Remember Bill Hayden?
It seems the verdict is in. Kevin Rudd is finished. Even the ABC has turned on him, and David Marr — bless his nastiness — has added to the anti-Rudd climate. It would appear that the Prime Minister cannot win a trick. His only hope in the short run is to pull off some clever compromise with the miners on the super profit tax. It might breathe a little life back into him but the outlook is now grim regardless. Everyone is touting Julia Gillard. The commentariat is aching for a “first female” prime minister.
The thought arises, what would the ALP have to lose if it rolled him and put up Julia? In 1983, Bob Hawke was elected leader only 25 days before an election he subsequently won in a landslide, having replaced the lack-lustre Bill Hayden.
However, there are differences. Hawke represented a change from the increasing unpopular incumbent, Malcolm Fraser. Nevertheless, a Gillard coup, if the will were there in the Labor cabinet, could allow for a refinement and refocus of policies that would reassure the electorate with more intelligent economic policies. Would it make Labor more palatable? Could some radical changes be made, freed from the shackles of the manic control-freak Rudd, so that the blame for the last three years could be largely sheeted home to him?
The problem of course is that whilst Julia’s touters on the Left perceive her to be a flawless, cool-as-a-cucumber performer in her press encounters, she herself has overseen very bad policies. Like Rudd’s, these are likely to become even more sharply scrutinized if she were to stand. Her class-war inspired industrial relations reforms are a purely union-appeasing throwback to pre-Hawke days and damaging for the economy. The clumsily named “Building the Education Revolution” is a monster. Her smooth denials and calm exterior observed on television are just the style that has led to the electorate’s turning away from Rudd.
Nevertheless, a sudden last minute, 25 day gamble, might be the best option if Rudd’s fortunes continue to decline. There would be nothing to lose.