As predicted here, the Rove gaff was a bigger mistake than first perceived and has proven the catalyst for the end of Beazley. If Labor keeps the Bomber he is almost certainly doomed, because the narrow win will nonetheless act as a vote of no confidence.
Rudd is likely, though far from certain, to win this stoush (TM Liam 2005). But strategically why would he have wanted it? Hanging on until the next election was a win-win option for Ruddy. If Beazley won he would be foreign minister rather than a bleating opposition hack, and could set his sight on a 3 to 6 year timetable for the top job anyway.
But if Beazley lost, and it remains odds-on that Labor will lose regardless of who heads it, he, Rudd, would smoothly walk into the leadership and take with him some reformist clout and a mandate to run on some issue other than the twin IRs: relations and rates.
Now, if Rudd wins the challenge, it will be Julia Gillard who steps into the reserve spot, quietly fingering her partly-drawn dagger as she waits and watches his performance.
Is this her plan? Is it the plan of many of the unlikelies, such as Simon Crean, who are supporting the Rudd insurrection?