GuruAnn Blog

Hume City Councillor, this site is authorised by Fran Wallace, 10 Gibbons St Sunbury

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

When will it end?

From Crikey's sealed section today:

"Is Mark Latham's leadership doomed?" we asked on October 19 when Lindsay Tanner became the sixth Labor frontbencher to quit and head to the backbench.

It took a month, but today The Bulletin has got hold of the story, with the mag's Canberra correspondent Paul Daley speculating on a leadership spill early next year, if not before Christmas.

The very cautious Louise Yaxley took the story of dissent within the ranks and ran with it on AM this morning, so we can assume it has legs - read the transcript here.

If Latham does suffer a pre-Christmas spill, who will stand? As we wrote a month back:

"With a solid first XI staring at him from the backbench, waiting for him to slip and offering him the kind of "support" he gave Kim Beazley, Mark Latham's leadership is facing its toughest - and potentially a terminal - test.

"The names of alternative leaders are now being openly canvassed in Labor ranks. Bob Carr, Kim Beazley, Kevin Rudd (OK, that's just Kevin and his mates). Even Peter Beattie's name has been mentioned."

Well, four weeks later and we can count out Carr and Beattie, who are discovering that running a large state holds challenges of its own. In Carr's case, it's getting the trains to run on time, as part of a wider infrastructure meltdown. While Beattie is in serious trouble over a railway line and the man from Energex who threw himself in front of it.

Which leaves Beazley and Rudd. The Bully's Paul Daley alluded to Beazley's health problems in his report, and word from our medical expert, Dr Strangelove, is that Big Kim's troubles with the debilitating Schaltenbrand's Syndrome are a long way from over. He reports:

"Beazley's doctors are telling him he has not fully recovered yet, and have advised him to avoid travel on pressurized aircraft for the next 12 months: ie: a standard jet which flies him from Perth to Parliament and back."

No wonder Beazley returned to the backbench after the election. He would appear to be incapable of fulfilling a frontbencher's role, let alone that of an Oposition Leader. On health grounds alone, he is out of the race for Latham's job, at least until 2006.

Which leaves Kevin Rudd. Despite being a thinker with an economics background (a former head of the Queensland Cabinet office), who's done over Alexander Downer on a range of issues (and won over many latte votes in the process), he remains unpopular in the party room.

Apparently there are jealous types who resent his relentles efforts at self-promotion. Well hello, hello. Isn't that what politicians do?

But there is a silver lining for Rudd. Ultimately, the Labor party room will decide who leads the ALP based on that sublime Darwinian instrument of preservation: self-interest.

Never mind the prospects of winning the election in 2007 or 2010. If MPs think that Kevin Rudd is better placed to shore up support in the electorate - and keep them in their jobs until they're at least eligible for a lifetime pension - they will switch horses in an instant. Not pausing to thank Latham for the thrilling roller-coaster ride of the past 10 months.

Mark Latham knows all about loyalty in politics. There is none. And if he doesn't snap out of his latest moody funk, he'll be reminded of this brutally, sooner rather than later.

Personally as a non alligned (not even in the non alligned faction) rank and file member of the ALP, I would be happy with Rudd, but I would counsel him to act himself in public as his personal persona v's his public persona is a lot more charismatic. He is an extremely witty man, which doesn't come over in the public sphere.

Secondly, this excerp from Crikey doesn't make any mention of Julia Gillard, I think that Julia is leadership material +++++, but maybe they don't want to put her out to wolves quite yet, but to wait until a later date may be TOO late to win the voters over. Just a word of advice to Jules, tone down the red in the hair.

Ultimatly, I don't care who leads the ALP as long as they have the capacity to beat Howard, Costello, Abbott and all of the other RWDB's.