There's nothing like a political coup, but politicians have over the centuries shown they are just as likely to knife a member of their own side as their opposition.

In the wake of Kevin Rudd's shock victory over Julia Gillard in a surprise leadership election, HuffPost UK takes a look at some of the most shocking political backstabbers, from Julius Caesar to John Major...

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  • Julius Caesar and Brutus

    The most famous political backstabbing of all time was a while ago. On the Ides of March of 44 BC, Caesar was due to appear at a session of the Senate. The senators encircled Caesar, having foiled Mark Antony's attempt to warn the emperor According to Eutropius, around 60 or more men participated in the assassination. He was stabbed 23 times. His last words are often thought to have been the Latin "Et tu, Brute?" ("And you, Brutus?") - but that is in fact a line from Shakespeare's play but has no basis in historical fact. He may have said to Brutus "You as well, my child?" but other contemporary accounts say Caesar said nothing at all.

  • Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd

    In what must rank amongst the<a href="" target="_blank"> most shocking political comebacks of all time</a>, the Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has been defeated in a snap leadership election by the man she originally ousted, Kevin Rudd. Gillard originally toppled Rudd in a leadership challenge in 2010.

  • Jacques Chirac and Valery Giscard d'Estaing

    A bitter rivalry was ongoing throughout both men's French political careers. Prime Minister Chirac resigned over tensions with President Giscard in 1976 but in-fighting continued until after the next election. Giscard was defeated in the 1981 presidential election by Mitterrand. At the time, Chirac ran against Giscard in the first round and declined to call his voters to elect Giscard. Giscard has always attributed his defeat to Chirac, and he is widely said to loathe Chirac.

  • Margaret Thatcher And Geoffrey Howe And Michael Hestletine

    Geoffrey Howe, the last remaining member of Thatcher's original 1979 cabinet resigned in 1990 as Deputy Prime Minister, something the PM regarded as a personal betrayal. The next day, Michael Heseltine mounted a challenge for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Although Thatcher won the first ballot, Heseltine attracted sufficient support to force a second ballot. Thatcher initially stated that she intended to "fight on and fight to win" the second ballot, but consultation with her Cabinet persuaded her to withdraw. She left Downing Street in tears.

  • Macmillan's Night of The Long Knives

    Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dismissed seven members of his Cabinet, one-third of the total in a brutal reshuffle compared humorously to Nazi Germany's purge of opposition politicians. Macmillan faced sharp criticism over the scale of the changes, and his political opponents both within the Conservative Party and in the Opposition characterised him as ruthless and opportunistic.

  • John Major And John Redwood

    When John Major tendered his resignation as Conservative leader in 1995, Redwood resigned from the Cabinet and stood against Major in the subsequent party leadership election on 26 June, taking a Eurosceptic stance. Redwood received 89 votes, around a quarter of the then Parliamentary Party. The Sun newspaper had declared its support for Redwood in the run-up to the leadership contest, running the front page headline "Redwood versus Deadwood".

  • Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell

    Lib Dem rivals started briefing against Kennedy in 2005, after a spat of stories about his alleged alcohol problem that led to a confrontation with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman. Kennedy admitted in 2006 that he had received treatment for alcoholism, and said would be calling a leadership contest to resolve the issues surrounding his authority once and for all. A letter from twenty-five Liberal Democrat MPs, including nineteen frontbench members, was delivered to him. It stated that the signatories could no longer serve as front bench speakers under his leadership. Just a few days later, Kennedy called a press conference where he announced that whilst he was buoyed by the supportive messages he had received from grassroot members, he felt that he could not continue because of the lack of confidence of the parliamentary party. He said he would not be a candidate in the leadership election, and that he would stand down as leader "with immediate effect", with Menzies Campbell acting as interim leader until a new leader was elected. Campbell went on win the resulting leadership election.

  • The Milibands

    David Miliband, the older brother and former Foreign Secretary, was widely seen as the natural successor to Gordon Brown, and a leadership coup led by Miliband the elder had been widely tipped but never happened prior to the 2010 election. After Labour's defeat, younger brother Ed, the Labour government's Energy Secretary, announced he would stand for the leadership, and with strong support from trade unions, toppled his older brother's claim to take the top job. Both brothers insist there is no bad blood between the two.

  • Ann Widdecombe and Michael Howard

    In 1997, during the Conservative leadership election of William Hague, Widdecombe spoke out against Michael Howard, under whom she had served when he was Home Secretary. She famously remarked "there is something of the night about him". The remark was considered to be extremely damaging to Howard, who was frequently satirised as a vampire thereafter. He came last in the poll. Howard went on to become party leader in 2003, however, and Widdecombe then stated, "I explained fully what my objections were in 1997 and I do not retract anything I said then. But this is 2005 and we have to look to the future and not the past.