The political assassination of Kevin Rudd will fascinate for a long time to come. As with Duncan’s murder in Shakespeare’s play it was done, as Lady Macbeth cautioned, under ‘the blanket of the dark’, literally the night of 23–24 June 2010. The assassins heeded Macbeth’s advice: ‘if it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.’ And as in Macbeth, the assassins were in the shadow of the throne. Even the old king approved: Bob Hawke, himself deposed in 1991, recognised at last that the removal of a Labor prime minister is sometimes necessary.
The prime ministership brought to an end that night had been meteoric: the triumphant return of Labor from the wilderness; the opening months heady with symbolic actions, lofty aspirations and stratospheric approval ratings; the skilled navigation through the storms of the global economic crisis with the continuing approval of the people; the rapid crumbling of ambition, achievement, and popularity; and then the execution.