Those whose opinion needs to be taken into account when planning a leadership challenge are broader than Labor MPs, political journalists and tragics and the Twitterverse.
It’s not an insignificant thing to tear down a Prime Minister in his first term, a Labor leader who’s the first to win a federal election since 1993.
The problem with the poll obsessed apparatchiks is that their horizon is always the next poll. And they tend always to have a static assessment of the political situation.
In a situation like we face today, where it would seem a number of marginal seat polls have given unexpected momentum to a putsch dreamed up by so-called ‘hard heads’ in the ALP right, and talked up through the ‘media narrative’, I wonder whether any thought has been given to the need to persuade the public of the need to destroy a Prime Minister. Any thought that is, beyond simplistic reasoning that hardly goes beyond ‘Rudd’s the problem, so if he’s removed, there will be less of a problem’.
Paul Howes’ appearance on Lateline tonight indicates there isn’t much of a communications strategy within the Gillard camp (where his, and the AWU’s, tent is firmly pitched). The plotters will need to articulate something much more persuasive than ‘the polls made us do it’ and ‘Alister Jordan’s calling MPs offended Gillard’. The stupidity of the ‘Rudd disloyal to Gillard’ theme was apparent, and apparently Howes only belatedly realised that announcements that unions such as his and the HSU had swung their support to Gillard opened the way to the Kristina Keneally attack – a leader installed by faceless union bosses and party apparatchiks.
Indeed, that’s a theme Kevin Rudd astutely exploited in his press conference tonight [full text here].
Howes made nothing of any policy differences between Gillard and Rudd, and continually claimed that the Rudd government was a good government.
I don’t imagine that ‘we were goaded by Dennis Shanahan and Peter Van Onselen’s columns’ would be persuasive either. Unless this really is a “coup by commentariat”. Or Howes’ other line, which equated to a feeling of panic that Tony Abbott and the Coalition would defeat Labor.
Anyone who imagines that, if Julia Gillard is Prime Minister tomorrow, she will have no need to explain why she is, and Rudd no longer is, lives in a fool’s paradise.
It also won’t be long before Gillard’s reported reluctance to challenge is questioned. Did she really first become aware of moves which have obviously been in train for some time earlier this afternoon?