In a little over an hour it is about 95% likely that Australian PM Kevin Rudd will be replaced by deputy Julia Gillard. This will see Julia Gillard becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
While it is a historic moment for Australia to have its first female Prime Minister it is a terrible move for democracy and for the reputation of the ALP in general.
Firstly, Democracy. Kevin Rudd was elected by the people as the leader of the country. Sure technically he was elected by members of the Labor Party to be their leader and then Labor was elected, but the reality of it is at the election he put his face forward as Kevin 07 and the election became a cult of personality which the voters endorsed. So as much as the election in 2007 was a Labor win it was also a Kevin Rudd win. If anyone should have the ability to vote out Labor and Kevin Rudd it should be the voters not just the caucus MPs.
Second, the reputation of the ALP. For the last few years Kevin Rudd has been the most popular Prime Minister in Australia’s history only in the last few months and weeks has things start to go wrong. All governments experience moments of popularity and moments of dislike by the general population. However, the instant that the gloss has come off Kevin 07 factions within the ALP have moved to get him dumped and this has completely undermined his leadership. The worst thing about Julia Gillard becoming the Prime Minister is time and again she has said that she does not want the role. This is not her saying that for political stability it has been clear that she genuinely meant it, even last night she did not look happy that she was contesting the spill this morning rather that she had been forced into it.
What this all shows is that the internal workings of the ALP have absolute contempt for the general population. They believe that because Kevin Rudd is not pushing their agenda to the letter of what they expect they can replace him with a puppet who will. Furthermore this sets a very bad precedent for the leadership of the ALP, essentially what this move is showing is in order to lead the ALP you must be popular and the instant you begin to hit a storm you will be rolled. This isn’t going to bring stability to the party or seek out the right kind of candidates for the top job.
Finally whatever the outcome of this mornings vote I hope that the Liberal Party moves a vote of confidence against the government and the government loses confidence and election is forced immediately. Julia Gillard needs to face the voters of the general public, not MPs and background lobbyists.