Rudd to wait

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I see no reason why Rudd will rush things. He has three options.

1. Challenge soon. May lose, high risk that he wouldn’t get another chance. Tarnish his legacy as his disloyalty becomes explicit and blame for Labor’s malaise may get stuck on him. Even if he wins, spill likely to be bloody and hamper Labor’s chances at next election.

2. Wait but challenge later. Keep destabilising until party has to draft him, Howard style. May not happen though. Advantage that likely to minimise the trauma and give Labor some chance at next election.

3. Not challenge at all. Just keep destabilising Gillard. As Gillard gets worse his PMship looks better. Get revenge by living well, preferably in Geneva.

Despite the media conjecture, I think 3 is the most likely. Not enough attention is paid to how important is the legacy to Rudd and others. If Rudd does challenge, it remains unlikely that Labor can win the next election (they actually have to pick up seats). What does that mean for Rudd? He will go down as a failure, perhaps more so than Gillard. Indeed, the early he becomes the leader before the next election the more blame he will get.

That said, 2 remains an option. The fact is Labor are looking at a wipeout with Gillard. Even if they can’t win with Rudd he would probably help save some furniture. Self-interest may trump personal animosity.

I think 1 is very unlikely barring a terrible Nielsen poll for Labor on Monday. If Labor poll in the 20s on Monday, Caucus may act itself regardless of what Rudd wants to do.

Stay up late on Sunday to get the poll first. It will be the most important since June 2010.

UPDATE: Peter Hartcher, Rudd’s favorite journo, agrees that Rudd is reluctant to challenge at the moment and wants to be drafted:

Rudd cannot openly seek to persuade his colleagues without being accused of gross disloyalty, and perhaps provoking a confrontation he doesn’t seem ready to embrace.

… But if Labor’s fate is in the palm of Rudd’s hand, he’s not making any move to grasp it. He seems content, for now, to wait for the party to reach the point where it falls into his embrace. The exact timing and circumstances are unpredictable, but it’s growing near.