Kevin Rudd and his entourage walk past a homeless man in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
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Saturday's election will probably be ''devastating'' for the ALP but it might also allow MPs to draw a line under the three-year Kevin Rudd/Julia Gillard rivalry that has ''eaten the party from the inside'', according to a senior Labor figure.
Many names have been mooted as potential leaders, but one name not being mentioned is Kevin Rudd.
The MP said while the party faced an ''impossible scenario'' after the unpopular minority government and the years of open warfare between the two camps, the new danger was the potential for bitter post-election recriminations over who was to blame.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg
But he said if there was a silver lining to be found in the storm clouds of defeat, it was in the possibility that voters might resolve some of the party's internal tensions for it.
Depending on the severity of the result, one or more of the leadership options to whom the party might normally consider turning, might simply not be there after Saturday.
Labor received 50.1 per cent of the vote in 2010, which was not enough to secure the necessary majority in the House of Representatives.
That means it must secure a swing to it from its 2010 result to lift its representation from the current 71 seats to the required majority of 76.
Polls suggest that is not going to happen, with the outcome more likely to be 53 per cent to 47 per cent in favour of the Coalition.
While a swing to the ALP is unlikely, interest has swung to the scale and geographic shape of any swing away from it, which may narrow the leadership field within a reduced caucus.
MPs are already weighing up who might provide the best chance of uniting a riven party and repairing its damaged brand name in the electoral marketplace.
Another complication is the rule change Mr Rudd recently forced through to ensure Labor's parliamentary leader cannot be rolled by faction bosses once elected.
Insiders say this means the parliamentary party will be especially careful to select someone it can live with all the way to the next election.
Many names have been mooted as potential leaders, but one name not being mentioned is Kevin Rudd. Nor is there any leadership speculation about former treasurer and deputy prime minister Wayne Swan.
A month ago, the surprise re-entry to politics of former Queensland premier Peter Beattie started tongues wagging over the possibility of a Beattie leadership tilt, but such has been the disaster of Labor's campaign that he is unlikely to take the LNP seat of Forde despite its sub-2 per cent margin.
Privately, some Labor MPs concede the best thing for the party, given the scale of the repudiation coming its way, would be for Mr Rudd to lose his Brisbane seat of Griffith, as happened to John Howard in 2007 in Bennelong.
His initial shock, and that of his party, quickly gave way to a sense of relief in Liberal ranks that the hard work of generational change had been largely done by voters.