As much as I am in favour of Julia Gillard as the first female Prime Minister in Australia’s history, and applaud the decision by the Labor Party to elect her as the First Female Prime Minister of Australia, the fall of Kevin Rudd was both underhanded and uncalled for.
Eltham says: A leader [Kevin Rudd] who had once been so popular and powerful finished his reign isolated and bewildered. For months now, support for the Prime Minister has been slipping away: in the polls, among factional power-brokers, and among the MPs and Senators of his party.
One by one, and then all in a rush, Rudd was deserted by his supporters. The revelation his chief of staff, Alistair Jordan, was ringing around doing the numbers yesterday underlined the extent of his isolation within his own government. Where were Rudd’s loyal factional lieutenants? The stark truth was Rudd had none.
Eltham goes onto say that: The men who have removed [Kevin Rudd] ,who … only 18 months ago [was] Australia’s most popular Prime Minister ever, have re-asserted their control over the [Labor] party. They are not exactly faceless — they have been variously reported as [ring leader Bill Shorten], Mark Arbib, Karl Bitar and David Feeney — and nor is this a purely factional coup. In the end, Rudd proved so unpopular among his colleagues that he didn’t even stand against Julia Gillard, realising that he had no chance of success.
Larvatus Prodeo in his article How the Coup against Kevin Rudd unfolded says:
[The coup] … relied on a small group (Bill Shorten, David Feeney, Don Farrell, Mark Arbib) making claims to Gillard about being able to deliver right votes. [They made no attempt] to canvass members’ views. MPs close to the mining industry such as Gary Gray played a supporting role. It was about creating an atmosphere of crisis, and forcing Julia Gillard’s hand [to challenge Kevin Rudd for the leadership]. Numbers weren’t counted until after Kevin Rudd gave his press conference at about 10.30pm. Gillard then insisted some of her long time supporters canvassed MPs, rather than the plotters, because with the exception of Shorten, they’re hardly held in high esteem by their colleagues.
Kevin Rudd, whilst at one time popular, both with the party and the Australian public, always had a strong but narrow support base. [Kevin] Rudd comes from Queensland, rather than the traditional power-bases of ALP politics in New South Wales and Victoria.
It was this fact that allowed for the election of the Labor Party against the sitting Howard Government in 2007 as Kevin had a broad appeal to the majority of Queenslanders’ who traditionally have either voted Liberal or National. And although he was aligned with the various right factions, including the New South Wales Right, who supported him as the man they considered best able to win the 2007 election, he was never truly one of them in the way that Paul Keating was.
Despite what people may say about Kevin Rudd, he achieved a lot during his short term of office, albeit at the expense of a second term as Prime Minister, but his record should be a matter of envy and aspiration for his successor Prime Minister Julia Gillard.