Blood and Guts

There is nothing like a messy leadership battle to spill blood and guts all over the place:

Labor’s legitimacy crisis with the voting public is now infecting the party itself. Those backing Gillard and those backing Rudd don’t just run down the rival candidate as being an inferior choice for the job. They do that, of course. But they also do a whole lot more.

Each side also paints the opponent as having absolutely no legitimate claim to the prime ministership.

Unlike the other epic leadership battles of our time – Hawke v Keating, Howard v Costello – this is not just a dispute about who would be a better leader, or whether it is time for generational leadership change, or whether the incumbent has reneged on a deal to hand over to the aspirant, whether struck in the presence of witnesses at Kirribilli House or on a scrappy note stored for years in somebody’s wallet.

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Don’t get me wrong, those fights were bitter, protracted and personal. But this one is being waged at an entirely different level.

This has become a moral conflict, where the Rudd and Gillard ”camps” each view the other side as utterly illegitimate, mendacious and posing an existential threat to the Labor Party.


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