ONE thing sure to ''leak'' is a prime ministerial lecture to the troops about leaking. So you have to wonder why Julia Gillard would have left herself so open at her first caucus of the year.
Surely there was a better way to stress the need for unity than telling her party that journalists had informed her when they returned from holidays they had messages from a number of ALP MPs wanting to give negative assessments of the government.
The Prime Minister's frustration that everything she does is seen in a bad light is obvious.
She feels herself, and indeed is, victim of a media storm but she knows those in her own ranks have fanned the winds.
In caucus she gave a long defence of her decision to name the election date.
But her ''leaking'' anecdote was a sign of weakness - the opposite of the strongly assertive image she wants to project.
Monday's Newspoll fall in Labor's support has been another blow, as she battles to convince her party that she's on top of things. The primary vote has tumbled from the land of hope (38 per cent) to the territory of despair (32 per cent) in just a fortnight.
The real picture may be more complicated, but for Gillard such a bad number, on top of everything else, is a kick in the guts.
Especially when she's wrestling with the Rudd spectre. Whatever happens, it's always all about Kevin. Most of what Gillard does, from the announcement of the election date to the timing of the reshuffle is interpreted wholly or partly through the prism of dealing with the Rudd threat.
The Rudd camp is watching and waiting; some are pushing out the timetable.
Meanwhile a fresh narrative has started, as ministers comment on a suggestion that Rudd's electoral appeal should be mobilised to help Gillard.
Anthony Albanese declared Rudd ''an asset'' to the party - ''we need to engage Kevin Rudd and use him wherever possible''.
Simon Crean, who lashed out ferociously at Rudd early last year, said that if Rudd could be a ''disciplined asset'' (surely a contradiction in terms?) ''it would be a fantastic boost to our fortunes''.
Indeed. Leaving aside the practical problems:
First, Rudd now hates Gillard with a passion.
Second, many in Labor harbour a deep distrust of him because of the 2010 campaign leaks.
Third, Rudd is still trying to find the numbers to knock off Gillard.
The story PM battens down the hatches for seven months in a leaky caucus first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.