We’re all very familiar, by now, with the refrain that ALP leadership stories are the invention of a hostile media. The media is not, indeed, friendly to Labor, and Bob Brown is surely right to say that Julia Gillard has been on the receiving end of rapid fire volleys of sexism and misogyny. Yet it should also be crystal clear by now that there is a very real prospect that she will not remain as Prime Minister for the term of this Parliament.
Simon Crean’s intervention last week, and its perception by some as his own bid for the top job, accompanied by reports that the Independents had been canvassed about their intentions in the case of a Labor leadership change (confirmed by Rob Oakeshott), should demonstrate that, if the endless succession of quotes from “sources”, “MPs” and “Ministers” did not. Then there’s the Prime Minister’s own call for unity and for leaking and backgrounding to stop at a special caucus meeting on the weekend.
To my mind, Mungo MacCallum analyses all this noise best, when he remarks that politics has fallen captive to magical thinking:
At the moment the embattled members seem to be relying more on magic than politics: during Sunday’s marathon gathering, the name of Kevin Rudd was not mentioned. Apparently the idea was that if he was not invoked, perhaps he would disappear. Caucus tried exactly the same formula back in the 1950s, when the followers of the hapless and doomed Doc Evatt banned the name of the great enemy, Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria from the party room. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
Federal politics is an absolute train wreck at the moment, with neither party focusing on the issues that actually concern voters. The Labor Party is incapable of sustaining any sort of narrative about the country, as it appears (accurately) to be obsessed about its own internal dilemmas and polls.
It’s the press-gallery-isation of Labor.
And on the other side of the House:
And of course, there is always the hope of a miracle. After all, Tony Abbott is campaigning for government on the promise that he can conjure $40 billion out of thin air, and provide pie in the sky thereafter. It’s not only Labor that believes in magic.
And as if to cap off this risibility, Speaker Peter Slipper plans to get his wig and frock on to lend dignity to these tawdry proceedings.