Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Australia's problem? We never talked about Kevin Rudd - Richard Flanagan in The Guardian

'I was elected by the Australian people as the prime minister," Kevin Rudd said in his tearful speech after being deposed as prime minister by his own party in June 2010, to be replaced by Julia Gillard. Except he wasn't. Rather, the Australian people in 2007 elected a parliament in which the Australian Labor party (ALP), of which Rudd was leader, had a majority of seats. And thus, as ever in the Westminster system, it was the majority of parliamentarians who decided Rudd would be prime minister. And then that he wouldn't.
But Rudd's confusion was also that of the Australian people, and they viewed his sacking almost as a regicide, a view powerfully helped along by the new Labor regime's refusal to say exactly why they had replaced him, allowing Rudd's subtle rebuilding of himself as a martyr to faceless men and factions.
Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, was a new type of politician who had built his power base and appeal through the manufacture of a 21st-century celebrity. He rose to national prominence not so much with policy, but appearances on a commercial breakfast TV programme. He used social media and light entertainment radio and TV to advance himself. His support base wasn't built in the party, but on his polling figures.
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