Inside Kevin 07 by News Ltd journalist, Christine Jackman, is a pop politics, ‘read in a day’ book about Kevin Rudd’s capture of the ALP leadership and subsequent winning of the November 2007 federal election.
It is a breathless story of sharp suited, narcissistic, media and poll-obsessed, and thoroughly neo-liberal Labor operatives working 22-hour days to wrench power from one wing of the ruling class to another.
Don’t expect any explanation or analysis here. However, almost by accident, Inside Kevin 07 lets slip some interesting anecdotes about this layer at the top of the ALP and pro-ALP unions.
For example, how then ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet, secretly went to see to Prime Minister John Howard seeking a compromise on Work Choices. And strike-averse Unions NSW leader John Robertson (by no means the worst trade union leader in Australia) declaring his vision for the union movement is to be like the National Rifle Association in the US – a lobby group with influence – not the industrial arm of the working class.
The dominant theme of Inside Kevin 07, however, is the poll-driven nature of the modern ALP. Within the confines of totally accepting capitalism as the only way to run society, the ALP elite cynically pitch their ideas on feedback from focus groups of swinging voters.
However, as the Northern Territory election showed, voters are wary of the future and even more wary of spin. There is a growing feeling that the banks and big business need to be reigned in, not feted, by government.
The dilemma facing Rudd is explained near the end of the book: “And therein lies the challenge facing Third Way politics around the world. Things really can only get better if a country’s economic fundamentals are sound. And yet, responsible economic management may not ultimately allow much scope for new styles of politics, whether they are positioned as the ‘Third Way’ or ‘reclaiming the radical centre’ or anything else, particularly in countries such as Australia, where a medium-sized economy operates within parameters increasingly defined by global forces.”
Reviewed by Stephen Jolly
Inside Kevin 07
The People, the Plan, the Prize
By Christine Jackman
Melbourne University Press, 2008