Labor has finally made the decision it ought to have taken long ago, but the counter-revolution has been extremely bloody and there are bodies all over the place.
Not only is there a new Prime Minister but a new deputy PM (Anthony Albanese), and a new Senate leadership combination (Penny Wong, Jacinta Collins).
Six cabinet ministers have quit the frontbench – Wayne Swan, Greg Combet, Stephen Conroy, Peter Garrett, Craig Emerson and Joe Ludwig. Garrett and Emerson will resign from Parliament at the election, as will Julia Gillard, who pledged before the ballot to go if she lost.
Rudd has been restored to the leadership three years to the week after he was pushed out.
In his mind, his return journey has all been about righting a wrong, seizing back what was his – the power, the Prime Ministerial Office, the Lodge.
This rang through his news conference tonight, when he said: “In 2007 the Australian people elected me to be their PM. That is the task that I resume today …”
Rudd’s tortuous course back has been costly to the party and contributed to, although is not responsible for, Gillard’s failures.
His 57-45 margin was comfortable but far from the draft he wanted.
The latest lunge at the leadership by the Rudd forces was much better organised than the one of February last year, let alone the March fiasco when Rudd didn’t stand.
One big difference is that caucus members, faced with horrifying public and private polls, have become more desperate.
It is a great pity they did not have the political nous and hard headedness to realise a year ago that he was their best option. Labor’s prospects would be much better.
Rudd has had to make a liar of himself, after he said in March he would never again be leader of the Labor party.
Today he took responsibility for going back on his word, saying three things had made him change his stand. These were requests from his colleagues, his belief that the Australian people deserved a competitve choice at the election, and his fear that without that Tony Abbott would win the greatest landslide since federation.
In the enthusiasm of tonight Rudd’s so flagrantly breaking his word is lost – seen as one of those things politicians do in these circumstances. Nevertheless it may fuel the cynicism in an already cynical electorate.
Bill Shorten’s deathknock (though not entirely unexpected) announcement that he was switching sides was important and symbolic – and also involved going back on his word. Only a few hours before the ballot his spokeswoman said he hadn’t changed position.