Rudd and Gillard of course. Well, decisions have to be made and I think Labor should support Rudd and Gillard. It might be bullshit and a bad decision, but I think it should be given a go because it might not be. Some of my thoughts:
1. Rudd and Gillard aren’t Mark Latham. I personally think they have more appeal and of course less aggression and a more coherent vision. People just didn’t take to Latham for a number of probably good reasons; deal with it – that was that.
2. Leadership matters. It’s clear that although Labor is up in the polls on a two party preferred basis, this probably means that people are looking in general for a reason to elect Labor. Of course, why wouldn’t they be after the scandalous period the Howard Government has been through these last 2 years in particular? However, in these same polls, Kim Beazley is getting an approval rating of 20 something percent. We all know that he has lost twice before – once by getting the popular vote, but not winning the seats to form Government in 1998 (a different time when the GST was the central issue). Look, I’m sure Beaz’s heart is in the right place and whatever. But Labor hasn’t made the ground and gains that it should have since the Latham debacle. Leadership matters – Labor needs a strong, intelligent, younger (Rudd is 49, Gillard is 45) and more electable Leadership team. Howard isn’t getting any younger, and Rudd has the intelligence and moral drive to take him on.
3. Rudd is a Queenslander and a Christian who believes in the separation of church and state and has a strong moral standing on social justice issues sounding much more like most church leaders than most of the mob in the Howard Government (Read some of his columns from the Herald). The Labor party needs to pick up seats in Queensland where it currently holds 6 (or is it 7?) seats out of 29. Of course he is on the right of the Labor Party. But, at this point in time, for some not liking that; that is how the party currently works and what is more electable like it or not, it’s reality at this particular point in time. The are a number of fronts to take it to the government on. Hopefully he’ll be democratic enough (and be supported by the new independently elected front bench team) to let Gillard, as deputy leader counter him from the left with fairer and more practical policies in Health, Education, Welfare and Climate Change. Gillard is a Victorian representative – another critical state for Labor. She may very well one day become Prime Minister.
4. Howard constantly outmanoeuvres Beazley and has beaten him twice. Again, this is ironic in the December fashion of the Latham debacle, but I think they deserve a chance again because they aren’t leaders of the Latham or Beazley style – two leadership styles and alternative Governments that most people have rejected resoundingly at least three times and less decidedly on one more occasion. A new team with a new front bench with perhaps some real policies.
5. Beazley doesn’t seem to keep up with the news, hasn’t pinned the government on the absolute negligence in the AWB scandal and the countless other debacles that the Government should be stumbling on. Where is this magical economic policy we keep hearing about? How come thin layered advertising campaigns about the lack of vision and planning in relation to interest rates and inflation have surfaced only now? And where is the detail behind them? What’s happened under Beazley and his inner circle over the last few years? Not much it seems. Rudd has given many well delivered responses as Shadow Foreign Minister over these last few years. Gillard has had the quick wit and toughness to take on Tony Abbott as Shadow Minister for Health.
6. Since the whole front bench is being re-elected after a spill motion was put foward, this gives everyone a chance to put away the daggers and start anew. This opens up an opportunity to unite behind whoever is elected on Monday – Beazley and Macklin or Rudd and Gillard. This needs to happen either way – but I think if it happens with Rudd and Gillard, if done properly it may get Labor elected into government, beating the Howard government on “Work Choices”, Iraq, negligence in the AWB scandal, interest rates and the raft of other issues that the government should be attacked on.
These are just a few issues that I think are confronting the 86 other Caucus members apart from Rudd and Beazley themselves as they vote on Monday morning. Yep, it’s a definite risk – but it’s not the same risk as Latham – who was a different debacle separate from Rudd and Gillard who have different ambitions, different leadership styles and a different vision and intelligence to hopefully drive the Labor party foward on a positive pratical footing after the several messy situations the Howard Government has created and followed others into over the last 5 years in particular.
It may turn out to be another debacle, but Beazley and his leadership team already are and it would seem that Howard has already been able to play them (see Peter Hartcher’s excellent columns in the Herald for a good look at this) into a difficult position for him to have an easy go of winning the next election. It’s a gamble, yes, and Howard may call an early election in response to try to neutralise any chance it has of success. That is why over Christmas, whoever wins, but particularly if Rudd and Gillard win, Labor needs to do whatever the hell works for them to muster up the energy to deliver a clear attack as well as a clear alternative and practical vision foward for our country after what will become early next year 11 years of the Howard Government.
Who knows, Beazley may well get up – and well, that’s democracy I guess – but a decision needs to be made and then the front bench needs to unite and take the government on. This has to be done now because I believe it simply hasn’t been done under Beazley’s leadership – therefore Rudd and Gillard deserve a chance at this critical time.
It may not turn out to be the right decision. But it might if people are willing to give it a chance whilst recognising it’s not Latham again.
Come Monday, the above will just be another bunch of speculation in the dust. It will be interesting reading the papers and blogs on Tuesday.