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Leadership conspiracy theory

IT MIGHT rank up there with the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, but has the Federal Labor Party just re-written the national political landscape?

It is hard to imagine so with the days of bloodletting and vitriolic abuse hurled at the two candidates for the parliamentary leadership, but just suppose for a moment that this was a piece of brilliant political theatre.

What we had before the ballot was a Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who was almost fatally wounded not by her lack of ability or vision but because of the means by which she came to office.

The victim, Kevin Rudd, was an object of considerable sympathy from the public, not least because the wounded PM and the Opposition alternative Tony Abbott were proving so uninspiring that even a mediocre Prime Minister from the past seemed nostalgically better by comparison.

What we have now is a Prime Minister who has been chosen in an open contest (denied in 2010 when Kevin Rudd did not even stand to take the caucus beating he was about to receive) and a commitment from that Prime Minister to restore and re-invigorate the long-term legacy of her defeated predecessor.

The Labor Party has shown itself previously to be quite capable of showing remarkable unity almost instantly after a leadership battle, for example when Mark Latham toppled Kim Beazley by a very narrow margin in the lead-up to the 2004 election.

This time, however, the transformation began before the ballot.

The vitriol of Thursday had by Sunday become calm certainty about the result and the focus moved to the importance of unity afterwards (with the occasional "regardless of the result" thrown in to ensure the democratic facade was maintained).

What we now have is a Prime Minister with improved legitimacy because her position has been ratified by the caucus in a contest against an opponent, a former Prime Minister who can now campaign for Labor with all of his (considerable) skills comfortable in the knowledge that he will take his place in Labor history and a party that can stop appearing so unsure and can just stand up for what it believes in.

From a Labor point of view you literally could not have scripted it better.

Does anyone think a group such as Senator John Faulkner and ministers Stephen Smith and Martin Ferguson could not have dreamed this up in a back room?

Topics:  julia gillard, kevin rudd



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