Julia Gillard blows Kevin Rudd away

by Mark Benson on February 27, 2012

in General Information

Aussie voters deal Kevin Rudd a knockout blow!

We hear news today that Julia Gillard smashed Kevin Rudd in the vote for Labor party leader and Prime Minister of Australia by a whopping 71 votes to 31 votes. Despite the fact there had been speculation of a last-minute rush to support Kevin Rudd it seems that his bid for glory has fallen on deaf ears but what next for Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and the Labor Party?

Background to the Labor Party infighting

Julia Gillard has been falling in the polls for some time now and there has been speculation on and off over the last few months that Kevin Rudd was trying to whip up support for a leadership challenge. It seems that last week Kevin Rudd saw his chance when he surprisingly resigned as Foreign Minister to Australia in the middle of a trip to America citing the fact he believed he had been undermined by the Prime Minister.

This resignation shocked Julia Gillard who was not informed beforehand and the resignation speech of Kevin Rudd was broadcast across Australia. His supporters had expected him to return to Australia to a heroes welcome but it seems that support for the former prime minister and Labor Party leader has waned away over the last few days. So what next for the parties in this debacle?

Is Kevin Rudd finished forever?

One thing is certain this evening, Kevin Rudd will not be returning to the current Labor government because he has well and truly burned his bridges with Prime Minister Julia Gillard. While the vote in favour of Julie Gillard, 71 votes to 31 votes, was a record in a Labor Party leadership challenge there are still some who still believe that Kevin Rudd can return to frontline politics in the future.

However, only now are we starting to see what the grassroots Labor MPs believe and want for the party with many suggesting that Kevin Rudd burned too many bridges on his way up to the post of prime minister between 2007 and 2010 having been very difficult to work with. There have been some vicious press releases regarding Kevin Rudd over the last few days suggesting that those who dislike him most are those who know him best.

While you can fully expects the media onslaught against Kevin Rudd after his decision to run for leader of the Labor Party and Prime Minister of Australia, the truth is that he saw a gap and he went for it. Julia Gillard has not helped herself over the last few weeks although inadvertently the leadership challenge may well improve her standing in the polls.

Will Julia Gillard need to stand aside at the next election?

Despite the fact that the Julia Gillard camp and her supporters are very jubilant after today’s victory it is in many ways a hollow victory because there may well be consequences in the longer term. Julia Gillard has been holed below the waterline and there are many in the Labor Party who see her as a dead woman standing and believe she will need to step aside at the next general election. However, she does have a few years to try and push through the promises she made to the Austrian electorate but it will certainly be an uphill battle.

If there is one thing that seemed to tip the balance in favour of Kevin Rudd making a leadership challenge, it was the undignified images of the Prime Minister of Australia quite literally being dragged away from an aboriginal protest on Australia Day. She was lifted off her feet, lost one of her shoes and in that instance many believe that she lost her way. The Prime Minister of Australia and the leader of the Labor Party can tonight sit back and enjoy her victory for tomorrow is another day. Whether or not this is the last we have heard of Kevin Rudd is open to debate but the leadership and the authority of Julia Gillard has been severely damaged and many believe it has been damaged beyond repair.

More infighting within the Labor Party

Even before the leadership challenge by Kevin Rudd, the standing of the Labor Party in Australia, and Julia Gillard in particular, had been hit very hard in recent polls. It seems that many have lost faith in Julia Gillard’s leadership and while the expected wave of support for Kevin Rudd failed to materialise there is no doubt there is a movement for change within the party. It is likely that Julia Gillard will stay on for the next few years until the next election and then potentially make way for a new leader.

Those within the Labor Party will be doing there upmost to try and calm the infighting but there is no doubt that both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have their enemies within the party. Quite how they will be able to come together and unite the party in the short to medium term remains to be seen because they have literally blown a hole in the ruling Labor government. It will be interesting to see how the minority parties react to the leadership challenge and whether indeed some of those who jumped the sinking ship will return.

Conclusion

Initially many people believed that Kevin Rudd was almost certain to win the leadership challenge and not only take on the role as Labor party leader but also the Prime Minister of Australia, again. However, it seems that the expected grassroots support for Kevin Rudd failed to materialise over the weekend and indeed as early as last Saturday a number of “informed” MPs were already dismissing his leadership challenge as a busted flush.

The situation for Julia Gillard may seem to have improved on the surface but in reality she will limp on until the end of the current term and then likely make way for a new party leader and a potential new Prime Minister of Australia. Battles in politics are gruesome and it seems that the battle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd has claimed both of their long-term political lives.

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