Kevin Rudd’s chutzpah is breathtaking. His press conference this morning could be summarised as a message to the Australian people: “Vote for Me, I’m the Messiah.”
The only trouble is that it won’t be the public who decide his fate. It will be his caucus colleagues, voting next Monday. And despite Rudd’s claim to be “very pleased and encouraged by positive support and encouragement of me to contest the leadership” he surely does not have the numbers.
Indeed, he may well be facing a thrashing.
Worse still, Rudd’s opponents number just about every Gillard cabinet member and just about every significant Labor MP in the federal parliament (Just look at the list). And most of them hate him with a passion.
But you have to admit the pitch is brilliant, however delusional and self-regarding it may be.
For a start, there’s the attack on the “faceless men” who brought him down, and the promise to reform the Labor Party. Everyone will love that one. And he’s absolutely right that it needs to happen.
Then there’s the call to end “the politics of division”, which is another masterstroke, despite the fact that it’s Rudd and his supporters who have (most recently) been tearing the Labor Party apart.
Then there’s the spectre he raises of Abbott as prime minister. There’s not a Labor voter in the country who wouldn’t share those fears, and he’d probably have half the Coalition’s supporters shaking in sympathy.
And finally, there is the appeal to “vision”, “leadership” and “policy”, which will also strike a chord with voters, even though these were exactly the areas in which Rudd fell down, because he lacked the courage as prime minister (and the management skills) to get them through.
If Rudd could live up this idealised portrait of himself, he would indeed be the perfect leader.
And if the run-off with Gillard were to be decided by Australian voters, he’d win by a distance.
But as we all know — and are being reminded this morning by vicious attacks from Rudd’s Labor colleagues — the people who worked with Kevin don’t think he’s a Messiah at all.
Nor, sadly, do we at The Power Index. Much as we’d like to believe.