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Mar 21, 2013

Crean's coup flops as Rudd fades away

Simon Crean's impassioned speech this afternoon imploring Kevin Rudd to challenge for the Labor leadership took everyone by surprise -- most especially Kevin Rudd.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard has stared down an attempt to resolve Labor’s ongoing leadership woes after former PM Kevin Rudd declined to contest a leadership spill sparked by Simon Crean’s defection.

The surprise intervention by Crean to request that the Prime Minister call a spill appeared to take the Rudd camp by surprise and left Rudd’s allies no time to muster the numbers to defeat the Prime Minister; Crean himself failed to bring sufficient numbers to Rudd as putative deputy leader to make up the difference between Rudd’s core support and the 51 votes needed to defeat the Prime Minister.

Rudd’s decision was based, he said, on a determination to keep his word not to challenge the Prime Minister or accept a return to the leadership unless drafted by an overwhelming majority of his colleagues.

In asking the Prime Minister to bring on a spill, Crean stated he had not consulted with Rudd — and the evidence of that was clear in Rudd’s response.

Crean has been sacked from his cabinet position and now joins Rudd on the backbench.

Chief Rudd spruiker Joel Fitzgibbon, who has been described as a “freelancer on a suicide mission” by Rudd camp sources, has said he would be “considering his position” as Chief Whip.

With Rudd declining to contest, Crean’s effort appears to have failed: the incessant speculation over Julia Gillard’s leadership may quiet for a time, but it is likely to eventually resume, with the media having demonstrated they are prepared to continue running leadership stories until parties respond.

The result is the overshadowing of what was a historic day in Parliament: the apology to the victims of forced adoptions in the Great Hall, where both Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott made heartfelt, resonant speeches about the issue before hundreds of mothers and children torn apart by forced adoption policies.

This may well go down as “Crean’s gambit”, an attempt to short-circuit Labor’s leadership difficulties, incited by a media obsessed with leadership stories. Julia Gillard remains as Prime Minister, but Labor’s poor position in the polls — and a febrile media — also remain.


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70 thoughts on “Crean’s coup flops as Rudd fades away

  1. asdusty

    Today is a recognition that the ALP are facing at least three terms in opposition at a Federal level, no matter who’s the leader. I cant see Kev spending all that time as opposion leader so dont be surprised to see Kevin Rudd as the next Premier of QLD…

  2. Petroleuse

    How naive we all were to believe that Labor actually wanted to defeat Tony Abbott. Morons.

  3. Paddy Forsayeth

    The trouble is they are looking at Gillard and not on their party and social contract. They are little different politically than the Libs. except that Abbott is one of the slimiest lying …ts to grace the political stage.

  4. klewso

    The gap between the Gillard and Abbott camps widen – her’s are in Competent and his are in Tolerable?
    We’re caught in the middle?

  5. Achmed

    Gillards anonymous win as Leader again makes Abbott’s one vote win look weak.
    Abbott was ranting that the minority govt “experiment” had failed. Given his level of honesty, integrity etc we can expect to see him immediately call another election if he finds himself a party to such a failed “experiment”.

  6. Venise Alstergren

    BERNARD KEANE: You don’t think there was a hint that Kevin Rudd was backing away from accepting the poisoned chalice? Or is the whole thing a secret deal between Labor and the conservative parties to hand Tony Abbott the leadership of Oz he so desperately craves? If so, why spend all that taxpayers’ money to hold an election? Just give it to the bastards.

  7. shepherdmarilyn

    Yes but the media will still blame Rudd – they are whining morons.

  8. Kate Ahearne

    Actually, Bernard, we don’t know that ‘Labor’s poor position in the polls’ will remain. Watching the story unfold today, I had the distinct impression that what had happened could only boost Gillard’s standing with the public. She was elected unopposed. What could be stronger than that? The Murdoch Press blew their big chance, and if speculation continues in the media, it will be, quite clearly, a media beat-up. Yes, there are those within the party who would like to see Gillard deposed, but they have failed. Again. So let’s just see what the pollsters come up with, and let’s those of us who want the Labor-led minority government to do its best for Australia in the coming months, switch our attention to policy on both sides.

    What part of ‘unanimous’ and ‘unopposed’ is so difficult to understand? Today was a victory for the PM and for the Labor party.

  9. Gungaroo

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott! I thought I’d just type this to see how it reads, what it looks like, sounds like, some useful preparative psychotherapy…
    • The Prime Minister Tony Abbott said…
    • Tony Abbott PM said today..
    • In question time today PM Abbott denied allegations that he admired Hitler..

  10. Andybob

    The leadership speculation will continue exactly as long as the polls that would see a significant proportion of caucus lose their seats continue.

  11. klewso

    Crean lances the festering carbuncle …. and gets “sent to Siberia” for his troubles…..?

  12. shepherdmarilyn

    Kate, being elected unopposed is not being elected, it is maintaining the status quo.

    Do learn how to use language correctly.

  13. Kate Ahearne

    Dear shepherdmarilyn, I’m surprised you have never heard or seen the term, ‘elected unopposed’ used in an appropriate context by people whose command of English is quite impeccable. You might like to Google the term. I think you’ll find it has currency and quite a respectable history. In the meantime, what do you think about what happened today? I’d be interested to know.

  14. Elbow Patches

    Was there something odd about Crean’s choice of words this morning regarding Rudd? How could he in one breath state that “he (rudd) needs to stop playing games and have the courage of his convictions” (hardly respectful) whilst at the same time suggest that he would run as the deputy? What leader would want a deputy who spoke about him in such terms? Was it ever serious that Crean could be deputy and wouldn’t Rudd have got the message? Just seems pretty strange. Crean may have been doing JG a favour.

  15. supermundane

    Look I loathe Abbott with an abiding passion however Gillard’s habitual abuse of the word, ‘future’ is like nails on a blackboard for me.

    She may have a chance of winning more people over if she cuts out the trite shibboleths whenever she opens her mouth.

  16. klewso

    Is Rudd a poltergeist?

  17. Gungaroo

    Did they stage manage this melodrama today to purge themselves – or was it for real?

  18. Scott

    Today was a victory for the PM and the Labor party, Kate? A minister in the government, an ex opposition leader no less, launches a challenge against his sitting prime minister? No firm hand on the tiller here..

  19. supermundane

    My reading of this is that Crean, who in the last leadership challenge was a vocal critic of Rudd, undertook this with full knowledge and backing of the the leadership circle in order to flush Rudd out once and for all, knowing that Rudd didn’t have the numbers and wouldn’t challenge. His recent disquiet was a tactical prelude to this in order to cast him as more sympathetic to Rudd.

  20. CliffG

    “With Rudd declining to contest, Crean’s effort appears to have failed: the incessant speculation over Julia Gillard’s leadership may quiet for a time, but it is likely to eventually resume, with the media having demonstrated they are prepared to continue running leadership stories until parties respond.”

    Who’s governing the country, those who are elected or those who write for ever failing mainstream newspapers?

    Time for the media to remember who they are; to stop playing unelected political representatives and get back to reporting what has happened (NB the past perfect tense…not what may be about to happen).

    But I dream, surely.

  21. CliffG

    What is it about journalists that they cannot seem to grasp that more than one thing happens in a day? Is it because they focus on one thing at a time, they always carry this absurd concept of “overshadowed by…”?

    I am certain none of the bereaved mothers who had their babies forcibly adopted out felt anything was overshadowed by the ALP leadership spill, as they came together to hear the parliamentary apology. If there was an “overshadowing”, for them it was the faux leadership spill (in which Rudd finally shafted his own supporters) that WAS overshadowed.
    So can we see an end to the concept, the absolute myth of “overshadowing”? People can separate events and sort them out, even if more than one happen in a day!

  22. Person Ordinary

    Exactly, supermundane.

    Crean’s plan worked perfectly. The Rudd backers outmanoeuvred. No chance of leadership change before the election. The best chance at clear air for actual policy discussion in the media, although still unlikely. A chance, finally, to demand that Tony Abbott is under the spotlight. A good day for Labor.

    All we need now is a united message from all of the factions – all the recent events can be explained by the stakes being raised by the absolutely abhorrent idea of Abbott being allowed to impose his Tea Party idiocy to undo all the brilliant gains made under this hung parliament by a very effective prime minister and some sensible politicians on the cross benches. No spin. No painful media stunts like the Gillard/Rudd meeting after the coup. Just say it like it is – the greatest threat to Australia is an election victory for the far right.

  23. Suzanne Blake

    Rudd is finished now, never to be PM again. Labor is certain to loose election nw, nothig can save them

  24. SBH

    A febrile media indeed (grammatical oxymoron aside) could there have been a better example than the ABC’s hour-long 7.30 report starting at 7.00 and at the expense of things actually newsworthy?

  25. beachcomber

    If that was Simon Crean being an elder statesman, I see why Labor dumped him as leader without taking the party to an election a decade ago. Even serial loser Bomber Beazley was a better leader than Simple Simon.
    He appears to have pulled the trigger and shot not only himself in the head, but Mr Rudd in the spine as well. And effectively kill off the leadershio issue by mistake.
    I wonder how the mainstream media will manage to fill their papers and news shows now they can’t report the ALP leadership ad nauseum for the next 6 months.
    Might be time to talk about how Turnbull is counting the numbers to roll Abbott. And Barnaby Joyce is getting ready to roll Warren Truss.

  26. shepherdmarilyn

    Elected unopposed is a bit like winning a race with no-one else in it.

  27. norm cook

    Person Ordinary

    A person with much to be ordinary about…

    Was Crean suffering from temporary insanity or stalking for a devious Julia, in a famous sting of Kevin 07??

    Crean has bravely taken his punishment making the right noises as Julia whups the piano leg instead of his wrinkled ass.

    Are Julia and Simon devious and cunning enough to hatch such a plan?? ……….Probably not.

    Julia’s inept and incompetent handling of a multitude of matters would seem to indicate she would not have the neurones to make all the connections such a sting requires.

    Anyway Simon has done us all a favour – we the people will get to whup her ass in September – a repelling and delicious prospect at the same time.

  28. klewso

    SBH – do you mean “the likes of Chris Uhlmann’s “bold predictions (re this parliament)” – like the prognostications of so many in the media – don’t matter more than the actual news they’re covering (with their opinion)” …..?

  29. klewso

    …. then there was David “The Michelin Man” Feeney, drawn from the shadows, for Lateline (after Q&A Monday) …. looking a little deflated I thought?
    Maybe there was never that much to him in the first place – why he usually operates from where he does?

  30. CML

    Kare Ahearne @ #6 – I will wager that the opinion polls, rather than increase the vote for the Labor party, will dramatically drop to around 25%. There is a big difference between being a strong woman, and exhibiting signs of megalomania. That woman you seem to admire so much is about to preside over the destruction of a once great political party. I, for one, will never forgive her.
    As far as being elected unopposed is concerned – it wouldn’t matter if every single member of the caucus supports that woman, it is of no consequence on election day. You seem to have forgotten that in every poll of VOTERS, Kevin Rudd has double the public support of the megalomaniac, and he is the only member of the current government who may have been able to WIN the election. Be assured, she has just written the death notice of this government, and that will be her enduring legacy.

  31. Achmed

    We have a government that has kept Australia with one of the most stable and healthy economies in the world, a media that has convinced the constituency to believe that Australia has an unstable government who has wrecked our economy and destroyed our quality of life.
    Unemployment around 5%, inflation around 2%, low official interest rates, low GDP to debt ratio, triple A credit rating from the 3 world agencies
    Italy Greece etc unemployment 20% +, GDP to debt ratio 100% plus. Even the USA has 9-10% unemployment and a debt ratio of 70%.
    Yet the gormless pro right wing continue to compare Aust to these failing economies to Aust….we need an honest media nd Opposition

  32. Andybob

    While we sink the slipper in to journalists for serving up page after page of leadership speculation, let’s not forget those in the ALP who feed them this stuff. Until the off the record background not for attribution sh-t canning of Julia STOPS we can look forward to more onanistic orgies of self destruction.

  33. David Hand

    What today’s soap opera shows is that
    a) the media were not making up stories about leadership speculation in the ALP and in spite of Labor’s clear discomfort with leadership questions, there is a real story.

    b) Rudd’s move was so badly staged it certainly was not Rudd’s move. Maybe Gillard’s? with Creane going into effective retirement 6 months before he would have anyway by doing her a favour?

    c) Rudd hasn’t gone anywhere. By keeping his powder dry, he remains an alternative leader still, with a growing number of talented front benchers with him on the back bench.

    d) The spill overshadowed more than the apology to people forcably adopted – it also eclipsed the abject failure of Conroy’s useless media legislation.

    e) The Gillard government has lost all potency in government. If you ever wondered what a lame duck government looks like, this is it.

  34. Savonrepus

    Could there be any greater illustration as to why the Labor Party is ruled by the faceless men? Crean puts his hand up publicly to say this is wrong and we need to do something about it and he is banished into oblivion. The great faceless ones sit on their hands and live to fight another day. Who knows how many Obeids are in there pulling the strings and this manifests itself in a classic outcome of leadership forever tilting at windmills.

    Labor is at war with reality. It is the media’s fault. It is Tony Abbott’s fault. It is Rudd’s fault. Crean’s fault. Hopefully one day for the sake of the country Labor will realize the fault with the brand is in the mirror.

    In the meantime someone is waking up this morning with the mantra – ‘My job is safe because no one else wants it’

  35. Bobalot


    Rudd squibbed the challenge just like he squibbed “greatest moral challenge of our lifetime”.

    No one is going to vote for someone who doesn’t even try. Unless you expect the “faceless men” to dump Gillard behind the scenes… which is supposedly what you decry most.

  36. AJH

    My Wife works at a very Labor-leaning workplace.

    She said that almost half of the employees have vowed they will spoil their ballots come election day, and just write “Kevin” across the ballots for both houses.

  37. Damien

    Alternatively, Rudd refused to rise to the bait that was in fairly plain view. The tactic was similar to that used by the PM last year. Remember, she called on the spill on short notice while KR was in the US. Despite what all the gutless front people are saying, the result was not a “ringing endorsement”, it was a “no contest”. They can say they’re as united as they like, but I doubt such tectonic cracks can be papered over with talking points. But they all know that come election day, they’re in for the mother of all defeats (God help us) and, all misgivings about the Coalition aside, deserve no better.

  38. Blaggers

    Agree with supermndine 17 and Person Ordinary 20.

    Classic chess manouvre Queens Sacrifice however did not get a check mate. Lost the Queen for no real gain. Crean et al tried to force the hand.

    Rudd did well by keeping his word and not challenging.

    Labour do not do themselves any favours. Gangaroo 7 – each and everyone of those phrases (Lest me not repeat them, come they true) turn my stomach. Yet, it seems as if labour are polishing the silver plate for the liberals.

    Norm Cook had to reread your name….

    Achmed 28 – agreed. What can we expect from the coporate owned media that spruik drivel and haver, and who sponser a return of the Liberal (…with the truth, not with policy) Party.

    BTW why are there no reports on yet another gaffe Abbott made with his “apology’? Oh yeah, i just spelled it out… my attention span is apparently shorter than a goldfish

  39. Blaggers

    AJH please. This will not achieve anything. At least get them to vote independant.

  40. Blaggers

    Here, Here Venise and Paddy

  41. Suzanne Blake

    @ Venise Alstergren

    Venice, next you will be saying their are reds under the beds. Yes there are Reds, they are called the Greens, to confuse you. Did you see Milne interviewed on TV has night with Nick Xenephon. Her communist agenda will drive her vote further down. Laor voters will leak right and Green voters will leak to DLP or KAT

    Venice said BERNARD KEANE: You don’t think there was a hint that Kevin Rudd was backing away from accepting the poisoned chalice? Or is the whole thing a secret deal between Labor and the conservative parties to hand Tony Abbott the leadership of Oz he so desperately craves? If so, why spend all that taxpayers’ money to hold an election? Just give it to the bastards.”

  42. Person Ordinary

    … once more, for people like David Hand and Savonrepus, who need to learn to read between the lines

    Crean got what he wanted, on behalf of Gillard, whatever the perceived short term cost to himself. It was a noble act.

    Gillard got what she needs, and even if her challenge is insurmountable, she will not flinch.

    Conroy is having his arm twisted by international forces, and was only going through the motions, pretending to do his all to get up some garbage media regulation. He carved it up into six separate pieces hoping for exactly what he got – 2 up, 4 down.

    Abbott will probably win the election, but in the widespread protest that will emerge as he starts to reveal his true agenda the media will be forced to either turn against him, or be pushed aside once and for all. The marriage is based on a short term overlap of self interest, but there will be no honeymoon.

    Jesus, join the dots. And try to appreciate the big picture in the background – Labor can not simply appeal to traditional Labor values because, under the weight of conditioning by commercial media, the public is becoming ever more ignorant, and there are not enough votes to the left of centre to ever achieve a majority. So some of the old time Labor members, like Crean, find it difficult to swallow this continuous drift to the right. Take this together with the impending horror of Tony Abbott in power and you may just comprehend the tensions that force these outcomes.

  43. mikeb

    Rudd was never going to take on Gillard when all he had to win is an uncomfortable six months before getting slaughtered at the election. Better to rise from the ashes in September and present himself as saviour. Crean’s speach would not have inspired him either – basically being labelled a gutless rat.

  44. AJH


    I don’t think any party presently in existence deserves my vote. I can’t in good faith vote for any of them. At this stage, I really don’t care who wins.

    After some thought, I’ve decided my wife’s co-workers are on to something.

    I’ll be spoiling my ballot by writing “Kevin” across it, and I’ll be using my social media presence (a few thousand twitter followers) to begin a website and campaign to get others to do the same.

  45. AJH

    Voting independent is fraught with danger too. My local “independent” is actually a former candidate for the CEC. She has previously campaigned to return to the gold standard, in order to “stop the Jews controlling our financial system”. Now, she’s rebranding herself as a “local issues independent”, but anyone who has followed politics over the past few decades knows what her true platform is. Independents are often the worst choice of all.

    Creating a giant fuss and media storm by spoiling ballots en masse is probably the only way to send a message that we’re sick of factionalism, we’re sick of parties reporting to corrupt powerbrokers instead of to the electorate, and we’re sick of the insularity of our current mainstream progressive option.

    If the Labor party gets destroyed, then that’s a fine result. It means another progressive party, less beholden to factions, and less shambolic than the current one, will emerge in its stead.

  46. Peter Gray

    Power Factions vs. Electorate

    My interpretation of events

    Australians have a hung Parliament and the balance of power is held by a few independent MPs. The independents have self-interest at heart and are prepared to play a role in party politics by honouring their existing agreements only with incumbent Labor Party factions rather than the Labor Party as a whole. This approach maintains the threat of a no-confidence motion and increases their leverage with the incumbent government. This leverage is felt by government MPs, who want to sit full term, and it inhibits change, particularly leadership change. This makes things difficult for Rudd supporters to gain the majority in caucus required for leadership change. The incumbent factions are under pressure by the electorate to change their leadership.

    The move by Crean to force a leadership poll yesterday was not a bumbling move by a naive politician, it was a pre-emptive strike while Rudd was lacking a majority of caucus. This is the same basic strategy used a year ago when Rudd was put in an untenable position as Foreign Minister. Crean is busy today with stage two, pushing the Unity and Healing line in the media. He becomes a viable alternative to Gillard. This is handy for the incumbents as the pressure for leadership change is likely to increase with the approaching election.

    The real battle is yet to come. It is between the will of the electorate and the self-interest of power factions & their cohorts. For Australian democracy’s sake I hope the electorate is strong enough to win back the respect of power factions. At present, voters are just poker chips at the casino.

  47. Person Ordinary

    … interesting view, but don’t you think Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor pretty much accepted they had sealed their fate when they signed up with Gillard, and it was generally thought this was a one term play? That would mean there was no self interest left, and they could get on with trying to push through a positive agenda despite the madness from the Opposition, and it could be easily argued they largely succeeded.

    Also “the will of the electorate” is greatly influenced by the deteriorating quality of the media, not just the deliberate agenda of the commercial media, but also the innocent failure to portray the bigger picture in the wider media, including the ABC and Crikey for that matter. So the media itself is both a punter and the owner of the house, with obvious connotations, and there are more than two sides in play.

  48. Hamis Hill

    Once the cluster jerk-off of pejorativity wears off, the realisation that Gillard has been fighting a tag team of Abbott and Rudd for all this time, will become properly accepted.
    She has done quite well, in the circumstances.
    In the meantime, Leadershit no longer viable, (thankyou honoured party elder), the MSM zombies are now slavering after the “wecked party meme” of Tony Abbott.
    A polity polluted by toxic media incompetence.
    Australia deserves better than this.

  49. Peter Gray

    Hi Person Ordinary

    > … That would mean there was no self interest left,…

    Yes, I think this that a reasonable view of their actions, and perhaps of their intentions, but their self-interest is still in play in supporting the incumbent Labor factions. I take their recent assertion that a Labor leadership change would render their deal open to renegotiation to be a reminder to all MPs that they, the independents, can force an early election.

    > Also “the will of the electorate” is greatly influenced by the deteriorating quality of the media,…
    > So the media itself is both a punter and the owner of the house, …

    Yes, I agree that the media is influential and that commercial media is inherently commercial. I am reminded of one media mogul’s notion that news publishing is politics. I also think that Auntie ABC’s bias pendulum has been cleverly swung across to the Right via Howard’s anti-bias tactics. IMHO, Auntie is now subtly transforming into commercial media.

    In general, I think that Globalisation and Small Government equals rule by Corporations. I see media corporations as relatively small but vital components of such a system. Don’t get me wrong, if you know a better system than our one based on self-interest then please let us know. I think that our system(s) reflects the electorate, and it is up to the electorate evolve.

    As to the effect of media influence on the electorate, I think that influence is waning somewhat. The credibility gaps between how the public interpret events and the reporting of those events have given readers/viewers good cause to prefer their own judgement.

    The electorate’s preference for Rudd is primarily based on his actions. On several occasions he tried to act on behalf of the electorate. He tried instigate a carbon trading scheme that would, presumably, achieve something more than just benefiting polluters; he provided some insulation to the Global Financial Crisis with a cash injection into bottom of the economy instead of straight into the top (naturally this cash eventually flowed up the economic food-chain); and he tried to create a real resources tax rather than a pretend mining tax. These rarely seen basic pro-electorate actions have not gone unnoticed. Perhaps he wanted change too quickly for the system to cope. I suspect that he is hated like the only cop in a crook town. He has the respect of the town-folk, but it will only be the will of town-folk that create any lasting change for the better.

  50. Person Ordinary

    … well said, I generally agree and will respond when I can

  51. Venise Alstergren

    PETER GRAY: Perhaps you are thinking of the print media when you mention ‘deteriorating.’ Surely you cannot have missed the endless tripe and misinformation pumped out by the commercial stations?

    One day, in the far distant future, someone will make a documentary on the fall of a once respectable TV station called the ABC. Owned by the taxpayer it was politicised by a midget called John Howard, and desecrated by powerful commercial interests. Finally, the government of the day capitulated and joined with all the other stations to pump out useless beer-swilling crap.

  52. Venise Alstergren

    SUZANNE BLAKE: Good God! You can read?

  53. Hamis Hill

    Adam Smith, who a recent poster seems to have been channeling with a reference to a “system of self -interest”, had more to say on the subject.
    First, consumers, who vote every day with their choice of purchases, have to be educated as to their own interests lest they become enthralled to the interests of others.
    And there has to be choice, something quite missing in the press market.
    Considering that advertising confuses the interests of the the consumer with the interests of the seller, and that education is not taking up the challenge of providing balance, and given the lack of choice in the wider information markets, then it is neither the time or the place to complacently rely upon a system of “self-interest’ to guide the affairs of the nation. The preconditions are missing.
    We live in a time of desecration, one look at Abbott will tell you that.
    Give the least example how anything resembling a general self-interest in the community will make this person Prime Minister? None exist. Voters are being, deliberately, duped.

  54. Person Ordinary

    @Peter Gray … so much that I would like to put to you, especially relating to “As to the effect of media influence on the electorate, I think that influence is waning somewhat.” It will have to wait though. Cheers

  55. klewso

    Personally I don’t see a lot of “self-interest” about Tony Windsor. I do see a lot of the greater national interest.

    Unlike the major parties, when I look at them, I can’t see much past their party politics – to at least see the interests of their constituencies behind that.

  56. Person Ordinary

    @Peter Gray – can I get you to agree that factionalism is an errant state of mind?

    In reality, the political spectrum is continuous, and politicians are free to drift left or right over time and to hold different places on the spectrum on different issues. Grouping these politicians together into discrete categories is to make a simplified model of this more complex reality. That model is very useful in explaining or debating particular arguments, but is also necessarily limiting.

    So the problems arise when people get into the habit of thinking inside that particular model. If you read or write many articles based on the idea that factions are hard, discrete and powerful, then it becomes almost presumed that factions are real things. People who might essentially agree in broad terms end up backing themselves into various harder positions and conflict escalates. And the solution is to simply think outside that model, or to also use different models.

    The cross benchers are outside the Labor factions, and can see how arbitrary and destructive they are, and the same goes for the more enlightened or free thinking Labor members. Perhaps it is the Labor right, at both the state and federal level, who have swallowed their own simplistic model of what is important, and this is the cancer that is eating away at the party generally.

  57. Hamis Hill

    As the government mobilises for war, it is well that the traitors have been purged.
    However, wouldn’t it be much better if there were a political equivalent of the empty room and a loaded revolver, as used by the military, to completely eliminate any repetition of incompetence or deliberate treachery?
    Those former ministers on the backbench need to remain under close guard, given the aid and support they have delivered to the enemy in the press and parliament for years!
    Roman commanders before a critical battle ordered that the camp prostitutes be killed.
    Only the hung parliament, that they ironically did so much to create, has saved Labor’s traitors from the real purgatory of expulsion.
    Such is real and obscured enormity of their behaviour in these times of desecration.

  58. Peter Gray

    @Person Ordinary

    Yes, I agree that factionalism is often used as a simplification of political activity, but folk tend to coagulate into groups/factions along lines of psychology, philosophy, ambition, fashion, and chance. The desire to gain strength, or seek refuge, in numbers of cohorts is a driving force in politics. Group dynamics come into play and switching allegiances can carry lasting penalties. Perhaps factionalism is politics.

  59. Peter Gray

    @ Person Ordinary, Hamis, Vernise, all

    Inspired by your politics and media comments, perhaps we should start our own TV show. Here is what I have so far…

  60. Person Ordinary

    So I guess your answer is no – factions are real. The group dynamic stuff may only have any real significance when there is no sense of an urgent and positive political agenda, like on the conservative side or at state or local level. I see many Labor members have genuine drive to do good things, along with the cross benchers, and Gillard and Swan are certainly well above such lowly pursuits. The Labor right, even though it is not a discrete thing, is instead driven by fear and panic – hence the small minded acts. Anyhow … Cheers

  61. Peter Gray

    @ Person Ordinary
    Yes, I think factions are real, as are individuals. This discussion of factionalism is interesting and challenging.

    I definitely agree that “… many Labor members have a genuine drive to do good things, along with the crossbenchers…” I would say the same about many Liberals, NPs and Greens.

    In cases where a “sense of an urgent and positive political agenda” arises and supersedes existing factions, it is possible to view this as a temporary or dormant faction itself. Such fine factions are less likely to be recognised, labelled and reported as factions but I think they are real nonetheless. It reminds me of some Chaos Theory where a closer look does not see less complexity or deliver a simplified analysis. A closer look at Australian politics would just see factions within factions partially encompassed by other factions and such like complexity. Eventually, if we had a microscope with a resolution of 23 million, we would arrive at a Labor voter whose daddy shouted at mummy or a Liberal voter with a need to impress. If political mastery was easy we would all be Prime Minister for 15 minutes.

    What we have instead of a “sense of an urgent and positive political agenda” are, I think, are pre-conceived but instinct-based broad-strokes such as Crean’s recent move against Rudd on behalf of the Gillard fronted factions. That Gillard and Co are now purging the ministry, IMHO, shows some lack of respect for Democracy.


  62. Person Ordinary

    … can’t see anything there, did you post a link?

  63. Peter Gray

    Yes, I created a humorous graphic
    and added a link on an earlier comment.
    It should pass muster OK,
    but all things in Moderation on Crikey 🙂

  64. Hamis Hill

    Peter, can’t wait for the episode where Julia tours QLD with Kevin, with his lower jaw and arms removed, and drawn along by a chain around his neck to deflect the rest of the local Walking Dead from their lust for her flesh.
    That is the only way it is going to work, No?
    Are voters really going to repeat the errors that have allowed Newman ( and friends) to feed on their flesh for the last year, not unless, as a result of this, they have already become the walking dead as well.
    Throw in the venerable ranks of the federal opposition and Walking Dead Australia looks like a real horror hit show.
    An Abbott government will certainly kill the economy.
    Walking Dead Australia, premiering later this year?
    On the 14th of September? You’ll be sorry!

  65. Peter Gray

    @ Hamis

    It seems I can type and laugh at the same time.

    Please note that we are already sorry.

  66. Person Ordinary

    @Peter Gray

    Yes it is “possible” to view the pursuit of positive agenda as temporary factionalism, I just don’t see it as very helpful – in fact I am proposing that closed sort of thinking is the exact root cause of the problem. And rather than drilling down to see what is going on, I suggest zooming out. Leadership can be viewed both as the day to day business of managing of the numbers and the factions, and also the inspired, constructive, noble and very determined pursuit of our collective interest. I guess we can agree to disagree, but if you are interested in modelling at all you may see that a positive agenda has a “big coefficient” and the group dynamic stuff simply falls away.

    Further I am saying that the media is responsible for failure to explore the far more important positive agenda, and almost the entire population is now in the small minded habit of seeing only the group dynamic stuff, playing out like reality TV, all about conflict and personality not substance. Even when journalists are watching big things play out, they now only see the small stuff. This is clearly, when the blinkers come off, the main cause of the decline in democracy.

  67. klewso

    Isn’t the media more about the media than anything else?

  68. Person Ordinary

    Well, yes it is a business, and it does increase its power and profitability by making the population more ignorant. But even the ABC journalists, once worthy of respect, have fallen in to the same “narrow minded group think.” Leigh Sales was terrible last night with the Prime Minister …

  69. Venise Alstergren

    PETER GRAY: There’s no ‘r’ in Venise. Otherwise have a happy Easter. Cheers V

  70. Peter Gray

    @ All

    Ah, there’s no ‘r’, thanks Venise, happy Easter 2u2
    (PS I have avatar envy 🙂 )

    > Finally, the government of the day capitulated and joined with all the other stations to pump out useless beer-swilling crap.
    Yes, the ABC and SBS need our help but I think they still have shows that commercial channels don’t have the courage to match, like, Q&A (even with its audience stacking), Big Ideas, Four Corners, 7:30, SBS Documentary shows (excluding their compulsion for Nazi docos, go figure), Journalist Club talks, and such like.

    > Isn’t the media more about the media than anything else?
    Yep klewso, I agree, that’s a good place to start.
    It’s probably that darn ‘self-interest’ again. One thing I have been thinking about regrading the Media’s set of priorities is the need to appear authoritative (understandable) and infallible (lame). (oops, coffee on the keyboard again. will i never learn! blogus veritas) I think the Craig Thompson story is a good example. After being labelled as the bad-guy early in the story, Thompson’s version of events has been given little credence or investigation. Corruption always involves a conspiracy between two or more people. That someone is conspired against for opposing corruption is the norm rather than the exception. Maybe we need to have been in such a situation to understand that notion well but I think investigative journalists would have been there many times.

    > almost the entire population is now in the small minded habit of seeing only the group dynamic stuff, playing out like reality TV
    My graphic was a play on the Survivor reality TV show logo for a mythical “Survivor: Canberra” series (still makes me chuckle out loud 🙂 ). Canberra 2013 – Outwit, outplay, outlast.

    > I guess we can agree to disagree…
    Y, I agree we are big kids and not very scared of democracy. I have not thought that we actually disagree. I think that perhaps where our viewpoints differ is in our interpretations of basic political cause and effect. I get the sense that your view sees the electorate acting under the influence of politics, media, banking, et al. My view is that politics, media, banking, et al, reflect the electorate. Regime change is temporal at best and just a ripple on the tide human evolution.

    In reality, I suspect both views have merit. In my view, there is no Us & Them, there is only Us. That is the real scary part. It’s all our fault! The rest is just rationalisation.

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