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Party in hell may find there is no Kevin

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Sydney Morning Herald political and international editor

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Leadership gloom but who else would do it?

Today's Newspoll gets even uglier for Labor, Bernie Fraser on RBA rate cuts and fears of defence budget cuts, Tim Lester reports.

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DESPAIR is settling on the government and even some Gillard supporters are turning their minds to the possibility of Plan B - Kevin Rudd.

The betting markets, sensing this, yesterday shortened the odds of Rudd leading Labor to the next election from six to one to four to one, according to Centrebet.

Despite all the attacks by his colleagues, one of whom called him a psychopath, Rudd has remained the people's choice. 

But there is, potentially, a big problem. Rudd might no longer be interested.

Back in favour ... Kevin Rudd.

Back in favour ... Kevin Rudd. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Since the party rejected him in the leadership ballot on February 27 by a margin of more than two to one, Rudd has told some caucus members who have approached him on the subject that he didn't think the party was salvageable with its current structure.

He has described the idea of giving him last-minute leadership a "hospital pass", football parlance for a pass to a player encountering a wall of opposition muscle. In other words, a guaranteed thrashing at the polls.

In this line of thinking, he'd be restored to the prime ministership merely so that his enemies could blame him for an election loss, and exonerate themselves.

Rudd has put a rhetorical question to caucus members who have encouraged him to challenge again: Can't you read? In his concession statement, Rudd said he would not initiate any further ballot.

And, a caucus member familiar with his thinking asks, why would he? "They assassinated him, they trashed his reputation, they buried him, then they dug him up, made him foreign minister, assassinated him again, trashed his reputation again - and now we want him back?"

Labor did such an energetic job of publicly smearing Rudd, and such an enthusiastic job of humiliating him, it might have irreparably damaged its own Plan B.

Like most of the government's biggest problems, this is entirely self-inflicted.

Wayne Swan said at the time of the ballot that colleagues were "sick of Kevin Rudd driving the vote down" by "sabotaging" the party. But since then, the government has lurched from one self-imposed crisis to another, and Rudd has not been anywhere near the scene.

Despite all the attacks by his colleagues, one of whom called him a psychopath, Rudd has remained the people's choice.

He is preferred Labor leader over Julia Gillard by a margin of two to one, according to an Essential Media poll last week. This is the inverse of the caucus ballot result.

A caucus member in contact with Rudd said that in the February ballot Labor had said "f--- you to Rudd and f--- you to the country". Now, it appears, based on these indirect remarks, Rudd is reciprocating the sentiment.

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439 comments

  • Well said and well written, direct to the point. I am with Kevin Rudd and to hell with Julia. She lost my vote. She breached the trust I had in the Labor movement, its belief, values and what it stands for. The Labor movement now is ALL about personal politics and self interests. IT IS TIME TO TRASH THE LABOR GOVERNMENT, thanks Julia and your cohorts.

    Commenter
    Pinoy
    Date and time
    May 01, 2012, 7:26AM
    • If the Libs get in Australia will learn the true meaning of the words "to trash".

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 8:50AM
    • From one proven lying loser, back to another proven lying loser... When is a politician actually going to be genuine and put Australia before their personal interests and pathetic egos???

      Commenter
      Realist
      Location
      AU
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 8:50AM
    • Could not agree more Pinoy, these fools deserve everything they are going to get and I have voted ALP for over 35 years! KR needs to form New Labor with no union membership involved and leave this rabble behind.

      Commenter
      PK
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 8:51AM
    • What are you on about? Remember the day before Rudd's "assassination"? When it was huge news that he was white-anting Gillard? Of course not, because you're too wound up in the fake soap opera the media is dishing out to you. Rudd was a backstabber, there's nothing nice about the guy.

      Commenter
      vacri
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 9:04AM
    • Pinoy, It's not just Labor thats about personalities. It is an atitude generated by a mindless, sensation seeking press. Sure, Labor will be slammed at the next election but before voting for the Libs, I suggest we think carefully. Mr "Don't believe what I say" Abbot hasn't engendered much confidence in his ability while in his role as opposition leader. He is simplistic hypocritical and opposed to everything. What a choice we have!!!!
      When a party is not worthy of my support, I won't vote for it and if none are worthy, I won't vote for any. If there were to be say, 10% of people vote informal, the pollies might pay attention.

      Commenter
      We need a Pheonix
      Location
      Land of political ashes
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 9:06AM
    • After trashing Rudd so thoroughly in Feb, how could they even think about resurrecting him now?

      I thought Krudd was ineffective as a PM, but he obviously seemed to be good on the PR with much of the voting public. The greatest ally to Abbot's next campaign if Krudd was returned would be all those snippets of invective and bile from Dillard, Swan, Crean, Shorten, Howes, et al dumping buckets on the man they (possibly) instal to tr and win the next election.

      Commenter
      Ina
      Location
      World of Pain
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 9:12AM
    • Yep. I just cannot wait for the next election to teach these minions a damn good lesson. A lesson, all future politicians in this country dare not forget.

      The attempt to bring back Kevin is just another attempt to distract us from the moral bankruptcy demonstrated by Gillard over the Thompson and Slipper affair.

      Labor has become the political equivalent of Enron. With Gillard (Ken Lay) running a highly scripted freak show while Swan (Skilling), the "world's best treasurer", putting on a side act, both are well on the way to becoming history. Like Enron, the Labor party machinery is hell bent on manipulating the media in order to dumb down the voters. Hence be prepared to face more stories of distraction.

      The people who are running the party are the ones who are utterly dumb. Not the voters. Therefore we will use every opportunity at the next poll to send all of you home once and for all so that some fresh blood can come into the party and rebuild it from scratch. Titanic sank in minutes. You have a lot more time. Until then enjoy the last few hundred days to oblivion.

      Commenter
      Jonathan
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 9:13AM
    • Rudd trash the Labor Brand. Inclusion not exclusion. It's about time people in this country stop blaming one woman for their inadequacies & failings. Its YOU not the PM

      Commenter
      Mike
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 9:21AM
    • @ PK - No union membership? Hell yeah! I'd vote for that party. I'd campaign for that party.

      Commenter
      Woz
      Location
      Albury
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 9:24AM

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