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Feb 23, 2012

Rudd quits as Foreign Minister.

Has found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge his duties as Foreign Minister as he would wish to do without the help and support of the woman he loathes.
Cartoon: By Pickering.

Since the rolling of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister it has been obvious that he had ambitions of regaining that position. After the way he was dispatched in a backroom coup he has clearly been smarting at his treatment but in the meantime has acted capably as Foreign Minister, one of the few effective people in cabinet.

There is nothing inherently wrong in a politician harboring leadership aspirations although current leaders tend to feel differently on the subject. The press like to play this angle with gotcha questions which, if the answer is “yes” indicates leadership tensions’ and if “no” indicates a lack of ambition, so most MPs tend to avoid direct answers.

The problem Labor has is that with their increasing incompetence, inherent dishonesty, and dependence on a motley mob of independents and Greens for their continued survival, Labor’s stocks have plummeted. This has in turn led to a public and backbench with a growing nostalgia for the good old days under the controlling and vitriolic leadership of Rudd, an example of which was leaked as an opening shot at him as he left for the US:

While he has been away, the tone of the attacks has steadily grown from random, through a fever pitch till they reached a crescendo today with several frontbenchers taking it in turns to demand he stand down. In a surprise move, he has obliged, citing his inability to carry out his responsibilities without the support of the Prime Minister.

“The truth is I can only serve as Foreign Minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers. “In recent days Mr (Simon) Crean and a number of other faceless men have publicly attacked my integrity and therefore my fitness to serve as a minister in the government.”

“When challenged today on these attacks Prime Minister Gillard chose not to repudiate them. “I can only reluctantly conclude that she therefore shares these views.”

Australia must be governed by the people, not party factions,” Mr Rudd said. “I promise you this - there is no way, no way, that I will ever be part of a stealth attack on a sitting prime minister elected by the people,” he said.
This may have been yet another a major miscalculation by Gillard. By quitting the ministry and reverting to the backbench, Rudd gains a lot more freedom of movement by not being bound by the expectation of cabinet solidarity. Effectively he has reversed the ‘new paradigm’ with Gillard now the one on the defense.

The government has virtually declared a leadership spill for Monday, which cannot be avoided without making the PM look weak. Rudd has the option of challenging or leaving it till later. This action though has unsettled the backbench to the point where Rudd has probably gained considerable numbers from his losing position of yesterday.

There is a fair chance that were Rudd to challenge, he may still lose, but the margin would be such that Gillard is mortally wounded.


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