Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A hair-brained idea?

Ex-Premier is a pretty tough gig. It's even tougher when you don't retire but rather remain as a humble back-bencher.  Moreover, a back-bencher for a party reduced to only 20 seats after one of the most inevitable and yet humiliating defeats in Australian electoral history.

Whilst I had plenty of criticism for Keneally in her time at the helm, at the end of the day the defeat she presided over was unavoidable. There was nothing she could do to prevent it besides hope that O'Farrell implode in spectacular fashion.

Upon being defeated she had the good sense to step aside and allow the rebuilding to commence, although whether her choice of replacement is any better suited to the task is another question entirely.

Photo from here
It seemed fait accompli that Keneally would step aside after the election, and speculation was rife as to what her plans were.

She committed to serve out her term to quell speculation that she was planning to pursue a career in Canberra.

In any event, that seemed to me to be an unlikely course - how much success could she really have with this defeat hanging round her neck?  Keneally wasn't solely to blame for the loss, but she was still part of the Labor caucus in the years leading up to the defeat.

Assuming she obtained preselection for a NSW federal seat, it is not difficult to imagine the tactics an effective Coalition campaigner would adopt.

In the event, Keneally really has gone to ground since the election.  She stopped tweeting, and she was either not offered or was refused a cabinet position. Presumably she has been doing some work behind the scenes, but her profile has been pretty much zero.

In fact, according to this piece she is the only Labor MLA to not have given a speech this term.

Photo from here
On 2 August, however, Keneally burst back onto the political radar.  And she did it with a haircut.

Personally, I couldn't care less how Keneally wears her hair.  On the day the new haircut debuted , there was a frenzy on Twitter as journalists frantically reported the rampant gossip.  I found it all rather unedifying.

The Tele published this rather breathless piece about the new 'do, including reporting that Keneally's "preferred hairdresser" refused to comment.

Nick O'Malley gave us this drivel (which I still can't believe the Herald published):

As if that wasn't enough:
Now, that's all by the by.  The point I want to make is that Keneally knew this would be the reaction.  Whether this reaction is justified or not, she must have expected a fuss.

That's not to say she shouldn't have cut her hair.  If she wants to shave her head and get a dozen piercings it's no concern of mine.

But her actions start to seem a little more calculated when you look at what has happened in the fortnight since.

Predictably, everyone was aflutter about the new haircut for a few days, The next day this piece was published in the Daily Telegraph dredging up all those old questions about what Keneally's plans were.

The journo took the opportunity to quote a "senior Labor source" saying "I think she's sticking with the line that she's going to stay but you wouldn't be wrong to say it's possible she'll go earlier."

Keneally would have known that she didn't need to do anything to keep her name in the headlines for the next few days - bored journos would keep filing stories about the hair for a few days.

According to this piece in the Southern Courier published on 8 August, "The Southern Courier was the only media Kristina Keneally agreed to speak with last week after her new hair-do quickly became the hottest political ticket item on returning to parliament."

She also "insisted there was no basis to any of the rumours that she was considering resigning" although the quote provided immediately following seemed a lot more ambiguous that the conclusion drawn:

In this piece published in the SMH she revealed that she had been appointed to the board of South Cares, the South Sydney Rabbitohs' charitable arm.

Today there was a puff piece in the Tele talking about Keneally and a concert next week.

What's important to note, besides the fact that both of these stories would no doubt be heavily based on a press release issued by her office, is that both carried posed photos.  The length of her hair in the photos proves that they are not convenient recycled stock photos, but rather the result of a photo shoot.

Most surprisingly of all, Keneally has also reappeared on twitter.  As Premier, she posted over 2500 tweets, but had not posted since the election.

Suddenly, on 9 August, she resurfaced with this:

SInce then, she has been responding to tweets, retweeting colleagues, having a dig at Fred Nile, and generally using twitter most effectively.

So, does this mean anything?  I think it does.  I just wish I knew what.

It can't be a leadership tilt.  Not even NSW Labor could be that stupid, and I doubt Keneally thinks they are.

Nor do I think a move into the Federal parliament is likely.  It just doesn't make any political sense.

It is possible that she is looking to retire from parliament, and is presently increasing her profile to try and score a job, either in the private sector or perhaps some important government position.  This would seem like an odd way to do it though.

Maybe this is all just part of her trying to take a more active role and perform well as a local member. But again, she doesn't need profile to make that happen.

Of course, only Keneally and her staff will know for sure what is going on.

But it seems to me that she is trying something.  Hopefully we won't have to wait long to find out what.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe she's tilting at the Democrat nominations in the US of A some time down the track. Is she any less qualified for US politics than Sarah Palin (political orientations notwithstanding)?