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New South Wales

Oct 26, 2012

McKew book: how internal polling brought Rudd undone

Maxine McKew's new book reveals more about the role Labor's own internal research was used to undermine Kevin Rudd.


Former MP Maxine McKew has reopened Labor wounds over the events of June 2010 with her account of her brief period in politics and again focused attention on the roles of both Julia Gillard herself and the Labor Party machine in the removal of Kevin Rudd from the Prime Ministership.

In Tales from the political trenches, the staunchly pro-Rudd McKew suggests Gillard was involved in the plot to overthrow him and that claims about the dysfunctionality of his prime ministership were a cover story for a union of Gillard’s ambition and the resentment of key factional powerbrokers about their lack of influence over Rudd.

It’s an account bitterly contested by a range of cabinet ministers who need little prompting to detail, often at length, just how poor an executive Rudd was.

But McKew’s account has focused attention on the role of internal party polling in Rudd’s overthrow; part of her chapter on the events of June 2010 is devoted to the way the plotters used qualitative polling commissioned by Labor’s Victorian branch and conducted by UMR in early June, which purported to demonstrate the superior electoral appeal of Gillard. McKew quotes Rudd supporter Robert McClelland as claiming close Gillard ally Brendan O’Connor showed him the polling, a claim point-blank denied yesterday by O’Connor, and an unnamed MP who says Gillard herself showed them the polling “in the days prior to the coup” — a claim that would be explosive if it could be verified.

McKew also quotes Labor veteran John Faulkner, a key participant in the events of June 23, 2010 who has held his counsel ever since, calling the use of internal research to undermine a party leader “sheer bastardry”.

Labor MPs have told Crikey there was more than one set of polling in circulation in Parliament House in the days leading up to and on the night of 23 June. In addition to the UMR research discussed by McKew, Karl Bitar, former NSW party secretary and by then national secretary, and key plotter Mark Arbib — a pairing effectively joined at the hip — also showed or tried to show to MPs NSW marginal seat polling demonstrating a disastrous outcome, particularly in western Sydney, if the party persevered with Rudd. NSW Labor had lost the state seat of Penrith on an anti-Labor swing of more than 24% on June 19.

A number of MPs told Lenore Taylor in 2010 that the polling was a critical factor in their decision to back the putsch against Rudd.

But Rudd was by no means the first Labor leader to be the victim of internal polling. Internal polling and the leaking of internal party review material were used against Simon Crean and internal polling was used in NSW against Nathan Rees.

The tactic, and the implication of the party hierarchy working to undermine the parliamentary leader, incenses Faulkner sufficiently that he has been prepared to repeatedly go on the record on the issue. But he believes that the party is realising how poisonous it can be. “I do believe that there’s a growing acknowledgement that this sort of practice is unacceptable,” Faulkner told Crikey. “In recent times more party figures who hold positions of responsibility have accepted that these practices are totally unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”

Faulkner lashed out at the tactic in the aftermath of the 2010 election, when launching Rod Cavalier’s controversial account of the NSW Labor Party’s recent turmoil, Power Crisis, saying “the misuse and manipulation of party research to influence internal party affairs or parliamentary party ballots is just plain unconscionable.”

The widely-loathed Bitar, who is now an adviser to James Packer, was replaced by the unaligned and well-regarded George Wright as national secretary, and NSW Labor, seen as the source of much that is tactically and strategically wrong with Labor, is now overseen by Sam Dastyari, who has been pushing for internal party reform, including some of the reforms advocated by Faulkner along with Bob Carr and Steve Bracks in their review of the 2010 election campaign. Dastyari did not respond to Crikey’s request for comment.



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44 thoughts on “McKew book: how internal polling brought Rudd undone

  1. susan winstanley

    “…McKew also quotes Labor veteran John Faulkner….the use of internal research to undermine a party leader “sheer bastardry”.”

    Just like McKew is doing now?

  2. susan winstanley

    ”I do believe that there’s a growing acknowledgement that this sort of practice is unacceptable,” Faulkner told Crikey.

    Seem to recall polling by the Qld Missos Union was leaked just last week to show that Rudd would beat Gillard in marginals.

  3. Norman Hanscombe

    A more interesting story might be one from those who saw Maxine in action after her election, including the contrasting electioneering styles of both major Bennelong candidates? As for ‘reform’, which of our Labor ‘leaders’ is seriously attempting to make Local Branch members relevant in either policy formulation or candidate selection?

  4. Borisholly

    Why do labor party members want to scuttle the ship and hand over power to Tony Abbott? Why not release your stories after the election? The material is priceless for an opposition, not just one labor member but two who want to stick the boot in (for who knows what reason). How will you feel when Tony Abbott is PM..? Just face it, no-one liked Kevin. Get over it.

  5. beachcomber

    Maxine McKew is sabotaging her leader, by claiming her leader sabotaged her leader. And she hopes to make a buck of writing a book about it. It is sad Maxine has not recovered from being rejected by the voters at the first opportunity. But first prize for irony and opportunism Maxine.

  6. Mike Flanagan

    Wasn’t much of a journalist, proved to be not much of a politician and is proving to be less of a representative of the labor movement

  7. David Hand

    I think the issue Faulkner has is not the actual publishing of internal polling but the use of it for internal power plays. It could lead to a mis-use of party resources. It could have parallels with, say, using union funds for your own election campaign, or maybe, setting up a union slush fund to fund insiders during union elections.

    Labor people who want to fight the corruption that has almost destroyed the party’s soul are simply standing up for what they believe in.

  8. Mike Flanagan

    David H;
    While I do agree that both parties need to reflect on their internal mechanations, protocols and missions with an eye to the ethics of their actions but the above is hardly an ‘internal power play’. It is a ‘look at me” grab for the money with the aid of a publishing house.

  9. Chris Jones

    Ms McKew was a typical ‘celebrity candidate’ – By all accounts, after her election night party there were more sighting of the Yeti than of her in Bennelong. Instead of working to build the strong local relationships essential to preserve a political career when the Party is on the nose, she spent all her time in Canberra schmoozing. When the schmoozee got whacked, she was collateral damage – and promptly trounced by another celebrity windbag. There are several literary awards. If they start one for ‘Best Dummy Spit’, Maxine would be a shoe-in.

  10. Mark from Melbourne

    Internal polling, explosive. Crikey are you descending into a pit of rubbish journalism. It’s called counting the numbers and its been done since time immemorial by all parties of all persuasions across the globe. Get a grip!

  11. Steve777

    I remember in the early part of 2010 the Labor government seemed to be in some kind of funk. There was a paralysis, which seemed to follow the defeat of the ETS and the campaign against the MRRT. Rudd should have called a double dissolution election in early 2010. He probably would have romped it in. Even so, I think the ‘faceless men’ panicked. Rudd would probably have won in late 2010 and Abbott’s career ended. Now we face a decade of Abbott PM.

  12. AR

    Steve777 – agree that Krudd should have called a DD in early 2010. Think what we’d have been spared – (a)the destruction of a potent DPM & potentially GREAT future PM, (b)the rise & rise of the Rabid rAbbot, (c)the banalisation of political discourse, (d)the cretinisation of the electorate by shoutjockery & mudorc minions, (e) the loss of billions in tax revenue from rapacious hole ‘buildsers’.
    On tuther hand, we’d have lost the lesson that minority government is the best form of democracy, no diktat of putative mandate, each issue dealt with on its merits.
    I think the knifing of Krudd was inevitable from the day he became Leader of the Opposition and only the lust for power stayed the knives, for a breif period.
    Krudd won because it was Anyone but Bumbler Beasley but the Sussec St machine wanted perennial loser & waste of space Crean. It was the support of the soi disant left faction, combined with the unaligned/unco-opted/sentient non faction that defeated Sussex St and they seethed and nursed their hatred and loss of power until the bloodless bureaucrat Krudd showed what a pusillanimous piece of putty he was.
    The mystery, for me, is why Gillard allowed herself to become the creature of those inimical to what she once claimed to be her principles, social justice, grass roots involvement, equitable taxation of the oligarchs to fund infrastructure.
    Yeh, I know, living in the past….

  13. CML

    @ Borisholly – Bulls+it!! No one liked Kevin? I guess that is why if he was returned to PM, Labor would win the next election with a prediction of 53% to the Coalition’s 47% on the latest polling I have seen.
    What is wrong with you people? Do you have a death wish for the Labor party? Just because a group of “precious” ministers tried to destroy Kevin Rudd (and failed, if the polls are anything to go by) does not mean that Labor supporters should dispense with reality. All of you should stop living in cloud cuckoo land and realise that winning elections is ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS!! Rudd has them, Gillard doesn’t and never will have.
    With the perception out there that Gillard “lied” to the voters before the last election, there is absolutely NO WAY the voters (except the minority JG fan club) are going to vote for her. It almost seems that your (brainwashed?) hatred of Rudd is clouding your judgement to the point where you would rather see the Labor party lose the next election, than replace Gillard with the one man who can win.
    Just remember that Labor becomes powerless in opposition, and the rest of us rational beings get stuck with the rAbbott and his crew of imbeciles for some years.
    Almost a fate worse than death!!

  14. CML

    @ Borisholly – Bu+l sh+t!! No one liked Kevin? I guess that is why if he was returned as PM, Labor would win the next election with a prediction of 53% to the Coalition’s 47% on the latest polling I have seen.
    What is wrong with you people? Do you have a de+th wish for the Labor party? Just because a group of “precious” ministers tried to destroy Kevin Rudd (and failed, if the polls are anything to go by) does not mean that Labor supporters should dispense with reality. All of you should stop living in cloud cu+koo land and realise that winning elections is ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS!! Rudd has them, Gillard doesn’t and never will have.
    With the perception out there that Gillard “l+ed” to the public before the last election, there is absolutely NO WAY the voters (except the minority JG fan club) are going to vote for her. It almost seems that your (brai+wash+ed?) hatred of Rudd is clouding your judgement to the point where you would rather see the Labor party lose the next election, than replace Gillard with the one man who can win. That appears to be the wish of the “faceless men” who dispensed with Rudd in the first place, and you are all parroting their nonsense!
    Just remember that Labor becomes powerless in opposition, and the rest of us rational beings get stuck with Abbott and his crew of imbec+les for however many years.
    Amost a fate worse than de+th!!

  15. Norman Hanscombe

    David Hand, sadly “Labor people who want to fight the corruption that has almost destroyed the party’s soul are few on the ground and VERY few leaders are doing more than pay lip service to reform. Leaders who used influence to pave the way for celebrities were bad enough. Leaders who imposed candidates on Local Branches and/or bullied potential candidates out of standing were worse. Few remember examples which are on the public record, assuming they even noticed them when they occurred.

    Right Wing Belinda Neal was imposed on Robertson Local Branches in 2007 by the ALP National Executive as part of a deal which also imposed a Left Wing candidate in another NSW seat. In 2010 Rudd and Gillard were both preparing to impose Belinda Neal on locals again, and backed off only after our “leaders” realised it would backfire badly. On the eve of the preselection they then permitted locals to hold, they were still supporting Belinda in the media. Had they prevailed, Tony Abbott would have been P.M. with no need of deals with the Greens or conservative independents.

    Mark from Melbourne misses the crux of our current malaise. Counting numbers has long been going on; but nowadays it’s not about policies, it’s primarily about careers

    Steve777’s optimistic view of what was happening / might have happened in 2010 is able to be held only by someone who doesn’t understand the machine; but he’s more in touch than self-declared “us rational beings” such as CML who’s typical of the “True Believers” on both sides who seek solace in simply relying on the old mantra of we good they bad.

    Adios from me on this thread.

  16. Gavin Moodie

    Labor’s internal polling should not be secret within the party.

  17. Mike Flanagan

    Gavin; Why so? Perhaps your suggestion applied to all parties could have some merit.
    Daily, we watch the Abbott PR machine prepare his ‘one liners’ on the basis of the latest private polliing and focus groups prepared for the Liberal Party and its coalition partner. Try and get access to that material if it doesn’t suit them.

  18. bluepoppy

    McKew is out to make a buck. Internal polling is not a new phenomenon. While ousting a sitting PM is not a good look there has not been much written about the underlying reasons other than a feeling it was mainly around a decline in the polls.
    In the early stages (in the aftermath of the ousting) there was not much said about Rudd’s leadership style. It was not until later in the light of a comeback that Ministers came out and revealed more. This just made them look mean.
    Rudd was difficult. Reading a couple of books recently about Rudd (by Nicholas Stuart and James Button) there is resounding consensus that Rudd did not communicate with his colleagues, ignored backbench and labour branches; and often left others to carry the blame for his own poor decisions. One of the best examples is Peter Garrett despite numerous letters written to Rudd about safety issues, the jobs aspect prevailed under the looming GFC. This has been written about in formal reviews and in the media. Button writes that many public servants were pleased when Rudd went overseas because Gillard actually got stuff done.
    Whatever the truth, the ALP is ultimately to blame for installing Rudd as leader. Rudd was perceived as popular and winning is what counts. This, despite already knowing Rudd’s history and faults. The result is now, when anyone talks up about Rudd’s faults and leadership style it increases his ranking in the polls.
    There is nothing like the perception of ‘unfairness’ or mob attack to raise sympathy in the electorate but that does not equal a good leader or someone that can handle the stresses and decision-making burdens of being a PM.

  19. David Hand

    Mike F,
    The power play I, and I think Faulkner, were referring to took place in June 2010 and resulted in a change of Prime Minister. The issue is that if you use party resources to drive a private agenda that is not in the interest of the party, it’s a mis-use of funds.

    There is absolutely no problem with Mckew publishing her book. It shines a light on a dark place in Labor politics and there’s plenty of dirt there. Read the front page of today’s SMH.

    Just in case you think I’m a “Libs are good – ALP is evil” bloke, the Libs (who I am a member of) have their own internal scrap going on regarding openness and democracy in the party and these sort of struggles are normal and in the long run, good. They just don’t help you get elected while they’re on.

  20. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    CML, there is no way the Labor Party will re-install Rudd so you too should get over it and move on. If you must, you (and McKew) can help yourselves to the glory and chaos of more Rudd bloodletting and then, when you are satisfied, consider uniting behind Gillard and the not-hopeless Labor leadership for a final boots and all, all-for-one campaign against Abbott. Labor, with Gillard as leader, can still win an election – even rational you know that. The Coalition are now realising that their leader is as much or more an albatross around their necks than Labor’s. Labor needs Rudd out there in the electorate doing pretty much exactly what he’s been doing all along – glad-handing, worrying about his cat (thank Christ that’s over) and being seen as some sort of elder statesman not carrying a grudge. Anyone still hoping for a Rudd assault on the leadership is simply a troll.

  21. Norman Hanscombe

    Hugh, here’s your chance to make some ‘easy’ money. I’m sure CML and almost anyone else — except perhaps to use your quaint phrase, “even rational you” — would be delighted to accept your bet on us winning the next election. Oh ye of blind faith?
    You’re far from alone, of course, but reality just doesn’t seem to be your forte.

  22. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Ah Norman, ‘reality’ in an unrealistic world. CML and plenty of others (mainly Liberal trolls and NewsLtd dishpigs) would like to go back to 2010 and sort out the coup, name the names, purge the sewer and rewrite the script so that everything stays the same. But they won’t be able to – the eggs are scrambled, the omelette starting to turn at the edges. This thing’s set now.
    They are still going to vote for Labor (or preference it ahead of the Coalition after all their old favourites are given a tick) but they aren’t going to campaign for Labor because they’re still stuck with the thought that Gillard might have been a dirty schemer all along.
    Maxine McKew’s book will be old news by Xmas. Rudd will still be on the festival and international circuit and the 2PP figures will be tightening by the week. One slip by either party and it will be a new game. Game over? I wouldn’t bet on it.

  23. Norman Hanscombe

    Hugh, you say “one slip by either party and it will be a new game”; but if you don’t want to take bets on it I’d be more than happy to oblige. It certainly was ‘game set & match’ in Bennelong 2010; but if people want to understand the mentality of that time, let’s not forget another ABC television celebrity who was conned into running in nearby North Sydney to cause Liberal resources to be diverted there, then left to flounder without being given any significant Party assistance.

    On your other point, I agree people who are primarily members associated with the “career” wings of the Party will certainly work hard, because the available goodies will be even shorter; but they’re small in numbers compared with times when people joined with the hope of making it a better world for ALL, not just self and families. That creates problems which make factional bosses even more dependent upon dubious sources of cash.

  24. HB

    Bored. We had the book about Maxine after she won, I guess this is the bookend. Just in time for Christmas,folks.

  25. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    HB, this is the book BY Maxine. It will be ancient history by next month, remaindered before Xmas, BBQ starter by New Year. Then the Coalition will start to show its colours. They’ll be stuck in nowhere land over the Murray-Darling with irrigators from Queensland to South Australia flogging farms, water, dairies (esp. in Tasmania – yes wankers, I know it’s not in the MD basin) and anything else that moves to China and other Asian buyers while the flow rate lasts and Barnaby Joyce in LaLa land over how to deal with it. Cubbie Station is making the Nationals look like mugs – and the Nationals always make the Liberals nervous.
    Just as Labor has had to get its house in order so now the Coalition will have to do something too. No more hiding in the bushes with no policies and a low profile. This is when it starts to get interesting.

  26. geomac62

    Your belief in poll numbers for Rudd are unrealistic . As with Turnbull its a tick against Abbott and the PM more than anything else . If either were to gain leadership reality takes over and they are no longer as attractive . Both would have the equivalent of a media dead cat bounce . Neither party can contemplate a change at this late stage and expect positive results .

  27. Edward James

    Labor party members are not the only voters who have had enough of the lies and political sins against the peoples. Voters are very publicly “putting the political boot in” to the Labor Party from the top to the bottom because the parties conduct warrants them being put last on any ballot paper by voters who want to vote for change. Letting our political dead wood wander over onto the opposition benches for taxpayer funded rest and recreation is a mistake voters make by not exercising their own vote. Taking the trouble to number ballots below the line. Sidelining those preference deals, opens the way to independents and minor parties. Edward James

  28. Edward James

    Not all voters live in and have the opportunity to vote in the electorates of “leaders” such that they are. Just as not all voters have forgotten MP Kevin Rudd has a political history which goes back to his time as Chief of Staff to Wayne Goss, which connects him politically to those issues which are still identified on the WWW as Heiner Affair and Shredder Gate. Edward James

  29. Norman Hanscombe

    You’re being unkind to Rudd, Edward. I believe many of his difficulties must arise from being too busy to read the papers and his minders not letting him know what’s happening.
    One example was how he said he was completely unaware, of the pack attack of an underage girl in Aurukun, Qld until it became a really big issue in the media.
    Then there was the time he was after backing to become leader and his staff arranged a P.R. breakfast gathering with a disgraced / banned former Labor leader in W.A., and Kevin wasn’t even told about the ban.
    Thank Heavens I had access to the nightly news, and so was aware long before Kevin was.

  30. Edward James

    Labor Party members who want voters to believe Labor may be salvaged and that Labor Nationally really want want to involve their rank and file members. Would do better to begin calling publicly for both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd to answer the questions. After all those two very senior politicians are like so many others currently being judged in the court of public opinion. Politicians who turn away from constituents who come cap in hand looking to have political sins addressed, some of the politicians who bring their parties into disrepute, have already been found guilty in law courts. All of them have for years asked trusting constituents to give their votes in trust. Political consideration and discussion of politicians personal values and perceived lack of integrity as individuals and parties are matters for us all to consider now, in the court of public opinion. Thats why I go to the trouble of publishing politicians dodgy work product so other voters may consider the difference between their political spin and the truth. Edward James

  31. CML

    Some here have accused me of being a “troll”. I am NOT. Have supported the left side of politics, mainly Labor, for some 60 years. I am also well aware of how the voting system works in this country, and I do not intend to give PM Gillard my vote, in any form. Don’t like her political morals or some of the things she has done, or omitted to do. Therefore, if Rudd is not returned as PM, I will vote informal.
    I was at a birthday party yesterday, where there were around 40 people, young, old and mostly previous Labor voters. Politics was briefly on the agenda – all but one person I spoke with said they would NOT vote for Labor while PM Gillard was in that position. Definitely, no one in that group is voting for Abbott/Coalition, so we all came to the conclusion that we have been disenfranchised! I think you underestimate the depth of feeling against Ms. Gillard.

  32. Karen

    @ CML – ABC online says that Labor and Libs are in a ‘dead heat’ now, so ‘game on’.

  33. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Edward James, I’m not a “member” (any more) and in fact at the last election I supported the Tory candidate ahead of Labor for all the sorts of reasons you mention in your various posts over time. Back then, if Labor needed this not-really-marginal electorate to win nationally then it wasn’t going to win anyway.
    But that was then – and when I think about it, the minority government we got was the best possible outcome I could have dreamt of to send the message, to shake the tree and to demand better.
    This is now. No matter how we vote, and with a couple of unlikely peculiar exceptions, we will end up with a parliament dominated by the two major parties. We electors probably won’t have the luxury of minority government again although I accept that it is possible and I do keep my first preference for my dream candidate – usually a minor player. But the clincher on the ballot paper, no matter how dreamily you spend the day, is the decision about whether you preference one major party over the other. You think the past behaviour of Labor (and maybe the Coalition too) “… warrants them being put last on any ballot paper by voters who want to vote for change”. Trouble is there is only one last spot. Most of Julia Gillard’s problems have stemmed from minority government, not from incompetence or distrust. Minority government means you can’t hide your faults – that’s why we electors love it. But there’s no such thing as minority opposition. Tony Abbott’s presentation problems are about him and him alone. This time around I’ll be saving the last spot on the ballot paper for the party I don’t think deserves to win. I know it’s subtle and nuanced but I’m sure the Tories will understand.

  34. Karen

    @CML – whilst Rudd might have the numbers over Gillard in the western suburbs of the major metropolises, it doesn’t count for much if he can’t run a government, which was the problem. Whatever you say about Gillard, she is a powerful administrator and a peoples’ person. End of story. It was recognised back then as it is now. McKew needs to grasp this.

  35. Dogs breakfast

    Maxine’s story seems to shed little light, but a fair whack of opinion. Quite frankly, just because an opponent tells you he saw the polling before the ‘coup’, perhaps he might have some reason for forgetfulness or for mixing up the dates in hindsight. I am yet to see anything that is more than just speculation and what ifs.

    As for getting Rudd back to fix the polls, I don’t think you can put any trust in that sort of stuff CML, as geomac and others point out. Hypotheticals are just that! I don’t think Rudd would actually swing that many people, and chances are that those who are saying they would change their vote if Rudd was back may be disingenuous anyway.

    And all the attack ads that would come his way. Let’s face it, Rudd had popularity, although diminishing at the time, but he was useless as leader, and the party was dysfunctional under him. Polls were heading south, but more than that, people had worked out that he was basically full of wind and unable to lead.

    I don’t see a resurrection as an answer to any of Labor’s problems. Either they win with Gillard, or they lose. there are some things you can’t go back on whether you want to or not. This is one of them.

  36. CML

    @ Dogs breakfast. Two things – the polling I read showed that the voting intention if Rudd was returned to PM was Labor 53%, Coalition 47% (2PP). That was one poll of quite a few I’ve seen saying the same thing. You can’t argue with numbers like that.
    Frankly, the only people who say Rudd is useless, hopeless etc., have been brainwashed by Ltd.News, or believe that small group of ministers who stood to benefit once they got rid of him. At least Maxine was at the cutting edge, interviewed many, many sitting Labor MP’s and DOES NOT just present her own opinions in the book. If I had to make a choice about who to believe, I’d back Maxine every time. She was one he+l of a journalist!!
    And I don’t intend to “move on”. There are some things which are just plain wrong. Using (abusing?) Kevin Rudd to win them government and then dispensing with his services once the rest of that revolting lot decided to make a power grab (including Gillard) just makes we want to vo+it. I don’t trust any of that “right-wing” Labour lot, who Gillard joined forces with to win the prize PM position. She illustrated quite clearly on ABC Radio National breakfast show this morning who is running the Labor agenda. Gillard was not prepared to say Don Farrell putting himself at the top of the Senate list in SA (over Penny Wong) was ridiculous. Why? Because Farrell was one of the “faceless men” who put her into power. She can only say what he, and others like him, tell her to say. If you and others on this blog think that is acceptable, so be it. Kevin Rudd was deposed precisely because he WOULDN’T parrot the rubbish coming from the likes of Farrell. Now I call that integrity. Gillard is morally bankrupt!
    Most of us out here in the electorate know, or sense, that what I have said about these two politicians is correct. That is why Rudd is twice as popular as Gillard will ever be. It amazes me that you lot posting here cannot see that.

  37. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    CML, don’t be so amazed that people don’t appear to agree with you. I agree that Rudd would be popular if he was (now) leading the Labor Party. But I ask you to consider the process the ALP would have to go through right now to re-install Rudd as leader. You know, the one where 70% of the Labor caucus would have to publicly recant and reverse their strongly held and recently re-iterated position, where most (if not all) the executive of the party would have to eat all their own words and where they would all have to actually dump Julia Gillard at the very moment when her stocks are rising. If you presented “numbers like that” I actually would have to argue with you.
    Maxine McKew may once have been one hell of a journalist (and street dancer!) but her book has come along at just the moment when the Labor Party won’t want to hear about it because it is simply not relevant The factions, who always, always put their interests first – and Kevin Rudd won’t ever forget it – have demonstrated yet again (with Farrell) that they are not for turning, even for or by Julia Gillard. In the ALP, no one is bigger than the factions. Frankly, it amazes me that you ever thought it was any other way.

  38. justin cotton

    oh dear, all the sad Labor party hacks sticking up for Gillard as usual. I’m a left wing supporter too, but I certainly wouldn’t vote for Gillard. She doesn’t stand for anything except clutching at power at any cost.

  39. CML

    @ Hugh (Charlie) McColl – You are probably correct, but that doesn’t make it right! These blo+dy people are ruining the Labor party for their own ends. I will be further amazed if Labor wins the next election with Gillard as PM – don’t care what the polls currently say.
    My guess is that if the Libs continue to go down the drain, they will change the leader. At least they realise that occupying the treasury benches is THE most important happening for ANY party. Not that I’ll be helping them into government – EVER!!

  40. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    justin cotton, I don’t know where you are enrolled but I won’t get to vote for Gillard in my electorate. I love the way “left wing supporters” think they can NOT vote for Labor/Gillard/whoever-is-the-Labor-candidate-in-their-electorate, and yet somehow fill out the ballot paper – unless they intend to actually vote for the Coalition or else informal. So much dissatisfaction, so much huffing and puffing and yet unless you wish to waste your vote entirely you will be forced by the voting system to either put Labor ahead of the Coalition or the other way around.
    Maybe you really are a closet left wing Abbott supporter? I’d like to see that!
    CML, whoever said politics was “right”? Voters are corralled into supporting whoever they think is the least un-right. Or voting informal – which is quite unsatisfying because when a government is ultimately elected you could find that your single vote could have changed the result in a way which was less un-right than the one you got. So active rather than passive participation keeps your interests in front of you rather than trailing behind in everyone else’s dust.

  41. Karen

    @ CML – you still haven’t addressed the fact that Gillard is a better governor than Rudd. Let me give you an anecdote. A person who worked as a staffer said that Rudd wasn’t just hated by faction heads, he was reviled widely by his Ministers AND other staffers across portfolios. He was also labelled as someone who ‘sucked up and kicked down’. When I asked this person what impression he had of him when he met Rudd at Xmas drinks in the Lodge, the answer was: “a cold fish”.

  42. Norman Hanscombe

    It’s interesting to see how such heated support for a particular leader tends to blind devoted protagonists on all sides. In the 40s there were similar discussions about a pair of then famous European leaders as to which of them was better/worse.
    In the long run, might it not be more fruitful to analyse why so many voters aren’t keen on either?

  43. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Norman Hanscombe, I think it’s disrespectful of you to suggest that supporters of Labor or Coalition are “blind” to the faults of their party leaders. Knowing, as we do, the propensity of not-very-interested voters to go for the likely winner rather than their most personally favoured, supporters tend to want to rally troops at this stage rather than keep on talking them down. I think the electorate knows exactly why both Gillard and Abbott are not popular – there’s a minority government (which helps neither party), there’s the Labor coup (doing nothing but damage to Gillard), there’s Abbott’s pointedly conservative and macho past as Health Minister and there’s both parties’ regular deviousness, sleight of hand and double-dealing with minorities, with Indigenous politics, with the environment and with stuff like the gambling debate.
    But we are not children. We have seen all of this and more before. In the end we have an election and on election day we review all the sordid details, read all the tea leaves and sky messages and without any love or devotion commit our single vote to a single cause. We have to vote for every candidate so we have to consider them all. What I can’t believe is that any voter would go to all that trouble and then write “fuck youse all!” on the ballot paper and go home in a huff. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  44. Norman Hanscombe

    Hugh, supporters of ALL causes tend to be blind to anything which fails to support their ‘True Believer’ stands. It’s not “disrespectful” to mention this human trait. It’s simply part of our evolved nature. Carefully analysing our personal sacred cows is often too painful to bear.
    You’re correct in suggesting that, “supporters tend to want to rally troops at this stage”; but what easier way to rally troops than inaccurately attacking ‘evil’ opponents? This is especially true where a Government hasn’t handled other issues well.
    In 1965 I examined the results of all recent Sydney Uni Hons Graduates who had failed ONE subject on the way through their degrees. Initially it surprised me that basic Philosophy I had been their main problem. When I thought about it, however, there did seem a reasonable explanation. In a time when students could still be failed without recriminations and complaints about everyone’s Human Right to be given a degree, being forced to examine one’s own deeply held religious beliefs – Christian / Marxist / Whatever – was too painful for many students. Psychology I (with its painful references to concepts such as cognitive dissonance) had been the second most common hurdle for bright successful Honours Graduates who failed only one subject on their way through.
    I wish the world were different, Hugh, but find it unsatisfactory to simply assume it “must be”, so that my own bailiwick remains as comforting as Linus’s blanket.

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