UPDATE: Rudd is out.
Exciting times. It looks like before the day is out we will have a new Prime Minister, and the first female one to boot.
I find it hard to comprehend that the man who dazzled Australia with his new age campaign that encompassed talk shows and Facebook has crashed from such dizzying heights without even seeing out a full term in the top job.
I had always had a fair bit of time for Kevin Rudd as the Shadow Foreign Minister. His appearances on morning television made him seem erudite and an intellectual, with a balanced outlook that went beyond partisan politics. I never took him serious as a Prime Ministerial contender though, I figured he was probably a bit too much of an intellectual, almost a geek, to appeal to the electorate. But, I was wrong, obviously.
It didn’t take me long to change my opinion. Even his campaign seemed more style than substance, a desire to paint himself as a trendy and relevant option against an older, and seemingly rooted in the ’50s, John Howard led him into some bizarre self promotion like his appearance on Rove.
His time in the Lodge didn’t serve to endear him to me either, it soon became apparent that he didn’t have a clear vision for Australia, but was like New Labour in Britain, more about image than integrity. He was also the worst kind of bully, a petty tyrant who terrorised those who couldn’t fight back. After all, who can stand up to the Prime Minister? His tirades of abuse against staff and even ministers are now a matter of public record. I can’t stand bullies, because I know what it is like to be made to feel powerless, and those who abuse their own position of power are the most contemptible of all.
But, it appears that his mistakes have caught up with him. I would be much happier, though, if it didn’t mean that Julia Gillard will be the new Prime Minister. It’s certainly not about her being a woman, though I would have wished our first female Prime Minister would be one who was actually elected by the people, it’s about the fact that to me she represents the worst aspects of the Labour party, a career politician who has never had a real job and has made a living out of playing the unions against the employers.
The upcoming election is going to be very unpleasant. For a start, if she represents the worst of the Labour party, Tony Abbott probably represents the worst of the Liberal Party. It will be a conflict between hard Right and hard Left with all the resultant viciousness. It will also be too much about Julia Gillard the woman, not about Julia Gillard the politician as people try and make it a gender equality issue. To me, using Julia Gillard’s gender as a campaign point is sexism of the worst kind, just like I found the emphasis on Barack Obama’s race had racist overtones. Until these things are irrelevant, rather than a talking point, we haven’t made any real progress.
Whatever happens today, interesting times lie ahead in Australian politics.