Gillard’s decision

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Gillard has always maintained that she decided to contest the leadership only on the day she confronted Rudd with her demand for a ballot, and her repeated protestations to ABC’s Four Corners programme on Monday night – and to reporters since – have not been convincing. …

Gillard, both on Four Corners and to reporters since, has denied any preparation for a coup. But she has sidestepped detailed replies, pleaded memory lapses and has looked consistently uncomfortable.

It is best to be upfront about coup planning. No one believes it was a spur of the moment decision. I recall the Shipley coup against Bolger – they actually had a committee with a cover name (Te Puke bypass) which met for some months, and were upfront about this after the coup.

The decision boomeranged disastrously. Gillard was faced with allegations that, despite repeated statements to the contrary, she and senior staff had prepared for a leadership challenge weeks before the event.

Four Corners said this had been supported by internal party polling indicating Gillard was more popular than Rudd, and that her senior staff had begun writing the first speech she delivered as Prime Minister at least two weeks before Rudd’s ousting.

Former senator and Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson told the programme he knew a week in advance that a challenge was to be mounted.

Four Corners also said United States Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks showed the US State Department knew, even before some Labor MPs, of a challenge.

When the state department knows, everyone knows.

Gillard described suggestions that she had been driven by polling as “wholly untrue”, but admitted she might have known a speech was being written. “This was a tense few days for me and the Government, so I can’t specifically say to you when I came to know about the speech,” she told ABC radio yesterday.

But she said she did not commission the speech.

Ministerial staff are often pro-active, but I don’t think this extends to writing a speech for your boss in case they become Prime Minister.

I think it is unlikely Gillard will survive to fight the next election. More difficult to pick is who will replace her.

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