KEVIN Rudd’s appearance on the ABC’s “7.30” last week was the opening shot in a perfectly calibrated political exercise in which Kevin is guaranteed to emerge as the winner.
Regular readers will recall that some months ago I wrote an open letter urging him to abandon his leadership aspirations and throw his full support (and undoubted popularity) behind Julia Gillard. Only in that way, I said, could the Government be fiercely competitive with the Abbott Opposition.
He ignored it publicly, though his people made their displeasure plain. At the time he still believed that the party would turn to him to save them and the last thing he wanted was to be identified as a full-blooded Gillard supporter.
Well, that opportunity came and went with the notorious “Chicken Kev” non-challenge. Most commentators then took him at his word that his leadership ambitions had been abandoned forever.
More fools they. Truth is, Kevin has only one ambition and it is carved in psychological stone: to return to the position to which he believes he is entitled and that was “ripped unnatural” from his grasp: Prime Minister of Australia. And he knew perfectly well that the only way that could be achieved is if the Gillard Government fell.
But the real trick was to calibrate the defeat in such a way that gave him the chance to emerge as Opposition Leader and also to reclaim government after a single term of the Abbott administration. That’s all he needed, he tells colleagues, to “forensically destroy” Abbott with time to spare.
All seemed to be going to plan until the recent Newspoll revealed that Labor would be so demolished on September 14 that there would be hardly any pieces for Kevin to pick up to form a credible Opposition. Golly smokes, he might even lose his own seat.
Next we knew he was everywhere – in Geelong, on “Sunrise”, on radio – till it was hard to find a station that wasn’t reporting his latest rallying cry to “the troops”.
But you’ll notice he’s remarkably selective in choosing the selling points for the Government’s re-election. Nothing about the Disability Insurance Scheme, for example, or Gonski or any other Julia achievements.
Abbott is being just as devious as Kevin, pretending his only real reform is that he will “stop the boats” whereas he wants to take us back to a conservative agenda.
The really sad thing about all this is that the only one who seems to have her heart in the right place is Gillard. And she, I must reluctantly concede, is electoral poison. Go figure.