Sunday, September 22, 2013

A best letter day

In the final week before Gillard was rolled as Prime Minister, Cloe Hooper spent some time with her and wrote a portrait in The Monthly. Hooper outed herself as a convert, having grown to admire this resolute, warm and hardy woman who was copping it from all directions.

"Like an emissary of the man himself, someone in a giant dog suit comes past, and breaking ranks presents her with a doll that has Raggedy Ann hair and a Pinocchio nose. The media lurch forward, cameras flashing, and Gillard has to laugh and thank the dog-man for his kindness.
The crowd’s murmurs don’t bode well. The locals agree she doesn’t have their votes, some with more politeness than others: “They should fucking drown the bitch!” shouts an older man with withered DIY tattoos. “I wouldn’t give her 50 cents!” He’s just shambled out of the local TAB, which is directly opposite the dais."

The article was more poignant with post-publication hindsight of knowing that, after her tour of Queensland and then PNG, Gillard flew home and straight into her night of the long knives.

Today, in  'correspondence' section of September's Monthly:

In her account of Julia Gillard's last months as Prime Minister ('Diary of a Convert, August'), Cloe Hooper mentions a junior staffer. "If everyone could spend a week with her, she'd have their vote," he'd said, voice catching, "because she's ... bloody lovely." Is he crying, I had wondered, holding the phone from my ear, slightly repelled?
    I wasn't crying. I had something in my throat. I don't cry. I just give a thousand yard stare and stand very still. 

James Kenyon
Brunswick North, VIC

The Monthly, Spetember 2013, p. 57.


  1. Yeah. That's the woman I saw. How fucking stupid and lacking in insight are the voters/people of this country?

  2. Ever since I watched that long clip of her verbally slapping-up that bastard opponent in the house that you put up, I would have voted for her too, if I had been eligible. It is really amazing how people turn against those who would do them the most good.

    1. That slapped-up bastard is our new Prime Minister!

  3. I started writting a comment for this and it ended up as a very long winded ramble.

    Sarah, I thought I'd better ask before posting it whether or not you were okay with that sort of thing.

    No worries if you're not.

  4. I don't mind at all Alex. Go for it.

  5. I don't have a subscription to The Monthly, so I can't critique that, but on the subject of Gillard ...

    I didn't find her an overly impressive prime-minister. Of course, I never got to spend a day with her in person. I just had to go on what I saw on the telly. On presentation, I thought a lot of what was great about her as deputy seemed to evaporate when she took over as PM. More of her speech was replaced with that "safe" political jargon they all use now, full of vagueness and generality. A lot of the time, in interviews and press-conferences, she seemed overly guarded and rehearsed -- almost robotic -- and she started using a soft, reassuring, passionless tone that came off as condescending.

    On policy: I thought the re-imagining of the mining tax was pretty rubbish. The "Gonski" stuff was probably a step in the right direction, but I noticed it had to be prefaced with a guarantee that no private school would get a penny less in government funding; I imagine due to the fact that anyone with enough money and power to be politically influential sends their kids to private school. Conroy's "surprise" media reforms were a joke. And the government allowed itself to be led by the nose (by a hostile press) on asylum seekers and the economy. Which led to the single parent payment changes that everyone in the ALP is now in furious agreement was a mistake.

    And then there was the carbon price. I think, if she'd come out and explained from the start that she was changing her position to suit the circumstances, it wouldn't have been so bad. Instead, for the first week, she tried to play with technical definitions to push the line that she'd been completely consistent on the issue. I think, having this happen so soon after the "betrayal" of Rudd, left a lot of people with an impression of her as untrustworthy that never really went away.

    Having said all that, I didn't hate her, and I didn't hate everything her government did. And I would absolutely, definitely have her back over what we have now.

    And if nothing else, the last three years has solidified my view of Rupert Murdoch as one of the most malignant influences on western society.

    When I thought Gillard would lead the government to the election, I was sure the talk about her after the defeat would be the harshest imaginable. "Horrible, traitorous bitch finally gets what she deserves", etc. Now, I dunno. I guess after she was rolled, a lot of people sort of decided she'd already had her come-uppance, and now there seems to be a lot of talk about her as a victim of circumstance and a dysfunctional party.

    I haven't been following politics that long. Only since 2007. But even in that small amount of time, it's become rather apparent to me that a lot of people seem to have fairly short memories; they're unbelievably susceptible to suggestion if the rhetoric is consistent enough; and they're willing to continually re-frame history to support whatever narrative they favour at the time.

    Of course, how much of this I do, without even realising it, I dunno. It's a worry.

  6. It is a worry Alex! I agree too, that my thinking has been shaped by repeated rhetoric, often my own. Even to the point of ignoring the Sole parent payments changes and asylum seeker injustices, in the hope that folk would not vote in Abbott. Anyhoo ...I never see myself as particularly political. Being more interested in the 'tic' in politics, I tend to follow the hysteria and leave policy alone. (Though I do notice things like The West Australian writing about Sole parent payments affecting 'single mothers' ... over and over again. The wording, I mean, who the fuck edits that paper?