Is Kevin Rudd a charismatic nut job? A man who is so duplicitous and despotic that the business of running the country became paralyzed under his first prime ministership? So monomaniacal that for three solid years he furtively undermined Julia Gillard at every opportunity until he at last destroyed her? All of this, remarkably, has been suggested by those in the best position to know, Australian Labor Party parliamentarians, from Senator Wong to Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis. Why, then, have these ostensibly sane people done the bidding of a highly dysfunctional character – again, their depiction – by allowing themselves to be embroiled in his revenge fantasy?
The obvious – but perhaps not complete – answer is political opportunism. Senator Wong received a promotion for stabbing Julia Gillard in the back, while Kate Ellis’ treachery could shore up her support in the seat of Adelaide. Bill Shorten, as the putative Leader of the Opposition, no doubt hopes a larger-sized caucus awaits him on the other side of the federal election. Naked self-interest unquestionably played a part in the decision of many other Labor politicians to destroy their leader, although Realpolitik might not be the only explanation.
Take, for instance, the line he trotted out on the day after exacting his long-planned revenge on Gillard: “I will not tolerate anyone going out there and trashing Julia’s reputation.” Where was the remorse, the sense of shame or guilt? It was – again – senior Labor apparatchiks who previously informed us that Rudd ran a rogue campaign from Brisbane against the Gillard government at the 2010 federal election, stripping anywhere up to 5% from the Party’s national vote. The little guy with the big rage only desisted from sabotaging Labor’s electoral prospects after they offered him Foreign Affairs.
Senator Wong, over the weekend, blamed Tony Abbott’s misogyny for the bloody dagger she wielded in the political assassination of Australia’s first female PM. To call this disingenuous would be to describe an ocean as wet. But there is more to her treachery than mere opportunism and the attendant cant. Senator Wong, who has written admiringly of Gillard’s misogyny slur against the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives last year, is possessed by a radical leftist ideology that propels her to upend Australia’s customs or, as she might have it, bourgeois mores. Conservatives or traditionalists such as Tony Abbott – and, let’s face it, over half the population – are an anathema to Wong.
Genuinely intelligent and urbane herself, she would consider Kevin Rudd a fatuous and shallow fellow, his desire for adulation a substitute for an authentic humanity. And Wong is no fool. She would have known that Rudd was lying every time he announced – during his June 2013 campaign to destroy Gillard – that there were “absolutely no circumstances” in which he would destroy Gillard. Importantly, before he kicked off his one-man demolition derby he loudly proclaimed his intention to support the cause of gay marriage. Having received the endorsement of credulous Christian lobby groups at the 2007 federal election, he was now signalling to Senator Wong that a progressive political agenda would be advanced under his auspices. In short, Wong did in Gillard not just for personal gain – and maybe not for personal gain at all – but for ideological reasons.
The trouble is, Senator Wong’s visceral hatred of conservatism and her ambition to remake Australia along the lines of her own radical agenda has resulted in a man with a serious personality disorder returning to the Lodge. How does that fit with looking out for Australia’s best interests? Wong has too much integrity to buy into the delusion that Kevin Rudd is a “changed man”. This bloke is the same train wreck of a character we endured the first time around. So far she has studiously avoided commenting on Rudd’s “new humility”, saying it is a matter best left for Mr Rudd himself to address. Que? Maybe Wong consoles herself with the belief that win, lose or draw the Labor caucus can dump the chump at some propitious moment after the next election – just as it did in June, 2010. In that case, we might ask if the ALP is ever going to allow the public to vote for someone we can hold accountable for his or her years of misrule?
The unedifying spectacle of last week’s political assassination constitutes something more than the wheeler-dealing of politicians in marginal seats who hope the switch to Rudd will save “some of the furniture” or – a more unlikely scenario – save the worst government in Australian history from defeat. The Labor caucus, with forty-five noteworthy exceptions, has foisted on Australia a man who is a dazzling campaigner for the top job but a dysfunctional disaster in it. This we know – let us never forget – not on the basis of partisan anti-Labor scuttlebutt. Over the past three years virtually all the key figures in the ALP disclosed this to us over and over again.
The tragedy of their miscalculation on Wednesday night is already starting to emerge. Faced with the fact that his rescinding of Howard’s border laws in 2008 has resulted in the death of over a thousand people and the growth of a people smuggling industry, Rudd has used his expertise as a snake oil salesman to assert that a Tony Abbott prime ministership might lead to a war with Indonesia. The possible fallout from such irresponsible invective could be calamitous in the years ahead, but none of this matters to Rudd as long as enough swinging voters are distracted from the one hundred illegal migrants – sorry, “asylum seekers” – who arrive on our shore every day. So much for Rudd’s promise to end the “negativity” of Australian politics.
Kevin Rudd, despite all the charm and chutzpah in front of the cameras, is the kind of character who will get what he wants at whatever cost and remain oblivious to the devastation he leaves in his wake. Just ask Julia Gillard. Michael Costa, former minister in a NSW Labor government, remarked on the Andrew Bolt Show that there are plenty of people who still respect Kevin Rudd but only because there are still people who are yet to work with him.
The fifty-seven members of the Labor caucus know exactly what kind of character Rudd is, and they have not only betrayed Julia Gillard but put this nation at risk. We shall not forget.
Daryl McCann has a blog at darylmccann.blogspot.com.au