14/03/2012 - 11:14

Rudd’s angry ramblings win few friends

14/03/2012 - 11:14


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Kevin Rudd’s newfound love of his alma mater is typical of his cynical approach.

Kevin Rudd’s newfound love of his alma mater is typical of his cynical approach.

THE unprecedented degree of truth-telling by Labor MPs about Kevin Rudd, who seems to be most liked by those furthest from him and least by those closest, was a welcomed outcome of his failed bid to re-emerge as prime minister.

Two incidents reported during the clash were particularly telling.

The first was Mr Rudd’s lambasting of Julia Gillard, in her absence, in February 2011 at a Labor function in Adelaide.

As recounted – and characteristically denied by Mr Rudd – the outburst came after he noticed South Australian Senator Don Farrell, one of Labor’s so-called ‘faceless men’, at the function.

According to reports confirmed by several witnesses, Mr Rudd said to Senator Farrell: “I’ve been wondering how you reconcile your conservative brand of Catholicism with a childless, atheist, ex-communist as Labor leader.”

True, Ms Gillard is childless, and probably an atheist, but neither is a moral failing in mainstream Australia.

And what about the card-carrying communist assertion?

Coincidentally, I’d spent a day in early February in the special collections section of Melbourne University’s Baillieu Library reading through the Socialist Forum’s documents held there.

What is the Socialist Forum (SF) of which Ms Gillard was the inaugural convener?

It was established in 1984, according to the collection’s guide “initially by disaffected members of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA).

“Its members included Australian Labor Party members and political activists and trade unionists seeking an alternative to the factional constraints of the CPA and ALP.

“SF’s stated aim was to contribute to the development of democratic socialism in Australia by facilitating discussion and analysis of ideas and experiences.”

Basically, therefore, the SF Ms Gillard convened in 1984 was a group of leftists who no longer believed that Bolshevistic-style socialism was an option for Australia.

However, they couldn’t give-up their long-standing socialist dream so set about devising how socialism could be revamped for post-Malcolm Fraser Australia.

And that’s largely what the Rudd-Gillard-Wayne Swan ‘kitchen cabinet’ implemented and she’s pressing ahead with as prime minister.

We don’t know if these leftist dropouts chose 1984 to found the SF because George Orwell highlighted that year in his book of that name, or because Soviet officer in Polish military uniform, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, jailed hundreds of Polish Solidarnosc unionist leaders shortly before, something that discomforted these disoriented leftists including, perhaps, even Ms Gillard.

One SF document reads: “About 45 of the forum’s members left the CPA in the division of a year age and about 80 are members of the ALP. The largest group are not members of any political party.”

Nowhere, however, does it suggest Ms Gillard was one of the 45.

So, unless Mr Rudd was briefed by a security agency that one of his ‘kitchen cabinet’ comrades was once a CPA member, she shouldn’t be called an ex-communist.

But if he were so briefed, it was thoroughly inappropriate to have used such secret information for careerist purposes.

Ms Gillard most definitely was and is a long-time leftist. That explains why she headed Labor’s parliamentary left faction. But that’s about it; a fellow traveller maybe, but not a former communist as alleged by Mr Rudd.

The second incident to emerge during the Gillard-Rudd clash was a report outlining how he’d changed his mind about his former school – Marist College Ashgrove – during Queensland’s current state election campaign in the crucial seat of Ashgrove.

Mr Rudd left Marist College after two years and for decades viewed it as “tough, harsh, unforgiving institutional Catholicism”.

Years later, columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, David Marr, wrote: “Ashgrove marked Rudd. He emerged with an icy hatred of the school.”

The same newspaper later reported: “A couple of years ago, Marist invited the then prime minister to open a science block named after his old headmaster. 

“Rudd made his excuses and instead sent a DVD that Marr described as a message ‘of staggering rudeness’.

“He mangled the headmaster’s name, kept reminding viewers that he was PM and ‘subjected them to a brief stump speech about Labor’s contribution to science education ... his scorn was colossal’.”

But all this nastiness vaporised because of Queensland’s state election in which the Ashgrove seat is crucial.

Why? Because LNP leader Campbell Newman is contesting Ashgrove from outside parliament – so is without a seat – and must unseat Labor incumbent Kate Jones, whom Mr Rudd is helping.

The stakes are high, so high that Mr Rudd suddenly forgot his longstanding dislike of the Marist College since it’s on crucial campaigning turf.

Here’s how one journalist reported the suddenly willing Mr Rudd’s return to his alma mater, from where reporters were barred.

“So pleased was he [Rudd] with his visit to his newly loved old school yesterday (word seeped out that some students had cried ‘You should be prime minister’) that he decided to upload the record of the occasion to YouTube for all to see,” the banned reporter wrote.

“Even this seemed at odds with the tightly controlled circumstances of his return: the Marist authorities had security guards at the gates, lest journalists and camera crews try to record the event, and Rudd avoided the media by slipping through a side entrance.

“He had, clearly, experienced a conversion on the road back to Marist.”

Onetime Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson once said that to ensure Labor always won he’d do “anything it takes”.

Mr Rudd believes in doing much more, even if it means sacrificing what dignity he’s got left after the past month of desperate scrambling about for caucus and Ashgrove votes.

What’s to be made of this?

Not an easy question to answer since he’s an unusual individual, perhaps even more unusual than his complicated predecessor, Mark Latham.

However, my guess is that this question will be answered, as occurred with Mr Latham.

Remember he too behaved in a quite unorthodox fashion and for a time puzzled even hardened observers.

But soon after his failed 2004 election campaign we read that former Latham staffer, Mike Richards,  published a 13,000-word article in the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies describing his former boss’s behaviour during his turbulent year as Labor leader.

The Richards article said Latham was a victim of “tragic personality flaws”.

“The core features of that style are a distinctive political brilliance and drive that is accompanied by paranoia and destructive tendencies — anger, rage, envy and resentment — which suggest an inner dynamic involving overweening ambition defending against (that is, compensating for) low self-esteem,” Richards continued.

If no Rudd staffer feels qualified to explain his proclivities I can think of no better candidate for the task than Dr Richards, 12-years an academic, then journalist and political adviser.

But only after he’s interviewed Rudd’s staffers and ministers, of course.


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