It’s hard to see how on earth Julia Gillard can continue as PM after today, whatever the outcome of the leadership ballot. Even if no-one stands against her.
Even if she wins – even if she wins handsomely – the very fact that this ballot has become necessary has already wounded her beyond any hope of permanent recovery. She can only drag on until the next attack – and voters are already sick of this whole scenario. For the good of the party, as the phrase has it, she will still have to be deposed before the election.
More likely, however, is that the independents will desert her and she will lose a confidence vote in the near term.
If she wins narrowly, it will be worse than losing, and she will have no choice but to resign at once. She can’t continue even as an interim leader.
If I were her, I should hold the ballot and then announce my immediate resignation from the party and the parliament, whatever the outcome, and let her detractors clean up the mess.
It has become clear that this parliament and this government is on life support, long after brain death took place. Her only dignified option now is to leave on her own terms, by hitting the ‘off’ switch herself.
UPDATE: In the end, Rudd wimped out because he didn’t have the numbers, and Gillard was re-elected unopposed. The destabilisation will go on. And on. And the Labor brand is now finished.