WITH THE braying Left now taking aim at Tony Abbott on purely personal grounds, the attacks are doing him no harm; even if Abbott can be his own worst enemy, these events are simply strengthening his position. It speaks to the efficacy of “modern” ALP tactics, and leaves Abbott on the cusp of victory.
First things first: US pop star Katy Perry — who once notoriously “kissed a girl” and liked it — weighed into Australia’s election campaign yesterday; we’ll come back to her, but readers might like to get into this whilst they read on.
Tony Abbott likes it too, and whilst there are a few attachments for tonight’s article, this one will set the “mood.”
Abbott has come under a lot of fire in the past few days for supposedly terminal missteps and gaffes he has committed on the campaign trail.
His alleged problems began when he referred to a female Liberal candidate — Fiona Scott, standing in Lindsay — as “having a bit of sex appeal” as he ran through a list of favourable comparisons between Scott and the Liberal who held the seat for 12 years until she retired at the 2007 election, Jackie Kelly.
Tellingly, Scott — who has known the opposition leader for many years — was unfazed.
Yet that didn’t stop the army of do-gooders, moralising hypocrites, finger-shakers and the junta of ALP desperados from trying to crucify him over it.
Which is interesting, because I’ve come across something else this morning that not one of these voices were raised in indignation over when it happened: a Herald Sun survey of parliamentarians to ascertain who was Australia’s “sexiest MP.”
This “award” was won by Adelaide Labor MP Kate Ellis, who — at the time — admitted to being “quite flattered” despite adding she never aspired to such a status.
WA Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash, for the record, took second place in the dubious poll.
But Ellis — who once turned down an offer to be photographed in a state of undress for a men’s magazine — was happy enough to accept the attention at the time.
There was no Ellis speech denouncing the Hun for its flagrant sexism and titillation.
Yet the same Kate Ellis was one of Julia Gillard’s most hysterical attack hounds when it came to prosecuting the case for “misogyny” against Abbott, and has (along with the likes of Tanya Plibersek and the odious Nicola Roxon) gone well beyond the pale in seeking to inflict terminal damage upon the opposition leader on the same jumped-up charges of “misogyny” that Gillard pursued (whilst defending Peter Slipper).
I don’t think too many people — aside from the usual gaggle of outrage peddlers at the ALP, the Greens, and their fully owned subsidiaries in the wider Left — gave Abbott’s remark about Scott a second thought, to be frank.
It comes as the ALP campaign now switches to an unswervingly negative tack — good word — despite the insistence from Kevin Rudd that people are sick of negative politics.
It’s a fair bet that the abandonment of even the pretence of positive campaigning is a direct consequence of Labor Party polling that shows the party’s electoral prospects receding into Gillard territory; the ALP’s apparatchiks are beginning to panic, and resorting to the only thing they have to fall back on: fear campaigns, and the less truthful the better.
If anyone doubts this — or the fact that Labor fights essentially the same campaign every time it fears an election loss — watch the latest ALP campaign advertisement here, and then watch this from the 1987 ALP campaign that saw Bob Hawke win a third term.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
But the point remains that Labor is getting rattled, and it shows; Kevin Rudd himself — he of the solemn protestation of positivity personified — weighed into the brouhaha over the “sexism” of sex appeal, chiding and scolding Abbott from the most sanctimonious of glass houses. Yet as Andrew Bolt pointed out in his column yesterday
“This is the man who got plastered at a New York strip club and was allegedly asked to leave after “inappropriate behaviour.” This is the man who attended the 80th birthday party of former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke at which a stripper performed in a John Howard mask. This is the man whose abuse made an RAAF stewardess cry…”
…which rather neatly explodes any moral authority Heavy Kevvie might profess to claim.
The thing is that Labor is running a campaign based on a record it can stand on only to hide, with a record of economic management unfavourably comparable to that of Gough Whitlam, and with no discernible agenda other than the retention of power and the perpetuation of ALP/union prestige, patronage and influence.
And people, frankly, aren’t buying it.
After four years of having bucketloads of excrement flung at him incessantly, often on no pretext remotely grounded in fact, Abbott has withstood the barrage: he hasn’t squawked, or complained, or spat the dummy — as well he might be entitled to.
I think the longer the campaign progresses — as voters take a closer look at the leaders and their parties — people are seeing Abbott is more human than they ever imagined; indeed, they are finding him more normal, and “like them,” than they ever believed possible.
And this brings us back to gay marriage, and the intervention in it by Katy Perry.
The ratcheting up of pressure on Abbott on this issue has reached fever pitch; it seems — apart from the fabricated negativity now being flung at voters’ TV screens with reckless abandon — that this is, in Labor’s view, the last card of substance that it has to play.
This article from the Herald Sun provides all the background required; and once you’ve read it, I strongly urge you to listen to Perry’s excellent song a second time.
It’s understandable why Abbott — a fitness nut and noted runner — would say that a song like this should be his “anthem;” it’s got a great beat, and for those who run I imagine it would be just the thing to listen to as they pound the pavement.
Even so, there’s a valid point in the criticism that its lyrics are so-not-Tony: “You PMS like a bitch…I should know,” Perry informs us.
So-not-Tony, in word or deed, on so many levels.
But Perry — from a country where intervening in politics is almost a job prerequisite of entertainers — wanted to talk about gay marriage; so they did.
For someone allegedly devoid of people skills to those who blindly fire verbal bullets, but who is actually renowned for his ability to win people over face-to-face, it’s a measure of Abbott that his tete a tete with Perry ended with the pair agreeing they should have lunch after the election so she could meet his daughters.
And it’s a measure of just how refreshingly, clumsily normal he and his family are: the daughters lambasting their “daggy” dad for showing the difference between generations. What’s not to relate to?
I think the next round of polls will show Abbott’s personal numbers continuing to climb, and the Coalition continuing to build its lead over Labor: as I said, the ALP is rattled, and it is increasingly on display for all to see.
Rudd is right: people have had enough of the politics of negativity and personal attack; his problem is that his own party is the single greatest practitioner of such politics, and Rudd personally is no better than those he sniffingly attempts to differentiate himself from.
Such a trend is partly fuelled by Rudd, the re-emergence of the exact Prime Ministerial persona that disappeared in 2010 despite solemn assurances to the contrary, and his Razzie-winning performance in last weekend’s leaders’ debate.
But it is also being fuelled by the incessant and intensifying negativity that is being directed, ultimately, toward Abbott personally, and gay marriage is simply a tool for Labor to do that with.
I wrote earlier in the week that the Damascus-like conversion of Kevin Rudd on the issue amounted to no more than a cynical exploitation of the gay lobby: far from being motivated by any real sympathy with its objectives, Rudd is using gay people to play politics.
In the end, I don’t see gay marriage as an issue of bigotry (although I acknowledge there are those who treat it as such) but rather, one of perspective.
There are many, many people in Australia (such as your columnist) who oppose gay marriage, but would never seek to wind back the rights and recognition gay people have acquired, particularly over the last 20 years.
My view — as I’ve said before — is that the liberal in me says they should be free to do whatever they like, whilst the conservative in me bucks only at the notion of a “marriage” — which, again, is a religious institution, not a legal or even societal one.
Tony Abbott — who over many years in public life has shown an ability to separate his faith from his duties as an MP — personally adheres to views that derive from his deep and conservative Catholicism, and if you ask him he’ll tell you so.
But as the matter will likely only ever be resolved on a conscience vote, his is no less valid than Rudd’s, which would apparently be cast the other way.
Ironically, it isn’t even the gay lobby trying to turn the issue into a question of legalising gay marriage vs unbridled bigotry; for the most part, it’s the political Left who are doing it and — in the process — probably doing a great deal of damage to the cause in the process.
And there’s the rub: even people who might disagree with Abbott on this very issue are unlikely to mark him down for it if they are otherwise disposed towards supporting him.
At the end of the day, the issues that have waylaid this election campaign over the past week are all, sadly, a pile of shit.
And that’s not to dismiss the actual issues themselves so much as to point the finger at those attempting to prosecute them, and the manner in which they are doing so.
The irony that they are pushing Abbott closer to the Prime Ministership in the process, however, is a delicious one indeed.