McGuire, the son of migrants who paid £10 to give their children a better life in Australia, represents everything modern Labor should aspire to and everything it is searching to reconnect with.
Born into a blue-collar housing commission he became, through tireless hard work and bootloads of ambition, a household name. And all without ever forgetting his roots or pretending to be anyone else but himself.
His personable nature won over footy fans and he restored the aura of Melbourne’s famed working-class football club to powerhouse status, all through reconnecting the Magpies with their traditional roots in very contemporary fashion.
A finely-honed radar for middle Australia made him a success on television and radio and, it must be said, landed him in hot water along the way.
McGuire’s a straight talker, for better or for worse, and doesn’t have to think twice about what he stands for.
No one would ever accuse him of being woke, a key challenge for Labor identified in the party’s election review, which urged the ALP not to become a “grievance-based organisation”.
His failures – and there have been a litany of awful gaffes – have been very public. So too have his grovelling apologies.
None were more damaging to him than the notorious “King Kong” gaffe on morning radio in relation to Adam Goodes. Some critics have forgiven but not forgotten. Some became emboldened.
His stupidity didn’t end there, with inappropriate remarks about Age columnist Caroline Wilson and Sydney Swans supporter and amputee Cynthia Banham also leading to widespread pile-ons. Tanya Plibersek, a potential Labor leadership candidate, called him “medieval”.
Perhaps the only thing in his favour was a lack of malice, but ignorance is no longer an excuse in modern politics. That said, the rise of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson may have shown voters don’t always embrace PC sentiment.
Unlike some of his contemporaries, he’s attempted to own his mistakes – with varying forms of success – but it’s not clear he has always learned from them. Every leader is ultimately shaped by their setbacks.
‘Eddie for Canberra’ is not a new notion and, truth be told, it is probably not a realistic one.
His Toorak lifestyle and investment portfolio would be a lot to give up for daily lunches at Parliament House’s “trough”, the nickname given to the taxpayer-subsidised staff canteen which serves up daily concoctions only rivalled in Roald Dahl’s The Witches.
He has thought he’d struggle to fit into either party, saying in 1999: “I’d like to see a government that ran the economy like the Liberals but with a Labor Party conscience.″
In Grade 4 at St Dominic’s primary in Broadmeadows, he penned an early prime ministerial manifesto. The nuns appreciated it because he argued teachers should be paid more.
But his closest friends in politics are Labor people, including Bill Shorten, and his brother, Frank, has been the member for Broadmeadows in Victorian Parliament since 2011.
He was a leading campaigner for the Australian Republic Movement in 1999 and in 2012 penned a blistering attack on Julia Gillard’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Maybe it is time for a national debate on the society we want – [a] progressive, caring, sophisticated and self-assured community looking deep into this century or one mired in hocus-pocus, Dark Ages bigotry. You can’t have degrees of equality,” he wrote.
McGuire told this masthead in 2002: “Politics is not something I harbour at the moment. But you never say never.”
He has always said he was not certain he was prepared to “put in danger the wellbeing of my family for politics”.
While at Collingwood he put high value on the club reconnecting with its social conscience. At a community level he did it well, through welfare work with Melbourne’s homeless population with the Salvation Army. There are around 42 three-bedroom houses in the Magpie Nest program, and 94 adults and 24 children who were homeless or at risk of homelessness are now accommodated.
“We can actually make an impact in society and we’re able to do that without going through all the party politics and the nonsense,” McGuire once said of his work as Collingwood president.
McGuire was offered the safe Labor seat of Scullin in mid-2005 but his business career took precedence. He became chief executive of the Nine Network for a turbulent 18 months, a time remembered most notably for his alleged “boned” remark about presenter Jessica Rowe. He still denies saying it.
Some of McGuire’s closest ALP allies this week told this masthead the prospect of him entering the political scene now was unlikely. But they all concede the option would be mouthwatering.
The prospect of McGuire, an outsider, breathing life and adding some star quality to Labor’s frontbench is perhaps a sign of how stale it has become.
Anthony Albanese’s leadership has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, although his allies point out his personal polling numbers are better than any state opposition leader’s. He may well be saying all the right things, but an increasing number of his caucus believe they cannot win the next election.
In the days to come Albanese has the opportunity to reshape and regenerate his shadow cabinet, which is still full of Gillard and Rudd-era ministers.
No less than 12 of the current 20 on the Labor front bench have been in their jobs for close to a decade. Will Albanese seize authority and shake up the show?
Perhaps he should phone a friend and lock in Eddie?
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra