2013 could be summed up as the year when neither Labor under Rudd, nor the Coalition under Abbott proved capable of filling the gap left by the exhaustion of Labor’s historical project under Gillard.
The will for unity merely reflects the reality of Labor today after the historic left-right battles and the more recent battles between the reformers and the power brokers have run their course.
When Labor is in a position to stop slapping asylum seekers about, we will know that a new political arrangement is falling into place.
If the unions switch to Rudd, it will be for the same reason they dumped him in the first place.
The problem that both parties now face is that having raised the asylum seeker “problem” for internal party reasons, the external conditions for solving it are no more favourable than they were in 2007-2008.
Latham is articulating a search for a new relationship of politics to society, based not on its representation, but on intervention on a degraded basis. You have been warned.
You think it’s about Rudd v Gillard? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Crean was trying to find a compromise between a party power structure that has lost its relevance and a challenger whose popularity rests on not being part of it. It failed because things have gone past the point where a compromise is possible.
It is the loss of that social base that Labor is struggling to adapt to, not some problem of ideology.
It will be the breakdown of the factional system that will be the necessary precondition for the return of Rudd, but not sufficient.