It's December before an election year. That can mean only one thing. It's time for the ALP to panic about its leader.
Kim Beazley should never have been allowed back into the Leader's seat in 2005. A two-time loser of federal elections (1998 and 2001), a two-time loser of leadership ballots (June 2003 to Simon Crean, December 2003 to Mark Latham). His successes have been akin to Steven Bradbury's gold medal at Salt Lake City 2002.
On October 26, 2004 I said that "the sooner he [Beazley] retires from Parliament, the better." To borrow Gough Whitlam's 1972 slogan, "It's time".
It's nothing to do with Rove McManus, Karl Rove, or all those ALP senators whose names he has trouble remembering. No, what's the point of having a Leader of the Opposition who is nearly as right-wing as the Prime Minister?
Is Kevin Rudd PM material? He has the intellect, he has the ability to go HTH with John Winston Howard. The looks? Well come on, compare him to JWH. Thankfully, he is no Mark Latham.
Although this leadership spill is happening at the wrong time - I think it should have been a year ago - I think Kevin Rudd's time is now.
As for deputy, all I will say is that if Jenny Macklin is returned, then it proves that the ALP is on a death wish.
Some predictions about the ALP federal caucus spill in a couple of hours time:
Kevin Rudd to win the leadership.
Julia Gillard to win the deputy leadership (even if Beazley gets up)
Who would I axe from the 33-strong shadow cabinet?
Stephen Conroy, Laurie Ferguson, Martin Ferguson, and of course Beazley comma B full stop. There's some more obscure ones who could go, such as Kate Lundy, Arch Bevis, Mark Bishop. Gavan O'Connor and Bob Sercombe are stepping down anyway. I think Simon Crean has found his niche as a junior minister and I'd leave him there. I wouldn't be sorry to see Stephen Smith drop several rungs down the ladder either.
To return from the cold: Bob McMullan and Craig Emerson. I'd like to see John Faulkner and Carmen Lawrence back in the fold but it's unlikely.
My key positional picks:
Shadow Treasurer - Gillard (though it should be Tanner or Emerson)
Foreign Affairs - Emerson, Tanner or Swan.
Other upwardly mobiles - Tony Burke, Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong, Joel Fitzgibbon.