By Ray Dixon – reproduced from my home blog Alpine Opinion
The first inkling that Simon Crean’s new-found support for Kevin Rudd may not have been exactly a sincere change-of-heart, came soon after his surprise announcement – that he was seeking a leadership spill – when Crean suddenly (and angrily) gave an answer to a question in which he clearly chastised Rudd over his previously stated position of not mounting another challenge:
”He can’t continue to play the game that says he is reluctant or he has to be drafted. I know the party will not draft him.”
That did not sound like a friendly ‘defector’ and, furthermore, if Crean knew “the party will not draft (Rudd)” that suggests he also knew Rudd did not have anywhere near the numbers required to take the leadership – so why was Crean ‘going out on a limb’ giving everyone the impression he was in favour of Rudd being reinstated?
Looking back at Crean’s full announcement it then became clear (to me at least) that it was full of typical, evasive and ambiguous Crean ‘doublespeak’ where everything he was saying could be taken two ways. For example:
“I have talked to the prime minister yesterday and today….I am asking her to call a spill for all the leadership positions in the party. If the PM does not agree to it, which I suspect she won’t, I am calling on members of caucus to form a petition. This is not personal. This is about the party, its future and the future of the country. I believe we can win the next election.”
That’s clearly a neutral position and he’s not calling for Rudd to be PM there.
“We need to settle this and move forward. As for the position of positions being declared open – Kevin Rudd has no choice but to stand for the leadership. He can no longer say he will only be drafted. That’s why I’m putting myself forward as part of the leadership group.”
There he goes again, telling Rudd off by insisting that he challenges. And “putting himself forward” as Rudd’s possible deputy could simply be Crean trying to make his defection seem genuine – in the end it amounted to nothing.
“I’m doing this in the interests of the Labor Party and, in turn, the nation.”
And “this” could mean setting Rudd up to mount a challenge he can’t win.
“I look forward to caucus making a mature decision….I will be supporting Kevin Rudd. He has got no option but to run. I want no more games.”
Supporting him to do what? To challenge and lose? Crean’s trying too hard to force the issue here and his reference to “no more games” is actually another slur on Rudd.
“I’m urging Mr Rudd to put his name forward….I do not believe simply changing from Ms Gillard to Mr Rudd will solve anything. The internals must stop. We must be an inclusive party.”
That’s almost a dead giveaway that Crean is still in Gillard’s ‘corner’.
Mr Crean is asked if Mr Rudd has the numbers: “I wouldn’t be doing this if I did not believe there was the mood and the need for change within the party.”
There’s the ambiguous “this” word again. And yes, there was certainly a “mood” to change to Rudd among some party members but perhaps Crean means he’s out to kill that off.
And later yesterday (after the non-vote), Simon Crean’s appearance and demeanour on ABC TV – grinning like a Cheshire cat – was hardly that of a man who had failed in his mission.
For someone who had just been sacked from the Ministry position he held under Gillard after his so-called defection, Crean seemed mighty chuffed with the overall outcome and Gillard’s so-called victory … and his assault on Rudd continued:
Sacked arts minister Simon Crean says he cannot understand why Mr Rudd did not take on Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a special caucus meeting earlier on Thursday.
“I can’t understand why all of this agitation would be on, including the need to bring it to a head, then for the contender not to stump up,” he told ABC television.
… “He had an obligation to run. He didn’t discharge that obligation so he has only got one obligation now and that is to back off,” Mr Crean said.
… “I think he has demonstrated that he isn’t a threat to the leadership because he didn’t stand when he had the chance,” he said.
“(Rudd running) in itself would have been an important cleansing for the party,” he said.
Mr Crean is calling on the rest of his party to take the result as a circuit breaker to end speculation and get on with “inspiring the nation again”.
He had no regrets about acting in “the interests of getting the party back on a solid footing.”
Call me a conspiracy theorist or wise-in-hindsight, but I think those comments clearly demonstrate that, for Crean, yesterday’s outcome was mission accomplished.
Crean knows exactly why Rudd didn’t run – because he didn’t have the numbers – but feigns surprise and faux anger at Rudd for letting him down.
He’s stuck the knife in … and turned it. Again.
And Crean could barely contain his delight last night, even using the same “Rudd has/had” to challenge rhetoric he used in the morning. He didn’t miss a beat but it all sounded hollow and insincere to me.
You see, it needs to be remebered that Simon Crean was also the instigator of the first Rudd challenge just over 12 months ago when, while Rudd was overseas, he launched an extraordinary public attack following the release of the infamous ‘F-bomb’ blooper tape (that seems most likely to have been released by Gillard’s office) on the grounds that Rudd was ‘destabilising the party’.
This lead to Rudd having no choice but to resign from the position of Foreign Minister, following which Julia Gillard then announced a leadership spill to force Rudd’s hand and challenge (while he was still overseas). Crean knew then that Rudd didn’t have the numbers to topple Gillard just like he would have known the numbers yesterday – so why did he go ahead?
As for Crean being sacked as a Minister by Gillard (for his so-called disloyalty), it’s not inconceivable that that was a ‘bullet’ he was willing to take to get rid of Rudd. After all, Crean’s been around for a long time and might only have 6 months of his career left.
But as to what happens now, well, when the dust is setlled maybe it’ll become clearer that yesterday’s events will actually make Gillard’s position worse, not better.
Wait for the next opinion poll but after this debacle I reckon Labor’s support will fall even further – perhaps as low as 25% primary vote – and stay there.
And that spells real (and fatal) disaster for Gillard – maybe Rudd’s not dead yet?