Labor Voter Evelyn Bannister today confirmed that she had reversed her position on mainstream media outlets eschewing policy discussion in order to focus on leadership matters. The announcement comes after Bannister retweeted some 27 articles in a six-day period, all of which focussed on the prospect that Prime Minister Tony Abbott would be usurped by one of his cabinet colleagues before the next election due in 2016.
From the period 2011-2013, Bannister, who displayed an “I’m with Julia” Twibbon on her twitter profile, was highly critical of journalists who engaged in what she described as baseless and inaccurate speculation about Kevin Rudd potentially replacing Julia Gillard. Over the course of two years, she published some 1400 tweets which were concluded with the #leadershit hashtag, 600 of which were directed at columns written by Fairfax’s Peter Hartcher.
Bannister strenuously denies that her change of heart is in any way connected to political opportunism. “My position on leadership speculation, like Kevin Rudd’s on same-sex marriage, has evolved,” Bannister told The (un)Australian.
According to Professor of Political Psychology Martin Phelps, Damascus road transformations with regard to leadership speculation are surprisingly common among partisan political observers, with one of his subjects changing their position no fewer than four times since 2006.
“Take this subject of mine, in 2006 he was resolutely against leadership speculation in the lead up to Kevin Rudd challenging Kim Beazley, then in 2007 he was suddenly in favour of it just as speculation began mounting that Peter Costello was preparing to challenge John Howard, then in 2011 he changed his position again and became a fierce opponent, and then mysteriously on election night 2013 he once again decided that he was a supporter of leadership speculation. It’s completely baffling!”
Bannister declined to comment when asked if she now considered the, ultimately accurate, speculation about Julia Gillard’s leadership to be justified.