WOULD Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, have been in the position she is today if she had become leader of the Labor party in the regular way and not by knifing a sitting prime minister?
Would she be any more popular today if she had challenged for the leadership during a period when Labor was in opposition and won a mandate to lead the country at the polls?
It’s hard to say, but one would incline towards the view that yes, she would not be at the receiving end as she is now if she had ascended to the top by this route.
Three years ago, Gillard was part of a group that knifed Kevin Rudd, with power-brokers in the party pushing her forward as a candidate who could arrest what was termed the party’s slide in the opinion polls.
In truth, there was no need for any change; there was still plenty of time left to call an election and Rudd could well have regained his standing and won the 2010 election whenever it was held.
Since then, even though Gillard led Labor to the 2010 elections and scraped through – she had to form a minority government with the support of independents – she has been undermined much more from within her own party than from outside.
Indeed, Labor only managed to win as many seats as its opposition because leaks against Gillard right through the campaign hit her support very badly.
The undermining by Rudd and his supporters did not stop there; it has continued right to this day. And less than three months out from an election, Gillard is set to lose.
Some say Rudd should have accepted his fate and moved on. Why, one asks. He was the one who led Labor out of the wilderness of 11 years in opposition. He should not have been pushed out in the manner he was.