One of the many irritants in the Prime Minister’s life at the moment is the Julia Gillard-for-PM bandwagon (actually it’s more like a mini-wagon, but wagon trails have to start somewhere).

Not because there is any realistic chance of Gillard unseating Kevin Rudd before this year’s election — there isn’t — but because of what it means for his, and Labor’s, electoral trajectory and stability.

The fact that some dogs are barking about Gillard now is little more than a media beat-up. But that won’t be the case after this year’s election, unless Rudd is able to improve the government’s margin, which seems highly unlikely.

At that point, which is only months away, there is every chance Rudd will be returned as PM with a reduced margin and a battered reputation inside his own party.

That’s when the Gillard bandwagon will become a real bandwagon, and that’s when the Labor Party could start looking a lot like the Liberal Party during its bitter Costello-Howard imbroglio years.

The only difference this time is that the contender, despite her gender, almost certainly has the cojones to complete the task.