The image of our Prime Minister surrounded by yarn & knitting a kangaroo for the next heir to the English crown did it.

It was the death knell, the raising of the white flag for a leader holding on by her fingernails to the country’s top job.

Julia Gillard Knitting

The end, not in terms of the actual leadership, but the final misguided act in the image of brand Gillard. Misguided, because as all leaders do, Julia Gillard has advisors who are entrusted to provide thoughtful and smart guidance in the positioning of the PM, to critically assess media opportunities and edit those that aren’t right.

The knitting photo wasn’t right. Nor was the speech condemning Australia’s blue tie wearers in Parliament and in the boardroom. And nor was the decision to chum up to Kyle Sandilands at Kirribilli for charity.

It appears Julia Gillard just had consistently bad advice. Such as the decision to go on Howard Sattler’s radio show.

There is an imperative for political and corporate leaders to be accessible to a range of journalists, programs & publications. But it is not necessary to accept every request for an interview. How could anyone expect Gillard would receive a fair hearing with Sattler? It was always going to end in tears.

But when Gillard was confronted with that appalling line of questioning, I wished we had seen her retaliate. To fire up, to give Sattler a good piece of her mind. But instead, we heard the auto pilot, measured dismissal of the suggestion he was making.

I hope this treatment will not discourage other women to stand.

When media training, I advise clients not to be aggressive and defensive when challenged in interviews. But that is in relation to corporate positions and company decisions. Everyone should feel entitled to passionately rebut personal attacks. In those cases, it shouldn’t be about keeping the party polite.

Julia Gillard endured shocking criticism of everything from her hairstyle to her wardrobe to her personal relationship. And it is fair to say these types of analysis are not usually metered out to male MPs. And to her credit, the PM was dignified in an appalling line of fire.

I hope this treatment will not discourage other women to stand.

Savvy, sage media advice would have helped Gillard enormously. I hope it’s not too long before we see another woman take the helm, backed by advice she can trust.