Thursday 24 June 2010

Rudd for ex-PM

In a surprise move, some Labor factions have banded together to convince Julia Gillard to challenge Kevin Rudd for leadership. It's very unusual for a Prime Minister to be challenged - especially during the first time in office after a "landslide" victory and starting out with record-breaking high approval levels. It looks like too many Labor back-benchers have realised that their jobs are on the line as Rudd's approval ratings slide and Labor's primary vote in recent polls has reached record low levels.

I guess that Rudd will get dumped tomorrow - even if he currently "has the numbers" by a small margin, the fact that he has been challenged will make it even harder to retain credibility and regain public support in the six months or so remaining before the next Federal election in Australia.

It would also be very hard to keep Gillard as deputy leader after a challenge (and having repeatedly vowed she wasn't interested in the leadership and would support Rudd into the next election).

If Gillard does win she will enjoy a "honeymoon" period of popularity, and will also get some support simply because she would be the first female PM of Australia if Labor wins the next election. However, with parliment probably not sitting again before the election once it rises this week, she won't have a chance to showcase her strengths as a parlimentary speaker.

There might also be disadvantages for Labor in making Julia Gillard the leader - she was intimately involved in all the decisions that are now proving problematic (dumping the CPRS legislation, strategies for reducing the flow of illegal migrants, rushed and poorly controlled stimulus spending on school construction and home insulation, poor implementation of few aspects of the Henry Tax review after sitting on the report for six months, etc). And although Tony Abbott can be portrayed as an old-fashioned "traditional values" throw-back to the policies of the Howard years, Julia may not be the right person to attack the pro-female credentials of a family man that has raised four daughters.

Whether or not there is a leadership change tomorrow morning, this challenge has made the upoming election campaign more interesting.

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