Filthy Preselection Brawl: For Labor, Misogyny Begins At Home

LABOR has engaged in an unseemly and unedifying brawl in its preselection to find a replacement candidate for Nicola Roxon; the episode puts on show everything wrong with the present-day ALP and — frankly — shows its guilt of the very evils it accuses its opponents in the Liberal Party of committing.

I know I’ll attracted a barrage of criticism for saying this, but it’s probably a very good thing a man has been preselected to the uber-safe western Melbourne seat of Gellibrand.

Certain female members of the federal ALP have amply demonstrated over the past six months that “when in doubt,” their tactic of choice is to smear opponents.

Former minister Nicola Roxon — as an attack dog of Julia Gillard’s — has been one of them.

The weapon of choice is to level an allegation of “misogyny,” but it’s bigger than that, of course: play the victim, play the gender card, hide behind a faux cloak of feminist righteousness — all the while claiming that their gender has nothing to do with anything.

If it didn’t, there would be no need to deploy gender-based battle tactics; the distinction invites the rather obvious cliché that those who play by such rules can’t have it both ways.

I’m getting sick of listening to Labor women rattle on about misogyny and sexism whenever they can’t argue their way legitimately to a desired outcome; in doing so, they perpetuate the very sins they claim to want to stamp out.

To date, the targets have been men who threaten their prospects: to turn on Tony Abbott the way she did (defending the grub Peter Slipper, no less), Gillard simply demonstrated she offers nothing of substance, and proved that when faced with the consequences of her own ineptitude, the contents of the muck bucket are preferable to a constructive attempt to fix a situation for which her own incompetence  is mostly, if not wholly, to blame.

The recent death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has brought the ALP and its “misogyny” capers into sharp relief; Thatcher — elected to Parliament in 1959, and operating in conditions far less favourable to women than are prevalent today — never hid behind femininity as an excuse, a tool for eliciting sympathy, or an instrument to damage others.

If anything, she worked out how to turn it to her advantage, and did; and Thatcher — despite the outcry from the Australian Left — was a finer proponent of the advancement of women than the likes of Gillard, the odious Roxon, or any of their “sisterhood” ever will be.

This brings me to the fracas over the Labor preselection, and the convoluted but ultimately gutter tactic of “misogyny” that has been allegedly deployed — and the likely saga that seems destined to follow it.

You don’t need to follow these matters too closely to see my point.

Murdoch papers are reporting that a “misogynistic dirt file” was circulated during the vicious Gellibrand preselection; apparently beaten candidate Kimberley Kitching was accused — supposedly by Roxon — of putting around a “shit sheet” containing defamatory and sexually explicit slurs about another candidate, Katie Hall, who just happens to be a former Roxon staffer.

Kitching claims several witnesses confirmed that Ms Roxon had accused her of being behind it; in turn, Roxon denies she had accused Ms Kitching of being the source.

As the accusations and counter-accusations continue over who said and wrote and sent what, and about who, Kitching has intimated she will lodge a complaint with Labor’s administrative wing about Roxon’s alleged conduct, and that she will initiate “external legal action” against Roxon as well — code, surely, for defamation proceedings.

In the meantime, Labor Senator Stephen Conroy — whose staffer, Tim Watts, was the eventual winner of the preselection when Hall and Kitching withdrew — has been dragged into the row as well, angrily denying accusations that the “misogyny file” against Hall was authored and/or distributed by a person or persons in his own office.

The one thing Roxon, Kitching, Hall and Conroy all seem to agree on is that “dirt files,” “shit sheets” and sexually explicit innuendo constitute grubby and disgusting tactics.

In this instance, however, consensus appears to start and end on that point.

Roxon, for her part, is reported to have written to branch members this week to express “alarm” that misogyny had emerged within the ranks of her own party.

Even so, it seems the drama of the Gellibrand preselection still has at least one act left to play out — in Court, as the combatants slug it out over who did what.

And in the meantime, the rest of the world will doubtless view this as further evidence of the sick cancer afflicting the ALP, where abuse and slurs now apparently pass muster as meaningful debate.

It is the first time, however, accusations of misogyny in the ALP have been levelled at one woman by another, but there you go: I can’t wait to see the party’s official election policy on “misogyny” — the way the party seems to be headed, it should be a cracker.

Can I simply say that rightly or wrongly, the use of questionable tactics at preselection contests in all political parties is nothing new; it doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t diminish or salve the justified anger of those on the receiving end of such treatment.

But I also make the observation that if all Labor women want to do is throw around misogynistic, sexist and now allegedly sexual slurs at each other, at male opponents and God alone knows who else, then it’s a good thing the victor in Gellibrand was male.

The last thing the wider electorate needs is  a culture of fabricated, gender-based allegations over actual or imagined grievances to form an ongoing hallmark of the conduct of Labor women — or anyone else, for that matter.

The Gellibrand episode, irrespective of how it plays out, was a disgrace.

But its combatants would be better served to learn from Thatcher’s example, rather than seeking to trash her legacy for no other reason than she was not a creature of the Left.