Monday, April 1, 2013

Reesing Back in Time

So. Nathan Rees?

I've written before about how Labor should be considering whether John Robertson is the right person to lead them towards the 2015 election. In short, I don't think he is.

There is an obvious second part to that discussion though - who if not Robbo?

Yesterday I saw the first article attempting to answer that very question - kindly spread around by O'Farrell himself:

The article can be found here
It's an interesting proposition. Did Rees get a fair shake the first time round? Can a former Premier be an effective Opposition Leader? More importantly, would be wise for Labor to hark back to their time in government?

Given this is the first piece I've seen suggesting who the next Labor leader could/should be, I was interested in taking a closer look at what Anna Patty had to say on the topic.

One of the more interesting aspects of the ICAC hearings (other than a bit schadenfraude) has seen how various Labor figures have sought to propagate their own version of history. Some have been more subtle than others, but I don't doubt that most have given evidence that sought to ensure their own interests were protected - whether those interests are overtly political or not.

It's no different to what we saw after Howard lost office - people giving interviews and writing books.where they sought to advance their version of history. Of course, when it comes to ICAC one has to be careful, given the very heavy penalties that follow if one is proven to have lied.

Naturally Rees was no exception. In particular, he has been keen to remind the public that he was dumped as Labor leader shortly after sacking Tripodi and MacDonald from his cabinet.

We have also been reminded of his words on the morning he was replaced by Kristina Keneally - "I will not hand over New South Wales to Eddie Obeid or Joe Tripodi". Even more famously, he said that whoever the new Premier was that "they will be a puppet of Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid" - an accusation that dogged Keneally for her entire time in office.

That's all true. The problem has been that, for whatever reason, Robertson has not been an effective opposition leader, for the reasons I wrote about last year.

That may be true. The problem is that, along with the public being able to "see" Rees as leader, they will inevitably connect him to the Labor they kicked out so resoundingly 2 years ago.

Even if Rees is right about his record, the opportunity he had, and who is to blame for Labor's time in office - does the average voter care about that distinction? To be honest, I doubt it.

The biggest challenge for Labor in 2015 will be proving to the public that the Labor who they so hated by the end of their time in power has changed - that Labor is ready to lead again and do so well. And I am sceptical that a previous leader is the person to do that.

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