Big Kim has called a spill of all frontbench positions and caucus will meet on Monday to decide the Labor leadership – and Kevin Rudd will be challenging for the top job.

The situation spun out of control in Canberra last night. The first clues came early in the evening with news that Rudd was “a little too busy” to do Channel Seven’s Sunrise this morning. Groups of Labor MPs congregated in shadowy corners of the courtyards to digest the news.

By the morning the challenge was inevitable.

Calling a spill of the frontbench is a smart move by the Bomber, as it means the frontbench inherited from Mark Latham can finally be remade.

If Beazley wins his leadership will be unquestioned. If Rudd triumphs, Labor will end the year ahead in the polls and about to enjoy the honeymoon period granted to all new leaders.

There is, however, the small matter of a federal election – a federal election around the time the honeymoon will be over.

Pressure for a spill has come from a feeling Labor can’t win, but it is quite possible that it can’t win under Beazley or Rudd. If this is the case, moving prematurely will waste a leader early – no matter who is on their team.

Peter Fray

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