30 June 2006

Tony Abbott's straw men

The challenge for the conservative is to preserve that which endures regardless of changing fads, and to amend that which will not withstand the winds of change. Tony Abbott has failed to demonstrate that he is a leader among conservatives, and in doing so points to weakness in Australian conservatism going forward.

The "new paternalism" has several weaknesses, well documented elsewhere, about its unsuitability for Aboriginal people. At a time when the emerging generation of Aborigines are stepping up to take and to show leadership in greater numbers than any post-frontier generation, Abbott has decided that self-determination is all too hard. Denying self-determination to any non-criminals is tantamount to denying your ability to call yourself a Liberal in my book. But even if you count out the ideological argument and stick to the practical, Abbott has clearly learnt nothing after a decade in government.

The main constraint on the growth of Australia's economy is a dearth of skilled employees. Where are you going to get these willing administrators from? There are precious few doctors and teachers going to remote communities, but they are the sort of noble souls who defy trends and do the work that their hearts tell them needs to be done. Stick to your knitting and find out how hard it is to get decent doctors or nurses in western Sydney and leave this idea alone, Abbott. I'm not going to become Abbott's quaestor in the never-never and neither are you.

What will happen is that the government will become so desperate that the stringency by which they screen their potential paternalists will slip, so that the drunks, the molestors and the careless will be thrust upon Aboriginal communities as their guardians. Such incompetence will be a non-issue just like it was in previous decades, until it's too late. The new generation of Aborigines will have to fight these clowns for their future, and of course said clowns will enjoy no help from cost-cutters in Canberra. There are no criteria for success, merely competence, and the scope for failure is wide. What a bastard of a job!

If you read his speech, you realise it is a typical of Abbott when he slips the leash of his portfolio. The ideas are vague but he carefully frames his opposition: the only permissible opposition is sentimental lefties, because he can see them coming. Er, no, Tony, because you haven't thought it through your biggest problem is both ideological and practical; but go ahead and fight all those AUS battles all over again, it will only enhance your irrelevance.

Tony Abbott is the next Liberal Opposition Leader. He is not the next Prime Minister because he polls badly among women (including those in the Parliamentary Liberal Party - except perhaps Jackie Kelly, and even she can sniff the breeze), and he is now the last politician holding office in Australia who can stir up Christian sectarianism. Indeed, those fully imbued with the love of Christ cannot but despise his cant, which presents a veneer of learning to those who don't have any. He's not deep because there is no linkage between his 'high-minded' rhetoric and his actual performance.

The far right of the Liberal Party hate Abbott for how he scuppered One Nation. The remnants of what used to be called the liberals bear the imprints of his boots upon their faces. The Liberal women currently in Parliament overwhelmingly hold marginal seats which, with the coming of a Labor government, they will lose and hence will have no vote in the post-government Liberal Parliamentary leadership.

Abbott's only victories are over straw men, phantoms that don't exist: nuclear plants in his electorate, powerful Marxists, and others who seem easy prey for his mighty powers. Those who stand up to Abbott, like Julia Gillard, have a huge advantage because he goes down like a sack of shit once you challenge him to turn away from his straw men beyond the highly mannered form of Parliament. If Gillard can shrug off the 2004 campaign Abbott won't lay a glove on her. You get credibility as a leader by taking votes away from your opponent and Abbott won't be able to convince the uncommitted to keep voting Liberal.

Like all bullies, he's not tough really, just contemptible. The Liberals are too stupid to head him off but they will find that out once his crumbling leaves them naked to the elements of a Gillard government.

No comments:

Post a Comment