Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Memo to the ALP 1 - Federal

The saying "disunity is death" in politics is much over-rated. The masses won't reject you if the disunity reflects a genuine internal debate about policy. Where they will crucify you is when the disunity is about people and personality rather than policy.

So we come to Kevin Rudd, who on Q&A on Monday was asked;

My question is for Kevin Rudd. In 2010 you took the decision to delay implementing an emissions trading scheme; a scheme which had or appeared to have the support of the majority of the population and which contributed to your election of your government in 2007. In the light of the current acrimonious debate over a carbon price, do you regret making that decision?

His reply to his credit was an unequivocal "yes" he did regret it, and in his initial reply he fully owned the decision.

Yet the reporting of this has all the hall-marks of a classic Canberra beat-up of "leadership tension". Take your pick of the reports, but this sample from the SMH typifies it;

Kevin Rudd'S admission that senior ministers influenced him as prime minister to shelve the emissions trading scheme last year has outraged colleagues, who believe he should accept full responsibility for his decisions.

However, there was little doubt inside Labor that Mr Rudd's words were designed to wound the Prime Minister.

If you read the transcript of the show it is pretty damn clear that Rudd was dragged kicking and screaming to say anything other than his initial response - that he regretted the decision he made.

The fact that the leaked Caucus minutes from last year already exist makes it hard for anyone to pretend otherwise. And all Rudd did was to repeat the fact that there were divergent views, that delay seemed sensible given the parliamentary reality but that he now regretted the decision (because he underestimated the direct impact it would have on direct Labor support.

This is only potentially a story about leadership because of the way un-named sources are prepared to go on the record to state that they think Kevin is up to something.

In their fetid little ALP intriguing minds they probably imagine that trying to tag Rudd as a destabiliser damages Rudd, rather than realising the only thing they are hurting is the brand.

Every ALP parliamentarian needs to read the transcript and then go visit their favourite gallery journalist and say "Look, this is a beat up. Kevin clearly wasn't intentionally targeting the PM. He took full responsibility for the decision and added nothing that wasn't already known from the caucus leak. He certainly didn't ask himself the question."

(I will have more to write on climate policy shortly)

Then the next question for the ALP is the question of the national secretary. The Right's preferred candidate has had a rethink and we now hear that former Gillard COS Amanda Lampe is the right's new choice. We also hear that her passage is being blocked by the shoppies Joe de Bruyn.

This reflects so much that is wrong with Labor. Firstly there are lots of questions over Lampe's judgement - some of the low points of the last campaign - real Julia and the people's assembly on climate change - have been publicly attributed to Lampe. How could you then put her in charge of the campaign?

And exactly what value does the man who still belongs in the Industrial Groups of Bob Santamaria add to the considerations of the philosophy and direction of Australia's primary "progressive" or better "democratic socialist" party?

They really need to take a deep breath, decide that the assistant Secretary will act as National Secretary for six months and undertake an orderly "selection process" approach to the job.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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