Overnight the face of contemporary Australian politics – that lacklustre, bureaucratic, increasingly-resembling-a-trainwreck Rudd – was met with a leadership challenge.
This comes on the back of a downward plummet in the polls [debatable] and numerous backflips on the ETS, refugees, Afghanistan and recent confrontations over the RSPT – ‘that great, big fat tax’ the mining industry and the Liberals are so distraught about.
So Labor’s factional warlords have decided it’s time for a new figurehead, and few doubt that Julia Gillard will win. But what does Gillard really represent?
Gillard has been an IR lawyer since 1987, a politician since ’98. She may have been on the Left in her days of student politics, but it’s difficult to detect a trace of that now. Conservative and progressive pundits alike adore her. She’s never challenged Rudd on any policy and there seems to be this idea – ostensibly because she’s a woman? – that she has the best interests of refugees, the Australian public and the mining sector at heart.
Personally, one of my favourite memories of Gillard is during the three weeks of intensive bombing of the Gaza strip at the start of 2009, when she declared that Israel was merely exercising its ‘right to defend itself’. Jake Lynch covered her pro-Israel politics here.
Labor is supposed to be the union party, but these days they’re more interested in defending business and maintaining discriminatory building union legislation – just ask Ark Tribe.
As one MP said earlier today, ‘this is madness’. The fact is this dismal performance in the polls [also debatable] and in governance is Labor’s failure. Because, these days, Labor only has pro-business and centre-right populist policies, which are very far from their roots. Much of their vote has been lost to the Greens due to their conservatism and policy backflips. But, mostly, because of their lack of concern about the issues directly and immediately affecting their electoral base.
For anyone who thinks under Gillard’s leadership Labor will be more progressive, pro-environment, pro-union, anti-war, pro-human rights, I say, that’s trick photography.