During an appearance on the ABC’sQ&A on Monday night, Mr Latham accused Mr Rudd of sabotaging the party’s election campaign in 2010 and preparing to do it again for this year’s election.
Mr Latham said Mr Rudd’s ego is out of control and he must not be rewarded.
Despite his denials, Rudd is clearly campaigning for the leadership again. He is arranging supporters to turn up to public meetings and appear to be normal members of the public giving him a hero’s welcome. It is a cleverly crafted campaign to try and persuade people he is Labor’s only hope.
“He knows that every day he gets in the media cycle he’s knocking Gillard down a notch or two in the polls. This is a program, a jihad of revenge, the like of which we have never seen before in the history of Australian politics. And it goes beyond the normal human reaction of revenge. You are getting into the realm of evil.”
Despite polls that indicate Mr Rudd would give Labor a better chance in the election than Julia Gillard, Mr Latham said the party would better off “dying on its feet”.
Latham is a bit mad, but still to have one former ALP leader call another “evil” is extraordinary. They may be in opposition for a very long time.
Malcom Farr looks at the pros and cons of a change:
The basic contest is Ms Gillard against the man she deposed in June 2010, Kevin Rudd. But there is no official contest. Unlike other leadership bouts, no one has presented themselves as a combatant.
Mr Rudd has repeated past pledges that he will not challenge the Prime Minister and would not accept a draft. He expects Ms Gillard to take the party into the election.
That’s his talk, but Labor MPs are also watching his walk through dozens of marginal Labor electorates where he has been asked to help colleagues, and in the process has shown he can draw a happy crowd. Be mobbed by them, in fact, more like a minor celebrity than a former Prime Minister.
By contrast, Julia Gillard is seen to be so personally unpopular with voters the entire government is suffering, and in certain areas that is true. In western Sydney community and business sources have told news.com.au of their surprise at the number of times locals have, unprompted, raised their dislike of the Prime Minister.
As I say, the Labor MPs have to choose between a leader the public hates and a leader the caucus hates.
This has put the focus on Employment Minister Bill Shorten, a senior Victorian right MP who helped Ms Gillard into the job in 2010, as did the union he once led, the Australian Workers’ Union.
Mr Shorten has been conscripted by the mutterers as the man who could force or persuade Ms Gillard to step aside for Mr Rudd. It’s not a job he sought and, going by his renewed backing of the Prime Minister, not a job he wants.
He faces a grinding personal choice. He might have his CV forever marked as the Labor man who brought down two Labor Prime Ministers. Or on September 15 he might be confronted by colleagues who lost their seats and blame him for not bringing about a leadership change.
If Mr Rudd were to take over he might inherit a depleted front bench as ministers such as Treasurer Wayne Swan would find it hard to serve under him.
Rudd PM might go to an election as soon as possible, maybe August 3, the earliest date possible without breaking the link between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Go early while they still adore me, might be his reasoning.
But much would need to happen before that point, and the wait now is for the return of Parliament for its final two weeks before the election next week.
And the next Newspoll.