Sunday 11 September 2011

Labor Government heading for wipeout without Kevin Rudd in command, say supporters

KEVIN Rudd's supporters have warned Labor colleagues that voters will "wipe us off the planet" unless there is a change in leadership.

The former Prime Minister is "stronger every day" after heart surgery and is plotting a political comeback this week - as Foreign Affairs minister.

But a small group of backers in the ALP caucus are urging colleagues to consider a "back to the future" leadership ticket before the next election, with Defence Minister Stephen Smith also touted. Mr Rudd, who is recovering at his Brisbane home, has not been lobbying MPs.

"The only way we are going to come out of this is to get Kevin back," a Labor MP said.
Several MPs have confirmed they were sounded out by third parties over Mr Rudd and Mr Smith as leadership contenders. Others have named a Labor MP as "doing the numbers" for Mr Rudd. But Prime Minister Julia Gillard's supporters have scoffed at the idea, warning the deal with the independents to form a government could collapse if there was a change.
A Labor MP predicted there was only a 25 per cent chance the ALP would change leaders before the election but if it didn't voters "will wipe us off the face of the planet". "A growing number of caucus think we made a mistake," he said.

"The public want Rudd back as PM. But the caucus won't accept that. It's the trauma of what they did. We're just passengers on the Titanic as it charts a course to the iceberg."
Another senior MP said: "If a horse can't win after 12 months you stop backing it."

Mr Rudd has been lying low after his heart valve was replaced on August 1. His recuperation has allowed him to stay out of the media during another bout of leadership speculation as Ms Gillard's popularity plunged.

Labor's primary vote is now 27 per cent, a level that would deliver a crushing defeat. Mr Rudd will seek his doctor's approval tomorrow to attend talks in San Francisco with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

His wife Therese Rein has taken to Twitter to declare him on the mend. "Stronger every day," she tweeted.

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