Comment by Barry Tucker 21 June, 2013
In his blog today, No martyr’s mantle for Gillard, The Daily Telegraph’s Simon Benson makes a couple of errors, in my opinion. At first sight it’s a fair and reasonable article (for a News Limited journalist) and it is opinion, the new journalism that trades impartiality for observation and comment.
The main point of the article is that the union movement now realises it made a mistake in getting the then Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to challenge the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, for the parliamentary party leadership on June 24, 2010.
Mr Benson then says based on the extraordinarily low polling support for Labor in the House of Representatives, the party also risks losing power in the Senate. The unions would then face the prospect of being wiped out by the evil forces of Capitalism.
My first issue is with Mr Benson’s claim that the unions should have utterly destroyed Mr Rudd instead of “leaving the man alive to create his own mythology as the vanquished leader, loved by the people, reviled by his party”.
How could the unions possibly know what Mr Rudd would do next? Hindsight is a wonderful gift, Mr Benson, but not of much use in the present or in projecting the future.
Mr Benson claims Mr Rudd has since sought vindication, often through retribution, but mainly through resurrection and “He has done it successfully and with devastating effect. That effect has been the complete incapacitation of Gillard’s leadership. She has never been seen as legitimate.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong on at least four points. With the single exception of one leadership challenge, which he lost in February 2012, Mr Rudd has since repeatedly said he will not challenge and in the event of anyone else challenging “I am in the Prime Minister’s corner”.
Like the so-called lie about “no carbon tax in the government I lead”, the federal Opposition, its fans and the mainstream news media (MSM) have chosen to overlook key lines of dialogue and focus instead on what they see as the ones that will render the most damage to the government and Ms Gillard’s leadership.
Next up: “She has never been seen as legitmate.”
Says who? Mr Benson says it, but he doesn’t provide any evidence for that. I’ll fill in for him. The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, says it. And Mr Benson, who’s as much a puppet as Mr Abbott is, both of them servants of Media Baron Rupert Murdoch, faithfully repeats it.
Here are the facts. While Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, Ms Gillard frequently became Acting Prime Minister and performed without drawing any complaints from anyone, as far as I can recall.
Political parties choose their leaders; the voting public does not. The Parliamentary Labor Party chose Mr Rudd. Mr Rudd stuffed up, let his ego, distemper, foul mouth and bad manners get the best of him, took a hiding in the Press followed by a hiding in the polls — and got dumped by a worried party.
Ms Gillard won the spill and became Parliamentary Party Leader and Prime Minister by default. She then went to an election, as Prime Minister, in order to legitimise her title — and won.
Well it was a 50/50 result, which required negotiations with the Independents — which Ms Gillard won.
In view of the facts, in what sense is Ms Gillard’s Prime Ministership not legitimate?
By Mr Benson’s reckoning, if Mr Abbott had won the negotiations with the Independents he would now be leading an illegitimate government. Isn’t it interesting that the Liberals and the MSM never see the hypocrisy in this claim of illegitimacy?
It is also interesting that Mr Benson writes a 758 word article on Labor’s leadership woes without mentioning Mr Abbott once, or Mr Abbott’s role in constantly reminding the public of this “issue”, or the MSM’s role in constantly focussing on this “issue”, which is a non-issue because Ms Gillard’s Prime Ministership is legitimate, she has control of the parliamentary party and her party governs effectively and has done since its inception.
Mr Benson, whose job is to undermine the federal Labor government either before or during the 2013 election, writes that Labor might face the worst result since 1901. I’m wondering how that might be relevant to his article. That was a long time ago, a different century, a different world even, in a different country and culture and the Liberal Party did not exist and would not for another 40 years at least.
By some miracle of mathematics Mr Benson then goes on to use opinion poll figures for the House of Representatives to somehow come to the conclusion that Labor is going to be destroyed in the Senate. And if it is, trade unions are doomed. Well, I’ll use my magic and predict that any government that tries to wipe out unionism in this country will be destroyed in the process.
Perhaps Mr Benson has not been around long enough to know that the Australian electorate is quite capable of putting one party in power in the Lower House (often on the basis that the government needed to be taught a lesson) and to put another party in power in the Senate to keep the new government in check.
Alternatively, Mr Benson is encouraging the electorate to vote Labor out of the Senate as well as the HoR because he knows Mr Abbott wants total control of both Houses and will move for a double dissolution at the first opportunity if he doesn’t get that in the first instance.
Although he refers to opinion polls, Mr Benson does not refer to what is driving those polls. Elsewhere today I read the opinion that the news media IS NOT driving the opinion polls. Hello! It must be that practically the entire voting public takes 90 minutes off work to listen attentively to Questions Without Notice in the HoR. Or they pull the last bikkie out of the Weet-Bix box and find a little note which says: Labor sux, vote LNP on September 14.
If the voting public does not get its information, on which it bases its opinion, from the MSM then where the hell does it come from?
Mr Benson suggests the Prime Minister should stand down “on her own terms”, whatever that means. But he is not concerned with facts. His business is propaganda, which requires a neat avoidance of the facts.
For example: Mr Benson writes about knifing a Prime Minister and suggests the solution to the ensuing drama is to do it again. At the same time he says if Ms Gillard chooses to fight the election as our Prime Minister it will be her own fault. She will not go as a martyr. “The public will see it as live by the sword, die by the sword.”
By Mr Benson’s reasoning, the people who recently knifed a Victorian Liberal Premier and a Northern Territory Liberal Country Party Chief Minister (while he was overseas) should suffer the same fate. It’s odd, isn’t it, that this comparison is never made in the mainstream news media?
Read all about it, if you want to.