Labor’s next leader: the form guide

JuliaAfter some disastrous recent polls for Kim Beazley – who can’t even make political hay out of WorkChoices – there’s yet another leadership challenge in the air for the beleaguered ALP. The only problem is that there isn’t an obvious successor on the horizon. Or any kind of success, really. Here are the current odds of who’s most likely to suffer the humiliation of a defeat by Peter Costello.

  • Kevin Rudd. Perceived to be talented, charming and perfect leadership material. But only by Rudd himself. 10 to 1
  • Bill Shorten. An irritating self-promoter, but much less so than Kevin Rudd. Also very good with difficult rescue missions, which is Labor’s current situation. 10 to 1.
  • Natasha Stott Despoja. Needs a new party due to the pending extinction of the Democrats. Unlikely to join the ALP, though, due to the party rule requiring all incoming Dems to sleep with Gareth Evans. 100 to 1.
  • Eddie McGuire. Was seriously rumoured to be running for the ALP at one stage. And as he’d be in front of the cameras where he works best, it’s a less strange notion than him becoming CEO of Nine. 70 to 1
  • Tony Blair. He’s not nearly as unpopular in Australia as he is in Britain, and he’s about to have some free time. Plus, unlike most of Federal Labor, he’s actually won an election. Has a plummy English accent, but that doesn’t seem to have hampered Alexander Downer. 50 to 1.
  • Jeff Kennett. Unlikely, but a less crazy idea than rejoining the Victorian Liberals, as Federal Labor at least has some chance of winning. Unlikely to assist his mission to cure the nation’s depression, though. 300 to 1
  • Paul Keating. If the Libs wanted Kennett back, how much more should the ALP want Keating? After 10 years of the Liberals, suddenly he doesn’t seem so arrogant, does he. Also knows how to land a punch on John Howard, which is more than you can say for Kim Beazley. 50 to 1
  • Mark Latham. Actually had some policies and gave the party hope, even though they were the wrong ones and it was ultimately false. The best Labor leader since Keating. In fact, the only Labor leader since Keating. 500 to 1 after publication of The Latham Diaries
  • Simon Crean. A well-respected former leader… ah, I’m only kidding. 1,000,000 to 1.
  • Peter Garrett. A legendary frontman, although of a rock band. No frontbench experience, which in the current situation is a definite advantage. 20 to 1.
  • Julia Gillard. It’s high time a woman led one of Australia’s major parties. Unfortunately the only one on offer is Julia Gillard, who alienated both her colleagues and voters earlier in the year by backstabbing Kim Beazley. Worse still, she’s still friendly with Mark Latham. Still, she’s the best of an awful bunch. 3 to 1.

Morris Iemma said he thought that Beazley’s reply speech showed that he was the best person to lead the party. But in fact this list of alternatives is the only argument that Kim Beazley is the best person to lead it.

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