No one can deny Kevin Rudd’s exceptional intelligence and star quality, but he has no way back from his resignation as Foreign Minister today, particularly after some of the Labor Party’s most powerful people – Swan, Crean and Burke – more or less said they can’t work with him and have raised questions about his character.
Prime Minister Gillard will convincingly win any ballot next week and assert her dominance. Rudd may retreat to the backbench and hope that in a future crisis there will be an overwhelming public clamour for his return – as if he’s Australia’s Charles de Gaulle. But this won’t happen. It’s a fantasy. It will become increasingly clear to the public that Rudd has limited support among his colleagues, and indeed a large number of them despise him. Many will no doubt then apply the following piece of logic, which is one of my favourite quotes from Napoleon Hill:
If you have more enemies than friends, the odds are a thousand to one you have earned them.
It’s still unclear what this will all mean for the stability of Government and the confidence of the business community (although I think concerns about impacts on business confidence are often over-played). If Rudd goes to the backbench, then the Government could survive the full-term and ensure certainty until the next election. But, if Rudd resigns, then everything hinges on the by-election result, and given the circumstances around Rudd’s resignation, voters may want to punish the Government.