Julia Gillard is in terrible trouble in Australia. The knives are sharpening and the men are meeting in the smoke filled rooms:
This will be a long, cold autumn for Prime Minister Julia Gillard. With polling at rock bottom, an appalling run of bad press, blunders and deep rumblings among her backbenchers, the sound of knives on whetstones is growing louder.
While most talk of a coup is from anonymous MPs, former Labor leader and Regional Development Minister Simon Crean was moved to publicly warn Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd off any move to take back from Gillard the leadership he lost in 2010.
Other senior ministers, including those considered most likely to contend any leadership ballot, have equally as loudly rejected a challenge and have pledged loyalty to the beleaguered Prime Minister.
But nothing can stop the speculation. There have been some suggestions that Gillard should herself declare the leadership open for ballot within the next few weeks in the hope of catching Rudd before he musters sufficient numbers, thereby sinking his chances.
But most observers believe the danger period for Gillard will come between the March 24 Queensland State election and Parliament’s May budget session.