Sunday, March 31, 2013

How does Julia sleep? » The Spectator

How does Julia sleep? » The Spectator

The new official line on Gillard is that she is ‘tough’. In the unending experiment of how to market the PM to Australia – which has seen incarnations as bizarre and cringeworthy as Real Julia, feminist icon and knitter-in-chief – this most recent turn is surely the most bemusing. Toughness is certainly an imperative in the Labor caucus, but is it an important quality for the electorate? Does it really poll better than ‘smart’, ‘competent’, ‘visionary’, ‘trustworthy’ or ‘fair’? Regrettably, none of those options is really on the table.

‘Tough’ might be an appropriate descriptor of Gillard the political operator, but it would be the wrong one to characterise her leadership. A tough leader, I believe, would not have capitulated to Tony Abbott and forced Kevin Rudd to dump the Emissions Trading Scheme. A tough leader would not have surrendered to the big miners and renegotiated the mining tax into insignificance, breaking the budget in the process. A tough leader would prosecute the case for Labor’s compassionate stance on asylum seekers, rather than racing the Coalition to the bottom of the scrapheap. A tough leader would stand up to the unions instead of abiding loyally on every question, from 457 visas to gay marriage.

In every instance, Gillard has shied away from fights on policy, and opted to orchestrate imagined battles around jobs, workplace rights and misogyny. Her leadership team has presided over the best economy in the developed world, but they couldn’t sell cake to a fat kid. They have proven themselves utterly incapable of doing what is actually tough in politics: arguing, educating and winning.

Silky smooth political skills there, champ.

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