Is Kevin Rudd set to strike again?

by Mark Benson on May 27, 2012

in General Information

Is it safe to look yet?

The political future of Australian Prime Minister, and leader of the Labor Party, Julia Gillard is today in doubt with rumours of yet another impending leadership coup. It was only February 2012 that Julia Gillard last crushed Kevin Rudd’s attempt to take over leadership of the Labor Party but it seems that support is yet again growing for the former prime minister.

What is happening?

There are unconfirmed reports that Joel Fitzgibbon has jumped ship and is now siding with Kevin Rudd. Mr Fitzgibbons has denied these rumours although the Sunday papers in Australia are full of quotes, comments and speculation. If the rumours are to be believed Joel Fitzgibbon, the government whip, has set about building support for yet another leadership challenge and Kevin Rudd will be the figurehead.

There is growing discontent within the Labor Party in relation to Julia Gillard and her relationship with the public. There have been a number of political gaffes over the last few months and indeed the Labor Party is currently well behind in the polls with a general election scheduled for 2013. There is a growing belief that 2012 will need to be the year that the Labor Party rebuilds itself and Julia Gillard may well be forced to fall on her sword.

Why Kevin Rudd?

It was a surprise to many people that Kevin Rudd’s leadership challenge in February 2012 faltered so spectacularly as there had been rumours of significant support behind-the-scenes. However, once those supporting the former prime minister were forced to make public their views on a change of Labor leader many of them simply faded into the background.

It is ironic that Kevin Rudd himself was the victim of a leadership coup by Julia Gillard and many believe that he still harbours bitterness with regards to the way in which he was unceremoniously dumped by his party. The power of the man is there for all to see because a failed leadership coup earlier this year should have signalled the end for his political hopes and any chance of again becoming Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Labor Party.

Dirty tricks campaign

One thing which became more and more evident towards the crescendo of Kevin Rudd’s earlier leadership challenge was his style of management and his people skills. Again, there were unconfirmed rumours of dissatisfaction from within his staff ranks and indeed a rather embarrassing video was released “anonymously” on YouTube earlier this year. Many believe that it was this dirty tricks campaign which ultimately scuppered his earlier leadership challenge but he is back!

Kevin Rudd has been the first person to step forward and acknowledge that his man management skills and his confrontational personality had not done him any favours. He recently reached out to the electorate claiming that he had learned his lesson and was once again ready to take up the office of Labor leader and prime minister. Will he be given a final chance to challenge Julia Gillard?

Julia Gillard wants to stay

The premiership of Julia Gillard has been controversial and demanding although there is one thing which has stood out from day one, her determination to remain in office and to fight off those who want to replace her. However, in many ways it is the electorate that is in charge of behind-the-scenes activity because of the massive slump the Labor Party has experienced in the polls. It would probably be too late if any potential leadership change was delayed until 2013 therefore it seems almost inevitable that any move to change the leader of the Labor Party and the Prime Minister will occur in 2012.

It is ironic that in public Julia Gillard seems to have the support of the vast majority of Labor politicians while behind-the-scenes the rumours will just not go away. This comes at a time when the Australian economy is going through a difficult period and in a perfect world the Prime Minister should be wholly focused upon economic growth in the short, medium and longer term. Any activity behind-the-scenes which takes away this focus from the economy will be detrimental not only to the Labor Party but also the Australian population and business arena.

Is it time for change?

Unless there is a major turnaround in the polls it seems almost inevitable that the Labor Party will be forced from power at next year’s general election. Depending upon which opinion polls you believe there is a suggestion that the party is up to 20% behind the leading opposition party in the polls. This seems to be an almost impossible situation to turnaround in such a very short space of time although there is a suggestion that Julia Gillard could remain as leader until after the next general election at which point a new leader would come in and Julia Gillard would take the flak for past failures.

While the earlier leadership coup in February was well covered in the press, with sources planting an array of stories, there seemed to be little in the way of follow-through. For many people in the “know” this new bout of speculation seems to have a firmer base and indeed it seems to be more structured than February’s botched attempt.

When will the leadership challenge emerge?

The cat is very much out of the bag due to the speculation across all of Australia’s Sunday papers and it is likely we will see movement both behind-the-scenes and in public over the next few weeks. Slowly but surely we will see an array of politicians step forward criticising Julia Gillard and mentioning Kevin Rudd as a potential successor. This is the way of the world with regards to politics and even if Julia Gillard is forced out of office there will be few people shedding tears because of the way in which she unceremoniously dumped Kevin Rudd from the Labor Party despite being voted into power by the electorate just three years earlier.

Conclusion

Julia Gillard‘s premiership has been tainted from day one due in many ways to the way in which she effectively hijacked Kevin Rudd and forced him from office with a midnight coup. The rumours of leadership challenges continue to emerge on a regular basis and it does seem almost inevitable that we will see a challenge in the short term.

The Labor Party is so far behind in the polls that any change in the leadership would need to occur sooner rather than later to give a new leader the chance to put across their policies and connect with the voting public. So, the next few weeks will be critical to the political future of Julia Gillard and indeed the shadow of Kevin Rudd is highly likely to emerge yet again.

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