As the campaign enters its final week, the most enduring memory I will have is of Kevin Rudd’s frenzied negative attacks on Tony Abbott and the Coalition. That and his continued lying and use of numbers that have been discredited.
Rudd has taken the tactics deployed by Kristina Keneally and Anna Bligh and put them into overdrive. He has upshifted the negativity and looked increasing shrill and irrational as the campaign has progressed.
While negative politics and attacks on one’s opponents work, they have to be credible. They have to have a basis in truth.
But when Rudd screams that Abbott is going to ‘cut cut cut’ at services and force people into unemployment and poverty, even the most ignorant person would question the logic. After all, why would any aspiring head of government want to increase unemployment and poverty?
Usually the attack on the other side is that their policies are ineffective or will be poorly implemented or will cost too much etc. But previous campaigns don’t impugn the motives of the opponents.
While I think Rudd is pathetic and the worst prime minister in history, a man unfit for office, I don’t think he actually wants to increase unemployment or increase poverty.
No Australian thinks that Tony Abbott deliberately wants to destroy the economy and increase unemployment. I guess many Labor supporters think that Tony Abbott’s policies will fail, but most don’t think that it is his intention for them to fail.
It is this overreach – impugning Abbott’s motives – and relentless negativity that has been Rudd’s undoing in this campaign. Clearly his credibility has also been shattered by his demonstrated unfitness for high office.
In 2010 I wrote that Kevin Rudd should be subject to damnatio memoriae, that ancient Roman practice of scrubbing memory of the person from the historical record. Then I thought there could be a bipartisan Bill introduced to Parliament that would remove Rudd’s name from the list of Prime Ministers.
Today I think that he should be kept as a warning to future voters of the likely outcome of electing a party with a leader who was clearly unfit for office (as his colleagues clearly knew).
The biggest lesson for Labor, surely, is that it should select competent people, rather than nutters like Rudd and Latham, as leaders. The Australia people will soon watch the spectacle of a Labor Party tearing itself apart. After all, it has selected three leaders – Rudd, Latham and Gillard – who were fundamentally unfit for office and foisted them on an unsuspecting populace. Surely the gene pool for Labor is such that there must be one or two competent potential leaders?
Ceterum autem censeo Kevinum Scardinium delendum esse.