A rock and a hard place
By Barry Tucker @btckr
I would not like to be in Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s shoes at present.
Australia’s first female Prime Minister has had a hell of a ride. She has introduced some historic and world-leading social reform legislation — which is what ALP-led governments do best. But, she has lost her personal lead in the opinion polls and that of her party as well.
For the second time this year — and with an election three months away — Ms Gillard’s leadership of the party is under a dark cloud.
My interest in this is kind of personal because I picked Ms Gillard as our most likely first female Prime Minister when she was campaigning alongside the then party leader Kevin Rudd against the then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard. That was way back then — 2007.
Labor won, Mr Rudd became PM, Ms Gillard Deputy PM and — during Mr Rudd’s frequent overseas trips — Acting Prime Minister.
For reasons I won’t go into now, Mr Rudd began to fail in the opinion polls, taking the party down with him. It is exactly the situation we have now — again for reasons I won’t go into at this time.
But, during that period when the polls were against Mr Rudd I speculated that he might do the brave and honourable thing and hand the reins to Ms Gillard. I haven’t written a blog about that crazy idea, but I have put out some Tweets to that effect during the past year. That thought and my choice of Ms Gillard as first female PM were intertwined.
Which brings me to the situation we have tonight. Ms Gillard now finds herself where Mr Rudd was just before she replaced him in June 2010.
Ms Gillard must be juggling a broad variety of opinions and bits of information. There’s a lot to consider: Cabinet members’ opinions, adviser opinions, her personal goals, the opinion polls, which seats will stand and which will fall, the kind of LNP government that many people (frankly) fear, can she win for Labor, could someone else, is that guaranteed?
Ms Gillard has been through a lot since taking over the parliamentary party, leading the party to a 50/50 election result, putting up with some disgusting politicking from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, watching the polls go up and down like a yo-yo and pretty much ignoring a hostile news media.
This lady is tough and she is still standing, in spite of everything.
The question — for me anyway — is will Ms Gillard now do what Mr Rudd would not do when he was caught in this same position in May/June 2010? Is Ms Gillard humble enough to hand the reins to someone else, or will her determination, character and courage see her through to victory on 14 September?
I’m not sure of the value of the opinion polls. I am sure they are driven by a hostile news media. That same media is telling us people switched off months or many months ago. What were they thinking when they switched off? Were they sick of Labor’s policy stuff-ups (ignoring the achievements) or were they sick of the LNP’s nasty negativity.
Whichever way you look at it, our Prime Minister is caught between a rock and a hard place.
If the poll result does not display properly, try enlarging the view. Hold down Ctrl, press +++ until it displays properly, or fully. To reduce the view, Ctrl – – –