A pox on both their houses

Australian politics has reached one of the lowest ebbs in our history with the one of our two major parties utterly dysfunctional. That the Australian Labor Party (ALP) happens to form vast bulk of the governing coalition is a tragedy.

National dissatisfaction with ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reached levels never even anticipated. In her three years as our leader she has proved to be someone we just don’t like – and that applies even to many died-in-the-wool ALP voters.

790123-julia-gillard This antipathy is difficult because Gillard is our first woman Prime Minister. She has suffered many jibes because of her figure and other personal characteristics. Many feminists have seized upon this as proof of sexist-misogynistic tendencies in our society.  But former Liberal Prime Minister Billy McMahon in the 1970s was derided ever more cruelly and comprehensively for his diminutive stature and rather large ears. Gillard has gotten off lightly by comparison.

That Labor could be in its near-death throes yet remain utterly indecisive about returning Kevin Rudd as its leader speaks volumes. The fact remains that Rudd was deposed because he had lost the confidence of much of the voting population. Despite enormous initial promise he could not deliver. His prime ministership was, generally, a failure. More pertinent, he alienated and savaged so many of his own parliamentary colleagues that they danced on his political grave with attacks so excoriating that the forthcoming election campaign would prove a national embarrassment. How could Rudd be electable with his own deputies and senior colleagues damning him as worse than Hitler?

The tragedy of Rudd as he and his supporters constantly destabilise Prime Minister Gillard is that they offer no vision for what Australia might become or what they would do to deliver the nation a brighter and better future. Nothing. Not a word. And yet Rudd believes he should be PM again. Why, Kevin? What would you do? How would you change your spots after so many decades as who you really are?

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It is a sad farce. The more so because as it plays out, it shows Labor and all its many would-be leaders and faceless backroom manipulators for the power-hungry and selfish fools they are. None of this is being done for the betterment of Australia. It is all selfishly motivated attempts to maximise personal advantage.

It is for this reason alone that Labor should not win the next election under any circumstance. They do not deserve it because they have no coherent vision for the future of the country.

The Opposition fares not a whole lot better, it must be said. It shines by comparison but only because Labor is like watching a train wreck in action. The alternative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is disliked by a massive number of Australians. He does not inspire electoral confidence. But he is almost certain to be our leader for three to nine years. And his vision for the nation is a pastiche of clichés, almost as moribund as Labor’s frenetic futility in shuffling Titanic deck-chairs.

And what if Rudd should win the leadership but lose his seat? Unlikely, maybe, but certainly not impossible. The voters in the electorate of Griffith have been loyal to Rudd for many years but they have turned against him in the past. He suffered a big swing against him – a whisker under 10% – in the 2010 election after he was deposed as Prime Minister.

He has done nothing of note to endear himself to his electors since then. He has been effectively portrayed as an absentee landlord still more eager to stroll the world stage than to massage the day-to-day personal issues of his flock. It was be the most bitter yet delicious irony if Labor were to re-install Rudd as Prime Minister this week only to lose the election – and Rudd – at the looming poll.

Yet, no-one inside Labor appears to take such a possibility seriously. Further indication of the futility of their efforts to stave-off what the polls all predict will be electoral annihilation.

This is a shameful period in our national history and we all share some responsibility for failing to demand – adequately – that our elected representatives perform their sworn duty to uphold OUR interests and not their own.

We get what we pay for. Sad, isn’t it?

Photos courtesy of The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au