You know, I think Kevin Rudd could save the ALP’s campaign.
Regardless of the fact that it is technically irrelevant, that MPs are entitled to choose their spokesperson (which is all a PM is) at will, and we as voters elect governments, not Prime Ministers – unfortunately for sensible democracy in this country, the media and opposition have successfully ensured that the “issue” of how Rudd was replaced has cut through. Enough voters for it to be a problem have decided that they’re hurt on behalf of Rudd, and they’re going to punish his party by transferring their votes to the conservative mob he has dedicated his career to fighting.
But I reckon Kevin could still turn that around. He could come out and with all the charisma, and charm, and enthusiasm he has ever been able to muster, explain to those angry on his behalf that he wasn’t ever in politics just to be Prime Minister, he was there as part of the Labor team, to devise and vote for good Labor policy. And that that’s what he did, and that that’s what every Labor MP did and does. That parties regularly change leaders. That they even change leaders in government, even after one election (Gorton) or after several successful elections (Hawke). That this is how parliamentary democracy works, and that everyone who goes into it has a thick skin and understands that. That every leader of a political party had to take that mantle from someone else – including Tony, including Julia, including Malcolm, including him. That’s the way it works when you have a collection of talented* individuals all with ideas for the best ways to represent the Australian people.
That regardless of whether the ALP is led by him or Julia, it’s still the team that stands for the principles of social justice**, that stands for fair workplaces, that stands for responsible economic management. The party that saved the country from a recession that every other Western industrial economy suffered. That stands for – pardon the phrase – working families, ordinary Australians, not the big end of town, not the tobacco companies, not huge mining conglomerates.
That he’s Kevin Rudd, and if he, a man who’s experienced the highs and lows of being part of its first exciting time in government, still believes in the party, and still wants to be part of the Labor team – that should tell voters all they need to know about how important the Labor message is, and how vital it is for the country that it be returned to office.
A switch in Prime Ministers from Kevin to Julia is a change in style, but not in substance. Nothing like the disaster that would be a change from Julia to Tony.
Now, admittedly, it would take a really big man to do this. A man who could put his ego to one side for the good of the country, despite the fact that it would be helping the individuals who, on a personal level, undoubtedly hurt him, both in how suddenly they ended his hopes and dreams and how they added insult to injury by using him as a scapegoat afterwards. He could shrug that off as part of the way the world works, and make it clear that he’s not bitter about it at all. He could be the man of principle who can take the biggest beatings political life can hand out, and rise above them. He would have to genuinely believe it, to have genuinely reconciled himself to what happened, to bring those voters along with him – but maybe Kevin Rudd is a big enough person for that.
Imagine if he could find it within himself to do it. Now there would be a Labor hero.
*This is Kevin saying this, not me.
**THIS IS KEVIN SAYING THIS, NOT ME.
UPDATE: This is a start, but not as much as I’m suggesting would be necessary.
UPDATE #2: Samantha Maiden asks a similar question.