Labor’s leadership crisis took a turn for the worse today when Rudd replaced Gillard as leader. While Gillard has announced that she will quit politics at the next election, a source told me that someone plans to stand against Rudd in the near future. The source wasn’t clear on who, but they were very sure on when. It’s going to happen a week after the next election. Unless Rudd wins, in which case this person will wait until the honeymoon period is over, so two weeks.
When I pressed him as to who this mysterious challenger was, he assured me that it was someone in a suit. Then, he gave a wink. Followed by a nod. Followed by a gesture with his fingers. So I asked if he was cryptically suggesting that it was a type of bird. “No, a man – someone in a suit.” I tried to explain that meant Wayne Swan, but he went on: “I told you that Rudd would challenge, and I was the one who first predicted the Global Financial Crisis. I predicted it in 1989.”
Shorten, I suggested. At which point my source sunk lower into his seat. I shook my head. Bill, I said to him. No charge, he said, my advice is free. I tried to make myself clearer, Is the challenger Bill Shorten? He looked at me blankly, and said, “Bill Shorten? Isn’t he one of the faceless men? One of the backroom people who do everything behind closed doors? How could he be a challenger when nobody has ever seen him in public?”
When I pointed out that he is part of Labor’s front bench and regularly appears on the news, my source looked confused. “Then how come they keep saying he’s one of the faceless men?”
Clearly Bill Shorten wasn’t the potential challenger. But still I could probably have a regular column repeating the rumours until they become true.
And just remember, when Bill Shorten begins: “In the interest of the Labor Party, and the nation, I can no longer serve under Rudd…” you heard it here first.
Unless you heard it somewhere else, already.