Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Musings on the Killing Season 3 - Mr Abbott's collateral damage

I see that Neil has already posted on the final episode of The Killing Season. With my TV still on the blink, I watched on Iview this morning. We are in periods that I was writing on on almost a daily basis.

Looking at it, it is clear that there were a series of misjudgments. However, that wasn't my primary reaction. My primary reaction was how can governments make sensible judgments of any type in that environment. The program captured so well the pressure cooker atmosphere of Canberra, that strange bubble that generates its own reality.

In some of my writing, I said that to survive, Julia Gillard had to find that quite space in the midst of turmoil that would allow her to break away, to think. I'm sure that that was good advice, but how the bloody hell do you do it?!  With a crammed appointment book, with constant information on polls and focus groups flowing in, with the demand to react now, any form of rational thought becomes very, very difficult.

I have been involved in or on the periphery of politics for much of my life.I was trying to work out how I would have responded if I were a Gillard or Rudd adviser to some of those events. A classic case is the failure to mention Mr Rudd at that speech, coming on top of the previous decision to distance the new Gillard Government from the previous Rudd-Gillard administration.The implications weren't even seen.

It's easy to be wise in hindsight, but watching Mr Rudd's face I thought damn, how would I have felt? Still, I'm not sure that I would have done any better as an adviser in those circumstances. Maybe I would have, for common kindness should have dictated a different response What happened wasn't fair. It was also unnecessary.

Ah well. Those who sow the wind reap the whirlwind, as Mr Abbott is finding now. That was not a party political statement, simply a judgement, one that may well be wrong. The next federal election is likely to be dirtiest on record. There are just so many visuals, I'm now speaking professionally, that both sides will use the media to wreak havoc.

If I was a Labor strategist, and I'm sure that this is happening, I would be working through image after image to put them into possible combinations. It doesn't have to be mass advertising although that will occur, simply very targeted stuff that will discredit Mr Abbott with particular groups.

I can see the slogans now. "Do you still trust this man to run the country?."  You don't have to shift a lot of votes, simply votes in the right places.Of course Labor (and our political system) has suffered from this series. However, the damage to Labor is now. The roll-on effects will be far greater than that.




Anonymous said...

Rudd was described as ‘coy’ by, I think, Ed Husic, and it’s a good word. He always concealed, or feared, what the numbers were. He did not run against Crean, or against Latham. He ran against Beazley when the numbers were nailed down. He did not, on the awful night-and-day of his calamitous usurpation, run against Gillard. He did not want us to know, and did not himself want to know, what the numbers were.

Comment by Bob Ellis, with which I agree.

On the other hand, I think your own analysis, stretching way back to "the NSW disease" has been way more of significance than this one, which is essentially hindsight, however well expressed.


Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, kvd, indeed. I think that my best analysis comes when I have a little detachment. I suspect that's true for all of us!

Anonymous said...

I think a Prime Minister (even one recently deposed) should not publicly bawl like Rudd did. I squirmed as I watched this self indulgent cry baby. It was an embarrassing episode that I feel diminished us as a nation. Can you imagine any president of the USA openly weeping at his demise. Have some guts man! Politics is a tough game take it on the chin you sook. What must the Asian leaders think of this self pitying spectacle. The Chinese have a word for it "Zi Lian". What's worse he did it in front of his children. Can you imagine what they must have copped at school the next day!!

Anonymous said...

Lan there are many examples of leaders dismissed (in their eyes, before their time) who have been reduced to tears. I don't take that as a weakness; more an indication of basic humanity. I think the last one of note in Aus was Malcom Fraser? Possibly wrong, but I do remember that - and I did not think he was diminished by that very human reaction to a loss.

As to 'Asian leaders' well, let them value what they will, and I will value, or discard, whatever I wish. Some of them are brilliant communicators; some have a stench of corruption; some do well for their countries; some I do not admire.

I admire our PM for some things; am mightily disappointed by other values he holds. And I can write that here, mostly without fear. Is that dichotomy freely available in those 'Asian countries' you speak of?


Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Lan and welcome. I had to look Zi Lian up. It seems to mean narcissism or, or with other characters "looking at one's shadow and feeling sorry for oneself (idiom)
fig. alone and dejected." However, the way that you used it seems to imply more of the British stiff upper lip. Not sure of the age of the kids, but kids (I thought they were all older) of public figures always cop stuff.

kvd, just for the present and only if you exercise care!

Lan said...

Dear kvd - thankyou for your response. I may have got things mixed up as English is not my first language. But the idea was that of feeling sorry for himself. And you are right we have had some good and bad Asian leaders. I think our concept of freedom differs from yours. Having a job and being able to have food represents a freedom that few who have not watched their families starve understand. That you cannot publicly criticise the government matters more to the intellectuals than those who are just grateful for being able to work and eat. for example I am often puzzled at the term "right to vote" used in this country. How can it be a right if it is compulsory? Please do not take offence at this but I find it confusing.

Jim Belshaw said...

Nice comment, Lan ;)I leave it to kvd to respond in the first instance.

Austin said...

Dear Lan

It is a "Right to Vote" because the Government tell us so. The ABC supports terrorists because the Government tells us so. Anyone who disagrees with the Allegiance to Australia bill is guilty of something because the Government tells us so. The Government now also tells us what countries we may visit and which ones we may not. The Government locks up children in detention centres and jails anyone who reports on this. Welcome to Australia Lan, it wasn't always like this.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lan, please forgive my tardy response. Your English is perfectly good enough to convey your thoughts - and not being bilingual myself, I salute you for that.

Your first post indicated that you felt a public display of emotion was/is a weakness in a leader? I don't agree with that. Bob Hawke's address to Parliament on the Tianamen Square protests; Malcolm Fraser's continuing opposition to South African apartheidt; I don't think either leader was thereby diminished.

If you are assessing the responses of Asian leaders, I accept your point - but I don't accept their assessment, is all I'm saying.

Your second post moved away from that 'weakness' to talk about freedom, rights - and I very much take your point as to the priorities placed upon what each of us might term 'freedom'.

On the 'right to vote' comment, may I just point out that the requirement to attend a voting booth (which is what is presently legislated for) in no way affects the individual's right to either vote or not vote in an election. I myself, particularly in local council polls, have several times not recorded a vote due to the laughable quality of the candidates. So your question is in no way insulting - more just incorrectly addressed to what it is that is 'compulsory'.

I wish you well.