Kim Beazley has had the easy win he needed. Notwithstanding the two poseurs who pretended they were after Labor’s top job, this was no contest. The survival instinct saw to that. The overwhelming majority of Caucus members realised that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard are not yet the kind of people that the voters they need to attract are attracted to.
Kevin Rudd smugly gets his face on television and speaks in contrived 15 second grabs that television journalists like because they need so little editing. Yet the subject matter of his comments is irrelevant to winning elections. Foreign policy is not what Labor needs to be worrying about. It is a hindrance rather than a help to have Kevin Rudd available at the flash of a microphone. It creates the impression that the Labor Party is more interested in the dilemmas of Iraq than the housing prices at Blacktown. Over the next year or so Mr Rudd will best serve his Party by virtually disappearing until he gains a new shadow Cabinet position talking about money matters where he can show if he really is a serious leadership contender.
The one thing you can say for Julia Gillard is that before Mark Latham’s second bout of pancreatitis she was a virtual unknown to the eyes of the vast majority of Australians. Now many will recognise the red hair and the grating voice but whether they will like what they see (surely they will not like the voice they hear!) is another question. With prominence comes scrutiny and Ms Gillard’s only test when it comes to a matter of substance was the disaster called Medicare Gold offered at the last election. She escaped the blame for that piece of stupidity because people did not know who she was and the Government found it convenient to paint Mark Latham as the fool. It will not be so next time.
My guess is that the Labor Leader after Kim Beazley will be neither Mr Rudd nor Ms Gillard. The fact that both avoided a formal leadership vote is compelling evidence of a lack of support. When you pull out beforehand you can try and kid people that you were just a little short of the required number. When the numbers are actually cast and counted the truth is clear for everyone to see.