"According to demographer and former Labor senator John Black, by the middle of 2012, with most polls showing Labor's primary vote stuck at 30 per cent, Julia Gillard had cost her party two million votes."
- Maxine McKew, page three in her recent book Tales from the Political Trenches published by Melbourne University Press
here's another fun quote, from page 160, the beginning of a compelling chapter:
"It's something to think about isn't it? That a first-term Prime Minister was removed because he was insufficiently deferential to a small group of people who see themselves as the 'owners' of the Labor Party. Rudd refused to genuflect and kiss the ring. He was busy with other things."
Read whichever interpretation of the word "ring" that you like. Actually, this quote is a description of the way that workplaces in Australia normally work. I think most Aussies have just come to accept that this is how things are.
This book is my pick as a summer read for Australian readers with an interest in politics. The book is part autobiography, blending with commentary and reporting on the events before, during and after the winter of 2010 when a highly popular Aussie PM in his first term was deposed by lesser beings, throwing the ALP into an abyss of voter unpopularity, pretty much the same abyss that Rudd had only two and a half years earlier pulled the ALP out of. In case you didn't know, McKew had a long and respected career in journalism at a public broadcaster before retiring and successfully later running for the ALP in the 2007 Rudd landslide federal election, and in doing so unseating the Liberal Prime Minister John Howard who till then had appeared to be unassailable. McKew was later unseated in the 2010 federal election which was a choice between political leaders that could be summed up as "dumb and dumber". So, Maxine has heaps and heaps to write about, and she's got the skill in spades to write in a clear and engaging manner. This is probably why this book drew me in, even to read stuff that I'd not otherwise find of interest. The main attraction for me in this book is McKew's debunking of many of the points in the official ALP/Gillard and Swan account of why Rudd had to be removed, and also McKew's general arguments against the integrity and competence of Gillard and Swan. Many anonymous but apparently very senior ALP sources are quoted by McKew regretting the coup of winter 2010. I can completely understand why such sources would insist on anonymity. There's also a quote from Rudd. Two and a half years later, many Australians are still feeling outrage at Gillard and Swan's disloyal grab for power. It must surely go down in Australian political history as the stupidest decision ever.