Amazing hey! That we can have a person, seemingly in a bit of trouble but doing okay, as Prime Minister one day and then they are gone the next day. And amazing too how much chat it has generated on Facebook and elsewhere…and most of it by under 30’s! Whoever says they don’t care is waaaaay off the mark!
So I thought I would contribute to the discussion by telling you all exactly what happened and why…well maybe it happened like this or maybe not!:-) Its actually what I can gather from the various news articles.
There is very little around to suggest that Julia Gillard actually initiated any of this. Most articles seems to suggest that she was genuinely loyal to Rudd and that makes sense. Taking over now is much riskier than a smooth hand-over in the middle of the next term of the Government. I think what tipped it for her was that Rudd sent his adviser out to check his level of support…there is lots of stuff around to suggest that this really offended her, given her continued support for him. This seems to have been the straw that broke the camels back.
All of the media article suggest that push came from various factions within the Labor Party (for those of you who don’t follow politics, both Labor and Liberal have factions…basically little parties within each party….like how most big groups have little group within them). Its seems that the factions (Kevin Rudd wasn’t in one) were getting worried how centralised power was within the Govenment. A lot of articles suggest that, rather than everything being discussed in the Caucus (all the elected Labor members), Kevin Rudd was very controlling and that the Government was basically being run by him and his four advisers (all about 30 yrs old). The Right faction seemingly decided they needed to change this and so they checked around for support for a change and then approached Julia Gillard to stand against him. And there does appear to be a lot of evidence that his control had been an issue for a long time and that he had ignored previous attempts to speak to him about it.
I think this and the 3-4 hour meeting between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd yesterday support the idea that she was reluctant to challenge. She is in the Left faction so it is a not a logical thing for her to do to approach the Right for support. Articles suggest that the Right approached her because they didn’t really have an candidate of their own and she really was the logical choice. There has also been a lot written directly suggesting that she was reluctant to challenge. A leadership challenge this close to an election is generally considered a risky proposition.
I would also suggest that the meeting between them was a genuine attempt to clear the air and find a way forward. If not there is no real reason for her to have it. Normally a leadership challenge is just announced, they don’t chat to the current leader about it. I can imagine it being a ‘I have been approached to challenge you but don’t really want to…but if we are going to stop this off then changes need to be made’ type argument…well I hope it was. As I said, she has taken a big risk by taking over now…the best option for her by far would have been to keep Kevin Rudd in but for him to release some of his control so they could win the next election. She could then have taken over at an agreed time in a couple of years. But if he indicated he wasn’t willing to make concession or bow to the factions, which, given what has been written about him, is probably the case, she was left with no alternative but to challenge.
I think that, regardless of loyalty, if she genuinely thought that he couldn’t win the election she had an obligation to do challenge. If you were in a sporting team where your captain was ruining your chances of success and they wouldn’t listen to any advice, would you replace them if you were approached to do so or would you stick by the captain even if it meant disaster for the team?
I also don’t think she has much choice for a couple of other reasons. Look at the alternatives….leave it as it was, let leadership concerns rumble on and have a good chance of losing the election or, if the Right were serious enough, have them put a candidate of their own and risk all the upheaval and disruption that might cause. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was actually ‘threatened’ with the second….’if it not you then we’ll find someone else’.
So that is my take on it. I am genuinely sorry for Kevin Rudd, I think it is tragic actually, because I think he has done a lot of very good things for this country. But in the end I think he was a victim of his own style. I also think this was not your usual factional coup but a coup done out of genuine concern for winning the next election. Political factions are very strong and very loyal to their own…and the Right would not make a person from the Left the next Prime Minister unless they really thought there was a major problem.
A final thought….some people will applaud Julia Gillard, others will no doubt question her motives and loyalty. A guy called Chaleff defined a concept called Courageous Followers where he suggests that a followers obligations revolve around the organisation’s purpose, not the leaders. Because of this courageous followers are willing to stand up, stand out, risk rejection and to initiate conflict in order to examine the actions of the leader for the good of the organisation as a whole. I’ll leave you do decide where Julia Gillard’s actions fit.