Wednesday 26 June 2013

Will the new Labor leader become PM? WIll he help Labor avoid annihilation at the next election? Do we care any more?

Despite being removed from the office of Prime Minister by the 'faceless men' of the Labor party three years ago, and the best efforts of some of his disgruntled colleagues to render him unelectable, Kevin Rudd did a John Howard act tonight, and got himself restored to the leadership of the Labor party. It will be interesting to see how Labor goes about marketing him as the 'best choice' for our next PM, when it is obvious that the only reason he's back is that he's more popular than Gillard, and will help Labor retain as many seats as possible at the next election.

It's not clear yet if he will actually be going to the next election as Prime Minister - that will depend on whether he convinces the Governor General that he can form/retain a functioning government with the aid of the 'independents' (two of whom resigned earlier today), and I'm sure the opposition will try to get a 'no confidence' motion up in the last day of parliament tomorrow.

Some pundits have predicted that Kevin's return will turn around Labor's fortunes, and that the 'bounce' in Labor's primary vote might even be sufficient for them to win the election. I think his impact will be a lot less than that, as there are far too many 'candid' comments by fellow Labor members about his failings as PM, for the election campaign to be very positive. And the reality of his removing Gillard from office may even disaffect some of the female voters who had viewed Julia as a role model (not that they're likely to vote for Tony Abbott instead). But Mr Rudd will probably save a lot of marginal Labor seats, and it will be interesting to see if he stays on (for long) if Labor loses the election, but not too badly.

One big positive that might come out of this turmoil is that Rudd may decide to call a 'snap' election in early August, as he isn't 'locked in' to the Sep data the Gillard had announced. I think the Australian public has already had more than enough of this 'election year' and would be relieved to get the election out of the way. An early election date would be brave call though, as it's hard to guess how long a 'honeymoon' period Rudd will enjoy once the election campaign officially begins.

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