Since my post on Rudd’s announcement that he was resigning as Foreign Minister, Australian politics has now become a bear pit, at least on the Labor side. No sooner did Rudd resign than the Labor MPs started aligning themselves as pro-Gillard or pro-Rudd (Gillard appears to have the numbers). A number of Ministers in the pro-Gillard camp immediately launched into character assassinations of Rudd (including Wayne Swan, Nicola Roxon and Gillard herself). Rudd announced that he was going to take a tilt at the Prime Ministership.
First: my personal preferences. Once things started going pear-shaped for Rudd, I was very disappointed with him (see this post from February 2010, and this post from May 2010). I think my disappointment was so great because I’d had such high hopes of his government. Moreover, I started to suspect that he was a very difficult person to work with. I’d been told by media people of his quirks, but suddenly, after the leadership putch, it all came out in public. Lorenzo made the point that Rudd was like the pointy haired boss in Dilbert. This immediately struck me as an apt analogy: he was rude, quixotic and oblivious to the consequences of his actions. And, like the PHB, he frequently uses bizarre metaphors (‘fair suck of the sauce bottle’, anyone?). That being said, I really wasn’t comfortable with the way in which Rudd was deposed. I felt sorry for him. I still think it was the wrong thing to do. (Incidentally: anyone have any views on Noel Pearson’s recent observations as to the real drivers of the putsch?)
Once Gillard became Prime Minister I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, just as I had Rudd. And I was proud that we had a female Prime Minister. Again, however, I became gradually disenchanted with Gillard (see my post on the Malaysian ‘solution’ for example, or the debacle of someone from Gillard’s office inciting the Tent Embassy to attack Abbott).
Now we come to the present bear-pit situation. The majority of Labor MPs are rallying around Gillard, but some have thrown their votes behind Rudd. And here I note an interesting thing. Rudd is described as being the preferred Labor Prime Minister in the electorate, over and above Gillard. I wondered to myself, Where are all these Rudd supporters? I know nary a one. Interestingly, my personal sympathy for Gillard has increased: whatever her flaws, she is such a strong person — I would have been curled in a foetal position under my desk if I had faced what she faces.
Then I saw the comments of a number of my Queenslander Facebook friends on the matter. Ah ha! I thought. That’s where the Rudd supporters are: Queensland. Rudd has arrived home in Brisbane to a “rock star” reception. Rudd is a Queenslander himself, and thus he tends to be seen as representing the interests of Queensland rather better than Gillard. By contrast Gillard is a Victorian MP, and thus perhaps it’s unsurprising that I haven’t seen a Victorian Rudd supporter yet on Facebook — although there must be some? My personal problems with Rudd, however, do not stem from the fact he’s a Queenslander, or any sense that he did not represent Victorian interests while he was Prime Minister, but from the Pointy Haired Boss issues mentioned above. If I were pushed to choose, I’d prefer Gillard over Rudd — she’s far from perfect, but she has been a professional manager. However, all this has caused the State-based interests in Federal politics to come into relief for me. Do those who comment here have any views on this?
Ultimately, though, I can’t help being depressed by the bear pit. I really cannot see how the present government can recover from the enmities now exposed publicly. This is all about personal revenge, not about what’s best for our country (whatever each side may be saying). I feel like I’m watching a train wreck in action: it’s hideous but you just can’t look away.