With Kevin Rudd vowing never again to challenge for the Labor leadership and a line of senior figures now deserting the government’s front bench, Labor is in a death roll.
The leadership issue has not been resolved, it has struck an impasse and it is feeding the cancerous growth which has consumed the party.
There is now a terminal disease within the Gillard government.
Julia Gillard remains unpopular and now faces the indignity of leading Labor to one of its biggest election defeats. Even the true believers have given up any hope of a Labor recovery.
While people might not like Tony Abbott either, the choice is one or the other, and Julia Gillard is not winning that popularity contest in the electorate or in the party room. She might have the numbers but she does not have universal support, nor does she have the skill to orchestrate a Labor victory in September.
Therefore, Labor is effectively leaderless. Julia Gillard is the unpopular leader the party must have.
If it is not Rudd and it is not Gillard, who else is there who has the skill and ability to lead Labor out of this mess and in the years ahead? Some names have been talked about but there are no contenders.
The fallout from the debacles of this week – the media reform bills being dumped and the leadership spill which amounted to nothing – has cost Labor dearly. The little credibility the government has left is quickly evaporating. The prime minister has repeatedly shown poor judgement and made significant mistakes on policy issues.
The loss of years of experience, Labor values and considerable talent and intellect from the Cabinet means Julia Gillard is now enlisting the B-team to help run the country. Crean, Ferguson and Carr were all party heavyweights with plenty to offer in their respective portfolios.
The real winner this week was not the prime minister, it was Simon Crean.
What he did on Thursday, at great personal cost, was to put the party first. He triggered the events that everyone else in the party had been talking about, but no one was willing to bring to a head.
Mr Crean is an honourable man. He is liked in all political circles and is a man of his principles. He tried to end the discontentment and rivalry in a hope a new and positive way forward could be found.
The outcome did not resolve the issue and unfortunately has made a bad situation worse.
The Australian people are growing increasingly restless and frustrated with this whole affair. Mr Rudd’s retreat and the prime minister’s brave face will not restore public confidence.