Rudd is taking us for fools

Illustration: Michael Mucci

How can anyone take a benign interpretation from Kevin Rudd’s interview on 730 last night?

If Rudd’s genuine intention was to extinguish the smoking embers of his supporters’ expectations, why insist on grandstanding for half the interview on matters relating to China and the US?

What on earth does the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister’s views on Sino-American relations have to do with an earnest campaign to keep Tony Abbott out of office?

Not much, unless it is about reminding voters what a clever clogs One K. Rudd is and how his party is superior on foreign matters.

Or something, something.

And if Rudd’s genuine intention was to demonstrate his complete and utter disinterest in being recruited, dragooned, enlisted or otherwise begged back into the Prime Ministership, why did he not repeat the actual words of the commitment he made after the faux coup non-ballot in March?

Before entering the Caucus room for the non-leadership coup this year, Rudd said:

I have said that the only circumstances under which I would consider a return to leadership would be if there was an overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party requesting such a return, drafting me to return and the position was vacant…I am here to inform you that those circumstances do not exist.

After the meeting he strengthened this commitment (through a spokesman):

Furthermore, Mr Rudd wishes to make 100 per cent clear to all members of the parliamentary Labor Party, including his own supporters, that there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future.

They’re clear and unambiguous. So why the weasel words now?

LEIGH SALES: And a final question: I just want to make sure that nothing has changed in your mind. Is there any scenario in which you would take the leadership of the Labor Party?

KEVIN RUDD: Leigh, my position on that hasn’t changed since February of last year. The caucus had an opportunity to vote then and they voted two-to-one in favour of the Prime Minister and against me. I’ve accepted that position. My job is to go and argue the case for Labor and that’s what I’ll be doing around the country between now and voting day. It’s a good case and we should not be hauling up the white flag.

LEIGH SALES: So the answer is there’s no scenario … ?

KEVIN RUDD: As I said before, my position hasn’t changed since February of last year. You know what I said then. I’m not gonna enter into word games with you. The caucus voted. I accept their response.

LEIGH SALES: If you don’t say a blank no, people of course interpret it as you leaving wiggle room.

KEVIN RUDD: Well, you know exactly what I’ve said in the past to these questions time and time and time again and you’ll play word games all the way through. Last time I said in February of 2012 that I would not be challenging the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister won that caucus ballot by two-to-one. It was a convincing and strong win. I’ve accepted the result.

(My emphasis)

Rudd’s dissembling recalls the ridiculous time he refused to enunciate the word ‘billion’ when describing Australia’s budget deficit.
Rudd is taking us for fools. He’s hoping that by not restating those actual words, they will fade over time and will be replaced with a vague recollection that he said he wouldn’t challenge – thereby leaving the door open for him to be installed.

 Rudd’s latest attempt to ‘clarify’ gapes wider than a barn door. He is quoted as saying:

I have said very plainly that I am not a candidate for the leadership. And I have said equally plainly that I do not see any circumstances under which I would return to the leadership.

I can see the KRuddster drafting his acceptance speech now….. “I did not see any circumstances under which I would return, nor was I a candidate, and yet my Labor colleagues have persuaded me to listen to the people of Australia. And so I reluctantly agree to being installed by the caucus as Prime Minister. This is not about me, it’s about keeping Tony Abbott from the Lodge…..”

I can’t help but agree with Mark Latham, who’s said Rudd is deliberately sabotaging the PM. While I used to track Rudd’s interventions, and those of his supporters, to see if they tried to influence Newspoll results I don’t bother any more because any foray by Camp Rudd into the media will impact on one pollster or another’s results.

Someone should give Kevin Rudd a piece of paper with the words his spokesman conveyed on his behalf after the Caucus meeting in March and ask him to repeat them now.

Only then will I believe he is supporting Julia Gillard.

As Rudd said last night “A leopard never changes his spots.”

Author: Drag0nista

Political columnist at The New Daily | Editor of Despatches & AusVotes 2019 | Author of On Merit, a book on the Liberals' *women problem*. Former Liberal staffer and industry lobbyist. Studying the entrails of federal politics since 1989.

13 thoughts on “Rudd is taking us for fools”

  1. Disloyal, Machiavellian etc for sure but I don’t think he’s treating anyone as a fool, except perhaps Peter Hartcher. I don’t think he expects anyone to interpret his appearances as anything other than an unequivocal declaration that if his colleagues are prepared to force Gillard out, he would like to replace her.

    As for the weasel words I think that’s more about passive- aggressively voicing his lack of confidence in Gillard than trying to create wriggle room for a comeback. Once the change is on previous denials don’t tend to hold anyone back, Abbott said that he would not challenge Turnbull if Hockey decided to stand, Rudd said he wouldn’t challenge Beazley. The source of Gillard’s problems are not that she publicly ruled out challenging Rudd and whatever problems Rudd might have should he return to the leadership, the source of them will not be his previous denials of interest.

    None of this is particularly scrupulous conduct but I don’t really think its intended to deceive anyone much.

  2. Well said. Rudd acting in Rudd’s self interest as usual. Such chutzpah too – at the doors of Parliament urges all to ‘pull their heads in’ – then for days his is ubiquitous.

    Also note the setting for interview – very Prime Ministerial. Formal office, photos (Obama etc) in background. (Yoohoo I’m still here and I look like a the real national leader.)

    Rudd is always the great dissembler – every appearance/utterance is carefully choroegraphed and practiced from ‘Fair suck of the sauce bottle’ to ‘Fair Dinkum’ to ‘…cold shower’ and even to faux foreign policy pronouncements.

    Your comment about his ‘spots’ is so true.

  3. Hi Paula. I agree with you. It was obvious that he was cancelling his commitment this year to never accept the leadership, and replacing it with his commitment last year to accept the leadership only if it was presented to him.

    Two other observations.

    The 7.30 Report led with Pyne’s lies – my guess fed him by Rudd supporters – then ran them again with Sales’ denials. Why twice – a casual viewer might come away thinking they were right.

    All the TV news reports – effectively identical, even the ABC – ran hard with the overt destablisation of Cameron, Griffin and Fitzgibbn. None told readers they are hard core Rudd supporters.



  4. But, he does cut through. Calling Abbott a liar made for great TV and effective communication. Maybe Gillard needs to do the same thing.

    I was thinking after this interview that Howard had the advantage in having Costello to act as an attack dog. Hawke had Keating. Rudd had Gillard. Abbott has Pyne and Hockey. However, Gillard doesn’t really have anyone able to do that for her (and I doubt a future PM Rudd would have anyone either).

    I thought Rudd did look a little uncomfortable though when mentioned leopards being unable to change their spots.

  5. Great article. Sadly all true and all too predictable.
    PS love that illustration Michael. Saint Kevin!

  6. If Rudd is able to take some of the heat off the PM and stimulate some actual reporting of positive things the govt is doing, then I for one forgive him any past transgressions and am willing to accept he means what he says. Concentrating on will he, won’t he type scenarios continues to play right into the LNP hands. If that was the intention of this article then you’ve done a good job. Nothing said about the Gonski bills that were passed yesterday which is fantastic for all those kids out there, including my grandchildren, is a far more important matter to me than whether Mr Rudd might be scheming a come back.

  7. Rudd is worse than Hitler. Unlike Hitler, he isn’t even nice to dogs. Everything he does is pure evil. Stay brave Julia Stay brave.

  8. I don’t find Feb 12 or Mar 13 comments to be incongruous.

    To quote your RT of Neddie C

    “oh, right, I get it. Rudd should have said he will ‘never ever’ be PM again. That’s how politics works on a 3 year cycle, right?”

    An argument I’m quite sympathetic to – context of the times

  9. He’s not challenging, though. In reality, that’s all that matters. The rest is media games trying to see if they can make a dog sing for its supper. For Rudd to take the leadership would require Gillard willingly stepping aside, and that will never, ever, ever, ever happen. So this is a complete non issue.

    It’s like asking, “Mr Rudd, will you rule out a leadership challenge if Australia is invaded by flesh-eating aliens?” well, er, there are bigger fish to fry in that scenario. It’s so remote as to be fictitious. Gillard will NEVER stand aside, especially not for Rudd, after everything, which means he’ll never be PM again. Thus, the only thing that matters is him ruling out any subsequent challenge. End of.

    1. Well no, because challenging Gillard is not the only way Rudd can become PM.

      Gillard could stand down. But she won’t.

      Or, as we saw at the last failed attempt, 1/3 Caucus members could sign a petition asking for a spill.

      So there are ways for it to be done without Rudd challenging.

  10. Rudd is a megalomaniac and his only intention was to destroy Gillard for what she did.

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