Thursday, October 11, 2012

Abbott, Gillard - time to stop!

Here in Australia, the news has been dominated by Alan Jones and then the Slipper affair, including PM Gillard's remarkable attack on Tony Abbott. Legal Eagle's Alan Jones, feminism and Australian politics provides a lucid explanation of some of the issues raised by these events.

Rereading a post of mine from a bit over a months ago, Let's assert basic manners in Australian politics, I must say my heart sank. The sms messages between Mr Slipper and Mr Ashby are unsavoury. Messrs Windsor and Oakeshott appear to have behaved well in first voting against Mr Slipper's dismissal to prevent a forced dismissal and then in encouraging him to resign. Whether or not one agrees with their approach in a general sense, they have proved remarkably consistent in their approach over time. There is a certain irony in comments about the instability of minority government, given the general consistency among the independents even when they disagree. Beyond that, things are a mess.

Putting things as bluntly as I can, on all the evidence I have seen Mr Abbott is not anti-women, nor is Ms Gilllard  a totally devout exponent of women's rights. Both hold a mixture of views, both try to play to chords as they see them in their support base, both are determined to win. Neither will win this argument, both have lost, just as Messrs Slipper and Ashby have lost. In the desire to wound, to justify positions, in possibly righteous anger or the need for self-defence, they have all entered worlds dictated by dynamics that have little to do with objective reality but have their own special features that dictate events.

My personality means that I greatly dislike personalisation and directed hurt in whatever context. I find it hard to deal with. That may affect my judgement, but I know that am not alone. A large number of people feel as I do. I cannot say that Ms Gillard has inflicted terminal damage on herself, many Australians just like a good fighter, but this fight really does not help her in the longer term.

Mr Abbott's call back in 2010 for a kinder, gentler polity - a call that Ms Gillard appeared to endorse - now comes to back to haunt both of them. Get real, chaps. A lot of us are just tuning you out. If, as apparently appears to be the case, you want to hate each other, please do it in private.


It's been interesting looking at the responses to this whole affair. My daughter, for example, does not share her father's view:   

Agrippina ‏@ClareAgrippina: @JimBelshaw Can't say I agree dad, I really think it was long overdue for someone to call Abbott out on his hypocrisy when it comes to women.

Aren't we a modern family, tweeting to each orher?!

Deborah Snow's Misogyny: it's still all Greek to male chauvinists presents one picture, Clementine Ford's  Playing the sexism card:a guide for politicians* another, Michelle Gratton's Misogyny war has no winner a third. Then Jonathon Holmes takes another line in Who has the ear of the 'ordinary people'?

The comments on the Holmes piece are interesting because they show the way that discussion around this matter is affected by starting points. I am not saying anything profound here. At one level, my comment is obviously self-evident. However, the longer term effect depends on the way that those very different interpretations and weightings work their way through within an Australian domestic political and social frame. I actually have no idea just what the outcome will be.   

Postscript two

I used the last paragraph above as an entry point for a post analysing some of the possible political impacts of the whole imbroglio -  Saturday morning musings - gender & the possible rise of Mr Turnbull?


Anonymous said...

Jim, while I agree with your wider concerns, I have to say I agree with your daughter's reaction to the particular.

Mr Abbott wants the rational among us to believe that he didn't in any way connect his "died of shame" sally with the very widespread and prominently reported Alan Jones comment. Either he is thick or he judges that the rest of us are.

PM Gillard was right to react as she did, and then the circus moves along - which is where I see your own thoughts coming into play.


Jim Belshaw said...

I need to read the PM's words in Hansard, kvd, devoid of the theatre. Barrie Cassidy - - appears to have come to somewhat similar conclusions to me.