Last chance politics

I was sitting in the First Class lounge at Paddington waiting to board my train to Bath that I found out that Julia Gillard had been deposed as Prime Minister by Kevin Rudd. I had glanced up at the TV high on the wall broadcasting BBC news silently, and read the little snippet of news flash by at the foot of the screen.

I looked on, hoping for further details, more in rapt fascination than the relieved jubilation I might have felt. On the train to Bath I felt more feeling return to me. A full 18 months ago I had predicted the disastrous and inevitable course of events we have been witness to. It seemed clear to me even then that the die had been cast, and that the only hope of the Labor party surviving as a viable and relevant concern was with Rudd back in the job. I had been scathing of the Labor members too fearful to do anything other than bury their head deeper into the sand. Perhaps a miracle would transform their chances. Maybe the political fairy would listen to their fevered prayers and grant them a wish. Perhaps the world would end.

It’s fair to say there are very few politicians from either side I respect. I think Abbott is a buffoon, Hockey a gibbering fool, and Bishop a Stepford wife. There’s no possible way I could vote for them in their present incarnation. I was not about to vote for Labor either, until now, but still have serious concerns about the calibre of candidate on offer.

With the writing on the wall for so long their protracted refusal to accept it bodes ill. Either they’re dumb, hopelessly deluded, or have testicles the size of a freeze-dried pea. Probably all, though I’m certain that half of them sit down to pee. That they have finally changed  their tune does little to redeem them in my opinion – in some ways, just the opposite. Come the ultimate crunch it smacks more of self-preservation than public service. Public service decreed that this, the deposition of Gillard, should have come long ago.

A few days on, and having caught up with the details properly, I feel as if we’ve been granted a last-minute reprieve. It may only be a stay of execution, but we know at least that the disastrous hiding the Labor party was facing with Gillard in the job has now been averted. Defeat is still likely – though not certain – but if it comes it will be recoverable.

What are the odds? Slightly against I would think, though Rudd is a great campaigner, a far superior communicator than either Abbott or Gillard, and is much more popular than any of them. It’s all up to the next 6-8 weeks. Rudd needs to keep busy. He needs to show that he’s in control, and doing things. Certainly the Libs will be nervous for the first time in quite a while.

As for Gillard? I don’t want to be ungracious, but I have little time for her. Predictably, and hypocritically, many are coming out now about how unfortunate she was throughout, and how gracious she was bowing out.

Well, it’s all about getting the job done. There’s no doubt that she was a victim of sexism, primarily from the right side of politics, and in large swathes of the media. A more capable woman would have overcome that, and ultimately she is out of the job because she was not nearly capable enough. To claim, as some have, that she lost the job because she is a woman is reprehensible.

It’s interesting commentary nonetheless. Sitting here in England watching reports you get a different slant. In the jingoistic way of much of the press – even the quality press – it was claimed that a significant reason that she lost her job was because so few men supported her. Well, with an approval rating of under 30%, the reality is that clearly a substantial section of the female electorate wouldn’t have a bar of her either. On my part I couldn’t care less what the sex of our leader is, or religion or creed, as long as they can do the job. It will matter to some, but more most it’s all about the job.

Gillard was a victim of her own wretched judgement time after time. Too often she was strong when she should have been flexible, and weak when strength would have carried the day. She was a poor communicator, either failing to sell the achievements when they came, or else managing to put her foot in it. From the outside she appeared beholden to the union movement who put her in the job, and in the thrall to Machiavellian advisers very much out of tune with public sentiment. On a basic level lots disliked and/or mistrusted her. Her greatest moments came when she let herself go – such as her misogyny speech – otherwise she appeared stiff, even cold, and over-concerned with spouting the carefully contrived party line. Had she been bold enough to be her own woman then perhaps none of this need have happened.

By and large my greatest beef with her were the policies and perspectives that went against old-fashioned Labor principles, and common decency. She played politics with important issues that needed to be better and more humanely dealt with. The asylum seekers is the obvious one, but so too is same-sex marriage.

She did achieve things, much of which will be lasting unless Abbott comes in and acts the vandal. The carbon tax is a success; hopefully the Gonski reforms will become reality also. Then there’s the national disability insurance scheme. The NBN – a great nation-building exercise – was a Rudd initiative. The super-tax was a botched opportunity and failure of nerve.

That’s her forte I suspect, policy making, without the pressures of leadership or the need to play politics. As a deputy leader I suspect she would be highly capable; as leader she was a disaster.


I’d laugh if I wasn’t crying

Well that was disappointing. And a bit of a farce. That’s nothing new, if the Labor Party was a sit com it would be sitting at top of the ratings, a laugh a minute.

So, after all that drama yesterday, all that ado, nothing eventuated. Gillard is still PM, and Rudd may have forfeited his final chance. Certainly Labor, without him, is finished.

I still have suspicion that there may yet be another chapter in this melodramatic saga (ok, it’s a dramatic comedy). Gillard is fatally wounded and doesn’t know it. The party is headed for a wreck. And the namby-pamby members – more namby-pamby than I ever expected (I wouldn’t buy one of them a beer) – remain deluded enough to hope that a miracle will yet occur and that Attila the Hun will not sweep down upon them. Go on, keep your heads under the blanket – reality is soooo scary.

If you hear disdain in my voice then give yourself a gold star. I find it hard to have any sympathy for such a wretched crew. They’re as dumb as an Ox. Gillard I’ve lost all respect for. Her one redeeming feature was that she was a ballsy character, but that has lost relevance. She’s a one trick pony, has nothing but a tough skin, and that energy we see only when she’s backed into a corner. I have no time for that. I think it’s weak. Where is it when the government needs to forge forward? Where is it when the government should take the initiative? Nowhere.

It’s like a team going into 3/4 time of a match 10 goals down and kicking 8 goals in the last quarter. It looks better, they fought it out you think, but when it happens week after week you wonder why they can’t show that fortitude and fight when the game’s on the line. It’s no good looking good in junk time, the pressure’s off. Man up and make it happen from the start. That’s what makes for a successful team, doing it when it counts. All the rest is rubbish, and I have no respect for that effort. So it is with Gillard. She grinds her teeth, she puts on her tough face, she faces down the namby-pamby’s, and then makes a big play of it. Fine, you’re a feisty gal – but where are the ideas, the initiative, the simple competence you expect from your government; where’s the inspiration, the communication, the vision, the passion, belief and honesty?

Odds are that Gillard will lead the Labor party to the next election, and that it will be a disaster like we’ve never seen before in Australian politics. I think the namby-pamby’s know this, but won’t open their eyes to accept it. I think Rudd may have one last shot – this government is dead – but he’s running it awfully fine.

Gillard Rudd Challenge Expected As Crean Seeks ALP Spill

Gillard Rudd Challenge Expected As Crean Seeks ALP Spill.

This is the best news I’ve had for a while. Respect to Simon Crean for actually getting up and doing something about the leadership situation. While most of the Labor party has been going to bed with the covers over their head for too long, Crean is the first to actually come out and speak to the reality of the situation: that it can’t go on like this. That Labor can’t win with Gillard as leader.

Interesting to see what happens from here. Will Gillard accede to the request for a spill? She’s a stubborn woman. so chances are no more than 50/50 I reckon. Regardless, it means their will be a leadership ballot even if it takes a formal challenge from Rudd. I think that Gillard is finished;p I certainly hope so.

Crean is old school Labor, that is to say, a man of integrity and principle. He was one who came out against Rudd last time, for him to reverse that now counts for a lot. I think it will galvanise the undecideds. The issue has been forced, a commitment has been made, and all the namby-pamby members will be forced to make a choice.

As far as I can see there is only one choice for anyone with a bit of sense. That may not be a given with all pollies, but the instinct for self-preservation is, as ever, strong. Continue with Gillard and they’re on the scrapheap later this year. Vote for Rud and they have a fighting chance.

Bonus is that if Rudd gets up then Swan is gone, yippee. And Gillard can ride off into the sunset muttering how strong and feisty she is, as if it mattered.

Stay tuned.

It’s our party, and I’ll cry if I have to

English: Chart of the Australian Labor Party t...

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After the events of the last few days I realise I’m just about done with federal ALP. It’s been an unedifying and ugly spectacle watching as the minions of Gillard line up to take a swipe at Kevin Rudd. Clearly it’s intended to make him too unpalatable an option to vote for. It may work on that count, time will tell, but on a couple of other counts it has been a sheer disaster. Oblivious as they are of  the wider world this truth has passed them by in all too characteristic fashion.

What we’ve seen the last couple of days is political thuggery. That it has been a clearly considered strategy is without doubt, and once more calls into question the judgement of the PM and her cronies. In attacking Rudd as they have they’ve ripped to shreds the dignity and integrity of the Labor party. So intent on discrediting him they’ve overlooked how they discredit so much of what the ALP has stood for. Gillard may well win this vote Monday, which looks very likely, but her small chances of winning the next election have virtually disappeared in a puff of smoke. She may act all tough now – where has this been before? – but in the years ahead she may well become reviled as the woman who destroyed the ALP as a political force in this country. As you can tell, I’m pissed with her, and whatever respect I had is now forever gone. I wouldn’t vote for her if she was on fire.

I could say the same about her cronies. I’ve got nothing but contempt for them. These last few days they’ve come across as petulant and precious, more concerned with their hurt feelings than the greater good. So they don’t want to work for KRudd, well, tough titties. Here you are one of the elected representatives of the people earning a good living and theoretical respect of the nation, and instead you stamp your feet like a kid told to be nice to the clever geek who called you a nasty name. Do these people ever look in the fucking mirror?

Rudd is way ahead of Gillard in the popularity stakes, but I keep hearing how this isn’t a popularity contest. Well perhaps some of these people should listen up to what the people are saying, rather than the voices in their head. The people know a fraud when they see it, and they aint buying now, or ever. What these contemptuous characters need remember is that their responsibility is to the people of this country, and second to that the party which they represent. Their own wounded pride ranks a long way down the totem pole, and Joe Average doesn’t give a fuck.

As I said, I expect Gillard to win on Monday, and who knows what comes after that. Either Rudd gets drafted in some point down the track, or the party is ruined at the polls. I know I won’t be voting for them. In their present incarnation I’m a long way from ever voting for the Labor party again. Which means, unless Turnbull unexpectedly gets the Liberal gig, that I’ll be voting Greens.

The Labor party has been in decline from the day Gillard took office. If she ruins it now I’ll never forgive her. It’s our party, not hers.