An absolute Ruddy mess

Down here in the Antipodes, Australia has a little version of the BBC’s Question Time: Q&A, broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

For most right-thinking people, Q&A is, much like its British cousin: a sort of a weekly self-flagellation for political junkies, where pantomime audiences howl, holler and whoop as politicians of all stripes double-speak and evade difficult questioning (or not). One unqualified but somewhat popular person is generally placed on the panel for added banality. No names mentioned.

This week was a bit special, because it featured our incumbent Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, facing questions from an audience who, for Q&A’s standards, were surprisingly hostile, at least at first.

Then, as always happens in the show, someone asked the inevitable ‘gay marriage’ question.

Rudd’s response went viral.

The pastor accused Rudd of ‘chopping and changing’ his views for popularity, and Rudd came back strongly, arguing that he had come to an informed, Christian decision after a care deliberation of his conscience.

While I happen to be in a minority of conservatives who are in favour of gay marriage, something about Rudd’s response rubbed me up the wrong way.

Perhaps it was something to do with him voting against the motion 12 months ago, before his miraculous change of heart earlier this year.

Or maybe it might have been his steadfast refusal to challenge then-Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for leadership of the Labor Party. Until, of course, he’d secured the numbers to win a ballot after successive failures.

Was it his ‘lurch to the right’ on the issue of asylum seekers, tossing away his party’s principles in an attempt to seize the mantle of immigration toughness from the Coalition?

It was all of the above. Political chameleons may win cheap votes, laughs and applause, but people eventually notice when politicians don’t actually believe in anything themselves. Flip-flopping around the deck of public life like a dying salmon is a sure way for most decent-thinking people to develop a hatred for you.

Anybody who believes that Kevin Rudd genuinely cares about the issue of gay marriage are deluding themselves. He didn’t care about it last September, when he voted firmly against it, and his empty, generic, spin-doctored response on Monday night meant nothing.

The man would tandoori his own grandmother and eat her if it secured Labor an electoral majority. Oh, and you’d no doubt find it on InstagramSay what you will about Tony Abbott, but he’s never courted popularity.

Rudd represents everything that’s wrong about the current incarnation of the Labor Party, and why Labor supporters should be wishing for three years of a Coalition government.  They’re a party that’s lost in the same wilderness that John Howard’s government found itself in 2007. A party that suffered too badly in Gillard-era opinion polls — and whose attempts to claw back the difference by reinstating Rudd utterly failed. Eventually, no matter what you say, the public won’t listen to you anymore. And in Labor’s case, nor should they.

When Labor loses by a sizeable majority on Saturday, Kevin Rudd will be flung onto the scrapheap of politics where he belongs. Then, with three years in opposition, Labor can perhaps reorganise themselves to present a serious, dignified political alternative to the Australian public. After the last six years, their supporters had better hope so.

Joseph Power is a freelance writer from Brisbane, Australia. You can find him on Twitter @JosephDPower or at www.JosephPower.net


  • Penfold

    Well, perhaps won’t be thrown on the scrapheap.
    Friends down under tell me that postal voting fraud is a serious matter.
    They also mention the incidence of multiple voting as no-one asks for I.D. and no integrated computer system is employed to stop people roaming from one voting station to another casting votes.
    So if the left mobilises they can steal it.

  • Shazza

    Situation normal for the Left then. I would imagine this is rife in the culturally enriched areas of Sydney and Melbourne…….

  • Penfold

    Correct.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Q&A can be viewed on line. The full Rudd episode is here http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3823745.htm

  • ron bacardi

    ‘Say what you will about Tony Abbott, but he’s never courted popularity.’

    Really? Really! What utter rubbish. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time reading this nonsense.

  • channel.fog

    True about Labor (Labour as well). Interesting how John McTernan hawks his talents round the world ensuring that the contemptible descends further into vileness. He’s back desperately hoping he’ll be able to ‘help’ Miliband now.