forward looking programs, the nation building strategies, the intellect and commitment of past Labor leaders. Now I stand cheated. I feel robbed of what I thought was decent Australian public and common moral standards. Now we are left with a government engaged in gutter politics. Nothing Gillard does, no reform, and no socially innovative policies can redeem Labor in my eyes.

    I wish Labor a deafening defeat and subsequent incineration at the next election. Out of the Labor ashes must rise a new Labor with integrity and decency and honor. Gillard, ‘the faceless men’, Swan, Conroy, Burke, Roxon, Crean, etal will have to be a forgotten distant memory if Labor is ever to resurrect itself.

  16. togret

    Oh get over yourself Jolly. I have many reservations about the current ALP, but leadership tussles happen in all parties – it didn’t start lately – have a look at what happened to Alfred Deakin, for example, and have a look at Billy Hughes if you want tussles.

  17. Lorikeet

    I largely agree with Jolly.

    A new Labor Party needs to rise up in this nation, comprising all of the fair minded people who are Pro-Australia, and who also support a fair go for the poor and the average.

  18. Jolly

    TOGRET your desire to whitewash this injustice may be OK in the 60s or earlier. It is a very different world to-day mate! Remember they also annihilated the Aboriginals in Tasmania and thought that was OK then. It was the manner in which a sitting PM was ‘politically assassinated’ that sickens most fair-minded people. We are not discussing party leadership tussels (Keating-Hawke, Abbott-Turnbull, Crean-Beasley, etc).

    The Queensland election result will perhaps open your eyes to reality and what is deemed important to people. Just like what the results in NSW showed. Labor is DEAD!

  19. Jolly

    The information below reveals much, much more than what the public was made to believe. The devious plans will keep unfolding.

    Ref: The Monthly March 2012. ‘Last Drinks At The Lodge’ by R Muldoon
    P34. I walked around the corner to Gillard’s office. It was filled with men I’d not seen before. Not one. Standing there I received an SMS that Gillard and Swan had been “given the nod” by the big three mining companies – Xstrata, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton – beforehand, letting it be known that the ads attacking the government for its proposed tax on miners’ super profits would be pulled. Could this be true? Might the party backroom boys really have sought tacit approval from the miners for a change at the top to seek an end to the damaging impasse over Rudd’s tax (which was really Swan’s tax), and thus win over wavering MPs? … The compromise that Gillard worked out in the ensuing days would cost Australian taxpayers $110 billion over 10 years….

    P 35. Rudd’s staff spoke to me. Apparently Gillard had kept him talking for two hours or so while her forces, or at least the forces behind her, were counting numbers. Mark Arbib, just as present, was invisible. As a compromise, Rudd had asked Gillard to wait at least until October before requesting a ballot for the leadership. She had agreed, and the last thing she had said to Rudd, as she left his office, was: “I just want you to know, I’m not going to challenge you”. In an antechamber outside Rudd’s office, she made a call. It was brief. She turned on her heel, walked back into Rudd’s office and said, “Kevin, I am challenging for the leadership”

    Please read the full article in The Monthly’s March issue. It makes one sick in the stomach. The Labor party had denied Rudd the right to govern. Wayne Swan’s super profit tax was blamed on Rudd. Gillard persuaded Rudd to drop the ETS and then blamed him for dropping it. Such treachery, such lack of decency, such ruthless and wanton lust for power. And they are our political leaders to-day.

  20. Lorikeet

    I saw Wayne Swan do the National Press Club address yesterday. Although a lot of what he said seemed okay, I didn’t like the answer he gave to a man complaining about the abysmally low level of financial subsistence available for unemployed people.

    Wayne Swan’s only response was that he would get everyone into work. As far as I’m concerned, the low rate of unemployment benefits is one of the primary causes of homelessness and reliance on Foodbanks in this nation.

    I wrote to the Treasurer and told him off. Perhaps others could do the same.

  21. paul walter

    Togret, too true.
    Why don’t your opponents come out and just admit that their real agenda is a Cameron style “austerity “government, with the working people scapegoated, in now rather than later?

  22. Lorikeet

    Don’t worry, Jolly. The political duopoly of Labor/Liberals has been told it’s time to pass the hot potato to the right again, in order to disguise their commonly held agendas.

    In my electorate, I can’t get anyone interested in building a new high school or a railway station in a semi-rural area, after 20+ years of need. Apparently Queensland is broke, and any large infrastructure projects will have to wait until the ledger is back in the black.

  23. togret

    I was too polite to mention Tory leadership tussles – Do the names Brendan Nelson or Malcom Turnbull ring a bell?

  24. Matt

    I think you’re reading too much into these Labor problems. They will probably spell the end of the current government but of the Labor party – pfft! (remember the DLP spilt?) It’s really just realigning to its brutal, democratic roots. It’s one of the endearing points of the party that the battles, the hatred and the blood spilled is on show for all to see (although not so much in recent years in an era of greater media savvy) and it still keeps going – dysfunctional yet practically progressive at its best. I have a feeling a bit of Labor turmoil will help Gillard – probably not enough to save government, but I bet the loss wont be as big as the polls these days are saying.

  25. The Feral Abacus

    Togret: not to mention poor John Gorton. Now there’s a figure the Libs have erased from history.

  26. togret

    I was amused by a couple of things in earlier notes: one was, I think, some kind of notion that in the 20th century it was some kind of primitive age where politiical folk didn’t know any better and can be forgiven for rough deals, but presumably we expect different things today. I don’t believe that human beings change all that much, and am sorry for people who expect some kind of golden age now we are in the 21st century.

    Jolly draws a rather long bow in comparing the recent ALP leadership struggles. (Not, by the way confined to Australia this behaviour! – see: USA for a start, followed by UK and Italy, Greece … ) Jolly said: “Remember they also annihilated the Aboriginals in Tasmania and thought that was OK then” – firstly, aboriginal people were not completely annihilated – if that means all died, then they didn’t all die.

    Secondly, there were many contemporary critics of the appalling murders of aboriginal people for simply existing in darker skins, but they were not in power. People knew and tried to stop it – let’s not forget that. It was not done by aliens who had no idea – it was done by church-goers and non-belivers, rich and poor, etc. Ordinary people, in other words.

    That brings us to the third point – neither main political party has a uniformly proud record of achievement in regard to aboriginal people or the poor, migrants, the disabled, etc, though some enlightened individuals have dragged them forward at times. People can be flawed in some ways but still achieve good things, look at Malcom Fraser and Gugh Whitlam. Eternal vigilance and effort is needed.

  27. NannaK

    Matt

    I agree. These brutal tussles are what has always happened in the Labor Party. The Party is bigger than that. And yes, remember the DLP – a Vatican-inspired offshoot that flourished for a short time, but like all small, narrow-minded Parties, they died when the issues moved on and times changed. Sounds like some of our bloggers would like that to happen again – but alas for them, time has passed them by.

    The ALP will probably lose the next election, giving them the space to sort themselves out and become an alternative political force again. The current government is a bit like Whitlam’s – too long in the wilderness, too idealistic in government, and too incompetent in government. But the Hawke/Keating years were very good for our economic growth. Even the Libs admire their economic reforms.

    That’s what democracy is all about – the middle road – no extremes survive very long. And that is because the Party must appeal to around 50% of the population – a very diverse population at that. We drift a little to the Left, a little to the Right, but never to the extreme. I find great comfort in that. In that context, these power struggles simply don’t matter.

  28. Daniel

    I hope the ALP do go like the Democrats. That way the Greens can push and break through Andrew.

  29. Lorikeet

    For those who aren’t aware, the ALP and DLP used to be one organisation. I think if they united again, the best could be brought out in both.

    In the current situation, I still believe the ALP is likely to disintegrate and become a minor party. It has already had many members shift to the Queensland Party, Australian Party and the Greens.

    In the upcoming state election, the DLP is running a young candidate who was a very solid ALP supporter for several years. He moved to the Queensland Party until the amalgamation with the Australian Party, and then on to the DLP.

    I agree that there are mistakes made by both of the major parties, and extremism of any kind generally runs a short course.

Reply to “A final comment on Labor’s leadership laments”

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  • A final comment on Labor’s leadership laments

    Fundamentally, I don’t greatly care about the outcome of Labor’s leadership travails. As my previous post indicates, the bigger issue is that the ALP is being fundamentally damaged by the toxicity of this brawl, and the fact that the brawl is happening in this way is a sign of some much greater problems within Labor. Whatever the immediate outcome, I think those problems are likely to continue.  The outcome of the leadership contest (including the size of what will surely be a Gillard victory) will shape how those problems play out, but they will still be there.

    Not surprisingly, I see this as presenting an opportunity for the Greens to build some support, but more importantly it presets extra responsibility and obligation for the Greens to be a stronger counter to what is a seriously reactionary Coalition.

    But seeing we’re all pundits now, and despite having little inside knowledge, my prediction is that there will be no ‘third candidate’ in tomorrow’s leadership ballot.  Julia Gillard will win comfortably. The instability will not disappear. It’s quite possible there will be another leadership ballot before the election but Kevin Rudd will not become leader then either. No matter how good Kevin Rudd looks in the polls, that polling lead would disappear very quickly if he was back in the PM’s job.

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