Jun 23, 2011

Rudd’s downfall: his own handiwork, and years in the making

Kevin Rudd's alienation of his colleagues and factional powerbrokers was so great that the end of his popularity meant the end of his prime ministership. Telling backbenchers "I don't give a fuck what you fuckers think," probably wasn't the best start, write Bernard Keane and Paul Barry.

Today marks the first anniversary of the 24 hours that led to the deposition of Kevin Rudd — aka the Night of the Long Knives. Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane and senior journalist Paul Barry draw a portrait of a man at the height of enormous power, and how quickly his base was eroded. Keane and Barry plot how Rudd unwittingly trashed his own power base with astonishing swiftness — hollowing out his influence so effectively that when his public popularity collapsed, so too did his prime ministership …

Kevin Rudd’s downfall, in the eyes of his Labor critics, began early.

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54 thoughts on “Rudd’s downfall: his own handiwork, and years in the making

  1. Sir Lunchalot

    The Fatal flaw in business and politics

    Labor elder Robert Ray, without a moment’s hesitation. “He had so alienated everyone by his arrogance and hubris that the moment the figures collapsed he had no protection.”

  2. mattsui

    Can’t wait for more.
    Beautifully written guys.
    Even thought we already know ‘whodunnit’ it will be impossible to look away.

  3. david

    I await with interest further installments …

  4. Damien

    A good analysis but a few questionable assumptions built in. For example, you say Rudd would have “handily” won a double dissolution based on climate change. But it wouldn’t have been based on climate change, but on the CPRS which both the right and the left (your good selves included) had been bagging for months. Rudd had the CPRS deal stitched up with the Coalition via MacFarlaine and Turnbull – until the very week when the legislation would have gone through the Senate. After falling across the Liberal leadership line because of Hockey’s incompetence, Abbott achieved incredible traction from the “great big new tax” scare (as a campaign slogan it was an absolute gift) and, as you report, Labor’s popularity was in the toilet. I don’t think there’s any certainty of an election win in those circumstances.

    Another thing, Rudd was an arrogant control freak? Well, b*gger me, who’s have thought a successful politician would turn out like that! Unprecedented!

  5. klewso

    You’ve got to admit he did have a point – watching Labor now (with him “dead”) is like watching “Jumanji II”.
    It was his maladroit execution (Mk 1) that was his failing – but was it his fault he hadn’t been “socialised” as a “bureaucratic pup”?

  6. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    Fabulous start BK and PB can’t wait for the rest.
    However it’s an Australian most recent modern tragedy to me.
    You are revealing organizational and personal problems of process and method but there is a ‘taking for granted’ of achievement when clearly (and maybe in spite of everything else) there is a super special creature residing in the man called Rudd which even the man himself may not have understood.

    It reminds me of being fourteen, a few months into my chemistry course in second year high school and things starting to pop out of my mouth that frightened my very sophisticated chemistry master (doing his Masters in science at Uni) but seemed so simply sensible to me although I have to admit I have no idea where they came from (no exposure or reading) and of course 3rd year Uni chemistry students would know them to be correct.
    I say telepathy fragments of the Einsteins in chemistry were talking to me.

    I hope it is just as difficult for you to put your finger on some of the Rudd magic.

    I was seen as a nut case till I won 1st prise in an International science completion for Uni undergraduates as a 14 going 15 year old junior high school student. Then my school decided to worship me (doing more harm I guess).
    Is there a ‘you just can’t win’ in here somewhere?

  7. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    @KLEWSO — interesting insight, you are on to something methinks.

  8. zut alors

    A well written and objective analysis.

    Incidentally, I fully expect PMs to have an over-generous dose of arrogance and hubris: politics is a dog-eat-dog power play, only the leanest and meanest alphas have a chance of longevity.

    Enjoyed the ‘Captain Queeg’ soubriquet.

  9. Modus Ponens

    This article emphasises too much of Rudd’s sidelining style, but lets not forget what really drove this.

    Factional bosses whose lives are dedicated to accruing power suddenly found themselves in the seat of power, surrounded by people with power, but it wasn’t them. The first sign of weakness and they struck a fatal blow.

    Now they have their power back (for now).

  10. shepherdmarilyn

    WEll the brainless spoilt brats behind it didn’t get themselves far because Gillard is worse than Rudd ever was.

    What I don’t get is why we are always expected to believe this sort of pap without a trace of evidence that Rudd was actually like that and that it is not just more gossip by brainless hacks like Feeney and Farrell.

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