Separating Out “Sexism” From Sordid Stunts and Subjectivity

YESTERDAY, I saw a programme on the Howard government; a piece on Iraq featured a street march in Melbourne, with an effigy of George W. Bush on a float and another behind it of a dog in Howard’s likeness, mounted on a dolly so that as it rolled back and forth, the dog’s nose wedged up Bush’s backside.

In the eight months since Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s notorious “misogyny” speech — which was actually a defence of sexist grub Peter Slipper — much has been made of the issue, real or perceived, of sexism and misogyny directed at her simply because she is a woman at the apex of politics in this country.

I’ve opened my comments tonight by recollecting the Bush/Howard stunt because whilst it was devoid of taste, lacking in respect and nothing short of disgusting, nobody could say it was sexist.

A similar case could be made of comments by ETU secretary Dean Mighell prior to the 2007 election, who described John Howard as “a skidmark on the bedsheet of Australian politics.”

In both of these instances — and there were hundreds of others during the 12-year tenure of the Howard government — Howard never responded, let alone flinched; he knew that to do so would be to encourage more of the same, and that to get angry or to lash out would simply display a weakness that his opponents would then hammer.

Had either of these stunts been enacted with Gillard as their target, imagine the outcry.

Remember the silence from Gillard — and almost all of her Labor colleagues — at the time?

Two events this week rekindled the debate — such as it is — over sexism and misogyny, how they apply to Gillard in particular and to other women in politics by extension: the “Menugate” scandal that erroneously targeted LNP candidate Mal Brough, and former 6PR shock jock Howard Sattler’s interrogation of Gillard about her partner’s sexuality.

I really do have limited time for the whole misogyny/conspiracy theory where Julia Gillard is concerned; for one thing, nobody on the Left seems overly concerned when the same purported tactics are used against their opponents, be they women or otherwise; and for another thing, a lot of what is held up as “evidence” is not sexist or misogynistic at all.

And I think the point needs to be made, upfront, that Australian politics is a robust sport at the best of times; our polity can be brutal, and its participants fling themselves into the fray with great relish and gusto.

I have always said openly (including in Liberal Party forums) that when it comes to basic politics, the Left is far better at it than we are; the past ten years or so, however, have seen the tactics of the Left move from simply being robust and tough — there’s nothing wrong with that — to the politics of the gutter, a trade in real filth and dirt digging, whilst maintaining a sanctimonious and pious indignance in the face of their own hypocrisy.

To this end, it can hardly come as a surprise that some elements within the Right are now responding in kind; it doesn’t make it right, but most of what gets picked over in the name of “misogyny” is nothing of the sort.

And in the desperate orgy of outrage over manufactured issues of sexual degradation, the ultimate consequence is proving to be that ordinary people — the silent majority in mainstream Australia — is deserting the Left in droves.

The “Menugate” incident was contemptible, certainly, and it wasn’t even funny. I thought the owner of the establishment did the right thing at least by publicly owning responsibility for his actions and those of his staff, whilst at pains to point out that neither Brough nor Joe Hockey (who also attended) had even seen the menu as it was never distributed.

But this wasn’t good enough.

Julia Gillard sought to make it a direct reflection on Tony Abbott personally: “that’s what they’re like, Tony Abbott’s Liberals,” she was quoted as saying.

Unbelievably, she demanded Brough’s disendorsement: a disproportionate call that made her look even more ridiculous than the outraged performance over the menu itself.

Wayne Swan went even further, making an outright accusation that the owner of the restaurant was lying. We know Abbott orchestrated it, he inferred; we know Brough and Hockey were in on the joke. Anything other than total guilt of a blatant misogynistic stunt was not true and the Liberals would be exposed to the public for their sins.

Unfortunately, this is typical of the standard of discussion such issues now elicit from those on the Left.

Sattler’s remarks were simply beneath contempt.

But again, today we find that even to discuss the incident is enough to attract a charge of “sexism” from the Gillard camp, as Daily Telegraph writer Piers Akerman (unreservedly a favourite of this column) found out today to his detriment.

Let’s deal with that: the rumours about Tim Mathieson have been floating around, barely beneath the surface, for years.

I’ve heard them; lots of people have heard them. But as I said in my article, who cares if he is or if he isn’t? Does it matter? To me it is relevant only insofar as he may be wrongly accused — which Sattler stopped short of — but beyond that, what business is it of anyone’s?

The point is that you can’t deny the existence of the rumours; they are there. They may very well be false and malicious (and I don’t believe they are true, for the record). But for even discussing their existence in the context of what Howard Sattler did on Friday being enough to demand Akerman’s head?

Spare me. At least Akerman had the decency to offer Gillard an apology if raising the matter offended her.

And it brings me to an article that appeared in the august pages of the Fairfax press on Friday by Stephanie Peatling, which was a barely disguised cheerleading piece for the slighted, wounded women of the Left.

Of the Left, mind, no-one else.

“Uneasiness About a Woman in Power Unleashes a Sexist Maelstrom,” trumpeted the headline, informing me before I even opened it that it would spell out clearly that Gillard was as pure as the driven snow, but that her opponents were filthy, misogynistic pigs.

I wasn’t disappointed.

It isn’t so much what Peatling said as what she didn’t say; after all, much of what she covered — “Menugate,” the Sattler comments, and Tony Abbott appearing with protesters describing Gillard as a “witch, bitch, and a liar” might well have come from Gillard directly.

Yet notwithstanding anything else I have said — and at the risk of splitting straws — let’s look at some of Peatling’s complaints.

It is certainly true that Abbott was photographed with demonstrators in Canberra, wielding placards bearing such slogans as “ditch the witch” and the like.

Yet one of the most intellectually and politically contemptible aspects of the entire “misogyny” case the Left seeks to prosecute against Abbott (and let’s be frank: all of their complaints are ultimately aimed at Abbott) is that its arguments are stripped of context in order to provide them with legitimacy — for want of a better word.

Abbott had agreed to meet with anti-carbon tax protesters who had travelled to Canberra and demanded to be heard; they had come from all over the country, and the opposition leader wasn’t so arrogant as to snub them — not least as their protest was an issue that is also the subject of a key Liberal Party policy.

Abbott didn’t write the slogans. He didn’t tell the media that Gillard was a “man’s bitch.” He didn’t cherry-pick photo opportunities based on availing himself of the most offensive slogans as a backdrop. He simply met as many members of the protest as he could.

By contrast, when Gillard staged her ridiculous “sleepover” in western Sydney earlier this year, the howl of outrage from ignored local residents who wanted to see (and confront) her could hardly have been more singular.

Not only did she not “meet the locals” at large as the brief stipulated, but those people she did meet were carefully shepherded into meticulously staged events where no suggestion of dissent or confrontation could occur, be captured by the media throng, and beamed around the country.

Do these vastly different episodes cumulatively constitute a case of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t?”

I have written in this column many times of Gillard’s singular lack of political skills and her seeming inability to communicate with the electorate; these factors — combined with the wilful insistence on linking everything to a misogynist smear and landing it in Abbott’s face — have contributed to a deep resentment or even anger toward Gillard personally.

Is it sexist?

I contend that it is nothing of the sort; I think Australians are well past the point where women are every bit as accepted in political life in men. As they should be.

But if a woman is a bad politician, nobody should be restrained or intimidated out of the freedom and the right to say so.

I think Julia Gillard is an abomination as Prime Minister; it has nothing to do with the fact she is female; simply that she is, in my estimation, utterly useless — as are a myriad of her (predominantly male) colleagues. Wayne Swan in particular, step forward!

We seem to be getting to the point where to speak out about a female politician at all is grounds for an accusation of sexism or misogyny; it’s counterproductive as well as grotesque.

Even so, the message being picked up by millions of everyday people is that because Gillard is a woman, they have no right to question or criticise her and so, to that extent, the fact she is a woman is feeding public antipathy toward her, precisely because her gender is held up as somehow conferring immunity from criticism.

I recall seeing Gillard in Parliament (it might have even been in her “misogyny” speech) claiming that even being called “a piece of work” was highly offensive, sexist, misogynistic and blah blah blah.

Seriously, who hasn’t called someone that? And who hasn’t been called that?

Peatling talks of an incident when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, in which his wife — Therese — was photographed in her gym gear; “it was Ms Rein who copped the attention, not her husband,” she writes.

There are so many things tangled up in the whole sexism/politics/gender thing that it becomes difficult to untangle; a photographer, clearly keen to please an editor, has the opportunity to take a photo like that — why wouldn’t he/she?

Again, it doesn’t make it right per se, but the paparazzi have a worldwide reputation for this sort of thing that has been built over long years. How does this relate to Julia Gillard as Prime Minister?

Peatling also states that “Greens leader Christine Milne also attracts a far amount of distasteful attention,” and poses the question collectively of Gillard, Rein and Milne: “Is this because all three women are strong, successful, forthright women who forged careers that made them trail blazers?”

It ignores the fact that a huge proportion of the electorate view the Greens collectively as downright dangerous, if not a pack of lunatics; Milne, as their public face, herself has stated such objectives as “working to combat corruption in Indonesian ports,” which — whilst just one example — isn’t just impossible for any Australian politician to effect, but any attempt to actually do so would run the risk of starting a war.

I’ve called Milne pious and sanctimonious in the past, and I stand by those remarks; they precisely reflect her public persona as presented to the electorate.

But they’re not sexist.

One thing that stands out most starkly in the Peatling piece is the total lack of mention of women on the Right; for all its righteousness about sexism and the alleged mistreatment of women in politics on the Left, her arguments can hardly be called balanced — and neither can those of most other commentators, friendly to Labor, who write on this issue.

Where is the outrage at some of the things that have been said about Julie Bishop? Or Bronwyn Bishop? Sophie Mirabella? Amanda Vanstone, in her day? The list goes on, and the silence from the most aggrieved when it comes to Gillard et al is deafening when names such as these are thrown into the mix.

I do agree with Peatling on one thing; as she says, sexism is not a political issue. Neither are manners, respect and courtesy.

Is it possible that whilst we are comfortable with women in roles of high office, many of us don’t know which form of language, or which turn of phrase, to use when they let us down?

It is simply that some people use the same expressions to criticise a woman in the role as they would a man?

There will always be the odd redneck or Neanderthal, adamant the woman’s place is in the kitchen or the bedroom, and no matter how people try to bring these individuals into the 21st century such efforts, sadly, will always go unrewarded.

Overwhelmingly, though, I refuse to believe men have an insuperable prejudice against women in roles of authority; I do think, however, that they expect to be able to hold them to account as they would a man, and I do concur with that.

I just wonder how much damage is being done — and, inadvertently, how cheapened the standing of good women might be — by the flinging of taunts and insults of misogyny and sexism at people for no better reason than they disagree with the likes of Gillard.

A friend of mine in Melbourne — a journalist of some standing — and I had a discussion on this last week, and I made the point that generally, the standards of public discourse and debate in Australia, at present, are the grimiest and the grubbiest I can remember in almost 30 years of following politics like a bloodhound. He didn’t disagree.

And that assessment, without singling out any individual or specific issue, probably applies to the Left, the Right, and elements within both of the major parties as well as in the media and the commentary space.

Barring a few specific examples, I have been deliberately reticent in making too many judgements in this article tonight; what I am more interested to do is to get people — on all sides of the political spectrum, and in whatever capacity they fill — thinking.

And so it’s over to you; feel free to comment. What do you think?

 

 

A Queensland Take On Gillard’s “Misogyny And Menus” Agenda

JUST A really quick post tonight to share an article, as I am sometimes wont to do; this time it’s an excellent opinion piece by longtime Courier Mail writer Dennis Atkins, who published a pretty succinct analysis of the past 24 hours — and their attendant issues — in that newspaper today.

Atkins, of course, is the columnist whose insights into last year’s state election in Queensland went closest to the mark; it was he who accurately divined the mood on the ground and foresaw the wipeout about to hit Anna Bligh’s government, at a time most commentators still saw the ALP winning about 20 to 25 of Queensland’s 89 seats.

(For the record, I gave them 15 to 20. They won 7).

It’s been an ugly 24 to 48 hours in politics, with yesterday’s uproar over the menu that wasn’t distributed at an LNP fundraiser in March.

Undeterred by revelations that accusations of senior Liberals Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Mal Brough seeing or conspiring in the thing were incorrect, today has seen the likes of Wayne Swan claim that Brough, at least, is lying.

There have been revelations that senior ALP figures Con Sciacca and Bill Ludwig are “close associates” of the restaurateur in Brisbane involved in the fracas, although it’s unclear whether this is any more relevant than the alleged sins of Abbott, Brough and Hockey or simply an exercise in buck passing.

And the day has also seen Perth shock jock Howard Sattler (who, I’m told, has since been suspended from his 6PR radio gig) accuse Julia Gillard’s boyfriend Tim Mathieson of being gay.

I must just say two things.

One, all this petty, adolescent, puerile, nasty bickering over non-issues — invented, beaten up or presently just irrelevant — simply has to stop; there is nothing naive in that sentiment: the present tone of what passes for “debate” is juvenile, and I know plenty of comment writers aside from myself who groan at having to pick this stuff apart.

It’s an indictment on politics, and it isn’t necessary.

And, two, the only person any of it is going to damage is Julia Gillard: and I say that in reference not to anyone in the Coalition, or the media, or entrepreneurs like the owner of the Brisbane restaurant which hit the headlines yesterday and his staff, but in a direct glance at Gillard herself.

Surely she must realise that once people saw through the farce of her “misogyny” speech — realising it was driven by cynical opportunism, not principle — more and more of them would simply switch off every time she opens her mouth on anything to do with gender.

Some of the issues she raises may have merit, if not context.

But even so, the Prime Minister is now her own worst enemy on these matters, and whilst she may be politically desperate, this is one area that should be a no-go for her as she casts around frantically for a circuit breaker.

Anyway, enough from me tonight — as I said, I simply wanted to share this excellent piece from the Courier Mail today.

I’d welcome the comment of readers on Atkins’ perspective on these matters as presented.

Abortion And “Wimmin’s Rage”: Is Julia Gillard Even Fit To Sit In Parliament?

DIVISIVE Prime Minister Julia Gillard has quickly responded to renewed leadership rumblings by trying to provoke gender tensions over abortion; her “outrage” over an LNP dinner showcases her utter hypocrisy and contempt for principle. Is she, simply, not a fit person to sit in Parliament?

The Prime Minister appears determined to plumb new depths of indecency today, with her leadership under attack and a few extra months of her Prime Ministerial salary under threat — to say nothing of the difference to the taxpayer-funded, post-Parliamentary pension she’ll collect that an involuntary demotion would make.

I stand by the assessment published in this column yesterday, in which I advocated — for a raft of reasons — Gillard being permitted to lead the ALP into this year’s election.

Even so, Gillard is doing herself no favours.

The extraordinary outburst from the Prime Minister yesterday, suggesting that women in politics would be “marginalised” by “the Coalition’s men in blue ties” if Tony Abbott wins the September election is not just offensive in its own right, but it symbolises everything wrong with Gillard as a leader and as a parliamentary figure.

Women, according to Gillard, would be “banished from the centre of Australia’s political life” under a government led by Tony Abbott.

Abortion, she claimed, would be a “political plaything” under an Abbott government, which is probably news to the state governments under whose responsibility the issue falls.

And — in a jab at the Coalition leadership, ignoring the patently obvious fact that deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop is a woman — Gillard stated that “…a Prime Minister, a man with a blue tie… goes on holiday to be replaced by a man in a blue tie, a Treasurer who delivers a budget wearing a blue tie.”

Gillard was speaking at the launch of Labor’s Women for Gillard campaign in Sydney, but even with an audience hostile to the Liberals and opposed to Tony Abbott, someone in her position — aware the remarks would be reported — should have been more circumspect.

Her assertion that “the Labor Party is the party of the many not the few, that means we’re the party of women” flies in the face of electoral reality, given there is ample evidence to show the Coalition traditionally polls far better among women than does the ALP.

Yet even if her point was correct, Gillard herself is probably doing more to set the cause of women in this country back than any male could.

She is a major embarrassment to women across the country with her anti-male crusade.

And she is a joke to many people, men and women, who are no longer prepared to take anything she says at face value, let alone be prepared to listen to her at all.

It’s probably no shock that Kevin Rudd appeared on the hustings today, decked out in a blue tie; Gillard can expect to see a sea of blue ties around the necks of opposition MPs when Parliament resumes next week, too.

And in a measure of just how much ridicule Gillard is exposing herself to, Sydney radio host Ben Fordham was giving 20 blue ties away on his program this afternoon — in conjunction with a sponsor, TiesNCuffs, who are running a special of “25% off Blue Ties.”

But Gillard is blissfully ignorant of — or couldn’t care about —  the joke she has made of herself.

As things stand, there is no driving issue surrounding abortion in the wider community (or in state politics in any jurisdiction, where the issue properly sits) to mandate or justify putting abortion forward as an election issue.

Thus, it’s simply another instance of this divisive, confrontational Prime Minister seeking to stoke tensions and fears around socially explosive issues to detract from her own political problems.

It’s pretty low, but then this is not a Prime Minister who will be remembered for any decency or refined sense when it comes to her dealings with people generally.

It comes as an outrage erupted today over a menu used at an LNP fundraiser in March for Liberal candidate Mal Brough, which featured an inappropriate description of Gillard.

The menu — which was produced and published without awareness or sanction from Brough — is clearly tasteless, offensive, and on one level Gillard is entitled to be insulted.

The Fairfax press is reporting this evening that the owner of the restaurant that hosted the function has claimed responsibility and stated — emphatically — that the menu was not distributed to guests on the night. It doesn’t make it right, of course, but it shows Gillard in an equally ridiculous light as her “Blue Ties” and abortion comments have done.

Even so, it seems odd the menu has only surfaced today: three months after the event.

A cynic might note, too, that at the time of the function, Gillard was busily fawning all over Sydney shock jock Kyle Sandilands: hardly a propitious time to let rip with a noisy protest about sexism or misogyny.

One wonders how long the PM’s office has been holding onto the thing waiting to use it, despite Gillard’s protestations she only became aware of it today.

But calls by Gillard for Brough to be disendorsed are hysterical, disproportionate, and unwarranted.

And they raise another inconvenient, uncomfortable truth about Gillard and her behaviour.

Not only was her “misogyny” speech a defence of former Speaker and general grub Peter Slipper — ironically, whose Liberal endorsement Brough has taken — but it failed to enunciate a syllable of criticism of Slipper’s sexist, misogynistic utterances.

(For those who were in hiding at the time, check this out).

Gillard is clearly unperturbed at descriptions of female genitalia as “salty c***s in brine” when the circumstances suit her own political self-interest, but when a description such as “small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box” is used — and there isn’t a butt to cover or a point to be scored (or a “misogyny” stunt to be sprung) — well, that’s simply an outrage.

It’s not even the fact that one personally describes Gillard, and the other was a general statement; like her slavering, fawning appearances alongside Sandilands, the simple fact is that Gillard is no defender of the very standards she viciously purports to uphold.

When it suits her to, that is.

And did anyone ever hear Julia Gillard utter a syllable of complaint over this at the time?

What an absolute hypocrite. Is it any wonder nobody cares what she has to say.

Former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally got it right this evening; she has said on Twitter “Blue ties, menus…here’s the real scandal in today’s news…” before going on to post a link to an article about childhood poverty and the effects of reduced welfare payments — legislated by Gillard’s government — to single mothers.

All of this raises the question: is Julia Gillard even a fit and proper person to sit in federal Parliament?

The Prime Minister appears oblivious to the fact that she is not the head of a student political front, or that she does not preside over some juvenile game of “do unto others before they do unto you:” she is the Prime Minister of Australia, and she is in charge of the government of the country, not an adolescent debating society.

After a while — when the time to dismiss things as mistakes and errors of judgement has passed — it becomes necessary to look at the Prime Minister’s words, the issues that underpin them, and her conduct in office, and to ask that simple question.

Is she fit to hold a seat in Parliament? Is she a fit and proper person to be Prime Minister?

The answer — if her utterances merit the judgement — suggests not.

It is the answer of voters at the ballot box, however, that will be most telling.

A Final Word On Misogyny: She’s A Piece Of Work, Our Prime Minister

MISOGYNY, or its incantation, is always close when it comes to Julia Gillard; this gormless, conniving specimen has used the worst form of political attack — baseless personal sledging — to try to flee her own incompetence. Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister, and Gillard the irrelevance she deserves to be.

We’ve spoken a lot about this; it’s been hard not to.

Julia Gillard and her government have trailed the Coalition in the polls ever since her minority government — cobbled together with a hotchpotch of Greens, Independents and conservative turncoats — was formalised almost a month after the 2010 federal election.

And not simply trailed: for most of the intervening period, reputable published polling has pointed toward the ALP suffering an unprecedented electoral slaughter, something which has been borne out by the private polling conducted by the major parties.

The only time Gillard has been within striking distance was near the end of last year, after a despicable speech under privilege in the House of Representatives, when she ripped into opposition leader Tony Abbott with charges of sexism and misogyny against him.

Even being called “a piece of work” by Abbott was apparently tantamount to his commission of the..er…mother of all misogynistic sins; not just against her, but against all women everywhere by proxy.

The immediate result was a narrowing in the polls on voting intention, and personal approval numbers for Gillard that briefly assumed respectability.

But like a sugar hit that wears off and leaves its sufferer under a cloud of exhausted pallor, voters saw through the ruse — not least as they began to understand Gillard was actually defending serial grub Peter Slipper, and once they realised his form on the exact subject Gillard was making accusations against Abbott over.

Of course we’ve spoken a lot about this, such as here and here and here.

And as people have become awake to the ruse, Gillard’s approval numbers have crashed back to the floor where they should be, and voting intention for the ALP has followed suit.

I raise all of this again tonight because I have come across an excellent article on the subject; in fact, it’s probably the best refutation of Gillard’s vile charges I have yet seen.

It’s from the conservative-leaning online community Menzies House; written under a pseudonym (presumably to protect a high-profile author/ess), it may be accessed here.

This is the sort of thing mainstream media commentators should have run in the aftermath of the Gillard speech to shoot her down in flames; politically effective as the speech may have proven, it was intellectual and ethical dishonesty of the lowest possible type.

But mostly, they didn’t: some spoke of the “political brilliance” the speech represented tactically; others, sympathetic to Labor and/or Gillard personally, simply let it stand unchallenged.

And whilst there is a contingent in public life in Australia who cower warily at Gillard’s propensity to issue legal proceedings at the drop of a hat as a tool to protect herself politically, nobody ought harbour such fears in this case when she is just plain wrong.

Gillard can cavort with the likes of Kyle Sandilands all she likes, and rattle on about misogyny and Tony Abbott until the cows come home, but it doesn’t alter the fact that Abbott is no misogynist, nor the fact that Gillard is simply a hypocrite.

She’s a piece of work, our Prime Minister.

 

No Credibility: The Prime Minister, A Misogynist Pig, And A PR Hack

ANY CREDIBILITY Julia Gillard may have retained for her cynical “stand” against misogyny evaporated yesterday; not only did she return, gushing, to Kyle Sandilands and his millions of listeners on 2DayFM, but her spin doctor-in-chief intervened in a bizarre defence of the Sydney shock jock.

We looked at this two months ago, when Gillard first ventured onto Sandilands’ show; at the time I said it was obvious where Gillard is concerned that principles disappear when several million listeners are on offer, even when a misogynistic pig is in charge of the show.

At least then she had a pretext of sorts: she and Sandilands were to support a children’s Easter charity together — even if it was, rather conveniently, in the immediate aftermath of the March Labor leadership non-coup which nonetheless plunged the ALP into turmoil.

This time, her attendance can only be interpreted as an attempt to milk the considerable, youth-skewed 2DayFM audience for votes.

For a leader with such a colossal credibility problem with the electorate, my first thought was to wonder what the hell her advisers were telling Gillard.

After all, the case her “misogyny” rant was built on was flimsy, fooling only the gullible to begin with and next to nobody as even they thought it through; making a beeline for studios presided over by Kyle Sandilands kicks the crutches out from beneath any concept of a crusade against sexism and misogyny with Gillard’s name attached to it at all.

Readers will know all about Sandilands, and for the few who don’t, this will bring you up to speed fairly quickly.

Yet in a bizarre twist — reminiscent of the stereotypical friend trying to help, who makes things worse in so doing — Gillard’s Scottish PR maestro John McTernan intervened this morning, issuing a statement that stoutly defended Sandilands’ character, and berating News Ltd outlets for “a vendetta against Kyle.”

Sandilands, McTernan claimed, “touches the hearts of millions of people.”

Taking aim at a report in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, McTernan said it fell to him to point out some basic rules “of comms” to its publishers.

He went on to defend Sandilands in terms of “well-known work with charity” undertaken by the shock jock, suggesting the Tele  “will reflect on the darts of the pygmies who sneer at success.”

McTernan — a media adviser to the previous Labour government in the UK prior to his secondment to the Prime Minister’s office in Canberra — really should have known better, his talk of basic rules “of comms” notwithstanding.

It goes without saying that what he has done represents a direct intervention — even interference — in political and media issues that would seem well beyond the remit of a media lackey in a political office.

McTernan, of all people, should have known his action would become public.

And he should have known because Gillard is on shaky enough ground as it is with all this “misogyny” rhetoric, by trying to bandy it around subsequent to her speech under privilege, and by appearing on Sandilands’ show in the first place.

This isn’t a case of the rules “of comms,” to use McTernan’s insiderish jargon; it’s a case of principles — or, rather, the complete abrogation of them Gillard seems determined to commit, having made a stand on them based on the flimsiest of pretexts in the first place.

It’s not a case of a vendetta against Sandilands (although this column has called for him to be booted off air in the past, and stands by that call); it’s a case of a misogynistic pig with a huge audience of voters hosting a Prime Minister supposedly committed to stamping out misogyny, yet fawning all over Sandilands to gain the benefit of access to his listeners.

And there is no question of the validity of the charity work Sandilands does; even a pig can render some useful service if he sees fit to do so.

No, this issue reflects, once again, squarely on Gillard.

Voters with any sympathy at all for Gillard’s moral crusading against sexism and misogyny should simply shake their heads, and accept they’ve been swindled; Gillard has no credibility on such issues, and is simply a hypocrite.

And as much as McTernan might be the adviser driving much of what Gillard says or does, the responsibility stops with Gillard; ultimately it is she who is accountable to the Australian public — not McTernan.

Of McTernan, I would simply note that not only was Labour thrown from office in 2010, it suffered its worst defeat in 30 years; and as much as he might plead that he left Number 10 well before that election, the sins of a beaten government lie in its history, and he had the ear of Tony Blair for many, many years at the top levels of British governance.

McTernan should pull his head in, and concentrate on arranging his airfare back to the UK; if he books to fly out on 15 September he is unlikely to be slugged for a change of dates.

In the end, however, this latest episode explodes once and for all the myth of Julia Gillard and her hatred of misogyny; the days’ events show rather that she is driven by expediency and self-interest — and when it comes to self-interest, she certainly stands for that…

Misogyny: If Gillard Wants A Crusade, Let Her Get Outraged Over This

READERS — I’m sure — will forgive me a little licence ; I’ve seen a story that first made me laugh, then get angry, and then think about Julia Gillard. If the PM wants a crusade against misogyny I await her outrage over this, even if it’s from the USA; but I know the only sound will be that of her silence.

At some point the penny has to drop for the (dwindling) band of adoring adherents surrounding the Prime Minister that her “misogyny” stunt was a really, really bad idea; there is of course plenty of evidence that it hasn’t happened yet — much to my disgust.

We have looked at this issue a number of times, and it continues to resurface; for as long as Gillard remains Prime Minister, it will almost certainly continue to do so as she and her party search vainly and desperately for something — anything — to stave off the looming electoral catastrophe.

I’m going to share an article with you shortly; I’m not interested in anyone’s views in favour or against the morality of extramarital affairs for the purposes of this exercise.

(And for the record, there is no insinuation implied either way concerning Gillard in that regard; my point here is based on misogyny, and nothing else).

I will however say that if you want to judge the woman participating in the affair, as is clear in the article I’ll give the link to in a minute, make sure you judge the man just as harshly: he is married too (indeed, it’s unclear whether the woman is or not).

The point is that Gillard has expended a lot of time (and a lot of the patience of voters) on her crusade against Tony Abbott, which is rooted only in political expediency and has been based on mostly spurious circumstantial evidence, smears by association, and a healthy serving of the moralising hypocrisy we have come to know and expect from Gillard and her Labor cohorts.

If Gillard is the warrior against misogyny she claims to be; if she is as unceasingly committed to calling and stamping out misogyny and sexism wherever she sees it, she cannot fail but to be outraged by the story I will link to shortly.

Yes, this incident involved American citizens on American soil, and the bad guys here are American men; but Gillard has held herself up as such a warrior against the evils of masculine excess directed at women she must surely make a statement on this.

Have a read of this article.

If anyone has access to the PM and her little coterie and would like to send them this, feel free — and no, I have no intention of tweeting it to them; in any case, “@PMOPressOffice,” one of her official Twitter mouthpieces, has already blocked me in retaliation for accusing it of tweeting “propaganda and crap.”

I think the story in that article brings a few things into sharp relief; that is a story of bullying, discrimination and harassment of a woman and, yes, misogyny.

By contrast, Gillard and her jumped up, silly little stunts — executed with all the sincerity of a votehound, no more — make her look very, very stupid.

What do people think?

Shut Up About “Gender Politics” And Misogyny, Julia

HERE WE GO AGAIN…Julia Gillard has used a sympathetic interview to level new accusations of misogyny and sexism at her opponents, and Tony Abbott particularly. Put bluntly, it’s time for her to shut up: the slur and the smear are tools of the incompetent and the contemptible, not the craftsman.

I think it’s time we called a spade a spade; Gillard obviously isn’t going to stop her ridiculous campaign of playing the victim and screaming “Sexism! Misogyny!” as she slithers toward attempted re-election, and I’m not going to pull any punches.

Readers might like to check out the article before I really get stuck in — a kid-glove, feelgood, off-the-hook exercise in soft-soaping, to be sure. It can be accessed here.

I don’t think anyone feels threatened or compromised or intimidated by idea of a female Prime Minister; I actually don’t think Gillard’s gender has anything to do with it.

Not for Abbott, men on the conservative parties’ benches, the male shock jocks she has a whinge about, and not for most of the men across Australia.

Simply stated, the problem is not Julia Gillard’s gender. The problem is her.

And what has become abundantly clear during her ill-gotten stint as Prime Minister is that she is a nasty piece of work, and a downright contemptible specimen to boot.

There is a lot to criticise about Julia Gillard: things that have nothing to do with her gender at all, but rather her incompetence, ineptitude, and her abysmal lack of judgement.

These criticisms extend to dishonesty, deception, an absence of tangible political acumen, and — let’s be honest — her unsuitability to be, and her utter uselessness as, Prime Minister of Australia.

I have in the past compared her — unfavourably — to former Liberal Prime Minister Sir William McMahon, who was rightly regarded as a national joke.

My exact words were:

“Julia Gillard is certainly unpopular; with the possible exception of Billy McMahon, she is probably the least suitable and most dishonest holder of the Prime Ministership in the country’s history. I say “possible exception” because lying, scheming, treacherous Sir William was nonetheless a very effective minister for many years before becoming Prime Minister — and Julia Gillard, objectively, wasn’t even that.”

In my view — and to be literary for a moment — ne’er was a truer word spake.

Part of the problem with Julia Gillard — in terms of daily retail politics, at least — is that everything she doesn’t like, or disadvantages her, or shows the failings of her government, her advisers and herself, is presented as being Tony Abbott’s fault.

In turn, Abbott is painted as driven by misogynistic forces that embody everything wrong with the Liberal Party and — conveniently — is why nobody should vote for him.

It’s a crass, but self-serving, construct. It is also absolute crap, and Gillard knows it.

 In the article I have linked to, Gillard is quoted referencing a “dishonest opposition using gender rhetoric” and that Abbott has “deepened unease…among voters unfamiliar with being led by a woman.”

No proof. No corroboration. Not an ounce of truth, either.

She goes on to mount a hypocritical and semantic argument — ostensibly about “lack of respect and lack of acknowledgment of my legitimacy as Prime Minister” — which is aimed at “shock jock” radio hosts who “call the Prime Minister by her first name, rather than using her title or surname.”

In other words, conservative radio personalities whose audiences comprise millions of voters; she still fronts up to be interviewed on their shows, because the allure of the audience outweighs her distaste for the presenter.

Yet she then asserts that “most of the time, people using the term ‘Julia’ is a reflection of Australian informality,” identifying Abbott in the same breath as “among the minority that uses gender rhetoric.”

Well, you can’t have it both ways.

And on those points: one, “just call me Tony” Abbott is about the most personable and knockabout bloke you’re ever likely to meet; he’s no more or less informal than anyone else among the masses of the great unwashed to whom Gillard obviously alludes.

And two, if Gillard wants respect, she needs to know respect is earned, not an entitlement: people respect the office. If Gillard thinks she is entitled to respect as Prime Minister, then I think she deserves to be deeply disappointed.

This Prime Minister has wilfully and repeatedly broken election pledges, not least those arguably responsible for saving enough votes to allow Labor to remain in government.

This Prime Minister makes little attempt to conceal the fact that hers is a manipulative and fundamentally dishonest government, where truth is relative only to the political imperative of the day, and in which accountability is a subject best avoided.

This a Prime Minister whose adviser deliberately started a race-related riot on Australia Day last year: an event designed to paint Abbott as a bigot and an incendiary lunatic.

And whilst the adviser was sacked, Gillard was nonetheless happy to revel in attention and sympathy for being stuck in the middle of it, until the truth of the matter — that a senior staffer in her own office was directly responsible — emerged.

This is a Prime Minister who is disliked, distrusted and widely reviled by the people — the Australian public — who she is duty-bound to represent.

But nobody can admit to such sentiments, of course: should they do so, they’re either stupid, or delusional, or — if their name is Tony Abbott — a misogynist.

And she wants to talk about respect?

It brings me back to the point I started with; that it is time for Gillard to shut up with the gender politics, “misogyny,” and accusations of sabotage because she’s female.

Gillard said nothing when Steve Gibbons — the soon-to-retire Labor member for Bendigo — took to Twitter, describing deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop as a “narcissistic bimbo.”

Her silence — ten years ago — when her then-leader, Mark Latham, described journalist Janet Albrechtsen as a “skanky ho” was deafening.

She had no qualms (again, remember the size of the radio audience) sharing a stage with Kyle Sandilands, whose outbursts include describing a journalist as “a fat slag” with “not enough titty” and a raft of other insults that would make a redneck blush.

She saw no problem — ironically, whilst lashing Abbott over “misogyny” — defending former Speaker Peter Slipper, whose now-infamous text messages told us that female genitalia were akin to mussels; “salty c—s in brine” indeed, according to Slippery Pete.

And Gillard sees nothing wrong in throwing around her cheap, graceless “misogyny” charges like confetti; the day of Labor’s non-coup last month, she told the House of Representatives — without any provocation — that “misogynist Tony (Abbott) is back.”

(She withdrew, but the damage was done; the line made the evening news, as it was intended to).

Gillard is a hypocrite, pure and simple.

The last thing her track record entitles her to is respect.

The thing that makes her hypocrisy worse is the fact she’s happy to tolerate “misogyny” if the results or circumstances are favourable to her politically.

She’s in no position to lecture anybody.

She’ll laugh and jape with Kyle Sandilands, but bridle with outrage at Alan Jones.

And the irony of the Alan Jones incident is that I defended Gillard in this column; subjected to a baseless and highly personal attack, I felt Jones had been well out of line, and said so.

A few weeks later, she had the nerve to stand up in the House of Representatives — under parliamentary privilege, of course, like any coward on a liar’s mission — and baselessly attack Abbott personally whilst defending Peter Slipper’s right to remain as Speaker.

At the very least, she forfeited any right to be affronted by baseless attacks on her at that point; she proved she is no better than the allegations she throws at others with impunity.

I am actually sick of talking about Gillard and “misogyny;” and I am heartily sick of Gillard.

I don’t think Australians, and Australian men specifically, are a bad bunch when it comes to  women in politics; after all, we’ve been electing them longer than anyone else in the world.

Every state and territory has experienced a major party being led by a woman; all except South Australia have experienced a government led by a woman; and three — Queensland, the ACT and the NT — have put female-led parties into government at elections.

The performance of those governments has been varied, but that’s what you’d expect, irrespective of whether they were run by a woman or by a man.

For just as men lead good governments and bad governments, so it is with women: some are good and some are bad.

Or, in Gillard’s case, truly woeful.

But good, bad or terrible, of which female-led government is Abbott responsible for “deepen(ing) unease…among voters unfamiliar with being led by a woman?”

The point is that Gillard has belted this particular can — that conservative men hate her and should be publicly excoriated for real, alleged, or fabricated sins — for long enough.

Her blatant hypocrisy on the subject would be amusing if it weren’t actually serious.

My message is very simple: shut the hell up, Julia! We’re sick of this crap.

Come 14 September when Labor is hurled from office in a landslide, the likes of which Australia will rarely — if ever — have seen, millions of the votes against Gillard and her government will be cast by women.

Gillard will be responsible for the loss and — largely — will have been the cause of it.

Her masters, the voting public, will have shown her all the respect she deserves.