June 12

Rudd no saviour for Labor

269354-kevin-ruddThere is an elephant in Australia’s living rooms and it takes the form of deposed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd; the leader who was toppled by his deputy, Julia Gillard, who knifed him to become Australia’s first female PM.

With opinion polls showing the Australian Labor Party in for a bloodbath at the election due in less than 100 days, Rudd has decided to step off the world stage for a while and stay home to campaign for ALP members whose seats are in grievous danger. He gets rave reviews on the hustings but does he represent salvation for Australia’s oldest mainstream political party?

The urge for Rudd to avenge himself against the usurper is a powerful and natural human instinct. And Gillard is not a pleasant person, I think. Yes, many of those who greet her in the flesh remark on what a charming woman she is. Much the way they comment favourably about Kevin.

But charm does not necessarily make a good PM. And the fact remains that Kevin was not a good Prime Minister.

Yes, his term was not without achievement but the lost opportunities and the chaotic management/leadership style he imposed on his colleagues and the nation led to the turmoil that created the pathway for Gillard.

The economic and policy fiascos that characterised Labor happened on Rudd’s watch. For sure, Gillard has made Rudd seem a paragon of virtue by comparison but that’s not the point.  Rudd’s was a flawed prime ministership and reinstating him now would not be better for either Labor or the nation.

A recent newspaper feature on Rudd portrayed him as a one-man campaigning blitz “in the belief he can save Labor from defeat”. Well, I have a problem with that. No matter what one might think of opinion polling, it does have the capacity to fairly accurate reflect the public mood.

And there can be no question that the bulk of voters want Labor gone from office. The Labor brand is a smoking ruin.

It should be noted that Labor’s core philosophy and values are not at fault. Certainly, I disagree with the “socialist” tendencies of core Labor values but, as a set of principles, they are founded on decency and warrant some admiration.

What has gone wrong for Labor is the corruption of power. Factionalism has damned-near killed the ALP. Not that factionalism, per se, is guilty. No, it is the way factionalism has been used and abused by those seeking personal aggrandisement and power that has nearly terminated the Labor brand.

Individuals who place themselves above the party have ruined it. And Kevin Rudd does that far more often than not.

There are many who believe Rudd has the best interests of Labor at heart. I do not.

I see him as motivated by selfishness. He should acknowledge, if only to himself, his deficiencies as a leader and allow someone else to take on the challenge of resurrecting the ALP. Because Rudd cannot do that.

The hatreds and enmities run too deep. And it is worth asking: what it is about Rudd that inspires this intense antipathy. The former bureaucrat and politician who has a long history of antagonising and demeaning so many he comes in contact with at close quarters.

Not the voters. No, he has a different persona for them. Which says it all, really.

Photo courtesy of http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au