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.
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.”