I used to rank Bill Shorten as a political talent until his rather infamous affirmation of Gillard’s position even though he had no idea what that position was. Its the sort of thing you would expect from the writers of “Yes Prime Minister” and he has quite rightfully been pilloried for that expression of (literally )blind loyalty. It is certainly not an example him being quick on his feet in a tight spot although it is evidence of a certain amount internal honesty. Now with the utter decimation of the Labor party in very stark prospect there are those who rate him as a potential leader :
My conversion to the Shorten cause occurred when I was invited to listen to a group of aspiring politicians who had just returned from a study tour of Israel. I was open-mouthed that he had grasped the complexities of the conflict so quickly. It was incredible for a newcomer to the subject. A year later I dined with him in Canberra when he was the new member for Maribyrnong. He rose quickly to become Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. At age 45 he is perfect to lead Labor in its fightback. He has the intelligence, ideas, passion, charisma and drive to inspire Australians to once again put their faith in Labor.
Looking at Shorten’s more recent media appearances we don’t see a man with leadership potential what we see is a man on the verge of utter despair. he certainly isn’t a happy camper:
He may well be what Labor will needs as a leader after the rout but I really don’t think that he is silly enough to displace Gillard in the big chair before the election. He may be depressed(who could blame him for that?) but I don’t think that he is utterly bonkers or at all politically suicidal. Gillard and Swan will still be at the wheel when the Labor ship runs aground in September and they can go down with ship while the survivors will most likely fit into just one life boat (with space to spare) Shorten may or may not be one of them if he is then he might get the toxic tumbler of the federal leadership. Chances are though that his current depression will not be buoyed by winning that significant office in a vote from his fellow survivors. It will be a very long haul back into contention but who else is there to rebuild the Labor party? If he holds his seat Rudd may certainly want the job but I very much doubt that he would be the choice of the other survivors who will certainly remember his previous leadership and doubt that he has changed enough to justify another go. So it may be Shorten who has to put on a brave face as leader of the opposition after September but I just can’t see him being able to shake his obvious depression to be at all effective in that role no matter how many happy pills he might take.